US senator places dress code on women legislators, but they're not having it

Senator Mitch Holmes said he offered detailed instructions on how women should dress as provocatively-dressed officials ...
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Senator Mitch Holmes said he offered detailed instructions on how women should dress as provocatively-dressed officials would be a "distraction" to the Senate committee.

A US Senate committee chairman has found himself the subject of bipartisan ridicule after imposing a strict 11-point dress code on women legislators.

Senator Mitch Holmes, a Republican and chairman of the Kansas Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, said "low-cut necklines and miniskirts are inappropriate" for female lawmakers who come to testify on bills.

Holmes said he offered detailed instructions on how women lawmakers should dress because he had seen women at the Capitol dressing "provocatively", which he said can be a "distraction" to the Senate committee, reported the Topeka Capital-Journal.

He said men did not require additional rules to understand how to dress appropriately.

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Women legislators from across the board attacked his code of conduct.

"Oh, for crying out loud, what century is this?" said Senator Laura Kelly to the Topeka Capital-Journal.

"Who's going to define low-cut?" said Senator Vicki Schmidt, a Topeka Republican.

"Don't tell people how to dress and you'll be fine," said Kansas state representative Stephanie Clayton, a Republican.

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"I'm just appalled anyone would treat taxpaying Kansans with such disdain," Clayton said. "These are people we should be accountable to, not the other way around."

State Senator Pat Pettey, a Democrat, said it was "sexist" that Holmes felt the need to tell women how to dress appropriately but not men.

Republican Senator Carolyn McGinn said the opinions of a lawmaker were more important than their attire. 

"I am more interested in what they have to say about the direction our state should go than what they're wearing that day," McGinn said.

The uproar comes after an attempt by lawmakers in August 2015 to place a dress code on interns, following a sexual harassment scandal.

It set off a firestorm from critics who called it victim-blaming.

House Speaker Todd Richardson quickly released a statement putting the idea to rest.

 - MCT

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