Women's Fund of Greater Chattanooga
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News from the Women's Fund

Final Legislative Update of the 110th Tennessee General Assembly

Thank you to everyone who made a phone call, sent a postcard, wrote a letter, visited a legislator, emailed a legislator or spread the word about the important issues that we prioritized this legislative session. This is the final week of the 110th Tennessee General Assembly, and as of this afternoon, all of our priority bills have completed their moves through the House and Senate. 

The Women's Fund had three significant wins this year, and we also have a number of bills that were not written into law, but that we anticipate returning to the General Assembly stronger and with greater public awareness next year. 

Below is the final update on our priority list organized by 49 to One areas. 

POLITICAL PARTICIPATION

HB2372/SB1488 - Election Laws - This bill lengthens the voter registration period to 15 days before an election instead of 30 days before an election. PositionSupport

Update: HB2372 was assigned to the Local Government subcommittee and SB1488 was assigned to the general subcommittee of State and Local Government. Neither bill saw movement after committee assignment.

VIOLENCE & SAFETY

HB1984/SB2130 - Sexual Harassment - This bill allows a contract employee to bring a sexual harassment action against the entity to which the person is under contract in certain situations. (Also aligns with the Employment and Earnings measures from 49 to One report.) PositionSupport

Update: HB1984 was taken off notice in the Consumer and Human Resource subcommittee on March 14 because it did not have the support to pass this year. We are hopeful it will be reintroduced next year.  

EMPLOYMENT & EARNINGS

HB1904/SB1863 - Tennessee Pay Equality Act - This bill forbids discrimination by an employer on the basis of sex by paying any employee a wage rate less than than that paid to any employee of the opposite sex for comparable work, performance, skill and responsibility in similar working conditions. (Also aligns with Poverty & Opportunity measures from 49 to One report.) PositionSupport

Update: HB1904 was taken off notice in the Consumer and Human Resource subcommittee on March 14; We do not anticipate any movement for the Tennessee Pay Equality Act this session. This bill likely will be introduced every year until it passes. 

HB 1861/SB1769 - Employment Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence - This bill establishes employment protections for people who are victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault to attend court, meet with law enforcement, attend counseling, or find new housing. PositionSupport

Update: SB1769 failed in Judiciary Committee. 

WORK & FAMILY

HB1985/SB2092 - Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act - This bill prohibits public employers from discriminating against applicants and employees with pregnancy-related conditions by not providing them with reasonable accommodations. PositionSupport

Update: HB1985 failed in State Government Committee. We anticipate that it will continue to be introduced each year until it passes.

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

HB2164/SB1510 - Family Life Curriculum - This bill requires instruction on the detection, intervention, prevention, and treatment of child sexual abuse as part of a family life curriculum and extends immunity from a cause of action to instructors or organizations providing such instruction. PositionSupport

Update: Passed!

HB1506/SB1491 - Infant Mortality Reduction Program Act - This bill enacts the "Infant Mortality Reduction Program Act," which creates a program for the distribution of baby boxes to parents at the birth of their child. PositionSupport

Update: HB1506 was taken off notice in the Health subcommittee on March 7; We anticipate this bill being reintroduced next year with a decreased fiscal note and increased public awareness.  

HB 2627/SB2185 - Insurance Coverage/Access to contraception - This bill requires all health benefit plans to provide coverage for contraception and other women's preventive health services (Also aligns with Health & Well-Being measures from 49 to One report.) PositionSupport

Update: HB2627 failed in the House Insurance and Banking subcommittee. 

HEALTH & WELL-BEING

HB1961/SB1949 - Suicide Mortality Review and Prevention Act - In accordance with the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention as issued by the office of the U.S. Surgeon General, this bill forms and implements the recommended state-based suicide mortality reviews to institute the systemic changes needed to decrease suicide mortality. PositionSupport

Update: Passed! 

ADDITIONAL PRIORITY

Marriage Age Amendment attached to HB2134/SB2268- This amendment restricts marriage to persons 17 years of age or older and restricts the age of the person marrying a 17 year-old to 21 or younger. This amendment also annuls forced or coerced marriages and implements a cause of action against those who forced or coerced a person into marriage. PositionSupport

Update: Passed!

Jeannine Carpenter
Legislative Agenda - Updated April 2, 2018

This TN Legislative Session is winding down quickly, but some bills of interest are still active in committees and moving toward the Floor for votes. The bills listed below are those that the Women’s Fund designated as legislative priorities for this session of the Tennessee General Assembly. Below each bill, we have updated the current progress of the bill in the Senate and House. If you are interested in finding the names and contact information of committee members for each bill, visit the Tennessee General Assembly site. 

