Senate committee approves nonpartisan human resources hire

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A Senate committee has approved the hiring of a nonpartisan human resources officer who can independently investigate complaints of harassment or discrimination in the chamber, though any disciplinary actions would still fall to Senate administrators.

Monday’s unanimous vote by the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee came following the presentation of recommendations by a Senate task force. Following the #MeToo movement that has swept through statehouses across the country, including Washington’s, a Senate group that included legislative assistants and professional staff from both parties, as well as a nonpartisan committee staffer, has met more than a dozen times since January to review the chamber’s workplace policies.

The revised policy recommended Monday by the group allows employees to continue to report complaints directly to Senate administrators — the current policy — instead of the human resources officer if they choose, though officials say the human resources officer will be looped in on all complaints. The House has created its own task force, though that group’s recommendations aren’t expected until the end of the year.