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Government & Politics

And then there were two

The Maryland State House. Photo by Bryan P. Sears.

A Democratic state senator and Republican delegate are the last of their colleagues who have yet to complete anti-sexual harassment training required of all lawmakers.

Of all 188 lawmakers, only Sen. Mary-Dulany James (D-Harford) and Del. Barrie S. Ciliberti (R-Frederick) haven’t completed the training. Both were part of a group of six lawmakers who earlier this year missed nine sessions — all offered virtually — between Sept. 14, 2023 and Jan. 26. All of the sessions were offered by the legislature’s human resources department.

Del. Barrie Ciliberti (R-Frederick). File photo by Bryan P. Sears.

Four lawmakers took the course before the end of session, leaving only James, 64, the daughter of the late Maryland Senate President William S. James and an attorney, and Ciliberti, 87, and a nine-year veteran of the legislature who voted for the 2018 law.

Reached by phone, Ciliberti said Wednesday that he is scheduled to take the training in person in Annapolis next Tuesday.

A spokesperson for House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) said the speaker “takes the training very seriously and is in communication” with Ciliberti about completing it.

James, who served from 1999-2015 in the House before being elected to the Senate in 2022, did not respond to a request for comment.

“I take this seriously,” James said in February when asked why she had yet to complete the training. She said at the time that she missed trainings because they were scheduled “when I have floor session or voting or other obligations.”

Sen. Mary-Dulany James (D-Harford). Photo by Bryan P. Sears.

A spokesperson for Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) did not respond to a request for comment.

Lawmakers are required to take the training every two years. The mandated sessions were part of a 2018 law that broadened protections for women working in the General Assembly.

That law created an independent investigator to review complaints of sexual harassment, and made it illegal to retaliate against those who make complaints.

Even though the training is required, the repercussions for failing to do so are relatively minor.

First, lawmakers are subject to public shaming. The names and training status of each lawmaker is published on the General Assembly’s website. The list, however, is in an out of the way spot on the website so many people are likely to miss it.

In extreme cases, other sanctions can be imposed including preventing a lawmaker from hiring staff until completing the training. Such punishments are rare.

In 2019, then-Del. Hasan “Jay” Jalisi (D-Baltimore County) was ordered to not hire staff until he completed an anger management course approved by the speaker of the House.

Jalisi ignored the requirement, hiring a 20-year old to work on his legislative staff. The staffer, Brian Agandi, quit a month later for not being paid.

Agandi, in a lawsuit in 2019 against Jalisi, said the delegate misrepresented his ability to hire staff. Agandi, in 2020, won almost $20,000 in back pay and damages.

That same year, the legislature unanimously reprimanded Jalisi for chronic abuses of staff following the release of a 16-page report from the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.


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And then there were two