Enjoy Tax Day!

civilrightsactivist:

Yesterday was Tax Day. I paid my taxes without complaint. Why? Because these taxes help pay for our democracy. Nel’s New Day gives a very good background on why we shouldn’t complain about our taxes. In addition to what she presents, you can find out, using your actual income, how much of your money goes to different parts of the federal government using the White House’s “2013 Federal Taxpayer Receipt” calculator.
And following Nel’s suggestion, I took a selfie in honor of #TaxPayerPride Day and sent it to the Network Education Program (aka the Nuns on the Bus) to post on their FLICKR #TaxPayerPride page with other proud supporters who also want to pay their fair share of taxes.

Joanne Tosti-Vasey's #TaxpayerPride selfie

My taxes help pay for many important things to me. That includes my son’s education, a vibrant multicultural community, the local library, and our access to fair and open elections.

Check out Nel’s blog, find out where your federal tax dollars go, and tell others that you are proud to pay your fair share of taxes to run our country.

Originally posted on Nel's New Day:

Every year, April 15 brings moaning and groaning amid complaints about taxes. Yet if progressives suggest greater equity in taxes for the wealthy, as billionaire Warren Buffet has, Republicans tell us that we can make a gift to the U.S. Treasury. New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, said, “He should just write a check and shut up.” A letter-writer to our local newspaper sneered at me for claiming that taxes went to help people and gave me the address where I could send my money.

Somehow, conservatives don’t mind sending their money to the wealthy hedge-fund managers from Wall Street or the bankers, but they resent contributing to a badly-needed safety net for the poor. They ignore the facts that people in the United States pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than almost all other wealthy Western nations and that taxes as a share of GDP are at a 50-year…

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Great Nonprofit Boards I Have Known

civilrightsactivist:

I’ve served or have served on 3 different non-profit boards over the last two decades. All of them use a Presidential, rather than a CEO style of leadership. Two of them have term limits while the third one has a self-limiting leadership model based on the belief that the leader members New leaders and then moves on. Other than this one difference, all three have the other three characteristics mentioned in this blog. And all three are and continue to be successful.

Originally posted on Nonprofit Management:

Here are three “greats” among the nonprofits of my past. Their characteristics: (1) Long tenured CEOs, 15 years or more: (2) Boards and CEOs who can embrace change and act on it; (3) Boards who take pride in their CEO’s dynamic achievements internally and externally; (4) CEOs who can work with a continual parade of different board chairs and board members. (5) Boards who can support dynamic entrepreneurial CEOs and who understand the need for strategic planning.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eugene-fram/great-nonprofit-boards-i_b_5139669.html?utm_hp_ref=impact&ir=Impact

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Equal Pay Day 2014: Another Year of Inequity

For the last three years, my local NOW chapter—Ni-Ta-Nee NOW—has organized community education events surrounding Equal Pay Day and paycheck fairness.  We have focused on this issue because of the continuing inequity in women’s wages as compared to the male coworkers.

A frequent question we have is, “What’s Equal Pay Day and why should I care?”  To help answer that question, we have done op-eds and interviews with the local press (See here and here).  We also create a flyer that we update each year.  As President of Pennsylvania NOW, I wrote another blog on this issue in 2011. And last year, I commented on Equal Pay Day 2013 as well as the need for fairness in pay.

Like last year, my local NOW chapter will once again be distributing Equal Pay Day flyers in front of the gates of The Pennsylvania State University over the dinner hour.

Why today? Because Equal Pay Day moves from year to year. For 2014, that day is April 8.

The following is a web-based version of this flyer updated from 2013 to reflect today’s stats and information. The hard-copy version focuses on Pennsylvania. I have kept that information here and added additional commentary and links for information and contacts in other states.

TUESDAY APRIL 8, 2014 is EQUAL PAY DAY

IT’S THE DAY ON WHICH WOMEN’S WAGES CATCH UP WITH MEN’S WAGES FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

The wage gap is the ratio of women’s to men’s median annual earnings for full-time, full-year workers. Based on these earnings, women across the US earned just 77% of what men earned (AAUW, 2014).

Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year. In 2014, it took 1 day LESS than in 2013, 9 days LESS than in 2012, and 2 day MORE than in 2011 for a woman to earn as much as a man earned in the entire year. At the current rate of progress, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that it will be 2057 before women’s wages reach parity and Equal Pay Day will finally be on December 31 rather than somewhere in April of the following year!

 THE WAGE GAP

The Wage Gap - Lack of Equal Pay

The Wage Gap – Lack of Equal Pay

Nationally, Asian American women have the smallest wage gap, earning 87 percent of what the average white man earned in 2012. White women are next, earning approximately 78 percent of white men’s average income. Hawaiian and Asian Pacific women (65 percent), African-American women (64 percent), Native American and Alaskan Native women (60 percent), and Hispanic women (53 percent) have the largest wage gaps as compared to white men (AAUW, 2014). A typical woman earns $431,000 less in pay over 40 years due to this wage gap. (Center for American Progress, 2012)

THE WAGE GAP IN PENNSYLVANIA

The wage gap is even worse, in Pennsylvania. When ranked among the other 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania’s wage gap placed the state at 40out of 51 states. The median annual income for a woman working full-time, year round in Pennsylvania in 2012 was $37,414, compared to men’s $49,330 or 76% of what a man earns. This is a wage gap of 24%.

