AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The Texas House has voted to strengthen its anti-sexual harassment policies, mandating training and allowing a legislative committee with subpoena powers to investigate complaints.
Wednesday’s 142-0 vote requires House members and staff to quickly complete training upon first employment. The changes were based on recommendations by a special committee formed to discuss ways to curb sexual misconduct.
Complaints had gone to the House Committee on Administration, which reported receiving only “a few” sexual harassment claims in recent years.
The Texas Senate has also moved to revise its policies, but some have criticized those as still offering little recourse for alleged victims who accuse senators of misconduct.
Republican Charles Schwertner won re-election but reigned a Senate committee chairmanship after being accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to a graduate student.
Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold also resigned in 2018 amid similar accusations.
“While I planned on serving out the remainder of my term in Congress, I know in my heart it’s time for me to move along and look for new ways to serve,” Farenthold said in a video statement at the time of the allegations.
A lawsuit by former Farenthold aide Lauren Greene alleged that the congressman had discussed his sexual fantasies about her and said at a staff meeting that a lobbyist had propositioned him for a threesome. It accused Farenthold of repeatedly complimenting her appearance, then joking that he hoped the comments wouldn’t be construed as sexual harassment.