Tag Archives: PublicPolicy

The Equal Rights Amendment

The Equal Rights Amendment By Liz Jordan

In 2017, the AAUW CA Speech Trek contest topic asked if it was time to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.  At that time, the amendment had been ratified by 35 of the required 38 states and was abandoned by most “rights” groups after the 1982 Congressional deadline passed.  Over the next three years after 2017, three states ratified the ERA.  First the Nevada legislature ratified the amendment in 2018, then Illinois in 2019, and in January of 2020 the Commonwealth of Virginia’s legislature ratified the amendment.

Also, at that time, the Trump presidential administration, through Attorney General Bill Barr and unfriendly to the idea of Equal Rights, asked the U. S. Archivist to not register Virginia’s ratification vote.  What’s happened since then?

About 200 “rights” groups have mounted legal efforts on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment.  Equal Means Equal has picketed the White House and the Department of Justice. They have also engaged in lawsuits in cooperation with other rights groups.   The ERA Coalition has lobbied, has filed lawsuits and has generally beaten the drum to get the current administration and the current Justice Department to move the ERA out of the Archivist’s office.  AAUW has contributed to these efforts.  To date, I have not found any comment by any administration official about the hesitancy/resistance to register Virginia’s vote, and, therefore, to bring the 28th Amendment into the U. S. Constitution.

On March 17, 2021, the U. S. House of Representatives voted to remove the ratification deadline time limit that was reached in 1982.  That time limit was an artificial limit set by Congress, and therefore, subject to elimination by Congress.

The original language of the amendment stated that it would go into effect two years from the date of the last ratification vote.  That date is January 27, 2022!  However, the obstacle for the U.S.  Archivist is the Barr memo.

Why do we still need this amendment?  States all over the country, even California, have laws and practices that regularly discriminate on the basis of gender.  States vary in their protection of rape victims over perpetrators, protection of sex-trafficking victims, claims of self-defense and other issues around domestic violence such as law enforcement’s equal application of restraining orders; states vary in employment protections of pregnancy, as well as reproductive rights, and, as always, equal pay for equal work.

Imagine if the Equal Rights Amendment were to become the 28th Amendment of the United States Constitution. How would the future differ from the past?   It seems to this writer (who does not have a law degree) that the impact would build for decades, as suits are brought before the Supreme Court; the justices would apply this clearly and simply stated amendment, with no ambiguity, that discrimination on the basis of gender is illegal.  Even the current court, in its apparent three liberal and five conservative justices make-up, would not be able to find legal loopholes, justifications or ambiguous applications; they could not dodge the difficult issues around gender equity.  All matters around gender equity would be subject to strict judicial scrutiny, a judicial standard that applies at this time only to race and religion.

What could you do?  Write or call your U.S. representatives and senators to get this amendment out of Archivist limbo.  Write to the current administration.  Support groups that are working on your behalf, such as those listed below.  If you have friends and family in other states, urge them to also write to congress and to the President of the United States.

What organizations might you watch, in addition to AAUW, for information?  These are the websites I have watched for the last four years.  The first one is a great place to find the history and other factual information about the efforts to ratify this amendment.  Equal Means Equal put out a wonderful film (of the same name – Equal Means Equal) in 2016 about the need to pass the amendment. Rent it from Amazon and invite friends to watch it with you. Call me and I’ll bring it to your house and show it for you.  The ERA Coalition presents many informational webinars as well as weekly updates on the ERA in the news around the country.

https://www.equalrightsamendment.org
http://www.equalmeansequal.org
https://www.eracoalition.org

–Liz Jordan

To contact me, please see my contact information in the branch directory.

AAUW California Public Policy Update

Updates from AAUW California Public Policy Committee By Kathi Harper

Note: Kathi Harper is the Co-Chair of the AAUW CA Public Policy Committee

Abortion Justice

Although the constitutionally guaranteed right to an abortion has been systematically under attack for decades, it is currently in danger of disappearing altogether.  As AAUW National recently noted, ”Every person should have the ability to make their own informed decisions regarding their reproductive life.  It is beyond time for abortion to be secured legally, funded fully, and equitably available for all who need it, when they need it, without shame or stigma.”  With the recent refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the onerous Texas case, it is clear that we can no longer count on the courts to protect this critical right.  Congress must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.  Watch for Action Alerts from National, use them to keep pressure on your representatives, and sign up now for the 2-Minute Activist if you haven’t already done so by clicking here https://www.aauw.org/act/two-minute-activist/.

