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Government and Politics
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Senate Will Require Annual Sexual Harassment Training


Beginning next year, Washington state senators and Senate staff will be required to take annual sexual harassment training. The Senate’s operations committee unanimously approved that requirement at a meeting Tuesday night.

Republican state Sen. Joe Fain told his colleagues that there needs to be immediate action to address the workplace climate at the Capitol.

“The difference in our environment is that there is such a large discrepancy in power between the individuals who could be exerting that power and the individuals on the receiving end,” Fain said. “And so it’s not necessarily enough to have a nice policy on paper to say ‘Hey, look, we have this thing’ when there is fear about accessing that process in the first place.”

In the coming weeks, the Senate will also look at ways to make people feel more comfortable reporting misconduct.

The moves follow reporting by public radio, The News Tribune and The Olympian on the workplace climate at the Capitol. More than 200 women have signed a “Stand With Us” letter that calls on legislative leaders to create a safe workplace free from harassment.