JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska state lawmaker on Wednesday skipped required training to prevent harassment and discrimination, after her calls went unheeded for a third-party review of how allegations of inappropriate behavior by a former lawmaker were handled.
Republican Rep. Tammie Wilson said leaders of her caucus support her stance. She said she will await any potential consequences.
The House and Senate Rules Committee chairs had told fellow lawmakers and staff members that they would be required to attend the training. Those who do not could face an ethics complaint. A legislative ethics committee mandated the training after the director of Legislative Legal Services recommended it do so, calling it “a matter of risk management.”
There also has been a threat, at least on the House side, that lawmakers who do not comply could lose staff.
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On Wednesday, the second day of the new legislative session, a lull fell over the Capitol as lawmakers filed into a gymnasium in a nearby building for the training, some wearing jeans or carrying lunch.
The training comes amid a renewed focus on sexual harassment and misconduct nationally.
Democratic state Rep. Dean Westlake resigned his seat last month after being accused by female aides of unwanted touching and inappropriate comments.
An investigation by the Legislature’s human resources manager, Skiff Lobaugh, found that the cumulative effect of Westlake’s comments and actions created a hostile work environment. Lobaugh separately said that House Speaker Bryce Edgmon and House Majority Leader Chris Tuck followed existing policy on addressing reports of sexual and other workplace harassment.
Critics of the policy, which is being reworked, say it’s vague. Wilson and other minority Republicans say a review of how the allegations were handled remains warranted.
Westlake apologized Tuesday if any of his actions made anyone uncomfortable.