POLITICAL PARTICIPATION

HB2372/SB1488 - Election Laws - This bill lengthens the voter registration period to 15 days before an election instead of 30 days before an election. PositionSupport

HB2372 has been assigned to the Local Government subcommittee; SB1488 has been assigned to the general subcommittee of State and Local Government. Neither bill has seen movement since being assigned to committee.

VIOLENCE & SAFETY

HB1984/SB2130 - Sexual Harassment - This bill allows a contract employee to bring a sexual harassment action against the entity to which the person is under contract in certain situations. (Also aligns with the Employment and Earnings measures from 49 to One report.) PositionSupport

HB1984 was taken off notice in the Consumer and Human Resource subcommittee on March 14 because it did not have the support to pass this year. We are hopeful it will be reintroduced next year.  

EMPLOYMENT & EARNINGS

HB1904/SB1863 - Tennessee Pay Equality Act - This bill forbids discrimination by an employer on the basis of sex by paying any employee a wage rate less than than that paid to any employee of the opposite sex for comparable work, performance, skill and responsibility in similar working conditions. (Also aligns with Poverty & Opportunity measures from 49 to One report.) PositionSupport

HB1904 was taken off notice in the Consumer and Human Resource subcommittee on March 14; We do not anticipate any movement for the Tennessee Pay Equality Act this session. 

HB 1861/SB1769 - Employment Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence - This bill establishes employment protections for people who are victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault to attend court, meet with law enforcement, attend counseling, or find new housing. PositionSupport

SB1769 failed in Judiciary Committee. 

WORK & FAMILY

HB1985/SB2092 - Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act - This bill prohibits public employers from discriminating against applicants and employees with pregnancy-related conditions by not providing them with reasonable accommodations. PositionSupport

HB1985 failed in State Government Committee.

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

HB2164/SB1510 - Family Life Curriculum - This bill requires instruction on the detection, intervention, prevention, and treatment of child sexual abuse as part of a family life curriculum and extends immunity from a cause of action to instructors or organizations providing such instruction. PositionSupport

Passed!

HB1506/SB1491 - Infant Mortality Reduction Program Act - This bill enacts the "Infant Mortality Reduction Program Act," which creates a program for the distribution of baby boxes to parents at the birth of their child. PositionSupport

HB1506 was taken off notice in the Health subcommittee on March 7; We anticipate this bill being reintroduced next year with a decreased fiscal note and increased public awareness.  

HB 2627/SB2185 - Insurance Coverage/Access to contraception - This bill requires all health benefit plans to provide coverage for contraception and other women's preventive health services (Also aligns with Health & Well-Being measures from 49 to One report.) PositionSupport

HB2627 failed in the House Insurance and Banking subcommittee. 

HEALTH & WELL-BEING

HB1961/SB1949 - Suicide Mortality Review and Prevention Act - In accordance with the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention as issued by the office of the U.S. Surgeon General, this bill forms and implements the recommended state-based suicide mortality reviews to institute the systemic changes needed to decrease suicide mortality. PositionSupport

HB1961 is on the calendar for Finance, Ways, and Means but is currently placed behind the budget; SB1949 was recommended for passage by committees and sent to the Calendar Committee on March 27. 

ADDITIONAL PRIORITY

HB2521/SB2548 - Marriage Age - This bill restricts marriage to persons 16 years of age or older by removing age waivers for marriage certificates. PositionSupport

UPDATE: HB1785 (minimum marriage age of 18) was amended to include removing all waivers and loopholes that allow children under 18 to be married except in the case of emancipation or the removal of disability of age for 17 year-olds only. The same amendment was added to SB1790 which then failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 27.

ADDITIONAL UPDATE: An amendment was added to SB2268 (a bill about adoption fee transparency) that sets a hard minimum marriage age at 16 and that limits marriages of 16 and 17 year olds to spouses not more than 4 years older. SB2268 passed the Judiciary Committee on March 28 and was sent to the Senate Calendar Committee. HB2134, the companion bill, is on the Civil Justice Committee calendar for April 3, where we anticipate the same amendment will be proposed to be added. 

HB2521 is on the Civil Justice subcommittee calendar for April 3; SB2548 was assigned to the Judiciary subcommittee on March 21. 

Jeannine Carpenter
Legislative Agenda - Updated March 15, 2018

The bills listed below are those that the Women’s Fund has designated as legislative priorities for this session of the Tennessee General Assembly. We are very excited that we have at least one bill on this priority list that makes REAL progress in each of the 7 impact areas for 49 to One. Below each bill, we have updated the current progress of the bill in the Senate and House. If you are interested in finding the names and contact information of committee members for each bill, visit the Tennessee General Assembly site. 

