Two weeks ago, I spoke at a conference of women leaders in government on the topic of sexual harassment and the work we’ve done within the California Legislature to change a system that has too often failed to provide the accountability and justice that we all deserve. Afterwards, I was amazed by how many attendees came up to me and relayed how they’ve struggled to address harassment in their state houses. For some, even the smallest change was blocked. I’m proud that California can provide them with a road map to reform.

Getting to this point hasn’t been easy. It all began last fall, as the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke and the #MeToo movement gained momentum, a letter circulated around the Capitol community calling for an end to the permissive attitude towards sexual harassment in Sacramento. I signed the letter, along with over 140 other women, hoping to send a message but not expecting much to change. After all, we’ve endured harassment in the workplace for decades.

Days later, I was tasked with taking the lead on the Assembly’s response to harassment and a complete overhaul of our policies. What started as the Assembly Rules Subcommittee on Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation Prevention and Response became in January a bicameral approach through the Joint Rules Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response, and I’ve been privileged to serve as the chair of both.

Over the past six months, we’ve held nine hearings and heard more than 13 hours of testimony from experts, advocates and victims.

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