Sexual harassment training begins for lobbyists | KOB 4
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Sexual harassment training begins for lobbyists

Morgan Aguilar
January 11, 2018 05:20 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. -- New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is determined to make the Roundhouse a safe, comfortable environment for everyone ahead of the 2018 legislative session.

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"I feel like it's a good start," she told a crowd of about 30 lobbyists Thursday morning.

Toulouse Oliver gave the opening statements at the first of two sexual harassment trainings her office is providing to New Mexico lobbyists this year.

"Thank you so much to all of you for being willing to take this first step with us," she said.

Toulouse Oliver knows first-hand that New Mexico is not immune to the series of nationwide sexual harassment allegations. She started advocacy work for the New Mexico Indian and Gaming Association when she was just 19 years old.

"I certainly experienced a lot of, you know, inappropriate communication, occasionally inappropriate touching," she said.

The training is being offered to lobbyists because Toulouse Oliver said they are in a unique position while working in the Roundhouse.

“I think one of the big challenges with lobbyists is, you know, they're not employees of the state, but they work within state government very closely and they work with legislators and they work with state staff," she said. "So you know how is a lobbyist, if they either experience sexual harassment or if they see it happen, how are they supposed to address that," she said.

The first two trainings are voluntary, but Toulouse Oliver hopes to change that in the future.

"We would love to see some legislation on this issue and we have a lot of interest from legislators in assisting us with that," she said.

When lobbyists register for this legislative session, they are being asked to disclose whether they have existing sexual harassment policies and trainings with their employer. The Secretary of State’s office will use that feedback to determine what other steps may be necessary to make the Roundhouse a safe, comfortable place for everyone.

“I think we are sending a message that we take this issue seriously,” Toulouse Oliver said. “That there are policies and procedures in place, that there are consequences for actions and I am very hopeful that moving forward the roundhouse is going to become a much friendlier place for everybody, you know, it's not just young women who are subject to sexual harassment. It's people of both genders and of all ages and we need to make sure that it stops for everybody.”

The Secretary of State Office’s Communications Directory says as of Thursday morning, 136 lobbyists had registered for the 2018 session. They anticipate many more to register in the next week since there were 670 lobbyists last year, and they had as many as 1,103 in 2014.

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Morgan Aguilar

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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