TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — All employees and interns working for Kansas executive branch agencies will be required to undergo annual sexual harassment training, new Gov. Jeff Colyer announced Monday.
Colyer outlined the new policy during a Cabinet meeting and then signed an executive order during a Statehouse news conference to put it into effect. He allowed The Associated Press into the Cabinet meeting.
It is the Republican governor’s first executive order since taking office last week after replacing former GOP Gov. Sam Brownback, who resigned to serve as U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
The executive branch has not had a single anti-harassment policy across all agencies.
“I just want us to make sure that the culture is respectful and very professional,” Colyer told his Cabinet. “I think that’s what all of us want.”
Colyer told reporters at the news conference that his administration will be “fierce” in enforcing the executive order but is still working on a policy for how employees are disciplined if they do not participate in the annual training.
Colyer’s order comes as the top state lawmakers are reviewing the Legislature’s anti-harassment policy, which has been in place since 1994 and hasn’t required annual training for lawmakers, their employees or interns. Legislative leaders held multiple, voluntary training sessions since December.
Top lawmakers initiated a review of the Legislature’s sexual harassment policy review after the ex-chief of staff for a former Democratic leader said publicly in October that a lawmaker once asked her for sex in 2015. She described harassment as “rampant” and said female college-student interns regularly served as after-hour designated drivers for intoxicated lawmakers in 2016.
Colyer said his executive order will require an outside, independent review when an elected official or Cabinet secretary is accused of harassment.
He said the order also will require agencies to review their anti-harassment policies at least once every three years.