Women in Congress call for more action on breast cancer prevention, treatment
A bipartisan group of women is calling for more action on breast cancer prevention and treatment in line with Item 2 (Health Care) on the BPW/FL Public Policy Platform. Read more here: https://floridaphoenix.com/2023/10/26/women-in-congress-call-for-more-action-on-breast-cancer-prevention-treatment/
EEOC Proposes Updated Workplace Harassment Guidance to Protect Workers
WASHINGTON – Following a majority vote, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) invited the public to comment on its proposed “Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace.” The Federal Register today posted for public inspection and, on Oct. 2 will publish, the EEOC’s notice of this proposed guidance and a request for comment. The proposed guidance is available for review at https://www.eeoc.gov/proposed-enforcement-guidance-harassment-workplace, and the public is invited to submit comments and view the document via the federal e-regulation website at https://www.regulations.gov/document/EEOC-2023-0005-0001until Nov. 1.
The EEOC first released a proposed guidance on workplace harassment for public comment in 2017, but it was not finalized. The updated proposed guidance reflects notable changes in law, including the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, the #MeToo movement, and emerging issues, such as virtual or online harassment.
The proposed guidance explains the legal standards and employer liability applicable to harassment claims under the federal employment discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC. These laws protect covered employees from harassment based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, transgender status, and pregnancy), national origin, disability, age (40 and older) or genetic information. Specifically, it provides numerous updated examples to reflect a wide range of scenarios, incorporates updates throughout on current case law on workplace harassment, and addresses the proliferation of digital technology and how social media postings and other online content can contribute to a hostile work environment.
“Preventing and addressing harassment in America’s workplaces has long been a key priority for the EEOC, and this guidance will provide clarity on new developments in the law and build on the Commission’s previous work,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “The Commission looks forward to receiving public input on the proposed enforcement guidance.”
Harassment remains a serious workplace problem. Between fiscal years 2016 and 2022, more than one-third of charges received by the EEOC included an allegation of harassment. The Commission has identified two harassment-related national enforcement priorities in the EEOC’s new Strategic Enforcement Plan: preventing and remedying systemic harassment, and protecting vulnerable workers and people from underserved communities from harassment.
Item 1 of the BPW/FL Public Policy Platform (Economic Equity, Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency) states in part that BPW/FL supports public policies that “guarantee a workplace free from harassment and discrimination.”
Summary of Current Proposed FY24 Appropriations Cuts
To Items Affecting Working Women
Labor & Employment
- Eliminating funding for the Department of Labor’s Women’s
- Cutting $75 million for the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
- Cutting $35 million for the Equal Employment Opportunity
- Eliminating funding for multiple programs that support diversity in the health care workforce, including the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), the Centers of Excellence (COE), and the Nursing Workforce Diversity (NWD).
- Ending all funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
- Cutting nearly $800 million from government programs that fund maternal and child health and improve women’s health
- Drastically cutting key health equity programs.
- Slashing funding for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services by $798 million.
- Restricting the federal government’s ability to cover and support abortion Eliminating funding for Title X Family Planning.
- Eliminating all federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
- Reinstating medically unnecessary restrictions on and undermining the FDA’s authority over mifepristone.
- Reinstating and making permanent the Global Gag Rule.
For more information, click HERE.
Investigating the XY factor in disease
Item 2 (Health Care) of our Public Policy Platform states in part: “BPW/FL supports public policies that: support funding and initiatives that cover women’s health care needs.” Part of that is the need to include women in health care research studies. Study after study has described the differences in the impact of disease between males and females. An analysis published in 2020 found an increase in studies that include males and females — from 28% in 2009 to 49% in 2019. Read the full article at https://www.axios.com/2023/07/13/treatment-disease-female-male-differences?
F.D.A. Approves First U.S. Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pill
The today Food and Drug Administration approved a birth control pill to be sold without a prescription for the first time in the United States, a milestone that could significantly expand access to contraception. The medication, called Opill, will become the most effective birth control method available over the counter — more effective at preventing pregnancy than condoms, spermicides and other nonprescription methods. Experts in reproductive health said its availability could be especially useful for young women, teenagers and those who have difficulty dealing with the time, costs or logistical hurdles involved in visiting a doctor to obtain a prescription.
Item 2 of our Public Policy Platform (Health Care) in part states: “BPW/FL supports public policies that: ensure women’s access to all health care and family planning needs, including full access to all forms of reproductive health services, education, and prescriptions.” Read the full article at: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/13/health/otc-birth-control-pill.html?
Florida Supreme Court to hear abortion case in September
The Florida Supreme Court on Friday said it will hear arguments Sept. 8 in a case that could play a major role in the future of abortion rights in the state. The court issued an order scheduling a hearing in a challenge to a 2022 law that prevented abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The outcome of the case also will affect a law passed this year that would bar abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — and could determine whether a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution will protect abortion rights.
