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Governor Colyer Signs Order Tightening Kansas Sexual Harassment Policies

Governor Colyer signs the order while surrounded by members of his cabinet. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer used his first executive order Monday to tighten sexual harassment rules for thousands of state workers.

Accusations of sexual misconduct have surfaced around the Kansas Legislature in recent months, much like the #MeToo movement that’s swept the country.

Colyer’s order requires that executive branch employees under his control undergo annual sexual harassment training.

“We are going to have a positive, professional environment for everyone to work,” Colyer said. “Sexual harassment will not be tolerated, period.”

Colyer said harassment policies should be reviewed and updated at least every three years. Those rules will contain reporting guidelines, he said, including options for anonymously reporting harassment.

The rules will also apply to interns and contractors working for the state.

“In light of the recent deluge of victims of sexual harassment who bravely stepped out, what are we going to do about it?” asked Colyer. “We’re going to act decisively. We’re going to respond.”

The governor said his office will urge leaders in other parts of state government to consider similar policies.

The Kansas City-based Women’s Foundation hailed the announcement. President and CEO Wendy Doyle said she was glad to see a strong message coming from the governor’s office.

“It really starts at the top,” she said, “in the leadership role.”

Doyle said Kansas is one of the first states to have an executive order like this to fight sexual harassment.

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