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Bill To Increase Statehouse Sexual Harassment Training Lacks Republican Support

Senator Charleta Tavares and backers of her sexual harassment bill at the Ohio Statehouse.
Jo Ingles
Ohio Public Radio
Senator Charleta Tavares and backers of her sexual harassment bill at the Ohio Statehouse.

Some state lawmakers are backing a new bill to reform sexual harassment training standards for themselves and their colleagues. But the bill is missing something critical for it to pass.

Republican Gov. John Kasich referred to the national problem of sexual harassment in his State of the State speech.

“Hollywood harassment. I am not going to say a word. It screams at us every day,” Kasich said.

Democratic state Sen. Charleta Tavares says she agrees Kasich should have talked about several recent incidents of inappropriate sexual behavior or harassment involving state lawmakers or top staffers at the Statehouse.

But Tavares says lawmakers need to do more than talk about the problem. She’s proposing legislation to reform sexual harassment training and policies.

“It requires that all organizations that are a part of Capitol Square that they have sexual harassment, anti-discrimination policies, that they are reviewed annually, that they have training,” Tavares said.

The bill also creates a bipartisan task force that would review policies and make recommendations for next steps or changes. What the bill doesn’t have right now is support from any of the Republicans who dominate in the legislature.

Tavares had written a letter about her concerns last year, but only Democratic lawmakers and staffers signed it. And once again, only minority Democrats have signed onto this legislation.

Democratic Rep. Dan Ramos also says he wished Kasich had said more during his State of the State address.

“As the governor, he should have been one of the people to say, not just him but one of the people to say, 'Look it’s not just Harvey Weinstein,'” Ramos said.

“Inappropriate behavior” was used to describe the sexual harassment and predatory behavior of former Republican Sen. Cliff Hite. Hite apologized and resigned.

The phrase “Inappropriate behavior” was also used to describe the off-color comment Republican Rep. Mike Henne admitted making, plus whatever led to the resignation of Senate Democrat chief of staff Michael Premo.

More recently, “inappropriate behavior” described the actions of former Republican Rep. Wes Goodman in his office with another man. For that, House speaker Cliff Rosenberger asked Goodman to resign.


Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.