Of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the nation, only Seattle ranks worse than Pittsburgh (with a gap of 27%); Philadelphia fairs better than the state with a gap of just 20%. A typical woman in PA earns $459,000 less in pay over 40 years due to this wage gap. This gap rises to $722,000 for women who have earned college degrees (Center for American Progress, 2010)

WHAT CAN I DO??

If You are an Employer

If you are an employer, you can get help in examining pay practices by conducting an equal pay self-audit using the guidelines from the US Department of Labor (available at www.pay-equity.org/cando-audit.html).

If You Believe You Are Experiencing Wage-Based Discrimination

Tell your employer if you are being paid less than your male co-workers. Click here for some tips on negotiating for pay equity.

If there’s a union at your place of work, ask for their help.

If discrimination persists: There are three places to file complaints – at the federal level, at the state level, and at the local level.

At the Federal Level

You can file under federal law with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Go to this link and follow the instructions.

At the State Level

You can find your state’s anti-discrimination agency website and contact information in a pdf file created by Legal Momentum starting on page 28. Most of the agencies have a website address that you can copy and paste into your browser. All of the agencies have a phone number that you can call for assistance.

If you live in Pennsylvania, you can file a complaint with the PA Human Relations Commission in Harrisburg. Contact information is available by region.  Just go to their website and look for your county’s name.  The phone number and address for your regional office is listed directly above the names of the counties served by each office.

You should also check to see if your local county, city, or community has an ordinance providing similar protections for wage-based discrimination. You can also file under federal law with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

At the Local Level

There are a few communities throughout the country that have created local ordinances that include the state-based anti-discrimination protections and have also expanded coverage to other areas (such as protections based on sexual orientation, family status, and/or family responsibilities across the life-span). If so, you can more conveniently file a wage-based complaint at the local level. Check with your state’s anti-discrimination agency to see if there is a local ordinance in your community.

In Pennsylvania, there are about 30 communities with such an ordinance. Your regional office of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission can give you this information, along with whom to contact. Check with your state’s anti-discrimination office if you live in another state to determine if your state allows such local ordinances and if such an ordinance exists in your community.

As I just stated, there are about 30 communities in Pennsylvania that have such a local ordinance. One of the most progressive and expansive ordinances is in State College, PA, home of the main campus of The Pennsylvania State University. Their ordinance covers wage-based discrimination based on sex as well as color (race), religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, marital status, age, mental or physical disability, use of guide or support animals and/or mechanical aids. Four of these categories – sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status and family responsibilities across the lifespan, and marital status—are not covered under state law. State College is the only locality in Pennsylvania (and one of only a handful nationwide) that protects you in employment if you have family responsibilities for adult members of your family whether or not they live in the home with you. If you work within the State College, PA borough, you can file a complaint with the State College Borough under their Employment Anti-Discrimination Ordinance at 814.234.7110814.234.7110 (Side note: I was one of the people instrumental in crafting this ordinance).

If You Want to Support and Advocate for Pay Equity

Both the federal and many state legislatures—including New York and Pennsylvania—are attempting to address the issue of pay equity. I previously summarized what happened in New York with its Women’s Equality Act. The following summarizes the current status of the bills currently moving through Congress and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

The Federal Paycheck Fairness Act

Ask your Congressional representatives to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act – HR 377 in the US House of Representatives and both S 84 and S 2199 in the US Senate). The Paycheck Fairness Act updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It gives women the tools they need to challenge the wage gap itself. HR 377 was introduced in January 2013 and currently has 207 cosponsors; S 84 was introduced in 2013 and has 55 cosponsors; and S 2199 was introduced on 5 days ago and cosponsors are being sought by Senator Barbara Mikulski.

These bills have several different but related requirements. These include:

  • limiting wage differentials to bona fide work-related factors such as education, training, or experience;
  • prohibiting employer retaliation against employees who discuss their wages with each other or who supports and cooperates with a wage discrimination investigation;
  • authorizing the US Secretary of Labor to provide wage negotiation training grants for women and girls;
  • requiring employer-level data collection wages broken down by sex, race, and national origin; and
  • directing the Secretary of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to provide technical assistance to small businesses so that they can comply with this paycheck fairness law.

You can find out where your representatives stand on the Paycheck Fairness Act by going to http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php. In the search box in the middle of the page, type in “Paycheck Fairness Act” and click search.  On the next page, three bills will show up—SR 84, S 2199, and HR 377.  If you then click on “cosponsors” for each bill, you can determine if your representatives are publicly supporting the bill or not. If they are a sponsor, thank them and then ask them to call for a hearing on vote on the bill. If they are not, ask them to sign on.

