Krueger-Braneky advocates for #MeToo General Assembly Act, package reform

At her request, House Labor & Industry Committee holds special hearing on bills

– A plan to stem the climate of sexual harassment and discrimination inside the Capitol would be part of a bipartisan package of bills to protect workers across the state, state Rep. Leanne Krueger Braneky testified today before the House Labor and Industry Committee.

Her H.B. 1965, which is prime co-sponsored by state Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Luzerne, would clearly define sexual harassment in state law, install a bicameral nonpartisan Office of Compliance, require elected officials to reimburse taxpayer settlements for sexual harassment, and establish standard procedures to investigate claims made within the General Assembly.

The changes are clearly needed following the discovery of assault allegations and secret taxpayer-footed payouts for cases against legislators who were accused of sexual assault and harassment over decades, Krueger-Braneky said.

“I started working on this bill six months ago after publicly sharing that I am one of the over 80 percent of women who have experienced sexual harassment,” said Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware. “After I shared my own story, women who work in this Capitol started to come to me to share their stories, and I learned that many of the alleged perpetrators were legislators. I heard stories from women who were discouraged from ever filing a complaint in the first place, stories from women who faced retaliation, and stories from women who believed legislators would never be held responsible for their actions.”

The General Assembly needs to be more accountable to taxpayers and all employees and interns in the Capitol need to feel safe to perform their important work for Pennsylvania, she added.

House Bill 1965 is modeled after a federal bill that passed Congress in February with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The bill is part of a package that was examined in the Capitol following Krueger-Braneky’s request for public hearings over the matter of sexual harassment and assault in offices across the state, felt particularly hard in the commonwealth’s own halls of government.

“I spent months making the case that this a conversation far past due in Harrisburg, and Majority Chairman Rob Kauffman listened,” she said. “There is an atmosphere here that negatively affects women and costs the entire state legally, culturally and financially. Enough is enough.

“The next step after this hearing should be a vote on the resolutions and bills before us today. We need to change the culture here, and these bills deserve a vote.”