State Sen. Randi Becker, R-Olympia, has proposed changes to the Senate’s Respectful Workplace Policy that according to a press release could “ensure that the Senate must deal with only good-faith accusations of misconduct.”
The proposals from Becker, the chair of the Senate Republican Caucus, stem from a final report from an investigation that determined Democratic Sen. Mona Das made “false and disparaging statements about fellow members of her caucus despite her initial denial about having done so.”
Becker said no action has been taken that would discourage other lawmakers from making the same mistake.
“We have not collectively said or done anything in response to the findings in the report that Senator Das made false statements about fellow members,” Becker said in a press release. “How are we discouraging her, or others, from similar behavior in the future? I am very passionate about this. I really believe in the importance of legislators feeling free to express ideas, experiences and feelings. If we don’t have consequences for this behavior, I believe that it will have a chilling effect on our ability to properly engage with each other as legislators.”
Becker submitted the proposed changes to the Facilities and Operations Committee, which decided to refer the matter to the bipartisan work group that wrote the original respectful workplace policy in 2019. The Senate’s Respectful Workplace Workgroup includes Senate staff and members from both sides of the political aisle and from non-partisan committee services.
“It was said several times during the (Facilities and Operations) meeting that the respectful workplace policy worked as it should because there was an investigation and a report. But that’s not enough. Since the report concluded that there was no evidence that Sen. Das’s accusations are true, we should take action, or it’s as if we think what she did is OK,” Becker said. “I proposed two changes and I’ve been assured that the work group who wrote the original policy will make this its highest priority so we will have clear consequences in place for future behavior of this nature before session begins in January.”
Becker’s proposal is below:
“The Senate will not tolerate false accusations or the use of this policy for political purposes. Anyone who knowingly makes a false report about a violation of this policy to a supervisor, Senate administration of the Senate human resources officer has violated the ‘Other Offensive Conduct’ portion of this policy and will be disciplined as appropriate. Any Senator who knowingly makes a false accusation to any person about any other Senator which, if true, would constitute discrimination, harassment or other offensive conduct under the policy, has violated the ‘Other Offensive Conduct’ portion of this policy and will be disciplined as appropriate. In addition, the Facilities and Operations Committee will propose a motion of formal censure by the Senate. This section does not apply to any report or statement made in good faith.”