Jesse Paul at the Denver Post (say a prayer for them) reports on the ongoing crisis over sexual harassment allegations in the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate, and the increasing difficulty of conducting essential business in an environment where three Republican Senators have had credible allegations made against them–yet every day, dozens of women who are vocationally obliged to go to the State Capitol must deal with:
The sexual harassment complaint against GOP state Sen. Randy Baumgardner has spilled into a contentious statehouse debate about legislation to fix Colorado’s roads, with Democrats pushing back on the measure over policy disagreements and the lawmaker’s role as one of the bill’s main sponsors.
The result has been two days of politically charged floor discussion on Senate Bill 1 with no signs of compromise. While Republicans have the votes to pass the measure and send it to the House, without any Democratic support, its future in the lower chamber looks dim.
“How do I work with a colleague from across the aisle who has this cloud hanging over him?” Sen. Rachel Zenzinger,D-Arvada, said in an interview. She is one of two Democrats on the Senate Transportation Committee, which first heard the bill, and has raised concerns about how the GOP would pay for and sustain it.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have consistently refused to acknowledge the real issue behind the increasing Democratic resistance to business as usual, instead focusing on the parliamentary tactic and the legislation supplying the battleground for the more pressing concern:
If you’re sitting in traffic this morning, or will be sitting in traffic later today, you’ll have plenty of time to consider this: @COSenDem would rather filibuster, obfuscate and tap dance than debate the merits of a road fix. #copolitics #coleg #sb1 pic.twitter.com/U6EqXYzsj2
— Colorado Senate GOP (@ColoSenGOP) March 14, 2018
The problem is not the details of Senate Bill 18-001, which would refer a measure to voters to take out a large bond obligation for road projects–although you may well find the GOP’s plan for billions in new debt “without raising taxes” is the not the responsible way to solve Colorado’s transportation problems as we suspect the Democratic House will.
The problem is that Sen. Randy Baumgardner is the sponsor of the bill.
With each passing day since the House voted overwhelmingly to expel Rep. Steve Lebsock after multiple allegations of sexual harassment against Lebsock were found credible, the Senate’s failure to take meaningful action over similarly credible complaints against multiple Republican Senators is reinforcing the hostile environment the women who work for and vocationally interact with the Colorado Senate have experienced for years. That is why every day recently in the Senate has begun with some manner of protest against these men, especially Sen. Baumgardner, continuing to serve. It’s a situation that would not be tolerated in any private workplace, and Senate President Kevin Grantham’s declaration that sexual harassment by Senators not rising to the level of a crime will go unpunished results in an environment no woman should ever be forced to work in.
And yet women who work at the Colorado Capitol are. Every. Single. Day.
Something’s got to give, folks.
We are not prescribing a specific remedy. We only say this morally cannot be allowed to continue.