POLITICAL PARTICIPATION

HB2372/SB1488 - Election Laws - This bill lengthens the voter registration period to 15 days before an election instead of 30 days before an election. PositionSupport

HB2372 has been assigned to the Local Government subcommittee; SB1488 has been assigned to the general subcommittee of State and Local Government. Neither bill has seen movement since being assigned to committee.

VIOLENCE & SAFETY

HB1984/SB2130 - Sexual Harassment - This bill allows a contract employee to bring a sexual harassment action against the entity to which the person is under contract in certain situations. (Also aligns with the Employment and Earnings measures from 49 to One report.) PositionSupport

HB1984 was taken off notice in the Consumer and Human Resource subcommittee on March 14; SB2130 is on the calendar for the Judiciary Committee on March 20. 

EMPLOYMENT & EARNINGS

HB1904/SB1863 - Tennessee Pay Equality Act - This bill forbids discrimination by an employer on the basis of sex by paying any employee a wage rate less than than that paid to any employee of the opposite sex for comparable work, performance, skill and responsibility in similar working conditions. (Also aligns with Poverty & Opportunity measures from 49 to One report.) PositionSupport

HB1904 was taken off notice in the Consumer and Human Resource subcommittee on March 14; SB1863 has been assigned to the Commerce and Labor committee but has seen no other movement.

HB 1861/SB1769 - Employment Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence - This bill establishes employment protections for people who are victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault to attend court, meet with law enforcement, attend counseling, or find new housing. PositionSupport

SB1769 failed in Judiciary Committee. 

WORK & FAMILY

HB1985/SB2092 - Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act - This bill prohibits public employers from discriminating against applicants and employees with pregnancy-related conditions by not providing them with reasonable accommodations. PositionSupport

HB1985 failed in State Government Committee.

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

HB2164/SB1510 - Family Life Curriculum - This bill requires instruction on the detection, intervention, prevention, and treatment of child sexual abuse as part of a family life curriculum and extends immunity from a cause of action to instructors or organizations providing such instruction. PositionSupport

HB2164 is scheduled for a floor vote on March 19; SB1510 passed today. 

HB1506/SB1491 - Infant Mortality Reduction Program Act - This bill enacts the "Infant Mortality Reduction Program Act," which creates a program for the distribution of baby boxes to parents at the birth of their child. PositionSupport

HB1506 was taken off notice in the Health subcommittee on March 7; SB1491 was assigned to the Health and Welfare subcommittee earlier this month. 

HB 2627/SB2185 - Insurance Coverage/Access to contraception - This bill requires all health benefit plans to provide coverage for contraception and other women's preventive health services (Also aligns with Health & Well-Being measures from 49 to One report.) PositionSupport

HB2627 failed in the House Insurance and Banking subcommittee. 

HEALTH & WELL-BEING

HB1961/SB1949 - Suicide Mortality Review and Prevention Act - In accordance with the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention as issued by the office of the U.S. Surgeon General, this bill forms and implements the recommended state-based suicide mortality reviews to institute the systemic changes needed to decrease suicide mortality. PositionSupport

HB1961 is on the calendar for Finance, Ways, and Means on March 21; SB1949 has been referred to Finance, Ways, and Means committee but is not yet on the calendar. 

ADDITIONAL PRIORITY

HB2521/SB2548 - Marriage Age - This bill restricts marriage to persons 16 years of age or older by removing age waivers for marriage certificates. PositionSupport

UPDATE: HB1785 (minimum marriage age of 18) has been amended to include removing all waivers and loopholes that allow children under 18 to be married except in the case of emancipation or the removal of disability of age for 17 year-olds only. This would be an IDEAL bill, but we are tracking to see if the same amendment gets added to SB1790 which is currently scheduled for a vote Monday, March 19. 

HB2521 has been moved to the final week of session depending on the progress/outcome of HB1785; SB2548 is on the Judiciary Committee calendar for March 20. 

Jeannine Carpenter
Tennessee Legislature and Advocacy 101

The Women’s Fund released our 2018 Legislative Priorities list on February 12, but what happens now? 

If you are new to the idea of engaging with and about legislation at the state level, we hope to share the resources you need to better understand the Tennessee State Legislature and how to track bills and issues as they move through the legislature.   

More about the Tennessee State Legislature

We are currently in the 110th General Assembly. The 2017 session of the 110th General Assembly adjourned on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. The General Assembly reconvened at 12:00 noon (CST) on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. The deadline for introducing and filing bills was Thursday, February 1st. Now bills are making their way through committees before they can be voted on by the House and Senate. In fact, some measures have already made it to vote this session. (Action can’t wait!)

