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Gov. Steve Sisolak delivers an inaugural address after being sworn in as Nevada's first Democratic governor in two decades on the steps of the Nevada State Capitol in Carson City on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

In his first official act as governor an hour after he was sworn into office, Steve Sisolak created an 11-member special sexual harassment task force that will be helmed by Attorney General Aaron Ford.

The task force requires all executive branch agencies with the state to review their sexual harassment policies and procedures and submit a report to the state attorney general by March 1. Those include harassment prevention plans, orientation and training policies, complaint reporting protocol and privacy policies.

“In this order, we intended to send a clear message that sexual harassment and discrimination has no place in Nevada,” Sisolak told reporters on Monday, shortly after his inauguration.

The order comes after two prominent Democrats — state Sen. Mark Manendo and Rep. Ruben Kihuen — left office following reports of sexual harassment. Manendo resigned his seat following an extensive sexual harassment investigation in 2017, and Kihuen opted not to run for re-election last year after publication of stories that he sexually harassed a lobbyist and campaign worker. State lawmakers later implemented new policies and a hotline where people can report misconduct.  

“It is imperative to the progress and reputation of Nevada that we continue to examine and address the power inequities, harassment and discrimination reporting failures, and flaws in anti-discrimination laws, policies, and procedures that have allowed sexual harassment and discrimination to persist,” the order said.

In his campaign for attorney general, Ford promised to create a “Gold Standard” of sexual harassment prevention strategies for public officials and private employers.

The commission will be composed of 11 members, including:

  • The attorney general
  • The executive director of the Department of Administration, Patrick Cates
  • The administrator of the Nevada Equal Rights Commission
  • A representative from the William S. Boyd School of Law, who will represent higher education interests
  • A sexual harassment and discrimination victims’ rights advocate
  • A representative of local law enforcement
  • An individual with expertise in medical and psychological treatment of sexual harassment and discrimination victims
  • A representative of a labor union that represents the interests of culinary and hospitality workers in Nevada’s resort industry
  • A representative of a Nevada chamber of commerce
  • A representative of a county with a population of fewer than 100,000 people
  • A representative of the Nevada Resort Association, the main casino lobby

In a brief press conference, Sisolak declined to say when the state might sign on to a coalition of Democratic-led states defending the Affordable Care Act from a Texas-led lawsuit, but promised that “good, innovative, progressive” actions would soon come out of his office. He also declined to comment on potential policy changes after death row inmate Scott Dozier was found dead over the weekend in an apparent suicide, saying that he wanted to let the investigation play out.

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