New York governor proposes laws to combat sexual harassment

New York governor proposes laws to combat sexual harassment

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Tuesday announced a series of proposed new laws that would reform how the state handles sexual harassment and reporting policies in the workplace.

“Our challenge in government is to turn society’s revulsion into reform, and we in New York must seize the moment and lead the way. There must be zero tolerance for sexual harassment in any workplace, and we can and will end the secrecy and coercive practices that have enabled harassment for far too long,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Cuomo is proposing legislation that would prevent taxpayer funds from being used to settle sexual assault and harassment complaints.

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The governor is also proposing a uniform code of sexual harassment policies that would apply to all state and local governments in New York. Cuomo would also look to implement a “whistleblower” process to help victims file complaints without fear of retribution.

Another aspect of Cuomo’s proposal is prohibiting confidentiality agreements relating to sexual assault or harassment cases unless the victim has explicitly agreed to one. 

The governor is expected to lay out his anti-sexual harassment effort in more detail during his annual State of the State address Wednesday. 

Cuomo’s announcement comes after allegations of sexual misconduct rocked the political world in 2017. A number of state and national representatives announced their resignation or plans to retire in the face of allegations, including Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenSenators introduce bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy Ex-White House ethics counsel: More evidence against Trump than there ever was against Nixon 100 days after House passage, Gillibrand calls on Senate to act on sexual harassment reform MORE (D-Minn.), Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersConyers III won't appear on primary ballot in race to replace his father Conyers's son in danger of missing ballot in Michigan Eric Schneiderman and #MeToo pose challenges for both parties MORE Jr. (D-Mich.), Rep. Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdSenators introduce bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights Five races to watch in the Texas runoffs MORE (R-Texas) and Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksFreedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights Eric Schneiderman and #MeToo pose challenges for both parties The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ariz.)

Last month, when asked by a female reporter about how he might address sexual misconduct allegations against a former aide, Cuomo told the reporter she does “a disservice to women” by suggesting sexual harassment is a state government issue. 

“It’s not government, it’s society,” he said.

Cuomo is running for a third term as governor in 2018, and is considered a potential candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.