Kendrick Testifies Before House Committee on Intern Policies

Rep. Kendrick testified at a legislative hearing on November 5 before the House Committee on Administration and Accounts. The two-hour hearing was held regarding proposed changes to the sexual harassment and intern policies within the Missouri House of Representatives.

Rep. Kendrick previously submitted lengthy policy changes and additions to a House Work Group in response to the need to hold legislator conduct involving interns to a much higher standard.

The policies as approved by the Committee yesterday substantially mirror those proposed by Rep. Kendrick. Areas in which he will continue to push for further modification include:
(1)  pre-identifying outside counsel to be used in investigations of sexual harassment;
(2) requiring signatures on the non-fraternization policies to ensure members, staff, and interns have read the policy;
(3) identifying non-mandated reporters to ensure victims can access a confidential source; and
(4) limiting potential for politics to interfere with internship placement.

A summary of the policy changes voted on by the committee yesterday is included below. All policies become effective immediately with the exception of the mandate that sexual harassment complaints be investigated by outside counsel. That provision requires a vote by the full House when they return to session in January.

Summary of Policy Changes

1.      Mandatory annual conduct and ethics training for House members that includes sexual harassment policy and procedures.
2.      Mandatory annual staff training that includes sexual harassment policy and procedures.
3.      Formal prohibition on romantic fraternization between members, staff and interns.
4.      Sexual harassment complaints that involve House members or the Chief Clerk require investigation by outside counsel.
5.      Create additional levels of oversight by placing the administration of the intern program under the House Administration Division.

a)      Intern handbook
b)      Intern Training
c)       Provide intern ombudsman as an advocate and coordinator
d)      Retain Majority and Minority party members intern coordinator that ensures member and intern compliance with policies.
e)      Sending universities intern policies must be reviewed and approved by House committee on Administration and Accounts.  Sub-committee of Administration and accounts reviews intern placement.

6.      Provide additional options for harassment reporting by expanding the list of mandated reporters to include all leadership staff.
7.      Review of intern policies done annually with intern sending institutions by intern ombudsman