Who is your State Senator and Representative? 

You can find out here: http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/Apps/fmlv3/districts.aspx

Remembering SchoolHouse Rock

If you were in grade school in the 80’s or early 90’s, you may remember the Schoolhouse Rock episode, “How a Bill becomes a Law.” While that video discusses the process at the Federal level, each state’s legislature works a bit differently. 

For a quick rundown on how a bill becomes a law in Tennessee you can click here: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/about/billtolaw.html

It’s not a fun as Schoolhouse Rock, but it does give you all the details. 

Tracking Bills and Following Issues

You can track bills of interest by going to: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/legislation/  All you have to do is enter the bill number that you want to follow. You can also search for keywords or bill sponsors.

You can even create your own account to easily track multiple bills each session: http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/Apps/MyBills/Login.aspx

Here’s an easy tutorial of how to use the Tennessee Legislative website to track bills: 

Don’t want to track bills? No worries, the Women’s Fund has you covered. We’ll be tracking our priority bills and letting members of our Advocacy Action Network know when it’s time to take action by contacting their representatives about a bill moving through committee or going to vote in either the House or the Senate.

So you just can’t get enough of this? 

You can also watch videos of House and Senate Committee Meetings: http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/livevideo/

Want to learn more? 

Join us on February 22nd at 11:30 a.m. for our Advocacy Committee Meeting at Miller & Martin (832 Georgia Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37402) in the 12th Floor Conference Room. We will be discussing our 2017 Legislative Priority List in more detail and will be taking action advocating for bills that can and will have a real impact on the lives of women and girls in Tennessee. 

Don’t forget to sign up for our Advocacy Action Team to be among the first to know when important issues arise and  how to take action. 

Together we can and will move Tennessee from 49 to One! 

Katie McCallie, Programs and Operations Manager

 

Jeannine Carpenter
Our 2018 Legislative Priorities

Listed below are the bills that the Women’s Fund has designated as legislative priorities for this session of the Tennessee General Assembly. We are very excited that we have at least one bill on this priority list that makes REAL progress in each of the 7 impact areas for 49 to One.  We could really move the needle THIS YEAR in our journey to making Tennessee the best state for women. These bills certainly aren’t the only bills impacting women and girls in our state, so we will be watching all of the action in our legislature and posting updates to keep you informed about actions you can take to help make progress for women in our state. 

Political Participation

HB3272/SB1488 - Election Laws - This bill lengthens the voter registration period to 15 days before an election instead of 30 days before an election. Position: Support

Violence & Safety

HB1984/SB2130 - Sexual Harassment - This bill allows a contract employee to bring a sexual harassment action against the entity to which the person is under contract in certain situations. (Also aligns with the Employment and Earnings measures from 49 to One report.) Position: Support

Employment & Earnings

HB1904/SB1863 - Tennessee Pay Equality Act - This bill forbids discrimination by an employer on the basis of sex by paying any employee a wage rate less than than that paid to any employee of the opposite sex for comparable work, performance, skill and responsibility in similar working conditions. (Also aligns with Poverty & Opportunity measures from 49 to One report.) Position: Support

HB 1861/SB1769 - Employment Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence - This bill establishes employment protections for people who are victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault to attend court, meet with law enforcement, attend counseling, or find new housing. Position: Support

Work & Family

HB1985/SB2092 - Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act - This bill prohibits public employers from discriminating against applicants and employees with pregnancy-related conditions by not providing them with reasonable accommodations. Position: Support

Reproductive Rights

HB2164/SB1510 - Family Life Curriculum - This bill requires instruction on the detection, intervention, prevention, and treatment of child sexual abuse as part of a family life curriculum and extends immunity from a cause of action to instructors or organizations providing such instruction. Position: Support

HB1506/SB1491 - Infant Mortality Reduction Program Act - This bill enacts the "Infant Mortality Reduction Program Act," which creates a program for the distribution of baby boxes to parents at the birth of their child. Position: Support

HB 2627/SB2185 - Insurance Coverage/Access to contraception - This bill requires all health benefit plans to provide coverage for contraception and other women's preventive health services (Also aligns with Health & Well-Being measures from 49 to One report.) Position: Support

Health & Well-being

HB1961/SB1949 - Suicide Mortality Review and Prevention Act - In accordance with the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention as issued by the office of the U.S. Surgeon General, this bill forms and implements the recommended state-based suicide mortality reviews to institute the systemic changes needed to decrease suicide mortality. Position: Support

Additional Priority

HB2521/SB2548 - Marriage Age - This bill restricts marriage to persons 16 years of age or older by removing age waivers for marriage certificates. Position: Support

Jeannine CarpenterComment
I am 49th and So are You

When the Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga launched our 49 to One framework, I obsessively devoured the data used to determine Tennessee’s ranking of 49th in the Status of Women. Of course I did - I’m an academic who believes that the strength of any persuasive argument lies in the empirical facts. But not this time, not with this report. 

