Category Archives: Public Policy

Public Policy Updates by Ashley Anglesey

What Public Policy Is (and means to AAUW Members)

Public Policy is in its slow season, as the Capitol is on winter break until the beginning of 2018. While there are no events or changes in policy being made right now, we don’t have to slow down In fact, now is a perfect time for some “grassroots advocacy,” which you can do even from the comfort of your own home.

Watch your email for blasts on petitions to sign, letters to write, etc., and please make sure that you’re signed up for AAUW National’s “2 Minute Activist.” It really does take 2 minutes or less to make a difference! [https://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/public-policy/two-minute-activist/]

Some good news has been circulated from National, which I’d like to share. “In 2017 a whopping 42 states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., offered legislative solutions to the gender pay gap. While not all of these bills passed, this growing activity shows that red, blue, and purple states realize that the pay gap is real and that something needs to be done about it.” We’ll keep fighting the good fight! Our next BIG event on the books, which we are beginning to plan, is Equal Pay Day, on April 10. Please watch your emails for updates. If anyone would like to help with this event, please email me at ashleyanglesey@gmail.com.

Public Policy Updates by Ashley Anglesey

The AAUW Sacramento Branch Public Policy Committee had our first event of the branch year on Sept. 26 for National Voter Registration Day, where we teamed up with our California State University, Sacramento Chapter and held a voter registration drive on campus from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. It was a great chance to bring our presence onto campus. We handed out 50 “It’s My Vote” buttons and other materials, and a handful of people registered to vote. Most everyone we talked to said they were already registered to vote, so that was great news!

We held a social media campaign using the “It’s My Vote because___” posters, where people were able to write in their own reason why voting was important to them and then take a picture with it. We then posted the photos on Instagram using AAUW National’s hashtag #itsmyvote. We received lots of recognition and praise from AAUW National and AAUW California for our efforts.

Going forward, we are working on finalizing the committee, and we will be planning small advocacy events (i.e. letter writing and calling legislators) for the busy holiday season. Our next BIG event, which we are beginning to plan, is Equal Pay Day, on April 10, 2018.

Public Policy Update by Ashley Anglesey

Our New Public Policy Director Ashley Anglesey

Hello AAUW Sacramento Branch Members!

My name is Ashley Anglesey, and I am the new Director of Public Policy. I am 28 years old and just graduated Magna Cum Laude from California State University, Sacramento, with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. During my undergrad, I held many leadership positions on campus (including serving as an officer in AAUW’s Chapter) and was a research assistant in two psychology labs. I also held an internship at the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, where I served as a public policy researcher. I’m now studying for the LSAT and will be applying to law schools for fall 2018 admission, where I hope to specialize in Employment & Labor Law.

I’m excited to start working in this branch and bring my enthusiasm, dedication, and love for advocacy and public policy to this organization. I look forward to increasing awareness for AAUW’s public policy priorities in our communities, specifically issues involving civil rights, education, economic security, and Title IX. Our first event was for National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 26, where we teamed up with Sac State’s Chapter to host a tabling and social media campaign to reach potential voters.

I hope this is just the beginning to a fun, advocacy-centered year! And I look forward to getting to know all of you better

Recruiting for Title IX Action by Karen Humphrey

AAUW has launched a national project for members to reach out to Title IX Coordinators in districts and schools to provide information and offer support for gender-equitable public education. The Sacramento Branch Public Policy Committee wants to identify Branch members who would like to become part of a team to work on this project.

Participation would involve becoming familiar with the AAUW project materials, contacting local districts and possibly schools, and holding meetings with Title IX Coordinators. We can start with the Sacramento City Unified School District and expand to schools and/or nearby districts as members are available. Visits would not start until the new school year begins in August or September, but we would like to use the spring and summer months to plan and prepare.

This is an important national initiative designed to help local Title IX Coordinators be as effective as possible in ensuring gender equity for all students. If you are interested in participating, or have questions, contact Karen Humphrey by email at karenhumphrey@prodigy.net or call her at 916-498-0527. Please respond by May 30 so we know if we have enough people to proceed.

