Kito Speaks on Sexual Harassment Training and Marine Highway

Juneau, AK (KINY) - Alaskan Lawmakers will be required to take sexual harassment training courses in the wake of accusations.

Previous rules on the matter were found to be inadequate by the working group. Representative Sam Kito III, who chairs the Legislative Council gave us the details on the new procedures.

“The goal is to have the policy reviewed and recommendations submitted to the entire Legislative Council early in the new year. One of the things that everybody seems to agree on is that training has been inadequate for making sure that legislative staff are aware of how to report situations that make them feel uncomfortable.”

“The primary goal will be to make sure that everybody knows that they can report directly to the Human Resources Manager for the legislature. My understanding is that the training would be initiated during the first week of the upcoming legislative session. It will be mandatory training at two levels.”

“One level is for all of the employees and legislators to understand what their rights and responsibilities are in regards to workplace harassment and where the reporting will be directed. Then, there will be a second level of training that will be offered for individuals within offices that are scheduled to receive reports or identified to receive reports, so the Speaker’s office, the President’s office, and both Rules Committee offices will have the opportunity to have staff trained in how to address reports that may come to them.”

We asked on how often this training would be applied.

My understanding is that the training will be required annually and that those receiving reports will also be required to be trained. That training will be contracted to an outside training firm that specializes in Human Resources training.

We also asked about his thoughts on the Westlake accusations.

“That is entirely his decision and my understanding is that he is accepting responsibility for his actions. It does sound like his actions warranted him stepping aside. That is is definitely something that he is having to deal with. I do have a comment that he has acknowledged the actions that he has done and the actions that he has done has harmed other people and he's accepting responsibility for that.”

Kito also talked about some of the goals of legislature that will affect the Alaska Marine Highway system in an attempt to stabilize it.

“We are working on legislation that will stabilize funding for the Alaska Marine Highway System. Our goal is to make sure that the Alaska Marine Highway System Fund has adequate revenue or has adequate money to allow a schedule produced by the legislature to not be impacted by an intervening budget.”

“The goal really is to put enough money, and it's not really forward funding it's just providing adequate resources within the Marine Highway System Fund, to allow the system to operate according to the schedule that they publish. Those schedules can be up to 18 months, sometimes two years, but generally 18 months in advance.”

“The idea is to make sure that they have that transition funding in order to accommodate any shift in budget that might be passed by the legislature, so that when the Marine Highway System offers a schedule and starts selling reservations for that schedule, they do not have to let riders know that the schedule is going to change because of budget.”

This legislature comes from a working group recommendation.

“This is actually is one of the key components of trying to stabilize the Marine Highway System for the future that was recommended by lieutenant governor and the governor's working group with the Southeast Conference. The Marine Highway System is also with its Southeast Conference processes looking at a reorganization of leadership so that the Marine Highway system has its own independent board.”

“In order to be able to operate as an independent board, stabilization of the funding is going to be necessary as well. This piece of legislation serves to pave the way or establish that step to be able to consider the Marine Highway System as a public corporation.”



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