Pennsylvania’s Workplace Opportunity Act

This bill is a smaller version of the federal Paycheck Fairness Act. Current Pennsylvania law prohibits sex-based wage discrimination between men and women but it suffers from several deficiencies that continue to allow for sex-based wage discrimination. There are two bills in the Pennsylvania General Assembly – HB 1890 and SB 1212. This two bills help to close these loopholes in current state law. Like the federal bill, the Workplace Opportunity Act requires equal pay for equal work. Employers would have to show that that the wage differential is legal if and only if they can demonstrate that the wage differences:

  •  Are not based upon or derived from a sex-based difference in compensation;
  • Are job-related with respect to the position in question, and
  • Are consistent with business necessity.

And again like the Federal bills, retaliation against employees who discuss their wages with each other or who support and cooperate with a wage discrimination investigation would be prohibited

HB 1890 has 54 cosponsors. It was introduced on January 2, 2014 and sent to the House Labor and Industry Committee. Yesterday the prime sponsors of the House bill – Representatives Erin Molchany and Brian Sims—along with Representative Frankel and several of their colleagues held a press conference on this bill. Here’s three short videos from that media event.

During that conference (but not stated in these videos), they announced  that they have introduced a Resolution Petition to Discharge Committee from Further Consideration of this Bill. This is being done because the ranking committee chair is refusing to hold hearings or hold a vote on this bill. Such a resolution is relatively rare, but is used when legislators believe that there is support for the bill by the members of the legislature despite a committee chair’s refusal to consider the bill.

SB 1212 has 18 cosponsors. It was introduces on February 4, 2014. It is currently sitting in the Senate Labor and Industry. Like the HB 1890, it has had no movement in committee. But like most bills, it has not had a “Resolution to Discharge” petition as of today.

If you live in Pennsylvania, you can contact your PA representative and senator regarding pay equity. So, please take time to contact your legislator.  Here’s where to find your legislator’s contact info. And then tell them to bring both of these bills to the floor for a vote.

Finally…For More Information

Visit http://www.pay-equity.org – the website created by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE). NCPE is a coalition of women’s and civil rights organizations; labor unions; religious, professional, legal, and educational associations, commissions on women, state and local pay equity coalitions and individuals.” They are dedicated to ending wage-based discrimination and achieving pay equity.

Posted in Congress, Economic Justice, Equal Pay Act, Equal Pay Day, National Committee on Pay Equity, New York, Pay Equity, Paycheck Fairness Act, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania General Assembly, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Pennsylvania Senate, Rep. Brian Sims (D-PA-Philadelphia), US House of Representatives, US Senate, Wage Discrimination, Workplace Opportunity Act (PA) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fearless Feminist Fundraiser

Pennsylvania NOW, Inc. is honoring six people, including myself on Friday, April 25 in Pittsburgh. Here’s my version of the invitation along with a link to the Eventbrite.com website for tickets. Come help celebrate with me and help out Pennsylvania NOW’s work to achieve equality in women’s lives in Pennsylvania. Thanks.

PA NOW Logo

Pennsylvania NOW logo

JOIN the PARTY to HONOR
3 Great NOW Leaders

2 Courageous State Legislators

1 Amazing Community Leader

GO! and help Pennsylvania Women

Join Pennsylvania NOW on Friday, April 25th, from 5:30-7:30PM

for our

FEARLESS FEMINIST FUNDRAISER

***

Festivities will be held at the home of

Ron Graham & Scott Cavanaugh

6101 5th Ave.

Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Friday, April 25 from 5:30 – 7:30PM

All proceeds to benefit Pennsylvania NOW

and our programs to bring women into equal participation

in their communities and their government.

Tickets are $50.

Register through Eventbrite:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pennsylvania-now-fearless-feminists-awards-tickets-10491980797

or send check payable to:

Pennsylvania NOW, Inc.

P. O. Box 4

Ft. Washington, PA 19034

Contact PennsylvaniaNOW@gmail.com to sponsor or place an ad in the program.  The deadline for inclusion in the program is April 9.

Posted in East End NOW, Fundraising, Joanne Tosti-Vasey, La'Tasha Mayes, New Voices Pittsburgh, Ni-Ta-Nee NOW, Pamela Macklin, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Pennsylvania NOW, Phyllis Wetherby, Rep. Dan Frankel (D-PA-Allegheny), Rep. Erin Molchany (D-PA-Allegheny) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Fair Elections

vote button

Fair campaign finance reform is needed for our government. There are two bills in the US Congress that could do this at the federal level.

We need to support Fair Elections and return our government to one that’s of, by, & for the people–not bought & paid for by special interests. There are two bills in Congress that would make this happen – 1) the Government by the People Act (HR. 20) and 2) the Fair Elections Now Act (S. 2023).

