Late Tuesday, the Texas Senate suspended rules to permit the filing of a bill by State Sen. Jose Menendez (D–San Antonio) that would require sexual harassment prevention training and ethics training for individuals registering as lobbyists. It was immediately referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee, where it has been scheduled for a public hearing on Thursday, April 29.
On Wednesday, the Texas House of Representatives followed suit, unanimously voting for permission to introduce a similar bill by State Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D–Houston) that was referred to and subsequently scheduled for a public hearing in the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday as well.
Both bills require the completion of sexual harassment training provided by the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) every two years. Notably, the Senate version also requires ethics training. The House version would add the prohibition of sexual harassment by a registered lobbyist into the Texas Government Code and would lay out parameters by which the TEC would deny, suspend, or revoke a lobbyist’s registration.
The move comes after allegations arose last Saturday that a legislative staffer had reportedly been drugged by a lobbyist.
Since then, an ongoing investigation had been announced and several lawmakers made public pronouncements of the intolerability of such behavior.
As the two bills are different, it is unclear which one will make it through the entirety of the legislative process with fewer than 32 days left in the 140-day legislative session.