The Equal Rights Amendment by Liz Jordan

The Equal Rights Amendment

  • Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
  • Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
  • Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

 In 1919, the U. S. Congress passed the 19th Amendment, which states the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.” It was ratified the following year, bringing a culmination to the Women’s Suffrage Movement. By 1923, Alice Paul who had been in Suffrage Leadership introduced the Equal Rights Amendment to Congress. It took another 49 years to get the ERA passed by Congress so that it could be sent out to the states for ratification.

 By June 1982, the deadline for three quarters of the state legislatures to ratify the amendment, the supporters of the amendment had maneuvered ratification by 35 of the 50 states — three states short of the required 38 to make it a part of the U. S. Constitution. Since then, the ERA has been introduced every two years, into every Congress.

One of the most vocal and persuasive opponents of the ERA during the effort for ratification was Phyllis Schlafly, an American constitutional lawyer and conservative activist. In 2007, Schlafly summed up her arguments against the Amendment in a letter to the Los Angeles Times by stating it would

  • “…require women to be drafted into military combat
  • …abolish the presumption that the husband should support his wife and take away Social Security benefits for wives and widows
  • …give federal courts and federal government enormous new powers to reinterpret every law that makes a distinction based on gender, such as those related to marriage, divorce and alimony.”

Supporters of the ERA could respond to these charges with “Precisely. That’s what we want.”

Today, supporters of the ERA can show that laws and courts in the varied 50 states that discriminate and harm the lives of women could be challenged by the existence of an Amendment to the Constitution that prohibits both. The documentary “Equal Means Equal,” written, produced, and directed by actress and filmmaker Kamala Lopez, looks at the following legal and social topics of import to women:

  • Rape, Sexual Assault
  • Foster care & Child Sex Trafficking
  • Reproductive Health Care
  • Pregnancy Discrimination
  • Wage Discrimination
  • Domestic Violence
  • Female Incarceration
  • Female Poverty
  • And the roll of the United States as a leader in International Women’s Rights.

Elaboration on how a constitutional amendment would impact these issues and topics can be found in the documentary and at equalmeansequal.com.

On Jan. 17, 2017, Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 5, followed on Jan. 31 by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), which asserts that the ERA will become part of the U. S. Constitution “whenever ratified by legislatures of three-fourths of the States.”

AAUW contributed to this documentary and continues to fight for the ratification of the ERA. AAUW continues to be a part of what Schlafly called those “…pushy women’s organizations, a consortium of 33 women’s magazines, numerous Hollywood celebrities and virtually all the media.”

Americans’ Reproductive Health Rights Face Uncertain Future by Charmen Goehring

Reproductive health for Americans faces an uncertain future with the election of Donald Trump and the Republican-held Congress. The President and his GOP colleagues have made it clear that they are planning to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (putting no-cost birth control at risk, among other things), and they will defund Planned Parenthood. According to the organization’s leadership, 2.5 million people rely on Planned Parenthood for essential healthcare, including cancer screenings, mammograms and birth control. Community health centers and public health officials speculate that no one else could handle servicing all of those who would be without care.

Planned Parenthood reports a 900% increase in women getting the 5- or 10-year IUD since the November 2016 election, giving themselves a birth control option that will outlast the current administration.

According to an article on BBC News in early February 2017, some states are looking ahead and making plans to aid their citizens. In Oregon, legislators have introduced the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which would continue to provide contraceptives without co-pays in the event of an ACA repeal. It would ensure similar coverage for reproductive health services like STD screenings and abortion.

The Illinois Abortion Act of 1975 states that if Roe vs. Wade is ever overturned, abortion will be illegal in the state. Lawmakers there are hoping to pass HB40, which would repeal that provision in the law and ensure women on Medicaid and state employee health insurance have abortion coverage. And, lastly, in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has floated the idea of a ballot amendment to put the right to abortion in the state constitution.

