Category Archives: Public Policy

Public Policy Updates

What Public Policy Is (and means to AAUW Members)

What Public Policy Is (and means to AAUW Members)

Policy Committee is off and running for the year. Over coffee and a great breakfast at the Tower Cafe, Nancy McCabe, Jo Reiken, Nancy Swanson, Karen Humphrey, and Inger Lindholm met and discussed the plan for the year. We will continue to write short interest articles on vital subjects of women’s rights and issues.

We have a sponsored program with the League of Womens Voters on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Robbie Waters Pocket Greenhaven Library, 7335 Gloria Drive. The League will present on the pros and cons of selected ballot propositions.

Members voiced interest in being more directly involved with policy issues and bills. A State Capitol visit and tour is in the planning stages and will likely be scheduled before the legislative year begins on January 4.

Our new member, Karen Humphrey, has a deep interest in Title IX and will coordinate outreach to the school community. We have ideas for a program in May that will emphasize the energetic and resourceful groups that are advocating for women and their affiliation with AAUW. The Stronger Women Advocacy coalition has agreed to support us in this endeavor. We are planning a voter registration day in alliance with League of Women Voters.

If you are interested in being a member or a supporter of our committee with limited time, we can use you.

AAUW and League of Women Voters to Host Voter Forum by Inger Linholm

women votersCalifornia Ballot Propositions can be confusing and are always plentiful.  This year, 17 measures will be put before the voter. On Saturday, Oct. 1, the AAUW Sacramento branch, in partnership with the League of Women Voters, will host a public forum to give voters an opportunity to listen to pros and cons in an effort to sort out the confusion. This event will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Robbie Waters Library in the Pocket.

Louise Einspahr of the League of Women Voters will coordinate the speakers and have some handouts available. Learn about the propositions, which range from public school Improvements to cigarette taxes to marijuana issues.

Be an informed participant by going online to: or

Both of these sites will help you to learn more about these ballot measures. Selected propositions from the 17 will be discussed.

We are pleased to support the League of Women Voters, which has for many years worked to provide bipartisan voter information. 

Women’s Influence on Voting by Eileen Heaser

woment votersAfter 1980 women began voting in larger numbers than men: 10% more women than men voted. Women vote for more liberal and democratic causes, such as health care and welfare, firearm restrictions, pro-abortion rights, and family-centered issues.

In 2013 when Washington, D.C. was about to shut down, twenty female senators, led by Susan Collins, met and proposed a plan which resulted in halting the shutdown.  Partisan politics was put aside. This is only one example of how women function effectively in D.C.  Women congressional members explain that they work well together, look for common ground, are disinclined to grandstand, stay open to new ideas, are collegial and listen. They get people in a room and talk.  In D.C. there is a congressional women’s club, formed 20 years ago by Barbara Mikulski, to provide a “zone of civility”.  They meet for lunches, have bridal and baby showers and play dates for their children. As of 2013, women chaired ten of the twenty Senate Committees.  They pushed through legislation to fund women and children’s health research, testing and treatment, passed the Lilly-Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and other anti-discrimination laws, mandated maternity and family medical leave and homemakers IRA [stay-at-home parents are allowed to deduct contributions from retirement plans].  Funding for Planned Parenthood was sustained. Gender-blind legislation passed by women included Stabenow’s farm bill, Boxer’s transportation and water resources bill, Murray’s budget and Mikulski’s appropriations bills.

In Broad Influence: How Women are Changing the Way America Works, 2016, author Jay Newton-Small emphasized that women have innate qualities that make their leadership different from men and more effective as they are more prepared and collaborative.  As women are reaching  the “critical mass” of 20-30% representation in any work place: military, private industry, government, their voices can be heard, thus advancing women’s issues and opportunities.  However, barriers still exist: harassment, a society that emphasizes the importance of appearance over intellect and skill, a reluctance to speak-up, etc,

We can use our power at the polls to put more women in public office. The more women we have in these positions of influence, the stronger our voices will become.


Information on Voter registration and Voter information by Inger Lindholm

"Aunt Sam"

“Aunt Sam”

Here are a few excellent websites to get you through the voting maze this year.  The best all around source for the voter on specific assistance plus information regarding the ballots.  Have you moved, married or need to register?  Do it here. (May 23 was the deadline to register for the June Primary.)  Catch all the information in both national and local politics.  League of Women Voters/California provides a wide range of information on voting decisions through their non-partisan research.

