Instead of continuing to embarrass themselves over the animal house atmosphere in the General Assembly, Missouri lawmakers should appoint a special panel of women to determine ways to cleanse the legislature of creating a hostile work environment for interns at the Capitol.
The latest of the ridiculous things thought to improve the Missouri House intern policy was to establish an intern dress code as if the young women themselves are the problem. Fortunately that idea was shot down as a blame-the-victim solution to trouble that the male legislators create.
Rep. Kevin Engler, a Farmington Republican, leads the effort to craft a new policy after House Speaker John Diehl resigned after The Kansas City Star pointed out that Diehl had exchanged sexually suggestive text messages with a 19-year-old House intern. Two months afterward, Sen. Paul LeVota, an Independence Democrat, announced his resignation after two interns accused him of sexual harassment.
The hostile workplace environment has been a long-standing problem for women lawmakers, interns and others in the Capitol. Legislators would be smart to pick women diverse in age, race, ethnicity, faith and sexual orientation from throughout Missouri to serve on a panel to make policy recommendations to the General Assembly that would make the Statehouse equitable and free of harassment.
Until that’s done and a meaningful program is implemented, embarrassed people in the Show-Me State can expect late night comedy shows to gain a lot more hilarious, finger-pointing gaffes from Missouri lawmakers.