Item 2 of our Public Policy Platform (Health Care) in part states: “BPW/FL supports public policies that: ensure women’s access to all health care and family planning needs, including full access to all forms of reproductive health services, education, and prescriptions.” Read the full article at https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2023/07/07/florida-supreme-court-hear-abortion-case-september/
Judge Blocks Florida Election Law
Unintended Consequences of Legislation/Court Decisions
Item 2 of the BPW/FL Public Policy Platform (Health Care) states that BPW/FL supports public policies that ensure women’s access to all health care and family planning needs, including full access to all forms of reproductive health services, education, and prescriptions. Legislation and court decisions that curb access to prescriptions can have unintended consequences as outlined in this article. https://www.forbes.com/sites/
EEOC Starts Accepting Charges Under
New Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
June 27, 2023
WASHINGTON – Today, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) will take effect, expanding long-overdue protections to ensure that workers experiencing pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions have the right to reasonable accommodations in the workplace. The law was signed by President Joe Biden last year, and as it goes into effect today, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will begin accepting chargesof discrimination under this new statute for incidents that occurred on or after June 27, 2023.
The PWFA requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship. This law builds upon existing protections against pregnancy discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
In addition to accepting charges, the agency released new additional educational resources, including tips for workers to request accommodations, a “Know Your Rights” video series, and a revised “Know Your Rights” poster required to be posted in most workplaces. Previously released resources include a Q&A on “What You Should Know about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” an infographic for employers, and an informational poster about the PWFA for healthcare providers’ offices.
Closing the Racial Wealth Gap in Retirement Readiness
Black and Hispanic Americans are less financially prepared for retirement than their white counterparts for multiple reasons. Participants at the 2023 Pension Research Council Symposium grappled with the underlying causes and suggested reforms. Some great public policy suggestions can be found HERE.
Ending Gender-Based Violence at Work and Beyond
By: Wendy Chun-Hoon • May 25, 2023
Today, the White House released the first-ever U.S. National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. The plan lays out a roadmap for a whole-of-government effort to prevent and address gender-based violence in the United States. One of the groundbreaking aspects of this plan is that it reflects principles from the International Labor Organization’s Convention on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, recognizing gender-based violence and harassment in the “world of work,” which includes not only traditional workplaces but anywhere workers are paid, in places workers take rest breaks, in work-related training, and through work-related communications.
For decades, workers have been sounding the alarm about unchecked and widespread harassment, sexual assault, rape and other forms of violence rooted in gender inequality. Anywhere from 25% to 85% of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, yet most cases are never reported formally. As the National Plan highlights, workers in certain sectors such as trucking, construction, agriculture and healthcare, as well as restaurant, janitorial and domestic workers, face greater risks of experiencing gender-based violence and harassment because of occupational segregation, isolation, and precarity of employment, among other things, making swift action all the more urgent. Additionally, domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence that take place outside of the workplace can impact the world of work, affecting workplace safety and a survivor’s work performance, attendance, or ability to find or maintain employment.
To address these issues and more, here are five of the key ways that the Department of Labor and other federal agencies will work together to prevent and address gender-based violence, including sexual harassment, in the world of work:
- Shift workplace norms and practices to prevent gender-based violence and support employees impacted by it.
- Establish the federal government as a model employer for preventing and responding to gender-based violence in the workplace.
- Build the capacity of employers, workplaces, unions and worker organizations to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, particularly in industries, occupations, and work arrangements in which workers are more likely to experience it.
- Improve gender-based violence survivors’ economic security through access to good jobs with family-sustaining wages, benefits and workplace protections, as well as support for business entrepreneurship.
- Increase access to and awareness of worker protections and policies to help survivors or those at risk of gender-based violence keep their job and maintain their economic security.
The Women’s Bureau is proud to support the implementation of this plan. We will convene industry stakeholders, unions, survivors and experts to compile sector-specific good practices and guidance for employers to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. Some of this work has already begun through our partnership with the ILO Office for the United States and Canada, in conjunction with the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs. Additionally, the Women’s Bureau recently announced the availability of funding under its Fostering Access, Rights, and Equity (FARE) Grant Program to support non-profit organizations’ efforts to address gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work. Grant recipients will build awareness; connect women to federal and state workplace rights and benefits as needed, reasonable, and/or available; and implement worker and survivor-driven strategies to shift workplace norms.
To make the vision of the national plan a reality— for the United States to be a place where all people live free from gender-based violence in all aspects of their lives—it will take more than the government to act. A whole-of-society approach centering survivor voices is necessary. Learn more about the plan.
Wendy Chun-Hoon is the director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau. Follow the Women’s Bureau on Twitter at @WB_DOL.