Challenges to Our Voting Rights by Jo Reiken

voting rightsIn 2016, 17 states will have new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election, ranging from new strict photo ID requirements and early voting cutbacks to voter registration restrictions.

This came about as a result of the 2013 Supreme Court decision Shelby County v Holden, which found Section 4(b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required pre-clearance measures for 15 states with a history of discrimination against minority voters, which required federal approval of any voting rule changes in these states. Section 4(b) of the VRA specifically named the 15 states that were subject to the requirements of Section 5. The Supreme Court held that although the constraints made sense in the 1960s and 1970s, Section 4(b) imposes burdens that are no longer responsive to the current voting conditions in the 15 named states.

As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, states can now pass controversial voting rights changes without federal government oversight. Of the 15 states named in Section 4(b) of the VRA, at least nine of these states have now enacted stricter voting rights laws saying these new restrictions are necessary to reduce the risk of voter fraud, (statistics show there is virtually no risk of voter fraud as only one in 5 million votes have been found to be fraudulently cast) or to save money.

Opponents to these new laws feel the tighter voting requirements are intentionally directed at minorities, voters of lower income and those living in rural areas. There are also longer voting lines, which leads to lower voter turnout. Of the 11 states with the highest African American voter turnout in 2008, seven states have new voter restrictions in place. Of the 12 states with the largest Hispanic population growth between 2000 and 2010, nine states passed laws making it harder to vote.

In 2015, Congress introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, which would once again require states with a history of voting discrimination to get advanced federal government approval for voting changes they propose to make. This bill is still pending.

It’s Easy To Become a Two Minute Activist – Sign Up Today! by Cherril Peabody; Recruiting AAUW Presence for Equal Pay Day by Nancy McCabe

In our February issue of Capital Ideas we asked you to sign up for the Two Minute Activist program that two minute activistAAUW National sponsors to make it easy for us to respond to issues we support.  If you didn’t get around to it, here is the info again.  To register, do a Google search for AAUW Action Network, and the first listing will be for the Two Minute Activist.  Enter your info, and they will start sending you the emails.

The AAUW Public Policy Committee has set a goal of recruiting at least half of our members to participate in this program.  If you are already a Two Minute Activist or if you signed up as a result of this message or the February article, please contact Cherril Peabody at and let her know.  Thanks!

Calling All Available Members! Your Presence is Needed April 11 for Equal Pay Day! by Nancy McCabe

"Aunt Sam" needs you!

“Aunt Sam” needs you!

We need local AAUW members to attend a session of the California Assembly on Monday, April 11 as our AAUW Resolution on Equal Pay Day will be up for a vote. We need a large group to gain visibility for AAUW California. You will enjoy seeing how our state’s elected officials work. We are gathering at 12:30 p.m. outside the L Street entrance to the Capitol to go through security and be in place by 1:30 p.m. Email Nancy McCabe at ASAP if you can join us. It is painless and should be fun! Gathering for lunch beforehand is always an option!

Sexual Assault on College Campuses by Jessica Arauza

What Public Policy Is (and means to AAUW Members)

What Public Policy Is (and means to AAUW Members)

March concludes Women’s History Month, a month dedicated to rewriting women back into history and celebrating the innumerable contributions women have made to the country and world at large.  The month offers us both the opportunity to celebrate our strides and also assess how much further we have yet to go in achieving gender equity.

April marks the transition into Sexual Assault Awareness Month and enables us to engage in conversation on what superficially may seem like a simple topic of the gender equity scope: keeping women safe. Around 28 percent of women are targets of attempted or completed sexual assault while they are college students.  Laws such as Title IX, the Violence against Women Act and the Clery Act are some of the many public policies intended to hold college campuses accountable for making concrete efforts at ending sexual assault through education, empowerment and assistance of victims.

While these policies have undoubtedly resulted in tremendous changes and impact, strengthening sexual assault efforts also means advocating for more preventative measures through bystander intervention trainings and male ally groups on college campuses. Moreover, we need to be equally vested in training and educating law enforcement on how to properly address sexual assault cases and develop more streamlined measures to help victims who do not report directly to law enforcement. True gender equity will not prevail until we are able to find multifaceted and transformative solutions at institutional and societal levels to address violence against women.

