A Republican Kansas state senator has come under fire from female legislators after imposing a dress code for women who are testifying on bills. Senator Mitch Holmes released an 11-point code of conduct that prohibits women from wearing low-cut necklines and miniskirts, but this does not include restrictions for men.
Holmes said that he believed that women who revealed too much during testimony were distractions, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal. While the code of conduct bans low-cut necklines and miniskirts, it does not set a minimum skirt length or maximum depth of cut for blouses.
"It's one of those things that's hard to define," the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee chairman said. "Put it out there and let people know we're really looking for you to be addressing the issue rather than trying to distract or bring eyes to yourself." He added that while he initially considered establishing that men had to wear a suit and a tie, he decided that men did not need extra instruction.
Holmes's female colleagues—two Republican senators and two Democratic senators—argued against the gender-specific dress code. "Oh, for crying out loud, what century is this?" said Senator Laura Kelly, a Democrat.
Republican Senator Carolyn McGinn, meanwhile, argued that the restrictions imposed by Holmes could deter women who do not have the clothing that meet his standards from testifying at the Capitol. McGinn told the Capital-Journal that people's opinions were more important that what they are wearing. "I am more interested in what they have to say about the direction our state should go than what they're wearing that day," she said.
According to Fox News, Senate President Susan Wagle, a Republican, predicted the committee will reconsider the dress code at its next meeting. "The legislative process eventually always evolves to a consensus of the majority without leadership having to take action," she told The Associated Press.