Feb. 22, 2023

By Rep. Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District

On Jan. 27, in Philadelphia, during one of the stops of the Speaker’s Workgroup to Move Pennsylvania Forward listening tour, an allegation of sexual harassment was made against a sitting member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

It takes courage to make an allegation like this, particularly in our state Capitol against a lawmaker. I stood with and supported a victim of sexual assault when a worse situation occurred several years ago with a former member. I saw the toll it took. Unfortunately, the culture under the dome in Harrisburg has long been unsettling, even before my arrival. This needs to change. Sexual assault or harassment is something nobody should have to tolerate while doing their job.

We have an opportunity to easily remedy this now in the soon-to-be-voted House regular session rules for the 2023-24 Legislative Session. Last session, Rep. Kate Klunk authored House Resolution 192, which would have expanded House ethical conduct rules and procedures to sexual harassment complaints made by anyone against a member or officer of the House in circumstances related to their office or employment. Prior rules only applied when the complaint was made by a member or employee of the House.

“Justice for the victims of sexual misconduct.” This was a quote repeated over and over again in our first session week back since November 2022. Ironically, Rep. Klunk was barred from adding language similar to House Resolution 192 to the House special session rules.

As a member of the speaker’s workgroup, I feel it is important to continue to pursue this rule change so that every lawmaker is held accountable for their actions while doing their job no matter the location or with whom they may be working. As was stated in the testimony to the workgroup “harassment is not a partisan issue.” I highly encourage the speaker and whomever is writing rules for regular session to include the language from House Resolution 192. This will hold lawmakers accountable through the House ethics process and give both the testifier at the Philadelphia listening tour stop and the accused lawmaker an opportunity for a fair process that can deliver justice.

Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Tracy Polovick
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