The lead co-sponsors of The Government by the People Act (HR. 20) are House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.)This bill allows “everyday Americans [to take] a $25 refundable My Voice tax credit to help spur small-dollar contributions to candidates for Congressional office” and establishes “a Freedom from Influence Fund to multiply the impact of small-dollar donations ($150 or less).” There are 138 additional co-sponsors.  In addition, organizations such as Alliance for Justice, Americans for Democratic Action, Common Cause, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the Sierra Club have endorsed this bill. Currently, there are over 50 organizations who have signed on as supporters of this bill.  You can see the full list of Congressional co-sponsors and organizational endorsers here.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has introduced The Fair Elections Now Act (S. 2023).  This bill that would allow Senate candidates to run for office by relying on small donations from people back home.  Currently, there are 15 additional Senators who are co-sponsoring this bill.  Organizations such as the Brennan Center for Justice, Credo Action, League of Conservation Voters, NAACP, and Working Families have endorsed this bill. Currently, there are 38 organizations that have signed on as supporters of this bill. You can see a full list of the Senatorial co-sponsors and organizational endorsers here.

You too can publicly support these bills.  Public Campaign and a coalition of organizations are working to return our government to one that is of, by, and for the people–not bought and paid for by special interests.  They have created a website for individuals and organizations to sign on in support of these bills.

As an individual, You can sign on the Government By the People Act / Fair Elections Now Act website as a “citizen cosponsor”  of the Government by the People Act. If you represent an organization, your organization can endorse the Government by the People Act here.

There is not a sign-up page on this website for signing on to the Fair Elections Now bill as either a citizen co-sponsor or as an organizational endorser.  I don’t know why. If you are interested in signing on in to the Fair Elections Now bill, I suggest you contact them and make this request as I believe both bills need grassroots support. They do have an email address where you can contact them via email at ofby@publicampaign.org or by sending a letter to Public Campaign, 1133 19th Street NW, 9th Floor, Washington, DC 20009.

In either case, you can also follow this campaign for fair elections on Twitter by following @ofbyus.

Let’s get this done. Return our elections to the people. Pass both the Government By the People Act and the Fair Elections Now Act.

Posted in Brennan Center for Justice, Campaign Finance, Campaign Finance Reform, Congress, Elections, US House of Representatives, US Senate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Throwing Gun Safety Away in PA

Stop Violence Against Women NOW diamond

Stop Violence Against Women NOW

I received an email late last night from CeaseFirePA  regarding pending legislation in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  Here’s the main part of that email regarding two bills designed to reduce gun safety within the state:

There has been a MAJOR development in our state House that is designed to seriously undermine our safety as Pennsylvanians. IT IS UP TO YOU TO ACT TODAY.

Our state House Judiciary Committee just released a surprise agenda for… March 18 and it’s a doozy. The legislators controlled by the gun lobby are trying to railroad five firearms related bills-at least two of which are extremely dangerous for Pennsylvania-through the legislature without giving the public time to weigh in on them. These dangerous Bills are:

-HB 921, which would eliminate Pennsylvania’s background check system (PICS)–a system that our state police swear by and that contains thousands of records, particularly mental health records and records of PFAs [Protection from Abuse orders]/domestic abuse, that are not included in the National Instant Check System (NICS);

-HB 2011, which would-for the first time EVER in Pennsylvania history-allow a special interest group (in this case, the gun lobby and groups like the NRA) and the interest group’s entire membership base special, automatic standing to sue towns and cities because the group does not like the ordinances that these towns have passed to increase the safety of their citizens, even when the ordinance has not been enforced against any member of that group.

—Rob Conroy, CeaseFirePA, Western PA Regional Director

Based on the Gun Safety resolution that both Pennsylvania NOW and National NOW passed, respectively, in January and February 2013, Pennsylvania NOW decided to oppose both of these bills.  [FYI for disclosure purposes, I serve on both of these organizations' boards — as a member of the Executive Committee for Pennsylvania NOW and as a member representing the Mid-Atlantic Region on the National NOW Board of Directors]. For more information on this NOW policy, go to the end of this blog to see the text of the resolution passed on February 25, 2013 by the National NOW Board of Directors calling for Sensible Gun Safety Legislation; this policy passed following the many concerns raised by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.  My very first blog on this site was written the day of these shootings.)

Why Pennsylvania NOW Opposes these Bills

Pennsylvania NOW opposes HB 921 that eliminates PA’s background check for gun sales and increases the threat of gun violence to victims of domestic violence who have or want to seek out a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order.

Pennsylvania NOW also opposes HB 2011 since it allows special interest groups without legal standing to sue to overturn any local ordinance they don’t like.  This second bill could overturn not only local gun-related ordinances, but also other ordinances such as local anti-discrimination ordinances that have added marital status, familial status, family responsibilities, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation to the list of protected classes in preventing discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

Status of these Bills

The members of the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee met at 10 am this morning.  I talked to Rep. Thomas Caltagirone’s (D-PA 127) office (he’s the Minority Chair of the House Judiciary Committee).  The woman I talked to said that his entire staff (except herself) was in the Committee meeting and she had no idea as to whether or not these bills had been voted on.  At 2 pm today, I checked the General Assembly’s website.  As of that time, nothing had been posted regarding a committee vote on these bills.

