Public Policy News By Liz Jordan
By Ginny Hatfield, Amy Hom and Kathi Harper, AAUW CA Public Policy Committee
If you participated in this year’s Lobby Days on March 21 and 22, you know it was a whirlwind of activity. Over two jam-packed days, 120 AAUW CA members from 50 branches met with 46 Assembly offices and 23 Senate offices. Most of the meetings took place via Zoom and the majority took place without a hitch. For the first time, some of our members met in person in Sacramento.
While most meetings were conducted with legislative staff, we were able this year to schedule 10 meetings with the members themselves — six Assemblymembers and four Senators. In addition, Kathi Harper, AAUW CA Public Policy Chair, and Kathy Van Osten, our AAUW CA Legislative Advocate, met with the Governor’s staff and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s office.
We were happy to learn that our organization was known to many of the legislative staff and legislators with whom our members met. Some had spoken to branches in their districts; others were familiar with our public policy priorities and expressed alignment and support for them; and a handful were appreciative of the background we provided about our mission and programs. A sterling endorsement came from none other than Alf Brandt, policy consultant for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, whose mother was an AAUW member in the 1940’s in Orange County. He credits her involvement in AAUW “making me the man I am today.”
The reception of our “Top 3” bills — AB 1394, SB 287 and AB 549 – was generally favorable, especially the two social media bills. Both staff and legislators could identify with the pervasive problem of having children who are or will be targeted by social media. AB 549 needed a bit more explaining, as some were unfamiliar with CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. You can find more information on these and all the bills we are supporting here: https://www.aauw-ca.org/documents/2023/03/bill-tracking.pdf/.
During our Lobby Days event, we were able to get our message across to those who make our laws and to highlight AAUW, our mission, accomplishments and the benefits we bring to our communities throughout CA. It was an empowering exercise in advocacy and for those of you who participated, AAUW CA thanks you!
Adding this reminder: it’s time to vote on the updates to the Public Policy Priorities for 2023-25. In response to input from 466 members, the state Public Policy Committee has recommended and the Board has approved 11 changes, which can be viewed here: https://www.aauw-ca.org/2023-proposed-public-policy-priorities/. Highlighted additions include support for: civics education, access to diverse staff and curriculum, safe infrastructure and access to technology in our schools, gun violence prevention, and a fourth pillar to support women in leadership roles. Voting opens April 22. Make sure you make your voice heard!