I want to thank everyone for your support during this challenging legislative year. When women unite and work towards a common goal, obstacles can be overcome and great things can be accomplished.
Members of the Women's Caucus were successful over the past nine months in raising our profile throughout the Capitol community, commemorating California's suffrage centennial by honoring high-ranking women in California, holding informational briefings to better educate legislative staff on issues that impact women, and passing legislation that would improve women's lives.
I wish everyone a safe, enjoyable and productive interim. I look forward to seeing everyone in January!
Assemblymembers Halderman and Lowenthal and Senator Fuller co-authored Assembly Bill 12 (Swanson) - The Abolition of Child Commerce, Exploitation, and Sexual Slavery (ACCESS) Act of 2011. This measure increases the fine against an adult convicted for paying for the sexual services of a minor from $5,000 to $25,000. These funds would be directed to provide access to education, counseling and shelter for sexually exploited minors. The bill was signed by the Governor and is Chapter 75; Statutes of 2011.
Assembly Bill 568 (Skinner), would establish that pregnant inmates not to be shackled "unless deemed necessary for the safety and security of the inmate, the staff, or the public." It would require the Corrections Standards Authority to develop standards pertaining to the restraint of pregnant women at local correctional facilities. AB 568 had no 'no' votes through the legislative process but was vetoed by the Governor on October 9, 2011.
Assembly Bill 1319 (Butler), would prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution of baby bottles and sippy cups designed for children three years of age and younger that contain more than 0.1 parts per billion (ppb) of bisphenal A (BPA). BPA has been linked to a host of health problems, including early puberty, breast cancer, infertility, obesity and neurological and behavioral changes. AB 1319 was signed by the Governor on October 4, 2011.
Senator Evans authored two measures to benefit women. Senate Bill 222 will ensure that maternity care is included in individual market insurance policies. Policies containing maternity coverage have decreased drastically, leaving a growing number of women priced out of the insurance market. Senate Bill 299 guarantees the continuation of employer-provided health insurance coverage for women on pregnancy disability leave. Meaningful access to leave - including the maintenance of health insurance coverage - is essential to the health and economic security of working women and their families. Both measures were signed by the Governor on October 6, 2011.
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Netwoek (RAINN)
On August 24, at the request of Senator Mimi Walters, the LWC met with representatives from Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN); the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. The presentation was informative, interesting and included the history of the organization. Berit Francis, a mother of four and a national spokeswoman against sexual violence, shared her horrific story of being raped in Berkeley in 1991. Berit described her struggle for a "normal" life after years of nightmares, paralyzing fears, and therapy to overcome this horrible attack. She doesn't relish telling her story and wouldn't, if it weren't for remembering her own long search for a sign that she still was a "normal" person. Victims of assault find comfort in sharing their stories and knowing how others have survived. Berit is using her voice to inspire and help other victims.
RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE and the National Sexual Assault
Online Hotline (the only online sexual assault hotline) at www.rainn.org. It publicizes the hotline's free, confidential services, educates the public about sexual assault, leads national efforts to prevent sexual assault, improve services to victims and ensures that rapists are brought to justice. Below are the national statistics on rape and sexual abuse:
- Nearly half of all victims are under age 18
- 80% of the victims are under age 30
- 1 in 6 women will be victims of sexual violence
- 10% of victims are men
- College-aged women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other age group
Women in the Military
Women in the military and military families continue to be a priority area for the Legislative Women's Caucus. We have continued our work with the California National Guard (CNG), and we are working with the newly appointed Adjutant General David Baldwin to address the needs of military service women and their families. Through our coordinated efforts, we are developing a survey that will go out to all National Guard service members before the end of this year.
The survey will include questions dealing with the mental health, both of the individual and of their families, particularly concerns that arise out of their military service and will address the various childcare needs of the family. To obtain the most useful information possible, we are working with the California Childcare Resource and Referral Networks in developing the appropriate questions.
Additionally, LWC members are invited to visit one of the CNG's Challenge Academies in Los Alamitos in late November. The Sunburst Academy is a very successful residential academic program run by the CNG for at risk youth. For more information please contact Liz Fuller at Elizabeth.Fuller@asm.ca.gov.
Chair: Sen. Noreen Evans
Vice Chair: Asm. Bonnie Lowenthal
Kafi Blumenfield Appointment to the Commission on the Status of Women
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez appointed Kafi D. Blumenfield to the California Commission on the Status of Women. Ms. Blumenfield is the President and CEO of Liberty Hill Foundation, a social change grant-making institution in Los Angeles.
"I have known and respected Kafi Blumenfield for many years as I serve on the Liberty Hill Foundation Board of Directors," said Assemblymember Holly Mitchell, Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health. "Her commitment and dedication to policies that improve the lives of others, and her ability to translate goals and aspirations into effective action, is outstanding. As an African American woman, I am delighted that Kafi will join me in bringing this important perspective to the Commission's focus and look forward to serving with her on the Commission."
The Liberty Hill Foundation provides approximately $4.5 million dollars annually to organizations working on the frontlines of change, such as Black Women for Wellness, Gender Justice LA, and Pacoima Beautiful.
The Commission on the Status of Women provides a statewide perspective to the legislature and other policymakers on issues of concern to women and children - with a primary focus on health care, economic security and social equality issues.
Click here for more information.
California Women Suffrage Centennial
The California Suffrage Centennial Commission and National Women's History Project descended on Sacramento Sunday, October 9 and Monday, October 10 and offered recreations of suffragists rallies, authentic debates on the Senate floor about Senate Constitutional Amendment 8 (the measure putting suffrage on the ballot) and Proposition 4 (the suffrage ballot measure men in 1911 voted on).
Former Senator and current Secretary of State Debra Bowen, former Assemblywoman and Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin, Assemblymember Mariko Yamada and ED of Commission on the Status of Women, Mary Wiberg participated in a spirited debate for and against women's suffrage.
The Sacramento Bee covered the event. Please click on this link to see photos.