Based on the make-up of the Judiciary Committee, we suspect that both bills will be voted out if they haven’t already been.  So all members of the legislature need to be contacted to tell them to vote no on both bills when they come to the floor.

Be/Become an Activist for Gun Safety

We don’t need to throw away our gun safety laws.  We need, instead, to make sure gun safety rules are in place to protect our loved ones.

So, please take time to contact your legislator.  Here’s where to find your legislator’s contact info. Tell him/her to vote NO on HB 921 and HB 2011 to protect the lives of our loved ones from unsafe gun sales and preemption of local ordinances that improve our local communities.

Addendum

CALL FOR SENSIBLE GUN SAFETY LEGISLATION

WHEREAS, the National Organization for Women (NOW) “[E]nvision[s] a world where non‑violence is the established order”; and

WHEREAS, we, along with the rest of the nation, have witnessed in horror and, with deep sadness, the most recent massacre on December 14, 2012, by an individual with assault weapons, of his mother first, then innocent children and teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; and

WHEREAS, this horrific incident is the latest in a string of recent, shocking gun attacks, all of which have been perpetrated by individuals with assault weapons and which have mostly targeted women and children around the country, including at:

  • a shopping mall in Portland, Oregon in December 2012;
  • the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in July 2012;
  • a shopping mall in Tucson, Arizona in January 2011, where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was grievously injured, and where other casualties included the death of 9-year old Christina Taylor-Green; and
  • an Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania in October 2006 where 5 young girls were slaughtered and 5 more girls were seriously injured after the shooter released the boys and the adults; and

WHEREAS, according to the Congressional Research Services, there were more than 310 million firearms in private ownership in the United States in 2009, and another 5.2 million are manufactured annually and another 3.2 million imported annually, and according to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 30,000 people in the US are killed each year by firearms, and the vast majority of female homicide victims in the U.S. are killed with handguns by intimate partners rather than by strangers; and

WHEREAS, we respect the rights conferred under the Second Amendment but believe that the right to bear arms does not mean that assault weapons—which are designed solely to kill people—should be sold to members of the public; and

WHEREAS, as President Obama said in Newtown, “These tragedies must end;”

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NOW calls upon our federal- and state-level elected representatives to protect and defend our children, our communities and our nation from further gun violence by immediately implementing sensible gun safety  legislation, including:

  • Reinstituting the ban on assault weapons that was in effect prior to 2004; and
  • Banning the sale, transfer, transportation and possession of large clips of ammunition containing more than 10 bullets; and
  • Closing the “Gun Show Loophole” which allows individuals to purchase guns without a background check; and
  • Appointing a permanent position as Director of Tobacco & Fire Arms Department; and
  • Retaining the results of all Federal background checks for five years; and
  • Requiring universal background checks, including checks  for domestic violence for the purchase of any legal weapon; and
  • Creating a national gun registry that will allow law enforcement to track weapons; and
  • Requiring devices be added to weapons which would limit the use of any privately-owned gun to the registered owner; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW encourages our chapters and members to:

  • Lobby their elected officials for effective legislation to end gun violence, with the NOW Action Center providing educational information to assist in such efforts; and
  • Contact entertainment providers and their sponsors to ask that they do not manufacture or sponsor video games, movies, television shows or music that glorify gratuitous violence; and
  • Lobby and/or protest professional organizations in the entertainment industry that honor exceptionally violent content; and
  • Advocate for programs and their funding in schools to teach tolerance and conflict resolution; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW endorses actions advocating for solutions to end gun violence when it can be done in accordance with NOW’s Coalition Guidelines.

—Passed by the National NOW Board of Directors, February 25, 2013

Posted in 2nd Amendment, Cease Fire, Discrimination, Gun Safety, NOW Inc. (National Organization for Women), Ordinances, PA House Judiciary Committee, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania General Assembly, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Pennsylvania NOW, Preemption, Rep. Thomas Caltagirone (D-PA 127 Berks County), Sandy Hook Elementary School, Violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shenanigans in the PA Senate

Stop Violence Against Women NOW diamond

Stop Violence Against Women NOW

Shenanigans in the Senate. Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Senate Local Government committee added an amendment to HB1796. This bill passed unanimously out of the House of Representatives on January 14, 2014.  As it arrived in the Senate, it was designed to make it illegal for communities to evict a domestic violence victim from her home for calling 911 “too often.” The amendment that was added would outlaw local communities from passing/enforcing local paid or unpaid sick leave ordinances.