Something changed as I became more invested in these data and in this report. I realized that these numbers are about me, my friends, my peers, my former students, and my neighbors. These numbers are the devastating realities of women living in Tennessee. I am one of those women. 

At first glance, one would assume that I am precisely the woman who is not reflected in the 49th ranking - I am a white, upper middle class, well-educated, married woman with consistent access to health insurance and a healthy credit score. The harsh reality is that many of the measures acutely impact minority women (gender age gap, educational opportunity) and women of lower socioeconomic standing (infant mortality, access to health care) in particularly egregious ways. 

But Tennessee’s 49th ranking means that my life is not reaching the potential that it could, that I am not empowered by my home state the way that all residents should be. Tennessee’s 49th ranking impacts us all. 

Did you know? 

Women in Tennessee earn 83.8 cents on the dollar compared to men, unless you look more closely at the data for women with bachelor degrees or higher. Those women in Tennessee earn only 72.3 cents on the dollar. That’s right - the more educated a woman in Tennessee is, the greater the gender wage difference she faces. 

Did you know? 

More women live in Tennessee than men, but Tennessee ranks 39th for the number of women in elected office. 39th. Of course, this may very well be due in part to the fact that only 47% of women who are registered to vote showed up and did so (still a higher percentage than men). It’s hard to be empowered to vote when you live in a state that clearly does not prioritize you and other people like you, but when we don’t ALL show up, it means that we do not have representation in our government. 

Did you know? 

According to the EEOC, 289 claims of workplace sexual harassment were filed by Tennesseans in 2017, and 230 of those were filed by women. In fact, last year Tennesseans filed 3% of the nation’s workplace sexual harassment claims. Workplace sexual harassment happens most frequently in male-dominated professions and workplaces - STEAM professions, construction, and management positions, as examples. 

Did you know? 

Tennessee ranks 30th nationally in suicide mortality. This means that more women in our state commit suicide than in 29 other states. White women are more than three times as likely to commit suicide as African American and Hispanic women. 

These data aren’t about other people. They are about me - a woman with multiple advanced degrees that distinguish me as being even less likely to be paid equally to a man in the same position; a woman without elected officials who I feel truly reflect my values and priorities; a woman who worked for years in male-dominated fields and recognizes that as jarring as the statistics for workplace sexual harassment may be, there are still so many women who still silently affirm the #metoo movement; a woman who has personally witnessed the suicides of vibrant women tearing apart families and communities. These data are all of us. 

I am 49th, and so are you. Please join us at the Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga as we work to improve the lives of all women in our state.

Jeannine Carpenter, Advocacy Specialist

Jeannine CarpenterComment
49 Isn't Good Enough for Molly

Did you see that adorable little girl who said “49 isn’t good enough for me?”  That was my daughter, Molly, who is in Kindergarten.  On the day of filming, her school closed because of the threat of a hurricane.  There was no time to reschedule the filming.  There was also no way that I could miss the filming.  I was in the position that so many working parents face: I needed to be at work but I didn’t have childcare.

I nervously decided to let Molly come to work and watch the video production.  I hoped that she would behave.  I loaded her up with snacks and books and told her to sit in the corner while community members and Women’s Fund Board members trickled in for filming.

To my surprise and delight, Molly’s presence was not only tolerated, but celebrated by every person who came in to work on the video.  People asked her questions, read with her, and helped her find me when she was lost.  Our videographers put her in front of the camera and gave her a line for the video. She loved it!  They loved it!  And I wish that I’d thought to include a child in the video because so much of the work of the Women’s Fund is focused on making a better, more equitable world for the next generation.

The moral of the story is this- that accommodating working parents in creative ways makes everything better.  The video is better with Molly in it.  The filming was more fun because she was there.  I am a happier and more grateful employee of the Women’s Fund because my board members helped me out and didn’t make me feel guilty for having my child at work.

It doesn’t always make sense to have children in an office.  But as the lines between work and life blur, it’s important that we recognize that the benefit of parents in the workforce outweighs the occasional and inevitable childcare glitch.

~Emily O'Donnell, Executive Director

Liz Tapp