Greetings from the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women!
As we begin the fifth week of the Legislative session, we wanted you to be aware of some developments in legislation affecting women and girls. While by no means an exhaustive list, we hope updates on the following ICSW priorities may be of interest to you. Both of the bills prefiled by ICSW are assigned to State Government Committees in the Senate and House and may likely see movement this week.
Please consider contacting your Senator and Representative, or either of the aforementioned Committees with your thoughts on the following three issues:
Similar to the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act recently signed into law by President Obama, this bill would clarify existing protections from wage discrimination, clarify when a person has a cause of action, and would stipulate penalties for employers found to have discriminated. To learn more about the bill, please review our policy brief. Iowa is ranked 37th in the nation for wage equity, and recent studies show that 82% of the recent national job losses are borne by men—wage equity is more important than ever! (NY Times: As Layoffs Surge, Women May Pass Men in Job Force). This bill has been sent to the State Government Committee in the Senate, and is expected to go the same route this week in the House.
According to a phone survey of all 99 counties, statewide, women make up less than one out of every six county-appointed decision makers on important economically-focused boards and commissions like Planning/Zoning, Adjustment, Compensation, and Condemnation. In fact, even though every county does not have a Board of Adjustment (reviews local property tax appeals), 44 counties have zero women on that particular Board. Statewide boards and commissions have been required to be gender-balanced since 1987. Voted out of the House State Government Committee (20-1) on Thursday, this bill could see floor debate in both chambers this week. See our policy brief for more information. Read last week’s news coverage on the bill here.
*Last but not least, the Governor’s budget included significant cuts for almost all state spending, but made sure to include the full funding amount needed to support the state’s sexual assault and domestic violence centers: $4.1 million. Please contact members of the Justice System Appropriations Subcommittee and let them know how crucial these services are. For talking points or more information, go to http://www.victimstosurvivors.org/. You may also wish to thank Governor Culver and Lt. Governor Judge for making this a priority!