Be sure to let us know if members from your branch participated in the Rally for Abortion Justice on Oct. 2, along with Beach Cities, Palos Verdes, San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Alameda, Carlsbad-Oceanside-Vista, Los Altos-Mt. View, San Jose and Morgan Hill, and send pictures if you have them to publicpolicy@aauw-ca.org.

Legislative Updates

Our last five priority bills that were awaiting the Governor’s signature have been acted on. Here are the results:

  • SB 62 (requires fair pay, instead of “by the piece” payment, for garment workers) SIGNED
  • AB 367 (free menstrual products must be provided in girls/women’s bathrooms in schools)  SIGNED
  • AB 887 (allows domestic violence restraining orders to be filed electronically) SIGNED
  • AB 123 (increases paid family leave benefits to 65 – 75 percent of regular pay) VETOED
  • AB 1074 (requires hotel and janitorial workers who have lost their jobs due the pandemic to be prioritized for hiring as businesses reopen) VETOED

Economic Equity

Oct. 21 was Latina Equal Pay Day – the day Latina women, who are paid just 57 cents to every white male’s dollar, finally catch up from the previous year.  To help raise awareness, our coalition partner Stronger California is hosting a Latina Equal Pay Day & Essential Women Workers Virtual Summit.  If you are interested in joining to learn more and hear from iconic civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, as well as California’s First Partner Jennifer Newsome, click register to register.

Public Policy News

Public Policy News By Arlene Cullum

The 2021 Legislative session in California is in the final stretch … In August, bills must be finalized to make their way to the Governor’s desk in September. California AAUW is now following 39 bills of which five are considered the highest level for advocacy.  Of those, a few are two-year bills.  Here are the primary bills for this session:

AB92 (Reyes): Child Care Family Fees — AAUW IS A CO-SPONSOR

 

This bill would waive all family fees for low-income families, using federal funding, through Oct. 31, 2022.  After that, the bill would create an equitable sliding scale for family fees, relieving the burden on working families struggling to pay for daycare.  AAUW is a co-sponsor of this bill, along with three other organizations.  There is no opposition.

SB62 (Durazo): Garment Worker Protection Act

SB62 would expand and strengthen enforcement of wage-theft liability in the garment manufacturing industry, ensuring that retailers cannot use layers of contracting to avoid responsibility under the law.  By eliminating the piece rate in the industry while still allowing for bonus and incentive payments, this bill would ensure that workers are paid for all the time spent working.

SB373 (Min): Consumer Debt: Economic Abuse

This bill would prohibit debt collectors and creditors from being able to collect from an individual when that individual can demonstrate that the debt was incurred through economic abuse.  It also would prevent the debt from being reported to credit agencies.  This will be a two-year bill.

You can stay involved! Be sure to sign up online for the 2 Minute Activist on the Sacramento AAUW Website!  Also, if you would like to track the bills of this legislative session, please visit the California AAUW website (www.aauw-ca.org/documents/2021/04/bill-tracking.pdf/).

Of Interest to California Women

The COVID-19 Recession Further Undercuts California Women’s Opportunities for Economic Security By Kristin Schumacher – Submitted by Kim Rutledge

Note: Kristin Schumacher presented at our November program. To read the report online with relevant charts, click here.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many Californians and Americans to unprecedented economic instability, but many women in California were already struggling to pay the bills prior to the onset of the economic crisis. According to the California Women’s Well-Being Index, in a five-year period leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, many women across the state were experiencing economic hardship — and this was happening during the longest period of economic growth on record. California women faced a significant wage gap, and women were more likely than men to earn low wages and to live in poverty. Pre-pandemic hardship and lack of economic security was particularly acute for American Indian, Black, Latinx, and Pacific Islander women in California.

Policy barriers and discrimination have blocked women from economic opportunities, including the ability to save money or build assets, and many women in California are not in the position to weather a financial crisis. Even so, the COVID-19 recession was the first recession in which more women than men lost jobs, and Black and Latinx women and women who are immigrants lost their jobs at especially high rates in the early months of the pandemic. Now, nearly one year into the COVID-19 recession, many women in California face harsh realities as they scramble to pay for everyday expenses after losing jobs and household income.