League of Women Voters of Florida Sues over Senate Bill 7050
The League of Women Voters of Florida, represented by Campaign Legal Center (CLC), sued Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Secretary of State Cord Byrd to block provisions of Florida’s recently enacted omnibus election law that would restrict and penalize basic nonpartisan civic engagement efforts. The law, Senate Bill 7050, directly targets and drastically restricts the ability of nonpartisan civic engagement organizations, like the League of Women Voters of Florida, to engage with voters, violating their right to freedom of speech and association.
“Senate Bill 7050 is yet another assault on democracy and attempt to muzzle Floridians,” said Cecile M. Scoon, Esq., president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “Florida seems intent on making the act of voting nerve-racking. We are forced to turn to the courts to ensure nonpartisan community-based voter registration organizations, like the League, can continue their important work of registering voters and ensure voters have equal and meaningful access to the ballot box.”
“Folks helping their neighbors access and exercise the fundamental freedom to vote is one of the pillars of our democracy,” said Paul Smith, senior vice president at Campaign Legal Center. Instead of celebrating civic engagement groups for their work to encourage participation in our democracy, Florida legislators restricted and penalized basic voter outreach efforts. This action will directly harm members of historically marginalized communities – including voters of color, low-income voters, voters with disabilities and young voters – who rely on these nonpartisan efforts to help make their voices heard.”
According to an independent analysis, Floridians of color are five times more likely to register to vote through nonpartisan third-party civic engagement organizations than white Floridians.
“Florida continues to be a leader in the attack on voters and voter support organizations. Florida voters continue to be the punching bag for shameless anti-voter politicians,” said Celina Stewart, chief counsel and senior director of advocacy and litigation at the League of Women Voters of the US. “Communities across the nation rely on nonpartisan organizations like the League of Women Voters to navigate the voting process. That is why the League will continue the fight to expand voter access, to support the millions of voters we serve each election cycle.”
The lawsuit challenges provisions of Senate Bill 7050, signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis today, that would:
- Fine nonpartisan civic engagement groups $50,000 for every volunteer with certain felony convictions or who is not a U.S. citizen who registers voters on behalf of the organization, preventing non-U.S. citizens and people with certain felony convictions from even engaging with voters in their community.
- Shorten the timeframe for civic engagement groups to verify information and deliver completed voter registration applications to election officials.
- Force non-partisan civic engagement organizations to re-register with the state before registering any voters in each and every general election cycle.
- Significantly raise the potential maximum fines for nonpartisan civic engagement groups engaged in First Amendment-protected voter registration activity.
- Require groups to provide a receipt to those who fill out voter registration forms, but restricting those same groups from keeping records of those receipts.
- Prohibit civic organizations from retaining voters’ personal information, even with the voter’s consent, which limits their ability to continue associating with voters whom they help to register and providing them with assistance and information about how and when to participate in upcoming elections.
Female veterans and working spouses would be helped
Legislation aimed at helping veterans and their spouses transition to civilian life unanimously passed the full House on Thursday. The bill (HB 139), sponsored by Pembroke Pines Democrat Rep. Marie Woodson, would create the Office of Veteran Licensure Services and direct a state-backed nonprofit group called Veterans Florida to provide services to veterans’ spouses, including assistance with access, education and employment in health care professions, as well as referrals to the Department of Health for licensure applications. It now goes to the Senate where an identical companion measure (SB 858) has one more committee to clear. This legislation falls in line with Item 2 (Economic Equity, Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency) on our Public Policy Platform as it helps this population of working women become more self-sufficient.
LobbyTools created a report to help identify general bills that have not been seen in a committee as of 4/15/23.
Bills that haven’t been heard in all assigned committees now have a shrinking path to passage. Many committees are winding down their work, and some are no longer meeting. There isn’t a rule that prevents them from meeting, however, until later in the session. For a measure to be considered on the Senate floor, the bill or its companion measure must have been approved by at least one committee under Senate Rule 4.31. That rule can only be waived by unanimous consent of the full Senate.
The 40th-day rule: The only rule change after the 40-day mark involves a parliamentary procedure to save bills that don’t appear to have enough votes in committee. That move is called reconsideration and can keep a bill alive in committee to let members reconsider the vote at a later meeting. But under House Rule 7.15 (b), that move isn’t allowed after the 40th day, with many committees no longer scheduling meetings.
The real trouble for bills that haven’t made it through committees yet will come a few days later on the Senate side. Under the Senate’s Rule 2.9 (2), Senate committees other than the Rules Committee are prohibited from meeting again after the 50th day of session. There’s a big caveat, though: the Senate President can approve waiving of that rule and allow for a committee meeting if needed.
Bills Not Yet Seen In Committee
While these bills have not been officially reported as dead, LobbyTools has created a report of the 636 general bills that have not been heard in any of their committees of reference as of the 40th-day marker.
