With all the problems facing our state including being 46th in health care, third worst in uninsured adults, ranking 38th in education and having the 42nd highest poverty level, I find it appalling to see that one of the first issues that Republican members of our State Legislature chose to address is to make it harder for sexual harassment victims to come forward in claims against their colleagues.
On day one of the session, the legislature voted to approve rules requiring victims to bring their allegations forward within two years of the alleged incident. The rule changes also would allow the Senate Ethics panel to ignore complaints filed against a legislator after they qualify to run for re-election or election to a new office until after the results of that election are certified. In addition, the new rules would subject a complainant to automatic dismissal and the complainant to face possible fines if they make their complaint public.
There are two possible reasons for this action. One, they are reacting to the complaint made last year against Sen. David Shafer, the choice of many Republicans in the legislature for lieutenant governor, which many believe cost Mr. Shafer the Republican nomination for that office.
Or they are simply reacting to the increasing number of women in Georgia and nationwide politics. After all, the percentage of women in the General Assembly has increased from 19 percent in 2010 to nearly 27 percent this year. Regardless of the reason, the State legislative session is only 40 days out of the entire year.
Wouldn’t the citizens of Georgia be better served by legislators tackling the tough issues and enacting solutions to those problems that many of their constituents face every day rather than wasting time haggling over rules which, if they conducted themselves with the decorum befitting an elected leader, should not be necessary?