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Missouri House draws criticism with new restrictions on female lawmakers’ dress code

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The Missouri House of Representatives implemented a new professional dress code for female lawmakers in the state requiring them to wear jackets or cardigans at all times to cover their arms in order to “always maintain a formal and professional atmosphere.”

The new dress code was passed after a heated floor debate over the change, with Democratic lawmakers saying the new dress code is sexist and unfair.

Rep. Raychel Proudie argued against the dress code on the floor, saying that the matter was also a distraction from the real issues.

“There are some very serious things that are in this rule package that I think we should be debating, but instead we are fighting, again, for a woman’s right to choose something, and this time [it’s] how she covers herself,” Proudie said during Wednesday’s floor debate. “I spent $1,200 on a suit, and I can’t wear it in the People’s House because someone who doesn’t have the range tells me that’s inappropriate.”

The previous dress code for women in the Missouri House required them to wear “dresses or skirts or slacks worn with a blazer or sweater and appropriate dress shoes or boots.” Men are required to wear jackets, shirts, and ties.

The rule change was introduced by GOP Rep. Ann Kelly, who argued, “Men are required to wear a jacket, a shirt and a tie, correct? And if they walked in here without a tie, they would get gaveled down in a heartbeat. If they walked in without a jacket, they would get gaveled down in a heartbeat. So, we are so interested in being equal.”

The new bill originally required jackets or blazers for women, but was altered to include cardigans only after the floor debate.

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