In this Feb. 1, 2013, file photo, Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, responds to a reporter’s question at the Capitol in Juneau. Wilson says she has relented and taken required training to prevent harassment and discrimination. She did so after being assured that an updated legislative policy addressing sexual and other harassment would be vetted by a third-party. (Michael Penn/The Juneau Empire via AP,File)

In this Feb. 1, 2013, file photo, Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, responds to a reporter’s question at the Capitol in Juneau. Wilson says she has relented and taken required training to prevent harassment and discrimination. She did so after being assured that an updated legislative policy addressing sexual and other harassment would be vetted by a third-party. (Michael Penn/The Juneau Empire via AP,File)

Lawmaker takes training after policy vetting pledge

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Thursday, March 1, 2018 9:25pm
  • News

JUNEAU — An Alaska state lawmaker said she has relented and taken required training to prevent harassment and discrimination after being assured that an updated legislative policy addressing sexual and other harassment would be vetted by a third-party.

Republican Rep. Tammie Wilson of North Pole said Thursday that she wants to make sure that whatever new policy is put in place will work and allow for a safe environment. The existing policy has been criticized as too vague.

Wilson said she doesn’t want to find out with the next incident whether the new policy works. “We need to have a pretty good assurance that what we put in place definitely will keep everybody safe here,” she said.

Wilson had refused to attend training with other lawmakers earlier this year in protest over how sexual harassment allegations have been handled.

A legislative working group has drafted a rewrite of the existing policy and said last week that it would seek comments on it from legislative staff and from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

For investigations involving a legislator, the draft would allow the Legislature’s human resources manager to hire an independent investigator or for the parties involved to request one through legislative leaders.

Skiff Lobaugh, the human resources manager, told the working group the existing policy is silent on the issue of an outside investigator. He said he has never seen a need to use one but said there could be situation in the future where one might be needed.

The draft also proposes informal and formal reporting processes.

Minority Republicans were critical of how allegations of inappropriate behavior by former Democratic Rep. Dean Westlake were handled last year, though Lobaugh has said House leaders followed existing policies in responding.

A female legislative aide last March sent a letter to House Speaker Bryce Edgmon and House Majority Leader Chris Tuck, citing two incidents of “unwelcome physical contact” involving Westlake, including an allegation he grabbed her buttocks. Lobaugh said Edgmon, after receiving the letter, told Westlake his actions were inappropriate and would not be tolerated. Lobaugh said there were no other incidents involving the woman.

But after she went public with her allegations last fall, a newspaper report said other female aides said Westlake acted inappropriately toward them or made them feel uncomfortable.

Westlake resigned in December.

More in News

Kenai Finance Director Terry Eubank, left, and Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander present during a budget work session on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Flat mill rate, sales tax included in Kenai budget proposal

The budget proposal is subject to final approval by the Kenai City Council

t
Senate effectively kills restrictive transgender sports bill

Bipartisan group of senators votes to table controversial bill

Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, chair of the bicameral conference committee tasked with hammering out differences in the state’s budget bill, signs the committee report as members finished their work on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Committee compromises on PFD in budget plan

Members of the conference committee agreed Tuesday to a payment of about $3,800

Graduates laugh during teacher Jesse Bjorkman’s 2022 commencement address at Nikiski Middle/High School on Monday, May 16, 2022 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Nikiski Middle/High School graduates 31 students

The commencement ceremony was held Monday in the school gym

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Members of the Alaska House of Representatives on Saturday rejected the budget bill passed by the Senate earlier in the week. The bill will now go to a bicameral committee for negotiations, but the end of the legislative session is Wednesday.
House votes down Senate’s budget as end of session nears

State budget now goes to negotiating committee

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Candidate for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives Tara Sweeney, a Republican, was in Juneau on Monday and sat down with the Empire for an interview. Sweeney said the three main pillars of her campaign are the economy, jobs and healthy communities.
Sweeney cites experience in run for Congress

GOP candidate touts her history of government-related work

One tree stands in front of the Kenai Post Office on Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai taking down hazard beetle trees

The city hopes to leverage grant funds for most of the work

Former Alaska governor and current congressional hopeful Sarah Palin speaks with attendees at a meet-and-greet event outside of Ginger’s Restaurant on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Palin brings congressional bid to Soldotna

The former governor took time Saturday to sign autographs and take pictures with attendees

Most Read