A recent National Women’s Law Center fact sheet showed that sixteen states had already increased funding for early learning programs this year and several more were considering increases. Three more states—Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Washington—have since finalized budgets that include notable new investments for early care and education.
In Massachusetts, the FY 2014 budget designated over $26 million in new funding for early care and education, including $15 million to reduce the waiting list for child care assistance for low-income children, and $11.5 million for a rate reserve that will help raise the salaries of early educators. It is the first budget since 2009 that seeks to restore funding that was cut during the economic recession. Read more »
The Pennsylvania legislature has its priorities mixed up.
They could be focusing on jobs, education, or improving access to health care. Instead, yesterday, the Pennsylvania state senate passed a bill that would make it impossible for Pennsylvanian women to purchase insurance coverage for abortion in the new insurance marketplace — even women whose health may be seriously at risk because of their pregnancy.
H.B. 818 passed the Senate with a 31-19 vote. On Tuesday, the Senate rejected the opportunity to amend the bill to mitigate the harm it poses to Pennsylvanian women, including rejecting an attempt to expand the exceptions in the bill so that women facing medical emergencies would have insurance coverage of abortion. H.B. 818 now heads to Governor Corbett's desk.
H.B. 818 allows the government to interfere in the private insurance market and prevent companies from selling plans that cover abortion. Banning abortion coverage will endanger women’s health, take away access to health benefits that women already have, and interfere with a woman’s ability to make her own health care decisions. Read more »
Oh no he didn’t! Virginia Governor McDonnell Monday night added a ban on insurance coverage of abortion to a health care bill passed by the Virginia legislature. The underlying bill was meant to bring the state into compliance with the federal health care law – in other words, to help ensure affordable and comprehensive coverage for people, not take benefits away. But that’s exactly what Governor McDonnell’s amendment would do. And he’s not the only one.
Abortion insurance coverage bans have been introduced so far this year in at least 10 states. Some of these states are already among the 21 states that have such bans. But this year abortion opponents in those states want to prohibit even more women from obtaining abortion insurance coverage. Like Alabama, where a bill has been introduced to expand their exchange ban to all private plans and to take coverage away from survivors of rape and incest. Read more »
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 »
Last month, Pennsylvania provided increased protection for domestic violence victimsliving in affordable housing in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC). The LIHTC program uses federal tax credits to incentivize the development of low-income housing, and each state, through Housing Finance Agencies, administers the program on behalf of the federal government.
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency made history in September when it released its 2013 Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP). The QAP establishes Pennsylvania’s requirements for administration of the LIHTC program in the state. One line in the 27-page document has the potential to have a big impact for victims of domestic violence: “Experience as of [sic] victim of domestic violence alone may not constitute good cause for eviction under the terms of the lease.” This change to Pennsylvania’s LIHTC administration has been long advocated for by two local organizations that work directly with LIHTC renters—Community Legal Services and Regional Housing Legal Services. Read more »
Pennsylvania recently joined a handful of other states that require schools to publicly disclose gender equity in sports data every year, which will help communities learn more about how their schools are treating girls and boys in athletics. The Equity in Interscholastic Athletics Disclosure Bill requires Pennsylvania middle and high schools to disclose the numbers of athletic opportunities provided to boys and girls, broken down by race/ethnicity, as well as team expenditures, coaches’ salaries, and other gender equity information. The first reports are due November 2013 and will be available on schools’ websites as well as the state Department of Education’s website. The law is similar to ones on the books in Georgia and New Mexico.
Schools already collect or have this information but are not required to disclose it publicly, which puts the burden on individuals wanting to know more about a school’s sports program to file an open records request and navigate that process. Data bills like the one enacted by Pennsylvania make it easier for parents and students to access critical information to evaluate whether girls are boys are being treated fairly in their school sports programs (see recent article highlighted by our colleagues at the Women’s Law Project, who were instrumental in getting the bill passed). At the college level, the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act has been in place since 1994 and has helped identify many problems at colleges and universities across the country. Efforts have been underway for many years to pass a similar federal law that would apply to all secondary schools.
Child care and early education issues are gaining increased attention at the federal and state level. Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services announced that of the $550 million appropriated for the Race to the Top education grant competition in 2012, $133 million will be used for a second round of Early Learning Challenge grants to help states strengthen their early care and education systems. (Five states that just missed out on the first round of funding will be eligible to compete for this latest round.) At the state level, nearly half of the governors mentioned early care and education in their state of the state addresses this year, indicating they recognize that giving children get a strong start helps children, and their states, succeed in the future. Read more »
Do you live in Arizona, Massachusetts, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Washington? If so, call 1-866-251-4044 today to tell your senator on the super-committee to oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the super-committee.
If you’re a resident of one of the states above, we need your help. Senators Kyl, Kerry, Baucus, Portman, Toomey, and Murray are all members of the very powerful congressional super-committee charged with deciding how to cut the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over ten years. Time is short — the committee faces a deadline of November 23 — and the stakes are high.
Various proposals before the super-committee would reduce Social Security benefits and cut Medicare and Medicaid by as much as $685 billion. Each of these vital programs provides income security and health care to millions of Americans — mostly women.
Your senator needs to hear from you now! Over the next couple of weeks, the handful of members on the super-committee will decide the fate of these and other vital programs. Read more »