2023 Report: Bills Not Yet Seen In Committee
Notes on this report:
All withdrawn bills have been omitted:
79, 98, 107, 134, 147, 220, 241, 245, 255, 277, 281, 283,297, 335, 363, 377, 468, 470, 573, 589, 597, 623, 705, 758, 771, 867, 887, 951, 995, 1005, 1041, 1391, 1554
This report only contains General Bills. Other types of bills are not included.
Bills & PCBs: 1,835, Texts: 2,765, Amendments: 1,824, Actions: 12,660, Votes: 2,101, Enrolled Bills: 24
Creating a Fair, Feminist Tax Code
What would a tax code look like that enabled women to become self-sufficient (item 2 on our public policy platform)? Here are some interesting observations: https://itep.org/we-can-create-a-fair-feminist-tax-code/
DeSantis Signs Florida’s 6-week Abortion Ban into Law
Read this summary of where Florida now stands with respect to reproductive choice, addressed under Item 3, Health Care, of the BPW/FL Public Policy Platform, which advocates for legislation that ensures reproductive choice and full access to all reproductive health education and services, including prescriptions.
Senate Proposes Billions for Environmental Funding
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government released its proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2023-24 on Tuesday. At $9.7 billion, it’s the biggest budget ever for the silo and primarily focuses on conserving the state’s natural resources. It allocates more than $1 billion for the governor’s Everglades restoration and water quality funding target of $3.5 billion over the next four years, as well as $420 million for the Florida Forever programs. The proposed budget also includes $100 million for the wastewater grant program, $140 million for Resilient Florida to handle flooding and sea-level rise, $50 million for beach restoration and $19 million for Lake Okeechobee nutrient reduction projects. It also includes $700 million for the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, which would normally be funded by dock stamp revenue, but with the sale of property slowing down, state economists projected a loss of $700 million in that category. Additionally, the proposal recommends funding for feeding programs to combat food insecurity. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission would also get over $32 million for law enforcement, nuisance and invasive species, boating improvement programs and artificial reefs. Florida Politics This is directly related to Item 5 (Environment) of our platform.
Two Articles Related to Our Public Policy Platform
Item 4 (Health Care): Florida leaders want to cut funding for cancer screenings and STD testing at abortion clinics (Orlando Weekly)
Wade, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody on Wednesday asked a federal judge to scrap a 2016 ruling that prevented the state from cutting off public money to abortion providers for health services unrelated to abortion.
A Message from EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows on 2023 Black History Month
Making Equity Real: Black Workers and Good Jobs
Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su met with Black labor leaders and workers (click to view the video) to discuss policies and practices that create more equitable workplaces. Among other topics, the conversation covered worker organizing, federal investments and the growing importance of the care economy. This is in line with Item 1 (Equality for All) on our Public Policy Platform.
In light of Item 6 (Voting Rights ) on the Public Policy Platform, here is some good news:
Recently Filed Legislation to Watch
SB 1026 – Discrimination in Labor and Employment (Stewart)
Discrimination in Labor and Employment; Citing this act as the “Senator Helen Gordon Davis Fair Pay Protection Act”; prohibiting an employer from providing less favorable employment opportunities to employees based on their sex or from paying employees at rates less than those paid to the opposite sex for substantially similar work; prohibiting employers from reducing another employee’s wage to avoid violating wage parity requirements; prohibiting an employer from engaging in certain activities relating to wages and benefits; prohibiting an employer from taking certain personnel actions against employees for specified actions, etc. Effective Date: 7/1/2023
SB 1076 Reproductive Health Care Rights (Berman)
Reproductive Health Care Rights; Citing a provision as the “Reproductive Health Care Protections Act”; providing a legislative finding; providing that each person has certain fundamental rights related to reproductive health care; prohibiting a person, the state, a local governmental entity, or any political subdivision of the state from discriminating against, denying, unduly burdening, or interfering with a person’s exercise of such fundamental rights; deleting the definition of the term “fatal fetal abnormality”; revising the timeframe in which a termination of pregnancy is allowed, etc. Effective Date: 7/1/2023
HB 1033 Reproductive Health Care Rights (Harris)
Reproductive Health Care Rights: Provides that each person has certain fundamental rights relating to reproductive health care; prohibits person, state, local governmental entity, or any political subdivision of state from discriminating against, denying, unduly burdening, or interfering with person’s exercise of such fundamental rights; provides for civil cause of action & remedies; provides that recovery limits of sovereign immunity apply; removes definition of term “fatal fetal abnormality”; revises timeframe in which termination of pregnancy is allowed. Effective Date: July 1, 2023
The Potential Impact of Election Deniers in Key State Positions
Item 6 (Voting Rights and Access) of our public policy platform says in “Free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy. BPW/FL supports legislation that is aimed at expanding voters’ access to the polls… We also support measures designed to protect the right of all American citizens to vote, in fairly drawn legislative districts, and therefore oppose any legislation that is designed to restrict or dilute voting access…” Therefore this article about election deniers controlling state voting systems is deeply troubling when one of the states highlighted is Florida. Read the full article HERE.
