Lawmakers: Gov. Brian Kemp Signs Executive Order On Sexual Harassment

Jan 15, 2019

Hours after his swearing-in on Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order on sexual harassment.  The Senate also passed rules on the same issue for its members.

Among other things, Kemp's order combines the complaint system for sexual harassment into one system, rather than several departments handling the issues raised by employees.

The governor's order includes:

  • Training for all state employees on sexual harassment after they are hired and at least once a year.
  • Implementing standards for handling complaints and banning retaliation against those who report sexual harassment
  • Selecting two people in each state agency to serve as investigators to review complaints and report to the inspector general's office.
  • Finally, it requires a system of procedures created by the inspector general.

The Senate passed its own resolution on sexual harassment, but the debate on the issue fell along party lines.  Democrats did not vote for the measure. No one objects to the Senate having rules.  The issue is over the timeline allotted for a person to report an allegation.

While in the past there has been no timeline, the resolution calls for two years.

Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) would like either no time limit or at least five years to allow people to come forward with a complaint.

"There was a serious complaint that was filed against a senior member of the Senate that had gone on for years," said Orrock. "It was not limited to one time or one year. It had a long shelf life. It had gone on a long time was the allegation of the victim."

The complaint against former Sen. David Shafer came from a lobbyist who alleges an incident against him in 2011.

"We need these rules and regulations," Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) said Tuesday morning on the Senate floor.

Unterman also talked about the issue personally.

"In the 29 years I’ve been elected I have never had sexual harassment against me, but I’m here to tell you, in the last couple of weeks, I have had sexual harassment against me. And, I know now personally what it feels like. It’s not a good feeling, and we need these rules and regulations," said Unterman.

Unterman declined to go into detail about the alleged harassment, but said she would talk more about the issue on the Senate floor tomorrow.

Meanwhile, as things continue to develop, Unterman lost her position as chair of the Health and Human Services committee. Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah) is now the committee chair.