Lawmaker requests capitol intern policy hearings be public

2 years 11 months 14 hours ago Wednesday, August 19 2015 Aug 19, 2015 Wednesday, August 19, 2015 2:11:00 PM CDT August 19, 2015 in News
By: James Packard, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri House Minority Whip John Rizzo, D-Kansas City, requested Wednesday the group revising the house's intern policy change its status so it can start holding public forums.

Rizzo sent a letter to Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, requesting the task force aimed at revising the capitol intern policy be elevated to interim committee status, and therefore expand its duties, including public forums.

Rizzo said in part, "Discussing these issues in a public setting and allowing victims of sexual harassment to share their stories and have their voices heard might prove uncomfortable, but it is absolutely necessary if the Missouri House of Representatives is [to] establish a high standard for behavior under which everyone is treated with respect and protected from inappropriate and unwanted advances."

The Associated Press said Sunday an early draft of the policy includes tighter rules for administering internships and calls for the establishment of an ombudsman, someone to whom interns can report problems.

Lawmakers at the capitol began reviewing intern policy after the resignation of Speaker John Diehl, when it was revealed he exchanged suggestive text messages with an intern. The effort was furthered by accusations against Sen. Paul Levota of unwanted sexual advances. Levota announced his resignation in July. He was set to officially resign Aug. 23.

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