Balancing Act for Women in Politics
In announcing her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination this week, Nikki Haley made a subtle reference to the historic nature of her candidacy. Her introduction captured the balancing act women — particularly conservative women — often navigate as they aspire to win the top job in American politics. Women face other hurdles their male peers do not, including online abuse that overwhelmingly targets women, especially women of color. Read the full article here.
Feds Enact Workplace Pregnancy Accommodations, Expand Lactation Requirements
Here’s what employers need to know about how to stay compliant with the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PFWA) and the PUMP Act.
An interesting perspective on how reproductive rights for minors vary by geography within Florida
Florida Supreme Court to Consider Abortion Restriction, Won’t Block Law for Now
The Florida Supreme Court agreed to take up a lawsuit challenging the state’s 15-week abortion ban but denied a motion to temporarily block the law while litigation continues. The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Planned Parenthood, multiple abortion providers and a physician, argues the 2022 law violates the state Constitution’s right to privacy clause. Last summer, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper issued a temporary injunction blocking the new 15-week abortion ban law from taking effect but the state quickly appealed and under an appellate rule, an automatic stay on the injunction was put in place. Plaintiffs then sought to vacate the stay but the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled the new law could be enforced in the meantime due to the plaintiffs failing to prove “irreparable harm.” The challengers then asked the state’s highest court to block the law but in a 4-1 decision on Monday, justices denied the motion. Although Justice Jorge Labarga dissented, the one-paragraph decision did not provide an explanation for the ruling. The court, however, did agree to hear arguments in the case but a timeline is unclear and oral arguments will be scheduled in a separate order. The 15-week abortion ban (HB 5) was passed by the Legislature during last year’s regular session and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April of 2022. Before the recent law was approved, Florida prohibited abortions at 24 weeks. The new law provides no exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking. Case Docket / Politico / Law360 / W
Legislation to Follow
HB 0219 – Marriage Between Persons of the Same Sex (Rayner-Goolsby) was filed on 1/17/2023. It removes prohibition on recognition of same-sex marriages; removes prohibition on state & its agencies & subdivisions giving effect to public act, record, or judicial proceeding that respects same-sex marriage or relationship or claim arising from such marriage or relationship. Effective Date: July 1, 2023
SB 0270 Equal Rights for Men and Women (Berman)
Equal Rights for Men and Women; Ratifying the proposed amendment to the United States Constitution relating to equal rights for men and women, etc.
Original Filed Version
Florida Agency Warns Pharmacists Not to Dispense Abortion Pills
Item 4 of the BPW/FL Public Policy Platform, Health Care, states that BPW/FL supports legislation that ensures reproductive choice and full access to all reproductive health education and services, including prescriptions. With pharmacies in some states preparing to dispense abortion pills, Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration sent a letter Thursday to all state health care providers warning them that to do so in Florida is illegal. Read the full article here: https://enewspaper.tampabay.com/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=ed8dcc1c-67ff-4a8c-8f42-4284e7239b09
Equal Pay Day 2023 will be March 14
For 2023, the primary recognition date for Equal Pay Day will be Tuesday, March 14. Each year’s date is selected to be a representation of how far into the current calendar year women must work to be paid what men were paid during the previous year. The date is based on the latest U.S. Census figures showing that the average woman who works full time is paid on average just 83% of the typical man’s pay.
Started by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996, the goal of Equal Pay Day is to raise awareness about the gender wage gap here in the U.S. But because the pay gap varies significantly among different communities, other Equal Pay Days have been added to the calendar to reflect the fact that many women, particularly women of color or those who work part time or seasonally, must work far longer into the year to catch up to men. In accordance with our public policy platform, BPW/Florida supports efforts to help close the wage gap, and we encourage all of our local organizations to participate in marking this year’s Equal Pay Day.
League of Women Voters of Florida Announces Legislative Webinar
LWV of Florida announced the next first edition of its “Lunch & Learn” series for 2023! This week’s webinar will feature a program centered around the League of Women Voters of Florida’s 2023 legislative priorities. In 2023, the League’s efforts will have a strategic focus in the following areas (while there is not 100% alignment of the LWV/FL’s and BPW/FL’s goals, there is significant overlap):
- Voting Rights & Election Reform
- Reproductive Health & Justice
- Natural Resources
The 2023 Florida legislative session begins on Tuesday, March 7 and is scheduled to end on Friday, May 5. Each year, thousands of bills are filed in advance of the 60-day session and it can be difficult to makes sense of which laws could be impactful to everyday Floridians. Join the League on January 13 at 1:00 p.m. (ET) to learn more from various members of LWVFL’s state action teams that have been selected as legislative priorities on legislation they expect to be filled in respect to their areas of expertise and how best to prepare.
