JEFFERSON CITY – Fallout from the intern scandals that rocked the Missouri statehouse through the spring and summer will continue to rumble into 2016.
On Jan. 11, all 163 members of the Missouri House of Representatives are scheduled to participate in a training course on the topic of sexual harassment.
The sessions are one piece of a package of reforms put in place in response to the resignation of former Republican House Speaker John Diehl, who left the chamber on the final day of the legislative session in May after getting caught exchanging sexually charged text messages with a college student who was serving in the Capitol as an intern.
In August, former state Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence, resigned following allegations that he sexually harassed interns – allegations that he denied.
The class is being conducted by the St. Louis-based McMahon-Berger law firm for a cost to taxpayers estimated at less than $10,000, said David Welch, the top House attorney.
Thomas McCarthy, a partner at McMahon-Berger, said he is still working on the material, which will be similar to what the firm uses for its commercial clients. “It will be some kind of PowerPoint presentation,” McCarthy said.
State Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, was among those at a committee hearing in November when the training was added to the regimen of requirements for House members.
“I think it’s fairly common in the business world. I think it’s appropriate,” Barnes said of the upcoming training.
Much of the attention on reforms has been centered in the House.
The Senate had policies regarding sexual harassment in place, and freshmen senators already take a sexual harassment seminar.
The House seminar will be split into three sessions to accommodate the large number of lawmakers.
It will take place just days after lawmakers open the 2016 session and is scheduled on a day that likely will be light on legislative activity.
In addition to the training, the House also has designated an employee as an intern ombudsman to help interns navigate the reporting process if they feel they’ve been harassed.