As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we thought it would be a good idea to pick up the blog series #WinsforWomen again to celebrate and lift up the achievements at the state and local level this session. Twice a month, we will provide a sampling of some the good things that are happening in the states.
#WinsforWomen Season 2 begins with good news on both coasts!
New Jersey Equal Pay Bill Passes Out of Assembly Labor Committee
On Monday, the New Jersey Assembly Labor Committee unanimously voted New Jersey’s strong equal pay bill (SB. 104) out of committee. Earlier this month, the bill also passed unanimously out of two Senate committees! This bill closes loopholes in New Jersey’s equal pay law, strengthens relief for victims of pay discrimination, and increases transparency around pay by requiring state contractors to report compensation data broken down by sex, race, and ethnicity.
Equal Pay Law Finally Updated in Washington
On Wednesday, the Washington state legislature passed and Gov. Inslee signed into law a bill (HB. 1506) strengthening Washington’s equal pay law and ensuring that workers have the right to discuss their pay with their co-workers. This is the first update to Washington’s equal pay law in over 70 years!
#MeToo Legislation Signed into Law in Washington
The Washington legislature passed and Governor Inslee signed into law (HB. 5996) a bill prohibiting employers from requiring employees to sign an agreement, as a condition of their employment, that would prevent employees from disclosing sexual harassment in the workplace, at work-related events, or between employees. This legislation is in direct response to the #MeToo movement and is the first of its kind to be enacted into law this session.
School Discipline Reform Bill Passed Out of Committee in D.C.
On March 13, the DC Council Committee on Education unanimously voted a school discipline reform bill (B22-594) out of committee. The bill would limit the use of out-of-school suspensions for minor and nonviolent offenses, which will help keep students of color—particularly Black girls—in the classroom—and encourage schools to use alternative forms of discipline that reinforce positive behavior, while ensuring all students feel welcome in school.
Utah Creates Medicaid Family Planning Program
On Tuesday, March 20, Utah Gov. Herbert signed into law (H.B. 12) a bill which requires the state to create a Medicaid family planning program for those who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces. Approximately 45,000 women in Utah fall in this coverage gap and are without insurance coverage, including coverage of birth control. We told you all about this bill and why we were so excited about it earlier this month when it passed out of the legislature, and now it’s law!
Abortion Ban Blocked By the Courts in Mississippi
On Tuesday, a federal court issued a temporary injunction blocking Mississippi House Bill 1510, which would have otherwise taken immediate effect, after Governor Bryant signed the bill into law on Monday. HB 1510 would have unconstitutionally banned abortion in Mississippi after 15 weeks into pregnancy.
Reproductive Parity Act Signed into Law in Washington
On Wednesday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed the Reproductive Parity Act (SB. 6219) which requires health plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive methods free of cost-sharing requirements and over-the-counter contraceptives without a prescription. The bill also requires health plans that cover maternity care services to also cover abortion services.