- Discussion: What potential bills/policy ideas are being floated around that may interest the League and its positions?
- Open Q&A Session
- LWVFL Updates & News
To join, Click here to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Registrants should save the meeting link provided at registration. This link is unique to you. It will not work for anyone else, so please do not share it.
Proposal Would Prevent Release of Most Helium-Filled Balloons
Releasing balloons filled with helium or other lighter than air gas outdoors would be banned under most circumstances under legislation (HB 91) filed Tuesday in the House. Current law allows people to release up to 10 helium balloons into the air. It also allows for the release of any number of balloons that are biodegradable or light degradable as long as they don’t have strings or ribbons attached. The measure filed Tuesday by Rep. Linda Chaney would eliminate those exceptions. The proposal would still allow certain exceptions, such as for weather balloons or others used in government scientific data collection or experiments. When lawmakers put limits on the release of balloons into law back in 2008, they included language in the statute that said “the release into the atmosphere of large numbers of balloons inflated with lighter-than-air gasses poses a danger and nuisance to the environment, particularly to wildlife and marine animals.”
Justice Dept.: Despite bans, abortion pills may be mailed to any state
Legal opinion says existing federal law allows mail delivery because the sender cannot know if the recipient will use the medications illegally. Read the full article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/01/04/abortion-pills-mailed-legal/
Feds OK Retail Sales, Delivery of Abortion-Inducing Drugs
Abortion-inducing pills can now be sold at retail pharmacies and delivered via the U.S. Postal Service, according to a new rule finalized by the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday. President Biden moved to expand access to the drugs last year following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had prevented abortion bans for decades. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel gave clearance to the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the drugs, saying that the mailing of such drugs does not violate a 150-year-old federal law known as the Comstock Act. States with strict abortion laws are expected to challenge the new rule. Associated Press / Axios / New York Times
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) Update
The Senate voted 73 to 24 on 12/22 to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). With this overwhelming bipartisan support, PWFA passed as an amendment to the omnibus bill and will soon become law!
How to Talk to Friends & Family about Election Disinformation
We want to share this training that is being offered by Common Cause and other leading anti-disinformation groups on how to talk to your friends and family this holiday season about election disinformation. It is being offered on Friday December 16 and Monday December 19. You can sign up here: https://www.mobilize.us/commoncause/event/545324/
In this event participants will:
- Learn the hidden motives behind election disinformation
- Hear from experts about how they fight online disinformation in their communities
- Learn how to talk to your loved ones about online election disinformation without ruining the holiday dinner!
Participants on the 16th are:
- Rebeka Islam Executive Director Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote – Michigan
- John Schmidt Engagement Coordinator, Algorithmic Transparency Institute
Participants on the 19th are:
- Hannah Waltz U.S. Free Expression Programs manager at PEN America
- Jenny Liu Disinformation and Misinformation Policy Manager at Asian Americans Advancing Justice| AAJC
- Josue Romualdo Program Manager For Information Integrity at National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials
Congress Acts to Protect Rights
Item 1 of our Public Policy Platform is Equality for All. Congress acted to ensure that, unfortunately without the support of either of our Senators. See this editorial: Congress protects all marriages, without Rubio and Scott | Editorial – Sun Sentinel (sun-sentinel.com)
What the results of the midterms mean for women’s representation, by the numbers
On the heels of two record election cycles for women candidates, 2022 cements a new normal for levels of representation. The number of women in Congress has stabilized, and next year a record-breaking number of women will serve as governor — including the first out lesbian governors in the country’s history.
Multiple representation records will be set in next year’s Congress — 149 women total will serve, with 124 women in the House, one more than the current record. Senate representation will slightly increase, with 25 women senators serving compared with this year’s 24. The number of women senators is still lower than the record of 26, set in 2020. The records were cemented last week when Alaska announced the winners in its House and Senate races. Mary Peltola, the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress, won a full two-year term in the House, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski won reelection.
“While we celebrate these new records, the story of women and Congress in 2022 is stasis,” Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), said in a statement. “After breakthrough years in 2018 and 2020, the 2022 midterms remind us that we are still far from parity and our work continues.” The past two election cycles showed that women are good candidates to back, said Kelly Dittmar, CAWP’s director of research. “Women are in these crucial races and crucial positions to determine the balance of power,” she said. “I think at least thus far in the results we’re seeing on the Democratic side, women are key to keeping power.”
Part of the reason representation has stabilized is an increase in woman versus woman races — as was the case for Democratic incumbent Elaine Luria, who lost her race for Virginia’s 2nd District to Republican Jen Kiggans. Twenty-five women senators are slated to serve next year. Nineteen of those women senators were not up for election in 2022. Notable is that two races featured all-women candidates: in Arizona and Oregon. Dittmar and Walsh both agree these types of contests are a sign of progress.
