The Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta in 2018. PHOTO / JASON GETZ
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia Senate advances bill to submit lobbyists to sexual harassment policy

The Georgia Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to subject lobbyists to a new sexual harassment policy that governs lawmakers and staff at the state Capitol.

House Bill 973 would require lobbyists to sign a statement agreeing to comply with the state’s sexual harassment policy annually.

The Senate stripped a provision from the bill that would have allowed the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission to revoke a lobbyists registration or issue a fine of up to $1,000.

State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, said a Senate panel worried that allowing the commission to issue penalties would violate the due process of a lobbyist who is accused of misconduct.

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Instead the commission could implement its own rules for any potential sanctions, McKoon said.

Sexual harassment includes derogatory statements, sexually related comments, unwelcome advances, patting, pinching, intentionally brushing against someone’s body, making unwelcome visits to someone’s home or hotel room, or making sexually suggestive posts online, according to the policy. 

The Legislative Services Committee already approved the policy to cover lawmakers and employees, but legislation was required for it to apply to lobbyists. 

Since senators changed the legislation it will be considered again by the House before it can head to Gov. Nathan Deal for his approval.

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