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Policy Update: June 19, 2015

Policy Report ARTA quick look back at events this week impacting women and families, from Valerie Young, a public policy analyst with Mom-mentum.

Significant news this week – and all of it is good!*

Oregon is the latest state to pass a paid sick leave bill!  The new law requires businesses with 10 or more employees to give 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked to their employees, to a max of 40 hours, or 5 days, per year.  The bill also prohibits retaliation or discrimination against a worker who uses the sick leave.   The bill also clarifies that employers have to provide, within reason, private spaces for women to breastfeed, and may not discriminate against women who choose to do so at work.    Now there are 4 states with paid sick leave – California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts recently passed their own bills.  The national bill, titled the Healthy Families Act, continues to languish in Congress.

New York has had state laws protecting breastfeeding mothers for years.  But so few mothers knew about them, employers frequently didn’t comply.  To remedy that, the state legislature has passed the “Breastfeeding Mothers Bill of Rights,” to be posted in health care facilities, nurseries, and post-delivery rooms in hospitals.  It clearly states that all mothers have the right to take breaks for breastfeeding or pumping milk at work.  Additionally, employers have to provide appropriate spaces for breastfeeding, and may not take action against women who do so.

Pennsylvania’s Governor wants to use a new way to bring down the rate of incarceration – making preschool available to thousands more children.  Fighting crime doesn’t usually involve early education, but the Governor cites a stack of data showing that there is a strong link between preschool and completing high school, a smaller chance of being arrested and going to prison.  Based on a projected return on investment of $26,000 per child enrolled, researchers estimate a savings to the state of over $350 million.

*Wait – I lied!  It’s not ALL good.  Here’s a downer – women are still a minority in all state legislatures around the country.  In fact, there were more women in Nebraska’s assembly 20 years ago than there are now.  Why should this be, you ask?   One expert says “… that women are expected to do more and be more to meet the same goals as men.”  Yet the benefits of having women at the table are known.  Different voices, different perspectives, lead to better policies for everyone, according to this article in the Columbus Telegram.  And it has a cool map, so you can find out the percentage of women in your state’s leadership.

Follow Valerie on Facebook (Your (Wo)Man in Washington) and Twitter (@WomanInDC) and find her on the blog at Mom-mentum.


Photo: © Robhainer |


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