Please read this great article. Review the research. And help get-out-the-vote. You can help by talking to your unmarried female friends and family members and helping them to register to vote. And the remind them to vote on November 4, 2014.
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.
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:
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;
It represents attempts by national businesses to circumvent policy at its most basic level; and
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.
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:
It violates of core conservative and democratic principles,
It represents attempts by national businesses to circumvent policy at its most basic level, and
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.
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.
Last year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly was considering passage of a transvaginal ultrasound bill to force women to have an unnecessary ultrasound in advance of going to an abortion clinic if they want to terminate their pregnancy. This bill would have required pregnant women to have the intrusive vaginal ultrasound with a video screen pointed at then and then would have required them to carry that report to the clinic the next day along with a signed form indicating that they had the procedure done. This report would also have to be placed in their medical record despite the fact that this procedure was not medically necessary.
When Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett was asked if this was a bill that burdened women, he said that the women who didn’t want the procedure could “Just close their eyes.”
Here’s a clip of that comment (the commentary and the comment start at 02:39 minutes into this video):
This time he says, “I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister…”
The legal brief compares same-sex marriage to allowing 12-year old children to get married. His response, just a bit longer than the “Just close your eyes” comment from last year, is just as offensive. The reporter said to him, “comparing gay marriage to the union of 12-year olds … you called inappropriate.” Corbett responded:
“It was an inappropriate analogy. I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don’t you? ”
Here’s a clip of this comment:
He later, as with last year’s comment, apologized, saying this time that it’s just a “legal” argument since marrying a 12-year old or having an incestuous marriage, or marrying a person of the same-sex are all illegal.
This is the guy who thinks he represents the Commonwealth?!!? Women as well as men? I don’t think so! All gays and lesbian couples as well as any heterosexual couple that wants to get married?!!? I don’t think so!
Inappropriate, Offensive, Insensitive, and Hateful
Both of these statements are offensive, insensitive, and hateful. And, yes just as Corbett later stated they are both inappropriate. Yet he continues to attack – women, gays, immigrants, etc. For a sampling of these attacks by Governor Corbett (as well by the Pennsylvania legislature), check out my blog posting earlier this entitled “War on Women in PA: At Least a 20-Year Happening.”
The apologies are not enough. Corbett has to go. He needs to be a 1-term Governor in Pennsylvania – something that hasn’t happened since the PA Constitution was amended in 1968 to allow a Governor to succeed himself (or herself, which might change if we ever elect a female governor) with a second term.
The Alternatives (So Far)
We know that Tom Corbett will be the Republican candidate for PA Governor in 2014. We don’t know who the Democratic (or any other party) candidate will be on the November ballot. Right now there are at least eight Democrats running: John Hanger, Jo Ellen Litz, Rob McCord, Katy McGinty, Max Myers, Ed Pawlowski, Allyson Schwartz, and Tom Wolf have officially announced and Rep. H. Scott Conklin, Senator Mike Stack, and former Auditor General Jack Wagner are considering a run. We need information on these alternatives.
So I started looking for blogs or commentary on alternatives to Tom Corbett. So far, there is only one that is not party-based that I could find. It is written by Cindy Purvis, Treasurer of Healthcare for All PA. Her blog is titled “Race for PA Governor” and focuses on single-payer healthcare reform. So check out her blog.
After the fall elections, there should be more websites up that can provide more complete information on the stances of candidates across a wide spectrum of issues, including women’s rights, reproductive justice, marriage equality, and other LGBTQ issues. One of the best, in my opinion is Project Vote Smart. Right now there is nothing on any race being held in 2014, but check back later.
Meanwhile, you can let your outrage be known. Contact Tom Corbett by email or phone at 717-787-2500. Tell him that his wars on women and the LGBT community must stop. Let him hear your outrage. Maybe he might reconsider some of his views and actions towards the citizens of Pennsylvania. I doubt it, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
Patricia is the “godmother” of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), having worked very closely with now Vice-President Joe Biden when he authored the original VAWA back in 1994. She describes herself as “a longtime women’s rights activist pretending to be retired and currently serving as a policy adviser to NOW and the National Task Force [to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women].”
Earlier this year, Pat wrote a guest blog for me on the Violence Against Women Act. It focused on a watered-down version of VAWA introduced by Republican legislators that fortunately failed and was replaced by a strong re-authorization bill signed into law by President Obama on Women’s Equality Day last March. Thank you Pat for all you do for women’s lives.
For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 94 percent of female victims were murdered by someone they knew. Compared to a man, a woman is far more likely to be killed by her spouse, an intimate acquaintance, or a family member than by a stranger.
For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 51 percent of female victims were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 73 percent were killed with handguns.
The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate acquaintance was more than five times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined in single victim/single offender incidents
For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 87 percent were not related to the commission of any other felony, such as rape or robbery.
Of these, 60 percent involved arguments between the victim and the offender.
For homicides in which the age of the victim was reported, 8 percent were less than 18 years old and 10 percent were 65 years of age or older. The average age was 39 years old.
Owning a gun doesn’t protect women. Females living with a gun in the home were nearly three times more likely to be murdered than females with no gun in the home.
A gun in the home is a key factor in the escalation of nonfatal spousal abuse to homicide. In one study, firearm-associated family and intimate assaults were 12 times more likely to result in death than non-firearm associated assaults between family and intimates.
Women who were murdered were more likely, not less likely, to have purchased a handgun in the three years prior to their deaths, again invalidating the idea that a handgun has a protective effect against homicide.
While firearms are at times used by private citizens to kill criminals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the most common scenarios of lethal gun use in America in 2010, the most recent final data available, are suicide (19,392), homicide (11,078), or fatal unintentional injury (606).
South Carolina was followed by Alaska and Oklahoma as the states with the highest homicide rates for women.
It’s been 50 years since Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. One of his colleagues at that event was the Rev. Jessie Jackson, Sr. Rev. Jackson has continued speaking and advocating for that dream of “uniting people on common ground across race, culture, class, gender, and belief.” This idea of interlocking destinies was presented during his plenary speech at the National NOW Conference held in Chicago on July 5, 2013.
I was in the room during Rev. Jackson’s speech and took several video clips with my smart phone. One of them came out clear enough to post on this blog. So after getting back home, participating in a family reunion, and then spending a week and a half looking for a replacement car for our 253,000+ mile vehicle, I was able to upload the video and present it to you.
Video of Jessie Jackson at the 2013 National NOW Conference in Chicago, IL
The following quotes, along with the time tags are some of the best comments, IMHO, that Jessie Jackson made during this speech discussing the intersection between the women’s movement and the civil rights movement, which at 13:59 into this video, Jackson calls a “sharing of interlocking destinies.” He started off by discussing these Interlocking Destinies and shared rights.
3:52 The right to vote should not be a state right. It’s a constitutional right for everyone.
4:10 Every child should have access to have access to high-quality public education.
4:20 No matter if you are in Mississippi, Maine, or in California, we live under one flag; you should have equal protection under the law.
5:52 Our goal is to learn to live together.
6:20 Civil rights cannot be another word for “black” and NOW cannot be another word for “white women.” Black women, in big numbers, should be members of NOW now!
7:00 We must pull down the walls [of cultural resistance] that leave us in the shadow of fear…. When the walls come down, we can all grow bigger, better, stronger with greater productivity. When the walls come down.
9:00 There’s a new South today that can have the Super Bowl, CNN, high-tech universities [showing that we are] learning to live together. Yet…
At this point, Rev. Jackson starts talking about some of the interlocking issues of racism and sexism still present that need to be addressed in the United States:
9:56 It’s interesting to me that during the Republican Primary, in my [home] state [South Carolina] with an open primary, not one candidate went to a single school or church of the black community. Not one! 33% black. Not only did they not go, the media did not challenge them to go. This instance [of the] reinforcement of apartheid was natural because it’s [still] normal.
Jackson then spends a bit of time framing these interlocking destinies and the problem of economics and access to justice. He gave several examples of this framework. The one that resonated with me was the one about the automobile industry, considering that my car had died the weekend before the conference and knowing that I would soon be car shopping. He said,
12:38 What does it mean that there are 21,000 automobile dealerships? 200 black-owned. Almost no women. Pepsi: one black franchise. Coke: zero. When you go get educated. You get your masters and PhD degrees. Business people, you cannot buy one of these franchises, by the way, because they were sold under the laws of perpetuity. Those that got the territories [back in the day] have the territory eternally. So it’s not about getting on the ball field. If you get on the ball field, there are no balls left…. Even money can’t buy them.
