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New Mexico


Yesterday, voters in Albuquerque, New Mexico took to the polls and voted down an attempt to ban abortion in their city.

The ballot measure was being pushed by opponents of abortion who targeted Albuquerque in a novel attempt to put an abortion ban on a city ballot. They hoped to close the city’s clinics, and also wanted to create a new model of attacks on abortion – going city by city, across the country.

But ABQ voters shut that whole thing down. Voters rejected the attempt to ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, recognizing that women need access to later abortion for a variety of reasons, and that the families in those situations need safe and legal medical care, not government interference. Read more »

Serious About Closing the Wage Gap? Take the Bull by the Horns Like New Mexico

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you probably know that the wage gap in the U.S. hasn’t budged in the last decade, and that women still get paid 77 cents, on average, for every dollar paid to a man. One southwestern state is taking the lead on closing this gap. New Mexico – the Land of Enchantment – is the home of the yucca flower, the black bear, thriving Hispanic culture, and now groundbreaking fair pay legislation!

In New Mexico, women typically make only 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. African American and Hispanic women do considerably worse: at 60 cents and 53 cents, respectively. In an effort to close this gap, Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico signed the Fair Pay for Women Act into law on March 16, 2013. Read more »

New York Raises Its Minimum Wage (For a Price) and the Fight Continues in Other States

There’s a lot to report on the minimum wage today, but I’ll start with the biggest news: the New York legislature has approved the state’s 2013-2014 budget, which includes a minimum wage increase. Specifically, the minimum wage will rise from $7.25 to $8.00 per hour on December 31, 2013, to $8.75 one year later, and $9.00 on December 31, 2015.

This is good news for minimum wage workers in New York, nearly two-thirds of whom are women. But the phased-in minimum wage increase in the budget is weaker than the increase that the state Assembly passed just a few weeks ago, which would have raised New York’s minimum wage to $9.00 per hour in one step in January 2014, then indexed the wage annually to keep up with inflation. The budget also drops a provision in the Assembly-passed bill that would have raised the minimum cash wage for tipped food service workers from $5.00 to $6.21 per hour, but it does provide a path to an increase for these workers by authorizing the labor commissioner to have a wage board examine the adequacy of New York’s tipped minimum wage, then issue an order to raise the wage. Read more »

27 Governors Highlight Early Care and Education in State of the State Addresses

Everyone’s ears perked up when President Obama announced his new early childhood education plan at the State of the Union last month. And many noticed when Jon Stewart started talked prekindergarten and the President’s plan on the Daily Show. But the focus on early care and education isn't just happening at the national level: 27 governors across the country — from left, right, and center — signaled that early childhood was a priority for them in their State of the State addresses.

Like the President, these governors (and the Mayor of Washington, D.C.) recognize that investing in children in their earliest years is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. Early care and education helps nurture young children and prepares them for future educational and career success, provides crucial support for parents, and strengthens our nation's economy.

A number of governors called for significant new investments in early care and education to expand access to high-quality early learning opportunities. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said he wanted to "ensure that every child in Massachusetts has access to high-quality early education." Read more »

Getting Closer to a Better Minimum Wage in Hawaii, New Mexico and New York

Momentum just keeps building towards a higher minimum wage. I reported last week that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which now has at least 25 co-sponsors in the Senate and 131 in the House. That’s a strong show of support – but we know the bill will still face opposition from some in Congress. So it’s heartening to see that a number of states aren’t waiting for the federal government to act to raise wages for their lowest-paid workers.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve noted proposed minimum wage increases in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. And just in the past couple of weeks, legislatures in several of these states have taken steps to move those proposals forward. This movement is especially good news for women, who make up the majority of minimum wage workers across the country and in most states. Read more »

States Taking the Lead on Higher Minimum Wages

It’s been a busy few weeks on the minimum wage front, as policymakers in a slew of states have moved to raise wages for low-paid workers. If you follow our blog, you already know that minimum wage increases are on the agenda in Maryland and New York – and you know that this is especially good news for women, who make up the majority of minimum wage workers in those states and across the country.

While a federal minimum wage increase – like the one proposed in the Fair Minimum Wage Act last year – is needed to boost pay for minimum wage and tipped workers throughout the U.S., it’s great to see momentum building at the state level. Here’s a quick run-down of recent developments:

  • California. A bill pending in the Assembly, AB-10, would increase the minimum wage from $8.00 per hour to $8.25 in 2014, $8.75 in 2015, and $9.25 in 2016, then adjust the wage annually for inflation beginning in 2017.
  • Connecticut. A bill pending in the Senate, S.B. 387, would raise the minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $9.00 in July 2013 and $9.75 in July 2014, with annual indexing beginning in July 2015. NWLC’s new fact sheet shows that over 246,000 Connecticut workers would get a raise by 2014 under this proposal – and about six in ten of those workers would be women.

