Washington Update (November 8, 2013)

Greetings from your new Grassroots Advocacy Manager! I am excited to join the legacy and tradition of AAUW and to continue the fight for women’s rights and equality. As a seasoned organizer, I hold women’s issues as a passion close to my heart. The women who have put cracks in the glass ceiling have motivated me at all stages of my life – from Sally Ride when I was in third grade and wanted to be an astronaut, to Madeline Albright when I started my first political science class as a college freshman.

As I’ve made my journey through life, I realize how lucky I was to have a mother and grandmother who inspired me with their courage and determination. They always told me to be myself, and they were quick to encourage me when I wanted to learn something new – whether it was an astronomy camp, subscription to Popular Science, or curiosity about a career in medicine.

It is my hope that in working with AAUW I can continue to encourage this self-realization for women and girls – and together with all of you, we continue to put enough cracks in the glass ceiling until it one day has no choice but to shatter.

Melissa Jackowski
AAUW Grassroots Advocacy Manager

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Here’s the inside scoop, just for Washington Update subscribers: It looks like the Senate will vote on a federal minimum wage increase sometime this month. Help us build momentum toward this vote by urging your lawmakers to support a minimum wage increase!


Write a letter to the editor urging your lawmakers to support a minimum wage increase.


Today we published a powerful story by one of AAUW’s interns in support of immigration reform. Read the story and share it on Facebook with this message:

This young woman is a good student and a hard worker who has lived in the United States since she was 6. But her temporary legal status leaves her future here uncertain – and prevents her from accessing the aid she needs for college. Share this blog if you support immigration reform: http://bit.ly/1hTEE0d


Were you able to catch AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund Program Manager Mollie Lam and Regulatory Affairs Manager Beth Scott discussing “What’s at Stake in the Supreme Court this Term”?  If not, view an outline of their remarks or listen to the call on the AAUW website.

KIDS COUNT, a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, discusses the importance of investing in a child’s first eight years. KIDS COUNT makes policy recommendations that will lead to long-term academic success.


Job Growth Higher than Expected for October
The Labor Department’s monthly jobs report, released today, shows 204,000 jobs were created in October. Job growth was much larger than expected; however, economists caution that the data may be unreliable given the government shutdown that lasted for the first half of October. Today’s report also showed a slight increase in the unemployment rate, which may have been partially due to the hundreds of thousands of federal workers who were furloughed early in the month. Meanwhile, a White House report released Thursday attempts to tally up the costs of the shutdown, from lost productivity in the government to a loss in private-sector job creation.

Election Recap: Unmarried Women Emerge as Key Demographic; Mixed Bag for Ballot Initiatives
On Tuesday, interesting trends emerged from the New Jersey and Virginia governor elections. Unmarried voters, especially women, overwhelmingly favored Virginia Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, contributing to his victory over Ken Cuccinelli (R). Women were also key to the re-election of New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who was able to sweep Barbara Buono (D), in part due to his ability to attract African-American, Hispanic, and women Democratic voters.

Six states voted on 31 ballot initiatives. In particular, New Jersey voters passed an AAUW-supported minimum wage increase, and Colorado voters rejected Amendment 66, an AAUW-supported measure that would have changed the state income tax levels to fund K-12 education.

SCOTUS Dismisses Appeal of OK Abortion Law
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court changed course and announced it would not hear an appeal challenging the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling in Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice. The Oklahoma Supreme Court had previously struck down a state law that effectively bans nearly all medication abortions in the state, and the U.S. Supreme Court had agreed in June to hear an appeal of that decision, pending clarification of the state Supreme Court’s ruling. After receiving a response from the Oklahoma Supreme Court last week, the U.S. Supreme Court justices announced on Monday that it would not hear an appeal of the lower court ruling. As a result, the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling that the law was unconstitutional will stand.


Video Asks: “Illegal or Just Sleazy?”
The New York Women’s Equality Coalition, in which AAUW of New York State is a leader, released a video this week called “Illegal or Just Sleazy?” The snarky video highlights the importance of passing the state’s 10-point Women’s Equality Act, which contains measures to achieve pay equity, end employment and lending discrimination, improve domestic violence and human trafficking protections, and ensure a woman has the right to make her own decisions about her body.


Seventeen years after the bill was first brought to the floor by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) on Thursday. This bill would explicitly protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans from discrimination in the workplace. The bill was supported by all of the Democratic caucus as well as 10 Republicans.

  • Thanks to everyone who took action over the last week to urge their senators to support ENDA!


A Pennsylvania parochial school is refusing to let 16-year-old Amanda Leve join the all-male wrestling team, and Title IX may not be able to help her. Although Title IX was enacted to end gender discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities, the law allows schools to preserve single-sex contact sports for “intimacy” reasons.

  • But as AAUW Vice President of Government Relations Lisa Maatz said in an interview on this topic: “There’s the legal thing to do and there’s the right thing to do. The right thing to do is to let Amanda participate.”


  • On Tuesday, 16- and 17-year-olds in Takoma Park, MD, became the first young adults of that age to vote in their city elections. In typical AAUW fashion, one of those young voters was Natalie Rose Collina, the niece of AAUW Director of Research Catherine Hill!
  • Over the next month the Department of Education will begin a public outreach campaign to encourage 3.5 million federal student loan borrowers to enroll in an income-based repayment program.
    • Learn more about a specific type of income-based repayment plans on AAUW’s website!
  • Remember last week’s Washington Update story on the Boston mayor’s efforts to close the gender wage gap? On Thursday, AAUW National Student Advisory Council member Eva Shang published a letter to the editor in the Boston Globe discussing Boston’s efforts and how it will increase Boston’s appeal to soon-to-be graduates like her.
  • Despite the claims of some members of Congress, it is important for all health insurance plans to cover maternity care – even those plans sold to men. Check out this article for a quick run-down of the three reasons why.

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