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With Democrats in control, State Legislature sets hearing on workplace sexual harassment

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Tuesday in Albany. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

With Democrats now controlling both houses, the State Legislature announced Thursday it will hold a hearing on sexual harassment in the workplace, a year after lawmakers rebuffed calls to do so.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said the hearings isn't intended to field sexual-harassment complaints. Instead, it is intended to gather information as a way of considering furthering legislation, they said.

The hearing is set for Feb. 13 at the Legislative Office Building in Albany.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislators faced intense pressure from advocates last year to hold hearings, but declined. A group of seven women, who experienced harassment while working in state government, formed the Sexual Harassment Working Group and demanded hearings in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

But that was before a major change in the Albany political dynamics. In November, Democrats wrested control of the State Senate from Republicans on Election Day, clearing the way for Stewart-Cousins to become the first woman leader of the chamber.

  "It's a new day in Albany," Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) said on Twitter. "By listening to the voices of victims, advocates, and experts, we can have the open, transparent process we need to create effective reform."

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