Over half of women in California were living in households this past fall that lost employment income after mid-March 2020, reflecting the depth of job loss in California. Latinx and Black women have been far more likely to feel the economic effects of the recession. More than 6 in 10 Latinx and Black women were living in households that lost earnings during the pandemic. As of December 2020, the state still had 1.5 million fewer jobs than in February, the month before the COVID-19 recession began.

Lost jobs and earnings have stretched California household budgets. This past fall, more than 1 in 3 women in California lived in households that found it somewhat or very difficult to pay for usual expenses, such as rent, utilities, food, and child care. Black, Latinx, and most other women of color have found it especially difficult to get by with more than 4 in 10 living in households that were struggling to pay the bills this past fall. Data also show that Latinx, Black, and most other women of color were also far more likely to live in households that were behind on their rent or mortgage payment and in households struggling to afford enough food.

Individuals across the state and nation are dealing with a caregiving crisis, isolation, economic hardship, illness, and the loss of loved ones. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a toll beyond the risk of contracting the virus. In the US, the share of individuals experiencing symptoms of anxiety and/or depression has more than tripled during the pandemic. In California this past fall, nearly half of women were coping with these mental health conditions. For women experiencing multiple economic hardships — such as the loss of household income or the inability to pay for food or housing — three-quarters reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.

California Policymakers Must Center Women in an Equitable Economic Recovery

Many women were locked out of the state’s prosperity well before the pandemic and have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and recession. A brighter future begins with an equitable economic recovery that centers women — particularly women of color — in pandemic relief and recovery efforts. To start, California leaders should:

  • Boost women’s economic security, especially women who are immigrants who have been blocked from federal COVID relief efforts, so women and their families can meet their basic needs.
  • Ensure that women have access to health care services — including mental health care — during and after the pandemic via in-person or telehealth services.
  • Help workers balance career and caregiving responsibilities — particularly women with low incomes who are far less likely to have employer-provided benefits.

It is time for state leaders to invest in women, their families, and communities. When women thrive, their families and communities, and our state prosper.

The Future for Roe v Wade and Choice by Claire Noonan, California Public Policy committee

The following article was submitted by Arlene Cullum, AAUW Sacramento Branch Public Policy:

The times they are changing – a new president and vice president who support pro-choice, but a sixth very conservative justice is added to the Supreme Court.

Abortion rights activists stress state-by-state vigilance to be aware of how reproductive choice is now used as a political tool, says Ilyse Hogue, recently retired president of NARAL. New anti-choice bills are mainly introduced by the white male religious minority, except in Montana with six abortion-limiting bills introduced this year by conservative female legislators and one male.

For instance, extreme 2021 legislation in Tennessee will allow fathers to veto an abortion. A Texas bill will require a fetus to have a lawyer. Arizona’s new bills propose to criminalize a woman who gets an abortion and the doctor who performs it.

During a pandemic, telemedicine is valuable to prescribe pills for medication abortions. In July 2020 the federal courts temporarily suspended the doctor’s visit rule for the first pill, mifepristone, but in January 2021 SCOTUS reinstated the rule. Patients again must visit a doctor for the first pill and get a prescription to obtain the second, misoprostol.

These restrictions have a particularly significant impact on low-income communities, which often include women of color, which are stressed economically by the year-long-and-counting pandemic. Clinics, especially in the South, like West Alabama Women’s Center, are constantly searching for money sources to provide reproductive services as well as current needs for newborn assistance. The center focuses on providing financial assistance to the underserved, even when services are “temporarily” deemed “non-essential”. Despite efforts to provide full-spectrum reproductive healthcare access, dwindling numbers of clinics from the Sun Belt across the Deep South curb the availability of services. In the Navajo Nation, Covid infection is so high that patients need a doctor’s note to leave the tribal area for a clinic appointment.

Consequently, vigilance means watching the power of the courts, encouraging reversal of the Hyde Amendment and backing codification of the Roe v Wade decision. As you know, each woman in California can choose, but support for organizations that oversee the reproductive health rights of women in America are worth the effort.