Poliquin joins effort to address sexual harassment on Capitol Hill

Good morning from Augusta, where we’re looking south to the nation’s capital and seeing movement in the fight against sexual harassment, including a new bill from U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd District.

Everyone’s talking about it. Improper comments and actions against women began to fall under the limelight during the presidential campaign with a string of crude comments by then-candidate Donald Trump used as campaign fodder. Since then, there have been several high-profile accusations against politicians and celebrities. Most recently, Roy Moore, a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Alabama, is under fire for alleged sexual misdeeds and former President Bill Clinton is seeing a critical light shined on his past.

The speaker of the House has stepped up. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin announced Tuesday that the House members and staff will begin mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training, which was hailed by many as a huge and positive step forward. That came after a hearing Tuesday morning in Washington during which several female lawmakers testified about unwanted sexual comments and advances taking place at the U.S. Capitol. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, said she has seen women have their private parts grabbed on the House floor. Speier, who said she has been a victim herself, has become a leader on the issue by among other things launching a #MeTooCongress campaign.

Speier, Poliquin and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York will introduce a new anti-harassment bill today. The Member and Employee Training and Oversight On (ME TOO) Congress Act seeks to overhaul the complaint process with more transparency and provide better support for victims and whistleblowers. The details of the bill have not been released but will be unveiled during a press conference today at noon. You can watch live on Poliquin’s Facebook page by clicking here.

In Maine, the Legislature may look at “beefing up” its sexual harassment training requirements, according to their top administrator. Maine became the first state to mandate sexual harassment training with a 1991 law that applied to employers with 15 or more employees. In the Maine Legislature, members get that training as part of a one-day orientation every two years. Staffers get the training every year. Grant Pennoyer, the executive director of the Legislative Council, a panel of 10 legislative leaders, said Wednesday morning that leaders have approached him about “beefing up” that training.

Reading list

  • Poliquin said he’ll vote for fellow Republicans’ tax blueprint on Thursday. The congressman called it “a sea change” that will make the tax code simpler and fairer for middle-class Americans. Despite an $1.5 trillion price tag over 10 years, Poliquin echoed Republican arguments that economic growth could offset debt concerns. The House and Senate will have to reconcile differing plans before any tax package becomes law.
  • Find out how your local school measures up to others. The BDN compiled data that would take you hours or maybe days of cross-referencing so you can see your school’s spending, enrollment, student achievement, teacher salaries and training, and dropout rates. We’ve put the data in interactive charts for you, down to the elementary school level.
  • The Wall Street Journal is pretty sure Amazon won’t go to Scarborough and so are we. The venerable paper put Scarborough’s bid to house Amazon’s new headquarters on a list of “implausible” proposals. Town Manager Thomas Hall said the hurdles may be “insurmountable,” but with “something of this magnitude, you’ll build it and they’ll come.” (Amazon isn’t going to come.) Here’s your soundtrack.
  • Experts say it would be hard to prosecute George H.W. Bush for groping women. All but one of the six alleged incidents happened too long ago to prosecute. In addition, the 41st president’s age and medical condition would make it hard, with one lawyer saying “I doubt if you could ever find a jury that would ever want to convict him.

How to not kill your mother-in-law

The BDN’s Julia Bayly has put together a helpful tip sheet about how to not poison your Thanksgiving guests with the turkey, including the terrifying fact that if you put your turkey in the fridge too soon, it could warm everything else up and kill them with spoiled milk or something, instead.

I have never seen anyone killed at Thanksgiving, though there was that one year when Uncle Snappy told that cozrse joke and it was close.

Anyway, my first reaction to Bayly’s piece was “let the experts handle it,” which to me means my mom or mother-in-law. Then I fired up Facebook and saw my mother-in-law posted a meme this morning that reads, “If my relatives wanted me to be truly thankful, they’d do all the cooking.”

She, who lives dangerously. Here’s your soundtrack.Christopher Cousins

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd. If you’re reading it on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.