The amendment added by the  Senate Local Government Committee—shown in all caps here—basically guts this bill. On one hand, it protects victims of domestic violence from being evicted but, on the other hand, it threatens them with loss of their livelihood if they have to take off from work to protect themselves or their family members and cannot get paid or unpaid sick leave that goes beyond federal or state law.  Note, federal and state law only protect people who take sick leave who are employed by companies with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees.  Since the majority of employers have fewer than 50 employees, this amendment could threaten a victim of domestic violence in two ways:

  1. She could lose both of her livelihood and her home should she be unable to pay the rent as a result of her job loss.
  2. She might be forced into continuing the violent relationship should she want to leave if she fears losing her job and can’t take off time from work to productively deal with the violence and injuries that have been inflicted, even after having emergency service intervention.

Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee need to be contacted asap to ask them to strip the “paid/unpaid sick leave preemption” amendment out of the bill. See note below.

The members of the committee are as follows. You can get their contact info by either going to the Senate Appropriations page or by linking directly to your state Senator below.

Majority Chair of Senate Appropriations Committee

Minority Chair of Senate Appropriations Committee

Minority Members of Senate Appropriations Committee

Thanks for contacting your legislator if she/he is on the Appropriations Committee.  Tell her/him to call for the removal of the paid/unpaid sick leave amendment that was added to the bill in the Senate Local Government Committee and then send the clean bill to the Senate floor for a full vote.

Posted in Domestic Violence, Emergency Services, Family Medical Leave, Housing, PA Senate Appropriations Committee, Paid Family and Sick Leave, Paid Family Leave, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Senate, Preemption, Sen. Bob Mensch (R-PA 24), Sen. David Argall (R-PA 29), Sen. Dominic Pileggi (R-PA 9 - Chester & Delaware), Sen. Elder Vogel (R-PA 47), Sen. Jake Corman (R-PA 34), Sen. Jay Costa (D-PA 43 - Allegheny), Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-PA 38), Sen. John Gordner (R-PA 27), Sen. John Rafferty (R-PA 44), Sen. John Wozniak (D-PA 35), Sen. John Yudichak (D-PA 14), Sen. Jon Blake (D-PA 22), Sen. Joseph Scarnati (R-PA 25), Sen. Judy Shwank (D-PA-Berks), Sen. Larry Farnese (D-PA-Philadelphia), Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-PA 4 - Montgomery and Philadelphia), Sen. Lisa Baker (R-PA 20), Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA 13 - York and Lancaster), Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-PA 36 - Chester and Lancaster), Sen. Patricia Vance (R-PA 31 - Cumberland and York), Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-PA 40 - Allegheny and Butler), Sen. Robert Tomlinson (R-PA 6), Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-PA 12 - Bucks and Montgomery), Sen. Timothy Solobay (D-PA 46), Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-PA 7), Sick Leave, War on Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The French Way or the Broken US Way of Healthcare?

Advocates for Single Payer Healthcare Rallying in 2009 in Harrisburg, PA

Advocates for Single Payer Healthcare Rallying in 2009 in Harrisburg, PA

Anya Schriffrin has just written a wonderful piece on universal health care from the French perspective called “The French Way of Cancer Treatment.”  She discusses the differences in the treatment her father received at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital v. his treatment at Cochin Hospital, a public hospital in Paris.

The differences she saw in her father’s cancer treatment in both countries included:

Issue

At Sloan Kettering (United States)

At Cochin (France)

 

Average length of treatment day

7.5 hours

90 minutes

How specialists see patients

Patient traveled to each specialist’s office

All specialists came to see patient either in home or in the hospital room.

Treatment received

Chemo selected based on insurance company’s formulary

Chemo selected based on doctor’s determination of best treatment

Who paid for meals while in hospital

Patient

Hospital: Included in treatment

Who paid for transportation to and from hospital

Patient and/or Insurance Company

Hospital: Included in treatment

Type of medical care

Insurance based, for-profit

Universal Health Care

Average cost/person for medical care in each country (2011)

$8,608

$4,086

% of Country’s Gross Domestic Product for Health Care

17.9%

11.6%

 

The one statement that stood out for me on the French system was this:

“There were other nice surprises. When my dad needed to see specialists, for example, instead of trekking around the city for appointments, he would stay in one room at Cochin Hospital, a public hospital in the 14th arrondissement where he received his weekly chemo. The specialists would all come to him. The team approach meant the nutritionist, oncologist, general practitioner and pharmacist spoke to each other and coordinated his care. As my dad said, ‘It turns out there are solutions for the all the things we put up with in New York and accept as normal [emphasis added].’

As a cancer survivor, I can attest to similar experiences in the United States just about a quarter century ago.  Nothing has changed.  Like Ms. Schriffrin’s father, my visits to the hospital often took 7-8 hours after getting up way before the break of dawn to travel 3 hours to the hospital to be one of the first people to wait in line to see the doctors and other specialists.  I too had one doctor who wandered in to the clinic for my chemo 7-8 hours AFTER he was scheduled for treating patients. In that particular case, he kept patients and nursing staff waiting until about an hour after the clinic should have closed for the day.  And I had to fight for my life with two insurance companies in order to get the bone-marrow transplant I needed.