“It’s also a really good reminder that women get to be as diverse in their viewpoints and perspectives, priorities, etcetera, as their male counterparts,” said Dittmar. In these all-women contests, gender isn’t neutralized but rather deployed in different ways, she explained. “We get to see that being a woman candidate, being a woman doesn’t mean the same thing for everybody.”
Read the full story HERE.
Virtual Event on Voting Rights on November 28
Item 6 of our Public Policy Platform is Voting Rights, so this event may be of interest.
Three Reasons Why Congress Must Pass The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Now
Workers still are routinely denied the temporary job changes they need to have healthy pregnancies — but a bipartisan bill is poised to provide millions of workers with these protections. Although Congress outlawed pregnancy discrimination in 1978, far too many employers still routinely deny pregnant workers the temporary job modifications they need to keep working and have a healthy pregnancy. These requests for “accommodations” — such as more frequent breaks, schedule changes, and reassignment of hazardous tasks — often are denied to pregnant workers, and can result in severe consequences for their health and financial security. Nobody should have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a job.
The bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) would outlaw such discrimination and require employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to pregnant workers. The PWFA has never been so close to becoming law. The House of Representatives passed the bill earlier this year, and we’re waiting for the full Senate to take it up for a vote.
1: The PWFA is vital for workers’ health.
2: The PWFA protects families from serious financial hardship.
3: The PWFA will help assure equal opportunity for pregnant workers
Bottom line: No one should be forced to choose between their job and a healthy pregnancy.
The PWFA assures that pregnant workers can keep working, and earning, while also maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Forty years after Congress acted to outlaw pregnancy discrimination, it is long past time for it to assure that workers get the accommodations they need to stay on the job.
Click here for the full article: https://www.aclu-in.org/en/news/three-reasons-why-congress-must-pass-pregnant-workers-fairness-act-now
Getting to Net Zero
Item 5 of the BPW/FL Public Policy Platform is Environment. Sometimes it is helpful to talk a global view of this issue. Climate change and climate action must be embedded into the purpose of multilateral development banks and international financial institutions that were created decades ago, Alok Sharma, COP26 president, told a seminar on reaching net zero. Meeting the climate goals set under the Paris agreement requires an investment of $3 trillion-$6 trillion per year. But current investment stands at $630 billion—five to ten times less than what is necessary.
“If we do not shift our trajectory this decade, we are cooked,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told the seminar, moderated by Spain’s economy minister, Nadia Calviño. Cooperation between global, regional, and national actors is essential to fight climate crises, but nothing is possible without climate financing. As the OECD’s Mathias Cormann said, “Governments alone will not be able to generate necessary investment to secure the transition to net zero. We need substantial private sector investment.”
How Florida has become less voter-friendly.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios
Florida ranks 33rd in the nation for voting access, according to the nonpartisan 2022 Cost of Voting Index published in the Election Law Journal.
What’s happening: Some states made voting easier during the COVID-19 pandemic. Others, like Florida, which dropped five slots from 2020, made it more difficult.
Context: The index ranks states by comparing categories like ease of registration, early voting availability, and the hours that polls are open.
State of play: Gov. Ron DeSantis has tightened election rules since 2020. This spring, he created a new statewide law enforcement agency to investigate claims of voter fraud, which announced 20 arrests in August.
- A law he signed last year put new limits on who can collect and drop off ballots, restricted the use of ballot drop boxes, and tightened requirements for non-government groups that hold voter registration drives, among other changes.
Of note: DeSantis signed an order this month extending early voting and mail ballot access through Nov. 8 for voters in three counties hardest hit by Hurricane Ian, NPR reports.
Zoom out: Florida wasn’t the worst state for voting access. New Hampshire ranked last, followed by Mississippi, Arkansas and Wisconsin.
- Oregon, which has automatic voter registration and all-mail voting, is considered the easiest state to vote in.
What they’re saying: Florida’s “new police force may lead to election interference and voter intimidation,” the voting index authors wrote.
- They plan to evaluate its effect on the cost of voting after at least one election cycle.
Join a virtual discussion on Thursday November 3 12:00-1:15 pm as a panel of experts talk about the critical connection between DEI and health equity, the impact it can have on a company’s bottom line and what employers can do to boost employee satisfaction and move the needle for better health for all employees.
MEET THE EXPERTS
Steve Stowe, VP, Executive Director, Miami Heat Charitable Fund
Rachel Thornton, MC, PHd, FAAP, VP, Chief Health Equity Officer, Nemours Childrens’ Health
Karen Pengra, SVP Total Rewards, Travel + Leisure Group
Dr. Kelli Tice, Guidewell & Florida Blue Chief Health Equity Officer, Florida Blue, Moderator
Equity Series | Women with Disabilities: Barriers and Bias in the Workplace
In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau is hosting the next webinar in its Equity Series, which will feature a panel discussion about the barriers and biases women with disabilities face in the workplace. Speakers will share practical strategies to create an equitable workplace, educate others on rights for disabled workers, and address challenges that impact disabled women workers. The webinar will focus on how to help employers achieve diverse and inclusive practices for working women with disabilities.