Americans are showing support for reproductive rights and could make it difficult for legislators concerned with public opinion. Naral-ProChoice America reports that seven out of 10 people support legal abortions. The Centre for Reproductive Rights has seen hundreds of new donors, many of them monthly sustainers, in recent months. And Planned Parenthood reports more than 400,000 have donated since the election (some in Vice President Mike Pence’s name). However, even those amounts won’t match lost federal funds if defunding occurs. Planned Parenthood says that even if federal funding is lost, it will find a way to continue providing the care that patients need.

Get involved by calling your Congressional representative and demanding that they protect reproductive health services for all Americans today.

Thoughts on the Electoral College by Eileen Heaser

Our public policy committee has assembled some facts, history and thoughts from professors and

The Electoral College

Sacramento Bee reporting on the Electoral College.  As this recent election reminds us, this institution created in the 1700s has enormous influence on both our presidential elections and the makeup of the House.

While it is not unprecedented to have a president lose the popular vote — the most recent being George W. Bush losing the popular vote in 2000 — it is uncommon.  All previous presidents who have lost the popular vote are:  John Quincy Adams to Andrew Jackson, Rutherford B. Hayes to Samuel J. Tilden, Benjamin Harrison to Grover Cleveland and George W. Bush to Al Gore.

“Slavery played a role as the Southern Delegates attending the 1787 Constitution convention thought the south would be outnumbered (from James Madison’s Notes). A 3/5th Compromise was devised that allowed states to count each slave as 3/5 a person, thus ensuring a south majority in presidential elections.”  ~ Sacramento Bee 11/11/16 1B

The number of electoral votes is based on each state’s congressional delegation. Each state has two senators. Rural states with less population get more influence. Equal representation in the Senate is the only provision in the Constitution that cannot be amended.

The 1920 census showed that more people lived in urban rather than rural areas. In 1790, 95% of the population was rural. The 2010 census indicate that the rural population was less than 20%.

“By the mid-20th century, no state approximated majority rule…America at the time had some of the most unequal representation in the world. A series of Supreme Court decisions established the standard that representation means, ‘one person, one vote’ “~ Sacramento Bee circa 11/21/16 1B

By design our political institutions still have distinctly a pro-rural bias. “In the Senate, the least populous states are now more over represented than ever before…equaling a Republican bias. States containing just 17% of the population can theoretically elect a Senate majority. The bias also shapes the House of Representatives.” ~ Professor F. Lee

As the Sacramento Bee noted on December 16, 2016, “there have been more them 700 proposals to abolish the Electoral College.”

What’s a “Title IX Coordinator” and Why Should I Care? by Karen Humphrey

title_9You would think that 44 years after the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, equal education for all students regardless of sex would be a given in virtually all schools and colleges–the purpose of this landmark law.

Unfortunately, that is not the case.  Part of the reason sex discrimination still exists in education is that school systems across the country fail to make the most of their best tool for enforcing the law—the Title IX Coordinator required in districts, schools and colleges.  These people are critical to ensuring gender equity in education.

There is still a considerable lack of knowledge about Title IX. Many teachers, students and parents don’t understand what it requires, and some have never heard of it.  Some people think Title IX is just about athletics, but it actually applies to every aspect of education.  Long after its passage, new issues constantly emerge–campus sexual assault, transgender student rights, single-sex education and more.

As Title IX’s greatest champion, AAUW understands the law requires the effective leadership of Title IX Coordinators, but many people who carry that title must juggle Title IX with many other responsibilities, and get little training and support.  Often, their primary task is to handle complaints, not prevent discrimination in the first place.  With proper support, Coordinators can be leaders in really ensuring gender equity in education.

To help support Title IX Coordinators, AAUW launched the Title IX delivery project nationwide.  The project enables members to seek out Title IX Coordinators in their local schools and share with them helpful new materials from the U.S. Department of Education.   Increasing the knowledge of Title IX Coordinators helps increase their effectiveness and can build community support for equal opportunity in education.  If you’re interested, the project is described here.

This article is based on AAUW web resources, personal experience, and a new research report on Title IX Coordinators by the Feminist Majority Foundation.

