After a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations against Minnesota lawmakers surfaced just before the 2018 legislative session got underway, state officials vowed to crack down on such behavior at the state Capitol.
However, not much in the way of legislation came from it and a Mankato lawmaker said the issue has to remain a priority in the next session. “I hope we can get some of those things passed,” said DFL state Representative Jack Considine, “Everybody should be able to be comfortable and safe in their working environment and that includes legislators and staff at the Minnesota Capitol.”
Among the failed bills, a change to state law that would have meant that judges no longer needed to use the standard that harassment was “severe or pervasive.” Considine said, “I’m not really sure why Karin Housley blocked some of that last year. I haven’t talked to her about it. But that was really disappointing. We need to make sure that everybody feels comfortable and valued at the Minnesota State Capitol. That’s the people’s house.”
Housley is running for the U.S. Senate seat that former Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith was appointed to after former Senator Al Franken resigned and has been an outspoken critic of DFL support of state attorney general candidate Rep. Keith Ellison following allegations that he abused his ex-girlfriend.
Considine doesn’t believe the momentum has been lost and said, “I think we need to examine where we’re going. Due process is still a fundamental part of the American judicial system and we need to make sure that due process is in place and that people on both sides of the question are having their rights and their person valued.”
Tony Cornish of Vernon Center stepped down from his Minnesota House seat following claims that he sexually harassed a lobbyist; state Senator Dan Schoen resigned after several women accused him of sexual misconduct; and Franken left Congress after several women accused him of groping them.