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ESEA Bill Advances: Fix It, Congress

Posted by Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, Fellow | Posted on: April 17, 2015 at 09:34 am

Yesterday, the Senate HELP Committee voted to advance the Every Child Achieves Act out of committee. This bill would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the major federal K-12 education bill. Although the bill passed out of committee unanimously, several members expressed concern that the bill did not include core civil rights protections for disadvantaged students.

We echo those concerns and hope that if the bill advances to the floor, the Senate adds the following measures to ensure all students have access to a quality education:

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Department of Labor Proposes Protecting People with Retirement Savings Accounts Against Bad Investment Advice

Posted by Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel and Director of Women and the Courts | Posted on: April 16, 2015 at 02:32 pm

Did you know that the financial advisors you pay to help you decide how to invest your IRA or 401(k) aren’t required to act in your best interest? That they can recommend the investment that pays them the biggest commission—and make misleading statements to you about it? Isn’t that crazy?

Fortunately, this enormous gap in consumer protection will soon be closing. Yesterday, the Department of Labor issued a proposed regulation that would generally treat people who provide investment recommendations or advice to people who have, or are the beneficiaries of, employer-sponsored retirement accounts and Individual Retirement Accounts, as fiduciaries. This means that, with some exceptions, those who provide investment advice regarding such accounts will be required to “to give advice that is in the customer’s best interest; avoid misleading statements; receive no more than reasonable compensation; and comply with applicable federal and state laws governing advice,” as the Department of Labor notice put it.

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Denied Care When Losing a Pregnancy: Pharmacies Refuse to Fill Needed Prescriptions

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: April 16, 2015 at 10:25 am

When Brittany Cartrett needed the drug Misoprostol to help her complete a miscarriage and avoid a more invasive surgical procedure, two separate pharmacies in central Georgia refused to fill the prescription. Cartrett suspects they refused because, in addition to treating miscarriage, Misoprostol is used for medication abortions.

Unfortunately, Cartrett is not alone. After she posted about her experience on Facebook other women came forward with similar stories. One woman wrote:

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Nebraska Becomes the Thirteenth State to Protect Pregnant Workers' Job Security

Posted by Abigail Bar-Lev, Fellow | Posted on: April 16, 2015 at 10:09 am

What do women in Nebraska now have in common with women in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Texas, and West Virginia? Like the women in those states, Nebraska women no longer have to fear for their jobs when they become pregnant.

That’s because earlier this week, Governor Ricketts signed the Nebraska Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (LB 267) into law that grants pregnant workers the right to reasonable accommodations, so that no woman will have to choose between the health and safety of her pregnancy and her paycheck.

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If You Paid $1 in Income Tax, You Paid More than 15 Fortune 500 Companies — Put Together

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: April 15, 2015 at 04:24 pm

Our friends at Citizens for Tax Justice have posted five facts you should know for Tax Day. We were particularly taken by their chart, which we pasted below. It shows that in 2014, 15 profitable Fortune 500 companies that made combined profits of over $23.5 billion paid zero federal income tax. Actually, they did better than that—they got tax refunds totaling $731 million!

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Instead of Voting to Confirm Loretta Lynch, Senate Votes on Something Else — for 74th Time

Posted by Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel and Director of Women and the Courts | Posted on: April 15, 2015 at 02:56 pm

The nomination of Loretta Lynch has been pending on the Senate floor now for 48 days — or nearly seven weeks. As Senator Patrick Leahy put it, “This unnecessary wait time is twice as long as the last seven Attorney General nominees combined.”  Despite the fact that the announced support for Ms. Lynch’s nomination would ensure her confirmation, Senate Majority Leader McConnell refuses to schedule a vote.

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Lawmakers in Maine Aim to Help Families Afford Child Care Through Tax Code Improvements

Posted by Susanna Birdsong, Fellow | Posted on: April 15, 2015 at 11:08 am

Several presidential hopefuls have announced their candidacies in recent weeks, and regardless of their party affiliation, one issue seems to be on everyone’s list of talking points: American families are struggling to make ends meet, in large part due to the high cost of child care.

Some Maine legislators aren’t waiting for the 2016 elections. This legislative session, they are attempting to update and improve their state tax credit for child care expenses—and families in the state could really use the help! The average cost of center-based child care for an infant was $9,360 in 2012, about the same as the average tuition and fees at a Maine public university ($9,471) [PDF].

Specifically, the bill that has been introduced in Maine would increase the value of the Maine Child Care Credit—which is based on the federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit – in two ways:

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Rewriting No Child Left Behind: Committee Mark-Up Day 1

Posted by Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, Fellow | Posted on: April 15, 2015 at 10:09 am

For three hours yesterday afternoon, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) met to debate and offer amendments to the Every Child Achieves Act—a bipartisan compromise to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  The ESEA is the major federal K-12 education-funding bill that was last amended in 2002 as the No Child Left Behind Act.  Here’s a quick rundown of where things stand after yesterday’s markup:

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