My story is similar to many others here in the states.  That’s why I support national universal, single-payer healthcare via Congressman John Conyers’ (D-MI) HR 676 in the United States.  It’s why I support federal legislation to expand the Affordable Healthcare Act to all states to create a state-level single-payer plan like what Vermont has already passed and signed into law. It’s why I support the plan that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has crafted; it’s called the American Health Security Act of 2013 bill and it creates state-level single-payer healthcare programs with Federal support.   It’s why I am a board member of Health Care for All PA Education Fund.  And it’s why I support the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan proposed by Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo.

We can do better here in the US.  Better than what Ms. Schriffrin’s father and I have both experienced.

Let’s fix this broken US healthcare system.  Let’s create access to quality healthcare for all via a universal, single-payer healthcare program in the United States.  Check it out.  Let’s do healthcare the French Way in the American style as suggested by Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT),  PA Senator Jim Ferlo, the state of Vermont, and Health Care for All PA.

Posted in American Health Security Act of 2013, Anya Schriffrin, Cancer treatment, Cochin Hospital, Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act, France, Health Care, Health Care for All PA, Health Insurance, Hospitals, Medicare for All, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Health Care Plan, Pennsylvania Senate, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-PA 38), Single-Payer, Sloan Kettering Hospital, Universal Health Care, US House of Representatives, US Senate, Vermont | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sample Letter Opposing Sick Leave Preemption Bill

Help Stop ALEC

Help Stop ALEC

Yesterday afternoon, the Pennsylvania House Labor and Industry Committee forwarded a sick leave preemption bill — HB 1960 — to the floor of the Pennsylvania House of Representative without amendment.  I have previously written about this ALEC-initiated bill and a similar one on this blog.

The vote on the amendments and on referral of the bill “as committed” was completely along party lines.  All 15 Republicans voted to limit local control and disallow exceptions to the bill for pregnant women and victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking; all 10 Democrats voted for the amendments and against the bill.

Now the bill goes to the full floor for debate.  In Pennsylvania, bills can be amended from the floor ONLY on “Second Consideration.”  And that is expected as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, January 29.

Every legislator—Republican and Democrat—needs to know our concerns about this type of  bill.

So in an effort to assist my readers on contacting their representatives about a preemption bill such as this one, I decided to post my letter to Representative Kerry Benninghoff (R-171, Centre & Mifflin Counties) on this blog. FYI, he is a conservative Republican, but is not a member of ALEC.

If you live in Pennsylvania, now is the time for you to write a similar letter OR call your state Representative(click here to find your Representative).

This bill is also being “shopped” around the country by ALEC. So… if you live elsewhere in the country, keep this in mind, as a sick leave preemption bill is likely to show up in your state.

Hi Kerry,

I’m writing to strongly urge that you oppose and vote NO on  HB 1960 when it comes up for second consideration as well as on final consideration.  Voting and debate on several amendments is expected on the House floor tomorrow, January 29 under the rules for Second Consideration.

I want you to vote NO on HB 1960 because:

  1. Laws that preempt local decision-making strip cities and counties of their right to adopt policies that will benefit their communities, in violation of core conservative and democratic principles;
  2. It represents attempts by national businesses to circumvent policy at its most basic level; and
  3. Local innovation is the lifeblood of progress. Preemption efforts, driven by special interests, should not stand in the way of local innovation or self-rule. Bills like this represent an ominous attempt to remove power from locally elected officials and make the voters mere bystanders in the democratic processes that define the character of their communities.

I’m particularly concerned about its effect on victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.  This proposed law will threaten the lives of victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking who need this form of leave to receive critical services to protect their and their families’ lives – like medical treatment, counseling, and dealing with all court and law enforcement related business.  If local communities can’t make laws that allow victims who work for employers with less than 50 employees, you will be potentially sending these victims back into the hands of their violent perpetrators because they will be unable to financially stand on their own two feet.

Even if preemption bills seem to have a narrow focus, passage of this type of legislation could result in preemption of a wide range of local ordinances in municipalities throughout the state. These include efforts to expand protections for those who have experienced domestic violence, laws prohibiting wage theft, consumer protection initiatives, and many more.

Based on all of these concerns, I am therefore also requesting that you vote for any amendment that makes this bill less onerous.  I understand that several such amendments will be offered, including ones that

  • Allow municipalities to have paid or unpaid leave programs with respect to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
  • Allow municipalities to have paid or unpaid leave programs with respect to maternity leave.
  • That grandfather in any existing local ordinance.

Please vote for all of these life-protecting amendments.  And when the bill comes up for a final vote, VOTE NO!  on HB 1960.

Please let me know what you will do regarding this bill. Thank you.