AAUW CA Public Policy Priorities Due for Renewal by Charmen Goehring-Fox

What Public Policy Is (and means to AAUW Members)

What Public Policy Is (and means to AAUW Members)

Every two years, members of AAUW California have the opportunity to review the current Public Policy Action Priorities, suggest changes, and then vote on the revised platform. It is now that time. Please read through the 2015-2017 Priorities below and send any comments or suggestions to Suellen.aauw@gmail.com or nlmahr@verizon.net as soon as possible

To achieve economic self-sufficiency for all women, AAUW California supports:

  • Pay equity, fairness in compensation, and economic justice.
  • Equitable access and advancement in employment, including vigorous enforcement of employment anti-discrimination statutes.
  • Strengthening retirement benefits and programs, including pension improvements and protecting Social Security from privatization or reduction in benefits.
  • Programs that provide women with education, training, and support for success in the work force.
  • Strengthening programs, including welfare and career and technical education, to improve post-secondary education access, career development, and earning potential.
  • Greater availability of and access to a high standard of benefits and policies that promote work-life balance.

To support a strong system of high quality public education, AAUW California advocates:

  • Adequate and equitable funding for high quality public education for all students.
  • Increased support for programs that break through barriers for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
  • Protection of programs that meet the needs of girls and women in all levels of education, including vigorous enforcement of Title IX and all other civil rights laws pertaining to education.
  • Opposition to the use of public funds for nonpublic elementary and secondary education and for charter schools that do not adhere to the same civil rights and accountability standards as required of public schools.
  • Support and adequate funding for women and disadvantaged populations access to higher education, including two-year degree programs.

To guarantee equality, individual rights and social justice for a diverse society, AAUW California supports:

  • Choice in the determination of one’s reproductive life.
  • Freedom from violence and fear of violence, including bullying and sexual harassment, in homes, schools, workplaces, communities and the military.
  • Increased access to quality, affordable health care, and family planning services, including expansion of patient rights.
  • Strengthening California programs that improve the lives of children in families living at or below the poverty level.
  • Strengthening United Nations programs that address human rights and women’s and girls’ concerns.
  • Freedom in definition of family, and guarantee of civil rights in all family structures.
  • Vigorous protection of and full access to civil and constitutional rights.

 

Voters’ Rights Update by Jo Reiken

voting-imageSince the Supreme Court ruled on the 1965 Voting Rights Act and diminished the scope of Section 5, many Americans have found registering to vote challenging.  Section 5 identified states with histories of racial discrimination and required federal oversight to any changes in their election laws.  Following the 2013 Supreme Court case Shelby vs. Holder, the federal oversight was relaxed.

Fourteen states have enacted new voting laws since 2015. Ohio has not reinstated voters from previous purges. Nevada Indian tribes won an emergency court order requiring the polling places in two Northern counties. Whether through old transgressions or new ones, the voter suppression issue continues and will surely impact our national election on November 8.  These restrictions include requiring voter ID, eliminating same day registration, diminished polling areas, reducing early voting and purging voter rolls. Thousands of Americans are affected by this actions. A disproportion number of older voters, people of color, poor and young voters will be impacted.

What has been done?    The courts have stepped up and blocked many laws that violate the Constitution or the current VRA.  For example, the 5th Circuit of Appeals affirmed that Texas law was one of the most restrictive in the country. It discriminated against blacks and Latinos. Under the original law restrictions, 600,000 registered voters would not have been allowed to vote. The Judge instructed a lower court to review the intention of law as to discrimination as well as to order new procedures to be enacted.

The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015, sponsored by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, (D) and Georgia Representative John Lewis (D ), targets practices known to suppress voting rights of minorities and will provide greater transparency in federal elections in voting procedures. It was assigned to a congressional committee on June 24, 2015 but this bill has little chance of passing without Republican support. At this time the bill has not made it to the House or the Senate. This bill is in stalemate in Congress.

Resources: 

www.thenation, www.nytimes.com, www.aclu.org, www.leahy.senate.gov. http://www.brennancenter.org/,   www.legaguewomenvoters.org