Illinois lawmakers get tough on sexual harassment, require local - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Illinois lawmakers get tough on sexual harassment, require local policies

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WSIL -- These days, there aren't many issues Democrats and Republicans agree on.

However, when it comes to fighting sexual harassment at the capitol, both sides say more needs to be done.

On Tuesday, lawmakers approved a bill that gets rid of time limits to investigate sexual harassment, gives the legislative ethics commission the power to impose fines and requires all state employees and lobbyists receive yearly training.

"It's a good first step," said Rep. Grant Wehrli, R-District 41. "Let's not lose sight that this is a first step."

SB 402 also requires local governments to adopt a policy prohibiting sexual harassment. 

The local policies should: include details on how an individual can report sexual harassment, including confidentially; prohibit retaliation for reporting sexual harassment; outline consequences of violating the policy or making a false report.

Many cities in southern Illinois, like Carbondale, Mt. Vernon and Harrisburg, already have a policy in place. Some of them require their city employees to undergo training.

But the City of Marion does not have a policy, according to Mayor Bob Butler.

"We have never felt it as necessary. Everybody working for the city is aware that we have zero tolerance for sexual harassment.," said Butler.

Butler can't remember a single time a city employee complained of being sexually harassed.

"But if that should occur, the perpetrator will be out of a job," said Butler.

Butler said a complaint may also be filed with the state's attorney's office. 

Butler said it should be as simple as that, without the state needing to "legislate morality." 

"It's sad that we've come to the point that we have to legislate morality," said Butler. "Why do you have to train people on morals? Why is that necessary? That is a sign of the deterioration of our culture."

If Gov. Bruce Rauner signs the bill into law, local governments will have 60 days to adopt an anti-sexual harassment policy, or update theirs.

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