40 Years After Roe, Just How Far Have We Come?

I love anniversaries, and not just because there’s usually some sort of cake involved, but because they mark significant and positive milestones in our lives and allow us to reflect proudly on overcoming setbacks and making progress throughout time. Last week marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that recognized the right to safe and legal abortion nationwide. Excitingly enough, one of the few things that I like more than anniversaries and cake is being able to exercise my own reproductive freedom. So wouldn’t it have been great to have a big “Happy Birthday, Roe v. Wade!” party with balloons and ice cream and stories happily recounting the wonders and advancements that the last 40 years have brought us? Yeah, not so fast. While women across the country should have spent January 22nd celebrating the 40th anniversary of this landmark decision, our would-be celebration was being rained on by the lingering reminders of hundreds of restrictive laws and stringent policies that have impeded a woman’s ability to access safe and legal abortions since Supreme Court decision was handed down in 1973.

Last Wednesday I had the privilege of attending a panel discussion at Georgetown Law School, entitled “Reproductive Rights 40 Years after Roe”. The discussion featured four panelists who each represented a different facet of the reproductive rights movement: Jessica González-Rojas from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Helene Krasnoff of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Walter Dellinger, partner with O’Melveny & Myers LLP and former acting U.S. Solicitor General, and Marcia Greenberger of the National Women's Law Center. Read more »

Election Day Brings Higher Wages for Workers in Albuquerque, San Jose, and Long Beach

Here in D.C. and across the country, election results consume the headlines, even as many of us breathe a sigh of relief that the long campaign season is over. But in addition to the big-ticket races on Election Day, there were a number of ballot initiatives in cities and states that are less publicized nationally but no less important to the people affected. These include three municipal ballot measures – in Albuquerque, San Jose, and Long Beach – to raise the minimum wage. All three passed with substantial majorities, meaning many low-wage workers in these cities will soon find it a bit easier to make ends meet. Specifically:

  • In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the minimum wage will rise from $7.50 to $8.50 per hour in January 2013, and will automatically adjust in future years to keep up with inflation. New Mexico Voices for Children estimates that 40,000 workers (one-seventh of Albuquerque’s workforce) will see higher paychecks as a result – generating about $18 million in consumer spending and helping to create new jobs as businesses expand to meet the increased demand.

NM School Publicly Shames Pregnant Student, She Fights Back

My mother got pregnant when she was seventeen. Luckily, she was able to nab her diploma before she started showing. Otherwise, in order to be excused from PE requirements, the gym coach at her school forced pregnant students to stand in front of the class and publicly flagellate themselves. My mother saw it happen to a schoolmate and says she will never forget the girls face, frozen with fear and humiliation. Years later, I had the same gym coach. Every time I looked at her, all I could think about was what kind of smallness had to exist inside of a person to do that to another human being, to a child no less? Whenever she blew her omnipresent whistle, I ran as far as I could away from her.

Man, I thought, I’m so glad that was then and this is . . . oh my god this practice is still going on! Yesterday, a middle school student named Shantelle sued her school after staff members forced her to stand up at an assembly and announce to the entire student body that she was pregnant. Until that moment, Shantelle had not revealed to anyone at school (other than her sister) that she was pregnant.

This wasn’t the first time the school had tried to humiliate Shantelle. Earlier, when school officials found out Shantelle was pregnant, they kicked her out of school. The ACLU of New Mexico wrote to the school to let them know that schools are not allowed to discriminate against students because they are pregnant. The school relented and re-enrolled Shantelle after a four-day suspension. Read more »

Oklahoma and New Mexico Parents Receive Good News about Child Care Assistance

Recently, working parents in Oklahoma and New Mexico received some welcome news. State officials in these states reversed policies that would have made it more challenging for parents who need help paying for child care.

In June of this year, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services proposed to decrease funding for the state’s child care assistance program. Eligibility for child care assistance was set to be cut back and parents who receive help were set for an increase in their copayments as of August 1. Due to a disagreement over how the decision for program cuts was made, there was a delay in implementation until November 1. The good news is that last month the Department of Human Services announced that it had managed to find the funding necessary to avoid these cuts—at least for now.

In 2010 New Mexico stopped serving families who applied for child care assistance who had incomes above 100 percent of poverty ($18,530 a year for a family of three). Previously, families with incomes up to 200 percent of poverty ($37,060 a year for a family of three) applying for child care assistance could receive it. Read more »