In this month's issue, read about lawmakers who are authors, key cases affecting states before the U.S. Supreme Court, the state of civics knowledge, website ideas to steal and more.
Our mission is to promote the participation, empowerment, and leadership of women legislators. Every female state legislator in the 50 states, United States territories, and the District of Columbia is a member of the Network. The Network does not advocate for or against state policies, but sponsors informational briefings, workshops, and gatherings so legislators can better understand an issue and learn from one another.
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Hello, and Happy New Year!
As the president of the Women’s Legislative Network of NCSL, I wish you the best for 2014. This is the first issue of our new monthly newsletter. We hope that this more frequent publication will keep you informed about women in state legislatures, NCSL meetings and resources, and noteworthy news. We welcome news from your state, so please submit any items that you’d like to share with women around the country.
The mission of the Women’s Legislative Network is to promote the participation, empowerment and leadership of women legislators. The Network is bipartisan and includes every female legislator in the states and territories. I hope you will join us at a future event or share your ideas about what you’d like us to work on. Visit our website to read about past events and find links to other great NCSL resources.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Amanda McGill, State Senator, Nebraska
President, Women’s Legislative Network of NCSL
At the Fall Forum in Washington, D.C., the Network hosted several sessions, in addition to our board meeting. We spent a day learning about innovative strategies to improve women’s health in such areas as chronic diseases, prevention and wellness, health insurance exchanges, Medicaid, and women and long term care. We joined the NCSL Military and Veterans’ Affairs Task Force to learn about a New Mexico program that provides services to homeless female veterans. And we had a great discussion at a session about supporting young women’s leadership. Complete meeting information and presentations are here.
1,785 women serve in the 50 state legislatures in the 2014 legislative session. Women make up 24.2 percent of all state legislators nationwide, and there are 62 women serving in legislative leadership positions. Complete state-by-state data is here.
Ethics are the standard for what is right and wrong, and they are based on our values. NCSL’s Peggy Kerns, director of the Center for Ethics in Government, offers tips for working through ethical dilemmas. Read more here.
Immigration Laws in the States, 2013. State immigration legislation in 2013 seemed to shift in response to two federal actions in 2012, changing from a focus on immigration law enforcement measures to some expanded state benefits for immigrants. Read more here.
Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities: What Legislators Need to Know. This brief provides state legislators with an overview of health disparities that affect various ethnic and racial minorities, existing strategies to address them, and policy options for lawmakers to consider that may offer effective solutions to these issues. Read more here.
Assessing 2014’s Top State Fiscal Issues. What top fiscal issues can legislators look forward to addressing when they convene their 2014 legislative sessions? The list is both familiar and diverse, at least according to legislative fiscal directors who are prepping for the upcoming sessions. Read more here.
The Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators continued its focus on the issue of pay equity with a series of informative and innovative events this fall. We were honored to host Dr. Marlene Kim, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston and preeminent national expert on the issue of workplace pay secrecy/transparency laws and their impact on wage equality for women. We were also honored to have Glen Shor, secretary of administration and finance, Joanne Goldstein, secretary of labor and workforce development, and senior staff from the Human Resources Division join us for an event on pay equity in Massachusetts state government. Mariko Lin Chang, author of “Shortchanged: Why Women Have Less Wealth and What Can Be Done About It,” joined us for an event on gender-based wealth disparity. The caucus is also working on producing white papers on the wage gap and pay secrecy/transparency.
A recent special election saw another woman elected to the House of Representatives. Massachusetts now has 52 women in the legislature (39 in the House, and 13 in the Senate), a total of 26 percent of the legislature. This is the first year since 2009 that women have made up more than one-quarter of the legislature.
The Wyoming Women's Legislative Caucus invites women to Cheyenne Feb. 27-28, 2014, for Leap into Leadership, a networking conference with speakers, workshops and a visit to the Wyoming Capitol. Kellyanne Conway, one of the most quoted and noted pollsters on the national scene, and Celinda Lake, one of the nation's foremost experts on electing women candidates will speak at dinner on Feb. 27 at Little America. Conway and Lake are co-authors of “What Women Really Want,” a book that seeks out what women buy, what they believe, how they work, how they live, what they care about, what they fear, and what they really want. The nonpartisan Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus promotes women in the Wyoming Legislature through support and leadership development. More information about the Wyoming Women's Legislative Caucus and Leap into Leadership is available here.
Tennessee Representative Brenda Gilmore, Network vice president, collaborated with six Nashville-area organizations to present a panel discussion on Oct. 17, 2013, at Tennessee State University about domestic violence. Tennessee has the sixth-highest rate of domestic violence. More than 150 students attended the forum, where they heard from several community leaders and learned the 15 warning signs of an unhealthy relationship that can lead to domestic abuse. Participants received resources for abuse victims and information about where to go for assistance.
The event was sponsored by the Nashville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Nashville chapter of National Hook-Up of Black Women, the Nashville chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the TSU Women’s Center, the Center for Women’s Health Research at Meharry Medical Center, the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, and the Tennessee State University Living and Learning Communities.
The Women’s Legislative Network has sponsored several programs supporting women’s financial stability. America Saves Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status. Visit the website for complete information, including sample tweets and materials to share via social media. Read more here.
The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) is the trade association based in Washington, D.C., that represents financial services companies and manufacturers in the $827 billion United States equipment finance sector. ELFA members do not have retail stores or inventories of equipment because they do not participate in financing to consumers. They do engage in financing equipment to businesses. Issues that concern ELFA in state legislatures include: data security, electronic recycling, leasing contracts, taxes and other issues that may concern the commercial lease finance industry. For more information about ELFA, please contact Dennis Brown or Megan Kueck. Read more at the ELFA website here.
As it celebrates its 25th anniversary, Women in Government launched a new young women’s leadership program, Future Women in Government, at its 14th Annual Southern and 15th Annual Eastern Regional Conference in July 2013. The purpose of the program is to demonstrate hands-on leadership and mentoring for the next generation of women who are civic and political leaders. Impetus for this program came from the “Teach a Girl to Lead” project sponsored by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University and the goals of the White House Council on Women and Girls Leadership. This program gives young women attending colleges and universities a chance to connect with state legislators from across the country and leaders in the private sector to facilitate a deeper discussion on women in leadership.
Women in Government invites eight undergraduate students to each of its conferences and provides participants with a legislative mentor, a Women in Government board member, and a business council mentor. This way each participant has the opportunity to explore multiple outlets and get career advice from successful women who share a common interest. By the end of 2013, 24 young women from across the country, including a student from Egypt, will have experienced the program.
For questions regarding the Future Women in Government program please contact Molly Peltzman, Health Policy Fellow, at (202) 333-0825 ext. 242.
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