Posted in ALEC - American Legislative Exchange Council, Democratic Party, Domestic Violence, Economic Justice, Employment, Ordinances, Paid Family and Sick Leave, Paid Family Leave, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Preemption, Pregnancy, Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-171 Centre & Mifflin), Republican Party, Sexual Assault, Sick Leave, Stalking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Underhanded Attempt to Pass a Paid/Unpaid ALEC Sick Leave Preemption Bill?

Help Stop ALEC

Help Stop ALEC

In December, I posted a blog about some Pennsylvania legislators’ connections to ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.  Among those legislators is Representative Seth Grove of York County, PA.  In that blog, I focused on his paid and unpaid sick-leave preemption bill that would prohibit any local control over paid or unpaid leave of any type.  His bill – HB 1807 – ran into a lot of opposition after a party-line vote in the House Labor and Industry Committee in mid-December.  This bill has been placed on – and pulled off – of the floor calendar after 14 other Representatives offered at least 24 amendments for floor debate.

So on January 16, 2014, Representative Grove introduced a “new” version of his bill – HB 1960 – in what looks to me like an effort to avoid any changes to his original legislation.  And this bill was introduced without, as far as I can tell from the General Assembly website, any circulation of a “Co-Sponsorship Memo.” I have been reviewing legislation on this website for years.  This is the first time I have ever seen a bill introduced since co-sponsorship memos started being posted that has not included such a memo.  HB 1807 had one; HB 1960 does not.

Differences in the Two Preemption Bills

Upon reading both bills, there appears to be little if no difference at all.  Except for the addition of one new cosponsor (Rep. Fred Keller (R-85, Snyder & Union Counties)), the style of wording to prohibit paid or unpaid sick leave ordinances at the local level is the only change I can see. The result is exactly the same. The original bill – HB 1807 – creates the preemption with a one paragraph “Mandate prohibition.” The new bill – HB 1960 – creates the preemption by changing the prohibition wording to three paragraphs within two subsections titled “General Rule” and “Inconsistent mandate.”  Both bills prohibit any local jurisdictions to pass ordinances that

“mandate requiring an employer to provide an employee or class of employees with vacation or other forms of leave from employment, paid or unpaid, that is not required by Federal or State law.”

Both bills grandfather any currently enacted ordinance but prohibit all future local paid or unpaid sick leave legislation.

So by adding one new cosponsor and reorganizing the way the bill is presented without circulating a co-sponsorship memo allows Representative Grove and his cohorts a “do-over” chance to ram this bill through the House without the current “baggage” of 24+ amendments.

Is there some subterfuge going on here? Is Representative Grove trying to get this ALEC-initiated bill passed under the radar?

If so, this under-the-radar effort doesn’t appear to be working.  Both progressive members of the legislature as well as members of the Coalition of Healthy Families and Healthy Workplaces have found out about this bill and are starting to push back.

Status of Bills

Due to the high number of amendments on HB 1807, the leadership of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has apparently decided not to bring forth the bill for floor debate.  So the new bill will be a start-over.  And eleven days after its introduction (January 16, 2014), HB 1960 will be heard AND voted on in the House Labor and Industry Committee (scheduled for Monday January 27, 2014).

This bill has no more leadership backing than original. That’s a good thing.  This means that there is not likely to be a GOP caucus push to have all Republicans vote for this bill.

All legislators – Democratic and Republican — can therefore either vote their conscience OR their constituents’ views without fear of repercussion from leadership.

What You Can Do

As of right now, the focus will be to attempt a majority no vote in the House Labor and Industry Committee.  So if you personally know OR are a constituent of a member of this Committee, please contact her/him by Monday morning at 11 am EST.  Tell this legislator that you are a voter and that you want her/him to vote NO on HB 1960 because:

  1. It violates of core conservative and democratic principles,
  2. It represents attempts by national businesses to circumvent policy at its most basic level, and
  3. It will threaten the lives of victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking who need this form of leave to receive critical services to protect their and their families lives

For more talking points on this preemption bill, click here.

Here’s a list of the targeted members of the House Labor and Industry Committee. Each link will take you to the legislator’s personal legislative web page where you can find full contact information – addresses, phone numbers, faxes, and email.  And for some of the legislators, you will also have links to either their Facebook and/or Twitter accounts so you can contact them that way as well.

Officers

Scavello, Mario M.

Chair

Keller, William F.

Democratic Chair

Majority

Minority

Thanks for taking time to help stop this bill and to stop this underhanded attempt to ram through a proposed law that threatens, among others, the lives of victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking who need time off from work to create a safety plan or obtain needed services and protections.

Posted in ALEC - American Legislative Exchange Council, Democratic Party, Domestic Violence, Economic Justice, Jobs, Paid Family and Sick Leave, Paid Family Leave, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Preemption, Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA 85 Snyder & Union Counties), Republican Party, Seth Grove (R-196 York County PA), Sexual Assault, Sick Leave, Stalking, Unpaid Sick Leave | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment