On March 12, I wrote a blog about the “Shenanigans in the PA Senate.” The day before my blog, the PA Senate essentially eviscerated a bill that makes it illegal for communities to evict a domestic violence victim from her home for calling 911 “too often.” The Senate Local Government Committee gutted HB 1796 by denying local communities creating paid and/or unpaid sick leave ordinances which threatens victims of domestic violence 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.
Because of concerns raised by advocates, the Senate so far has not taken the bill to the floor for debate and a vote. However, this morning, the Senate posted their floor calendar for Tuesday, September 16. On the agenda is this bill for third and final consideration. That means that it is likely to be voted on after some debate.
Over the last month, 157 individuals and human rights, anti-violence, public health, and legal services organizations signed onto a letter to the entire Senate calling on them to remove the preemptive employment leave language adopted in Senate Local
Government Committee and pass a clean bill as originally passed in the House.
Here is that letter; FYI, I am one of the signees:
Please take a moment and call your Pennsylvania State Senator and tell him/her to remove the preemptive employment leave language and pass a clean bill. You can find your Senator’s contact information here.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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