Policy Member Update Planned Parenthood by Charmen Goehring

planned parenthoodPlanned Parenthood has been a topic of conversation lately, and usually the discussion has not been positive. Whether it’s a candidate calling for defunding the organization, a self-righteous man shooting up a clinic, or unscrupulous persons fabricating a video to portray Planned Parenthood in a negative light, the news has been filled with ideas of what people think Planned Parenthood is all about. What has been largely missing from the discussion is what Planned Parenthood is actually about.

Margaret Sanger opened the first clinic in New York in 1916 at a time when sharing information about birth control was against the law as it was considered “obscene.” From the first judicial victory in 1936 through the early 1980s, Planned Parenthood was a respected and powerful voice in the women’s health movement. With a mission of funding research; educating specialists and the public; providing contraceptives and health care to women and men; advancing access to family planning in the United States and abroad; and advocating for pubic policies that guarantee the right to access, the organization has been an integral player in improving the lives of millions of people each year. Often, Planned Parenthood is the only health care provider in rural areas, and often the only resource available to poor women. In fact, one in five women in the United States will use Planned Parenthood services. Let’s work to change the conversation back to the positive good that the organization does for the health of our people.

Public Policy Updates by Inger Lindholm and Cherril Peabody

Title IXTitle IX by Inger Lindholm

Title IX was presented at the last meeting as the most important piece of legislation for advancing women’s rights. This occurred 43 years ago, and we continue to celebrate the benefits as an amendment to the Civil Rights Acts under former President Lyndon Johnson.

Many unsung women worked diligently to change the status of women, including college professor Bernice Sandler, Rep. Edith Green (D), and Rep. Patsy Mink (D), a known and respected legislator from Hawaii.

These women and groups such as AAUW, NOW and Women’s Equity Action League provided not only the monetary support for research and hearings, but have held the continued spotlight on other inequities. Foremost are the inequities in education but also in sports, jobs, equal pay, and promotions on the job, just to name a few.

We are not there yet. We need to honor these women and our AAUW founders for their continued work and become a part of the process.

It’s Easy To Become a Two-Minute Activist – Sign Up Today! by Cherril Peabody

National AAUW has a great program called the Two-Minute Activist, sponsored by the AAUW Action Network. Periodically, they email participants information about a current AAUW focus issue that needs support or opposition and an already prepared letter for you to email to your elected representative. You can add your own comments or just send it as is with your signature and zip code. It truly only takes less than two minutes. To register, sign up here:

The AAUW Public Policy Committee has set a goal of recruiting at least half of our members to participate in this program. If you are already a Two-Minute Activist or if you sign up as a result of this message, please contact Cherril Peabody at and let her know.

The New Sub-Prime Lending Crisis: Student Loan Default by Nancy Swanson

College tuition is soaring, as is the rate of student loan default. According to the most recent statistics, 27% of student loans are in default, and that number is expected to rise as more low-income students attend college. The expected pay-off of a college degree in the form of full-time, well-paid employment upon graduation has failed to materialize for growing numStudent loanbers of graduates.

At the state level, only Assembly Bill 2377, signed into law by Governor Brown in 2014, has the stated goal of helping eligible college students refinance student loan debt at more favorable rates. However, the bill only creates a revolving fund to provide approved financial institutions protection against losses resulting from default. The anticipated lowering of interest rates never materialized, thus benefiting the banks while doing little, if anything, to make student loans more affordable.

At the federal level, Congress is tasked with the re-authorization of the omnibus Higher Education Act, which expired in 2014. This Act includes the entire student loan system. Under consideration are the consolidation of all existing federal students loans and grants into single loans and the opportunity to refinance loans to fixed interest rates of 4%. Given today’s impasse in Congress, there is little optimism that other proposed legislation, such as the Federal Student Loan Refinancing Act and the Obama Student Loan Forgiveness Act, will be adopted in the near future.

For the past eight years, the federal government has very quietly made itself the primary bank for student loans, implementing a program that is aimed exclusively at students. This federal program caps monthly payments at 10% or 15% of borrowers’ discretionary income and forgives the remaining balance after 20-25 years or, for those who work in public service, after just 10 years. Unfortunately, many millions of students remain unaware of this debt relief that makes repayment affordable, thus lifting the burden of debt that for many extends for decades or leads to default. Let’s get the word out about this program!