“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”  –Gloria Steinem

This quote from Gloria Steinem seemed perfect for July since many of us try to steal some extra time to enjoy the beauty that is summer in Maine – and perhaps spend a little more time dreaming along the way. We’ve been doing a lot of dreaming, planning, and working this month on many of the issues that matter to Maine women and their families. Whether it’s increasing women’s economic security through better policies at the local, state, & federal level or getting the Maine DEP to take action on toxic chemicals in everyday products, we’ve been hard at work during these lazy days of summer.

MOMENTUM FOR PAID FAMILY LEAVE AND EARNED PAID SICK DAYS CONTINUES TO BUILD ACROSS THE COUNTRY

Last month we wrote about the White House Summit on Working Families, an historic event that highlighted the importance of policies that impact the lives of working families – policies like paid family leave and earned paid sick days. This month, California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey celebrated anniversaries for their family leave insurance programs. And just this week, a U.S. Senate committee held a hearing on Paid Family Leave: The Benefits for Businesses and Working Families. You can watch a video of the hearing athttp://1.usa.gov/1qtWB84 (skip ahead to 13:16 for the start of the hearing). We’re grateful that Rep. Pingree has already signed on as a co-sponsor of the FAMILY Act, which would help expand access to paid leave. You can let the rest of our Congressional delegation know that you support expanding access to paid leave by calling their offices: Sen. Collins: 202-224-2523, Sen. King: 202-224-5344, Rep. Michaud: 202-225-6306. And you can thank Rep. Pingree for becoming a co-sponsor of the FAMILY Act at 202-225-6116.

Learn more about the need for greater access to paid leave by reading Voices from the Front Lines: Real Stories of American Families Living Without Paid Leave—and Glimpses of a Brighter Future, which includes a story from Maine mom Kathleen Fleury of Camden.

This week, the city councils in Eugene, OR and San Diego, CA passed earned paid sick days laws – becoming the 8thand 9th cities nationally to do so. (Read more about these important victories on the Family Values at Work blog.) And New York City workers cheered as the city’s expanded earned paid sick days law went into effect. Fausto Rodriguez, co-owner of the Woodside Medical Clinic in Jackson Heights, Queens, stated the sentiments of many when he said, “As someone who runs a medical clinic, I can tell you that paid sick days are important for the health of our community. And as a small business owner, I can tell you it’s also good for the local economy.”

MAINERS ASK THE DEP TO TAKE ACTION ON PHTHALATES

On July 29th, Maine parents, health professionals, scientists, and advocates provided several hours of testimony to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on the importance of adopting a new rule, Chapter 888, under the Kid Safe Products Act. The rule would name four dangerous phthalates as priority chemicals and require manufacturers to disclose their use in products used by children and pregnant women.

As we’ve written before, phthalates are found in hundreds of everyday products that contain soft vinyl, such as shower curtains, lunch boxes, toys, and flooring. And they are also found in many personal care products like shampoo, sunscreen, body lotion, and cosmetics. Phthalates have been linked to many serious health concerns, including asthma & allergies, birth defects of male genitals, early puberty in girls, learning disabilities, fertility problems, and more. Learn more in Hormones Disrupted: Toxic Phthalates in Maine People.

Paige Holmes, MWL board member and mom of two young boys, testified about her experience being tested for phthalates and discovering she had levels higher than 90% of all Americans. Kathy Kilrain del Rio, our Director of Program and Development, also testified on behalf of the Coalition for Maine Women about the dangers of phthalates exposure for pregnant women. Read Paige’s testimony andKathy’s testimony on our blog.

You can show your support by signing our online petitionand writing a public comment in support of the new rule. Learn more about writing a public comment at http://bit.ly/1kpbSZV.

TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE FOR THE MAINE WOMEN’S LOBBY GALA!

On September 27, 2014, we are honoring five women leaders at the Maine Women’s Lobby Gala, The Voice of Maine Women – Loud & Clear. Tickets went on sale earlier this month online at mwlgala.bpt.me.

Maine Women’s Lobby Gala

The Voice of Maine Women – Loud & Clear

Saturday, September 27, 2014
5:30 PM
The Portland Club
156 State St., Portland, ME
Tickets: mwlgala.bpt.me

Our honorees (in alphabetical order):

Mary J. Herman – Liz Crandall Spirit Award

Former first lady of Maine, Mary Herman was one of our earliest MWL lobbyists and continues to advocate for a better Maine through her volunteer work and philanthropy.

Cheryl Miller – Catalyst Award

As the head of the Maine Development Foundation’s Leadership Maine program for over a decade, Cheryl Miller is a catalyst for economic growth and community vibrancy.

Attorney General Janet Mills – Trailblazer Award

Maine’s first woman District Attorney and first woman Attorney General, Janet Mills also helped found the Maine Women’s Lobby, ensuring women have a presence in the statehouse.

Zam Zam Mohamud – Community Power Award

The first Somali woman in Maine to run for public office, Zam Zam Mohamud builds the power of others through her active volunteer life and deep community relationships.

Abbie Strout – Spark! Award

As a women’s health activist with the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, Abbie Strout is a tenacious advocate for a woman’s right to choose and increased access to healthcare.

If you are interested in sponsoring the Gala or advertising in the Gala Program, please contact Kathy at 207.622.0851 orkkilraindelrio@mainewomen.org. More information:www.mainewomen.org/gala.

IN THE NEWS

A roundup of some the news stories that featured MWL staff, members, and issues:

Economic Security

Freedom from Violence

Courts Matter

Taking Action on Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Products

 
 

SAVE THE DATE

Gubernatorial Candidates Forum

Thursday, October 9, 2014

University of Southern Maine, Portland

Plan to join us when the candidates who want to be Maine’s next governor talk about where they stand on the issues affecting women’s economic security. We’ll share more details next month.

2014 LINDA SMITH DYER FELLOWSHIP

Linda Smith Dyer was one of the original founders of the Maine Women’s Lobby in 1978 and she was a model for Maine girls and women. The Linda Smith Dyer Fellowship was founded to advance Linda’s strong example of public policy and public interest work by law students at her alma mater. Linda Smith Dyer Fellows provide sophisticated research and advanced analysis on policy related to women and girls. They go on to perform as leaders in their fields, frequently in public interest law, policy, and social change.

Each year the work of the Linda Smith Dyer Fellow is an important contribution to the mission of the Maine Women’s Policy Center and this year was no different. Isabel Mullin served as the 2014 Linda Smith Dyer Fellow. Her work was primarily focused on the importance of the federal courts in our everyday lives. Isabel completed her 10-week fellowship this week. Her energy and bright presence will be missed by us all – though she has already offered to volunteer when her law school studies allow. Thank you for your work to continue Linda Smith Dyer’s legacy, Isabel. Good luck in law school and beyond!

Read Isabel’s posts on the Supreme Court decisions in theHobby Lobby case and the patient buffer zone case on the MWL blog: www.mainewomen.org/blogs

CONNECT WITH US

There are lots of ways to connect with us. We’re on Twitter (@MEWomensLobby), Facebook, and Pinterest. We’re looking to add more voices to our blog. Contact Kathy at kkilraindelrio@mainewomen.org if you are interested in writing a post.

Your generous financial support allows us to do the work of our mission. Your gift of $35, $60, $100, or more makes a big difference in the future of Maine’s women and girls. And your gift at any level entitles you to membership.

Donate online right now or send your check to the Maine Women’s Lobby at 124 Sewall St., Augusta, ME 04330.

Please feel free to call Kathy at 207.622.0851 x25 to learn more about how your gift will be used to improve the lives of women and girls in Maine.

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