Update 12:49 p.m. (From Associated Press report) One dissenting vote last week spared former State Rep. John Arnold from any disciplinary action stemming from multiple sexual harassment allegations against him. Now, lawmakers have taken action to try to prevent that from happening again.
The House voted Monday to change the rules for the ethics committee to require commission members to attend at least half of the meetings every year. The rules changes also gave the committee jurisdiction over former lawmakers. The one commission member who voted not to punish Arnold last week says he did so because he felt the commission didn’t have the power to punish lawmakers who’d already resigned.
Two women who made formal sexual harassment complaints against former state Rep. John Arnold have filed a motion with the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission asking it to reconsider its ruling that cleared Arnold of ethics charges.
Legislation that would make sexual harassment training mandatory for state lawmakers is on its way to the governor’s desk.
When formal ethics charges were filed against former Rep. John Arnold accusing him of sexually harassing three women working in the state legislature, lawmakers were up in arms about addressing the issue of workplace harassment in the Capitol.
The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission found Arnold not guilty of the harassment charges this week, prompting critics to question if anything could be done.
But an amended bill filed by Greenville Rep. Brent Yonts would address those issues by making sexual harassment training mandatory for state lawmakers. Currently, lawmakers do not have to take such training.
The bill currently awaits Gov. Steve Beshear’s signature.
Kentucky House lawmakers would have to undergo annual sexual harassment sensitivity training under a resolution approved Thursday after three legislative staffers filed sexual harassment complaints with the Legislative Ethics Commission.
The allegations against Democratic state representative John Arnold of Sturgis triggered a public outcry, forcing House Speaker Greg Stumbo to address the matter on the floor Thursday evening. He assured angry colleagues the matter "will be dealt with responsibly" and that Arnold could be expelled from the House if the charges are proven to be true.
Arnold, who represents parts of Union, Daviess and Henderson counties. refused to answer questions about the allegations Wednesday and was absent from the legislature on Thursday.
In the complaints, first reported by Louisville public radio station WFPL-FM, the staffers alleged that Arnold had touched them inappropriately and had made vulgar comments over a period of years.