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Wins For Women: States Stepping Up for Equal Pay, Affordable and High Quality Child Care, Students’ Fair Access to School, and Transgender Rights

While the White House is doing everything they can to roll back our rights, states and localities have really been stepping up this spring to ensure that transgender, gender nonconforming, and cisgender girls and women have strong legal protections to be able to achieve their potential throughout their lives. These past few weeks have yielded some awesome wins on the East Coast and in Hawaii. Continuing the wave of equal pay day bills passed in March and early April, even more states have committed to closing the gender gaps in the workplace. And in the wake of the frenzy that surrounded the Dress Coded report that NWLC co-authored with 21 inspiring Black girls who live and learn in D.C., the D.C. Council showed its’ commitment to addressing inequity in school discipline in DC public schools. Here’s a quick recap of the progress made:

Vermont and Connecticut pass bills stopping employers from seeking job applicants’ salary history

On April 26th, Vermont passed a bill (H. 294) prohibiting employers from seeking salary history information from job applicants and using salary history in considering applicants for employment. On May 4, the Connecticut legislature passed a similar bill (HB 5386). The bills now await gubernatorial signature, which is likely, given that the Governors in each state have signaled their support of such legislation.

Hawaii unanimously passes Equal Pay bill

On May 3, the Hawaii legislature unanimously passed an equal pay bill (SB2351) that also prohibits employers from relying on salary history and protects employees from being retaliated against for discussing their pay. The bill is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature.

If Vermont, Connecticut, and Hawaii’s equal pay bills are all signed into law, that would bring the number of states that have enacted prohibitions on the use of salary history to seven!

D.C. Council unanimously passes Student Fair Access to Schools bill

On May 1, the D.C. Council unanimously passed (B22-594), a bill to limit out-of-school suspensions for students in kindergarten through eighth grade to serious safety incidents and ban high school out-of-school suspensions for minor offenses, such as dress code violations and willful defiance. The bill will help drive down suspension rates in D.C., where Black girls are more than 20 times more likely to be suspended, often for minor, subjective offenses. The bill also encourages schools to use alternative forms of discipline that are trauma-informed and teach positive behavior, while keeping students in the classroom.

Maine legislature overrides Governor veto and votes to increase payment to child care providers  

On May 2, the Maine legislature overrode Governor LePage’s veto to increase payment rates for child care providers that serve families receiving child care assistance (LD 166). Under the legislation, provider payment rates will be increased to at least the 75th percentile of market rates—the rate designed to allow families access to 75 percent of the providers in their community—which is the federally recommended level; payment rates for child care for children with special need must be higher than the 75th percentile of market rates. Raising payment rates can expand families’ child care options and give providers more of the resources they need to support high-quality child care and pay adequate compensation to their teachers and staff.

New Hampshire passes bill to update anti-discrimination laws to include transgender residents

On May 2, the New Hampshire Senate passed (HB 1319), which would update the state’s laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing and public spaces to explicitly include the state’s transgender residents. The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 14-10 and is now on to Governor Chris Sununu for signing.

It's time for change, and we must act now. Time's up.