AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas House has taken another step to strengthen its anti-sexual harassment rules.
- Texas lawmakers unanimously vote to strengthen anti-sexual harassment policies
- Move comes in wake of Me Too movement and reporters of legislators engaging in sexual misconduct
- New rules mandate third-party investigations and harassment prevention training
Lawmakers unanimously voted Wednesday to toughen their policies. This latest move follows troubling reports that have surfaced over the past two years of legislators engaging in sexual misconduct.
Texas House members unanimously voted to better police themselves when it comes to sexual misconduct.
Democratic Rep. Donna Howard led the charge to move all complaints to the General Investigating committee.
"They have subpoena power, they have confidentiality built in already, so there's a real process to follow," Howard said.
And if the accusation is against a lawmaker, a third-party investigator will be brought in to look at the matter. The new rules also mandate sexual harassment prevention training; all new protections that Howard says were missing from past policies.
"You were told that you could report it, but not really given information about who to report it to, how to report it, that sort of thing," Howard said.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has been working to update policies in the wake of the Me Too movement, and after a string of allegations against their colleagues surfaced. Most recently, there has been an investigation into Sen. Charles Schwertner, the Republican from Georgetown who is accused of sending lewd pictures to a graduate student.
The Senate has also revised its policies, but some have criticized those as not going far enough.
"Their elected representatives take this seriously, want to make sure that when business is conducted on their behalf here at the Capitol, that it is done respectfully and free from harassment," Howard said.
Howard says the House changes are long overdue and hopes this sends a strong message that sexual harassment won't be tolerated.
Click the link above to watch our interview with Chris Kaiser, director of public policy and general counsel for the Texas Association of Sexual Assault.