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Richardson: No new intern dress code, but final recommendations will get public airing

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson is maintaining that a proposed new dress code for interns is not, and will not, be among the recommendations for improving their working conditions.

House members have been working on several suggestions, which Richardson says will be released at a later date.

"We threw the recommendations out to the entire House of Representatives for input and comment, and so anytime you do that, you're going to get some well-thought-out ideas and you're going to get some that probably aren't so well thought out," Richardson said Thursday while attending the Missouri State Fair.  "We (already) have a dress code, a professional dress code, that covers everybody who works in the House, whether it be members, staff, or interns."

A new dress code for interns was suggested by two Kansas City area freshmen lawmakers, Rep. Bill Kidd, R-Independence, and Nick King, R-Liberty.  Their proposal was vehemently criticized by Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat. She described the proposal as "victim-blaming" in a letter she sent to Kidd and King.

Meanwhile, the informal working group appointed by Richardson to study the Missouri House's intern policy won't be upgraded to an official committee that would require public hearings, at least not anytime soon. He says, though, that the working group's recommendations, once finalized, will undergo public scrutiny.

"Any changes to a formal written policy of the House has to be approved by the Accounts and Administration committee," which is chaired by Rep. MikeLeara, R-Sunset Hills, Richardson said, "so at some point there will be a public hearing and a vote on whatever policy we have."

Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, created the working group to examine the House's intern policy following the resignation of former speaker John Diehl, R-Town and Country, after he admitted exchanging sexually charged texts with a female intern. The working group is chaired by Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington.

In addition, state Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence, announced his resignation after two interns accused him of making unwanted sexual advances. He maintains he's innocent, and that he's stepping down to spare the Senate and his family from "the process of dealing with the veracity of false allegations and character assassination." LeVota's resignation takes effect Aug. 23.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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