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Better environment

The state’s top lawmaker on #MeToo issues endorses the Walk

While Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-37th District, said she will not be at the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s annual Walk to Washington, the Teaneck lawmaker said that the changes to this year’s iteration are nonetheless promising.

A December NJ Advance Media report highlighted several reports of sexual harassment against female attendees at the event, and in New Jersey politics more broadly.

In response, the Chamber instituted new policies for the annual Walk and is working with the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Harassment on broader anti-discrimination efforts.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.

“It’s an improved environment, much less discomfort from inappropriate behavior, and I would assume because of all the press that it’s gotten that it’s probably going to be among the more safer train rides,” Weinberg told NJBIZ.

“I think it’s a step forward, and we’ll see how it works out this year,” she added. Weinberg was skeptical about whether a ban on hard liquor would be effective, given that the hotel where the cocktail hour and dinner is held has an open bar.

Weinberg in January unveiled a new committee featuring 11 of the state’s most prominent women in politics from both the public and private sector, as part of an effort to end the “toxic” culture of misogyny facing women in the state’s political landscape.

The committee held a forum earlier in February. Meanwhile, Weinberg said she would sponsor several legislative proposals from Gov. Phil Murphy that would impose tougher requirements on businesses in an effort to end workplace sexual harassment.

The Chamber Train leaves the station Feb. 27, and our coverage begins in the Feb. 24 issue with a preview of the trip. It continues on the train with the NJBIZ Podcast; if you’re riding, stop by car No. 2 to meet members of our staff.

“We have to start with the fact that we want this to be the same kind of enjoyable networking event that we’ve always had,” Tom Bracken, the chamber’s president, told NJBIZ.

And, according to Weinberg, “that’s what it was originally designed for, and it would be nice if they got back to that.”

Whatever happens on this year’s trip, she concluded, “hopefully the press will be reporting on that.”

Daniel J. Munoz
Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.