Wednesday, October 26, 2022 | 1–2:30 p.m. ET
League of Women Voters “Lunch & Learn”
Friday October 21 at 1:00 pm (ET)
Program Centered around Abortion & Reproductive Rights
The League has supported freedom of choice since 1982 and denounces reproductive coercion in any form. Abortion is currently banned after 15 weeks in Florida due to a new law that has gone into effect. Florida requires a pregnant person to visit their abortion provider for in-person counseling and then wait 24 hours before returning to get an abortion. Florida requires a pregnant person to visit their abortion provider for in-person counseling and then wait 24 hours before returning to get an abortion.
You will hear from three esteemed medical experts, Dr. Adriana Cantville, Kelly Flynn and Dr. Nancy Staats, on the facts on abortion in Florida.
Kelly Flynn is the founder, President, and CEO of A Woman’s Choice, Inc. A Woman’s Choice offers quality abortion care in three North Carolina clinics and one clinic in Florida. Kelly opened her first clinic 20 years ago at the age of 25. Kelly is a fierce supporter of bodily autonomy and non-judgmental abortion and reproductive healthcare. She has served as a patient supporter, clinic worker, activist, inspirational speaker, and on national boards serving independent abortion care providers. Like many strong professional woman entrepreneurs, she is a devoted mother, caregiver, and dedicated business owner.
Nancy Staats, MD is a Board-Certified Anesthesiologist originally from Detroit, MI; she attended college and medical school in MI; medical residency training at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD; worked as a clinician (hospital and surgery centers) and managed multiple surgery center anesthesia departments both in Baltimore and later in Monmouth County NJ from 1993-2017. She was active with her state medical society (NJSSA) and chaired the PAC there for several years. Staats is married to a pain management physician and has 3 grown children, all residing in Washington, DC.
Dr. Adriana Cantville is a pediatrician in Jacksonville, Florida and is affiliated with UF Health Jacksonville. Adriana received her medical degree from Nova Southeastern University – College of Osteopathic Medicine and has been in practice for more than a decade.
- Presentation: Get the Facts on Abortion in Florida
- Q&A Session with Dr. Adriana Cantville, Kelly Flynn, Dr. Nancy Staats & LWVFL President Cecile Scoon
- LWVFL Updates & News
Five Year Anniversary of the #MeToo Movement
Provides an Opportunity to Reflect
Item 3 (Safe Workplace) of the BPW/FL Public Policy Platform states: “BPW supports legislation that creates a safe workplace; a workplace free from violence, harassment and assault. We support legislative funding and education that will ensure workplaces are free from all forms of violence, harassment and assault.” Anniversaries tend to be a time to reflect, to take stock of the work done and left undone. The #MeToo movement has seen victories and losses in the courtroom, boardrooms, and across institutions from government, to sports, business to media and entertainment. For more insight from Tarana Burke, who started the movement to raise awareness of how common sexual violence is, click HERE.
Supreme Court’s Top Cases for New Term
By The Associated Press, October 1, 2022
The Supreme Court opens its new term Monday, hearing arguments for the first time after a summer break and with new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Already the court has said it will decide cases on a range of major issues including affirmative action, voting rights and the rights of LGBTQ people. The justices will add more cases to their docket in coming months.
Here’s a look at some of the cases the court has already agreed to hear, some of which are related to the BPW/FL Public Policy Platform. The justices are expected to decide each of the cases before taking a summer break at the end of June:
- Affirmative Action
- Voting Rights
- Clean Water
- LGBTQ Rights
- Native American Adoption
- Bacon Law Backlash
- Art World
Event Playback —
Voter Suppression: A Cancer in Our Body Politic
Item 6 of our public policy platform focuses on voting rights. Unfortunately, the elimination of many polling places, the cancellation of early voting and the intimidation at the polls of voters and election workers are just a few of the signs of voter suppression that have sprouted in recent years as some members of the electorate attempt to attain or to hold on to power by preventing those they regard as potential opponents from voting.
As the nation gears up for the 2022 midterm elections in November, ClassACT HR73 hosted the forum “Voter Suppression: A Cancer in Our Body Politic” on September 12th, 2022. The forum brought together journalists, activists and experts concerned with election integrity to discuss how repressing voting threatens our democracy.
E.J. Dionne, the renowned Washington Post columnist, moderated a panel that included Congressman Joaquin Castro, Cecile Scoon, President of the League of Women Voters of Florida, Michael Waldman, President of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, and Samuel Spital, the Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.