South Dakota lawmakers expected to attend professional development training in Pierre

Published: Jan. 17, 2018 at 7:00 AM CST
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Senator Deb Peters said legislative staff and the department of legislative audit are required to attend, and South Dakota legislators, interns, pages, and lobbyists are all encouraged to attend. She is the one who started the conversation to hold a training. Since legislators are voted by the citizens, they can't be required to attend, but Senator Peters said they are encouraged to because there's no reason not to.

The training could last for three hours. A few members of the National Conference of State Legislators will go to South Dakota to lead the class. It will focus on different topics including what exactly sexual harassment is, what are the state's policies when it comes to harassment, the principles of ethics, civil discourse and how to work together no matter what side of the aisle you're on.

The conversation to hold this training started in June of 2017 when the legislature had to have a special session. After the national movement of #MeToo and allegations surfaced from two women in South Dakota, the sexual harassment training was added.

"I think it's important to always continue the conversation," Sen. Peters said. "Obviously, we have let that conversation not be as vocal as far as maintaining this on the forefront of people's minds, maintaining the focus of protecting people, and making sure everybody feels safe in the workplace."

She believes the legislature need to do a better job talking about professional development more frequently. She's been in the legislature for about 14 years and she has only gone through a training twice. She doesn't know how often or whether this training on Wednesday will change anything but it's a start.