And finally, just as the battery in my smart phone died, he ended on a high note using history to look towards the future. He said that as in the past, we have not and can never be at loss for continuing to advocate for reform. This is what I caught on the video as it beeped “bye-bye:”
Here in Centre County, we have a county-run nursing home facility. It is located in the county seat of Bellefonte, PA. Centre Crest Nursing Home in Bellefonte has been county-owned and operated for 73 years. On June 18, Commissioners Steve Dershem (R) and Chris Exarchos (R) called for a surprise and unannounced vote (which may have violated Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Law) to transfer the facility to a private organization to be run as a non-profit. If the transfer goes through:
We, citizens of Centre Co., will lose our say in the operation and funding of Centre Crest;
Our tax investments could be subsidizing a private company through a rent-free agreement, yet we’d have no say in how Centre Crest would be run;
Current Centre Crest employees will have their benefits and pensions cut;
The Bellefonte community would lose over $1 million when employees lose benefits and when jobs involving payroll, purchasing, and benefit administration services are outsourced to a private company based in outside of Centre County; and
We expect that costs will rise for the residents, most of who are lower-income and cannot afford any of the very expensive private nursing home care that is elsewhere available in the county.
Most of the citizens in the county are opposed to this transfer. Some oppose the transfer because of the inability for citizens to have a continued say in how the nursing home should be run. Some oppose the transfer for fear that their loved ones will no longer be able to afford the care and will be forced to move. Some oppose the transfer because of the expected loss of benefits, including a defined pension plan, should the nursing home be turned into either a non-profit or for-profit nursing home. And some oppose the transfer due to the costs involved.
In 2012, the cost to the average household (not taxpayer, but household) to operate Centre Crest was $25 (5.6% of the county taxes) and it was less than that in each of the four years before that. The third commissioner, Commissioner Michael Pipe (D) spent several months doing a cost-benefit analysis of either keeping Centre Crest as a fully county-run facility or selling it off. The cost of Commissioners Pipe’s proposal to upgrade facilities at Centre Crest is less than $11.50 for the average household. The cost of a suggested subsidy to the county to turn it into a nonprofit is $3 million. In addition, the proposed plan involves this non-profit receiving the current and proposed new site rent free. Should the facility be moved, the county could incur an additional cost of $700,000 to $900,000 to acquire the suggested new location (Bellefonte Armory) with no reimbursement from the non-profit.
The current set up, according to Commissioner Pike is a win-win for the county and for seniors. As he argued before the vote, keeping Centre Crest as an upgraded county-run facility is both an “excellent use of our investments (taxes)” and “provides a home and medical care to our most vulnerable citizens–our seniors.”
The transfer is NOT A DONE DEAL. Although the initial vote was taken to transfer the home, none of the legal paperwork has yet to be signed and there are some legal actions that are being considered to stop what has happened so far.
There is a better alternative. Commissioner Pipe presented a plan to keep Centre Crest county owned and upgrade the facility for only $11.50 per year for the average household.
Together we can make this alternative happen.
If you live in Centre County, PA; have family in Centre County; or are concerned about the idea of profit over compassionate care for vulnerable seniors, then you can help stop this decision from coming to fruition.
If you live in Centre County, attend the County Commissioners’ meetings. They occur at 10:00 am every Tuesday morning. Voice your objection to the transfer during the public comment session at the beginning of each meeting;
No matter where you live, you can donate $5 or $50 to “Centre County Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility.” Mail to: 148 Thornton Rd., State College. PA 16801;
Go to http://saveCentreCrest.org, click on “petition,” download, print and then sign it. You can then, if you desire, you can gather more signatures. Once your petition is complete, mail it to: Save Centre Crest, P.O. Box 262, Bellefonte, PA 16823
You can also obtain more information and background on Centre Crest, what’s happening, and what you can do by visiting the Save Centre Crest website.
I just finished reading an article in PhillyNOW, a weekly blog that touts itself as an alternative to the mainstream press in Philadelphia to “bring you news and politics with an attitude, whether you like it or not.” This article, in light of yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in UNITED STATES v. WINDSOR overturning the definition of marriage as described in Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), calls on the Democratic Party at both the state and national levels to “stand up on LGBT rights.”
I would go even further. Not only should Democrats step forward, but Republicans need to step of to the plate of equal access as well.
Progressive commentary from Gainesville, Florida, once called the Berkeley of the South. Potano was the chief of and the only known name of the Native American tribe inhabiting the area around what is now Gainesville at the time the Europeans arrived.
“It takes no compromise to give people their rights…it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” – Harvey Milk
Learn more about the state laws being introduced and passed around the U.S. that is limiting Women's rights. Did you know that the Women's Equal Right Amendment from 1983 still needs to be ratified by 3 more states before it goes into effect?