On Tuesday, more than 110 eighth grade girls participated in the 20th Annual Girls’ Day at the State House. They traveled from Fort Fairfield and York, Rangeley and Princeton, Swan’s Island and Mattawamkeag, and many towns in between. They learned about the importance of women’s leadership, how ideas become law, and they strengthened their advocacy skills.

Girls’ Day is one of the best days of the year—a day filled with inspirational moments that highlight the power of raising your voice on the issues that matter most in your life.

The future of Maine was in the State House on Tuesday. But we can’t help asking ourselves, what will that future look like? What legacy will we leave those girls to build upon?

When you make a gift to the Maine Women’s Lobby, you help make sure there is a strong voice advocating for a bright future for those girls—and for all Mainers.

A future where all of us can meet our basic needs.

A future where we can all live our lives free from the fear of violence or assault.

A future without discrimination.

A future where our workplace policies reflect the realities of our lives today.

A future where everyone has access to a full range of health care.

 

MAKE A DONATION TODAY

 

Thank you for standing with us to create a future where every woman has equal rights, equal opportunity, and the power to direct her own life.

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It’s a good thing we get an extra day this year because 2016 has already been jam-packed. In this edition of our e-news, we’ll share some of what we’ve been working on during the legislative session so far, we’ll provide ways you can help raise awareness about the importance of the federal courts, and much more.

As Black History Month comes to an end and Women’s History Month begins, we also wanted to share these words of inspiration from Audre Lorde:

“There is no simple monolithic solution to racism, to sexism, to homophobia. There is only the conscious focusing within each of my days to move against them, wherever I come up against these particular manifestations of the same disease.”

 

TWO DECADES OF GIRLS’ DAY AT THE STATE HOUSE

Tomorrow, March 1st, is the 20th Annual Girls’ Day at the State House. More than 100 eighth-grade girls from across the state will spend the day with us in Augusta. They’ll explore how laws get made and learn more about why women’s leadership matters. It’s always one of our favorite days of the year.

We’re able to provide this special experience at no cost to the students thanks to the help of our many volunteers and the generosity of our sponsors. Thank you!

CHAMPION

Time Warner Cable

ADVOCATE

The VIA Agency

CONTRIBUTORS

Law Offices of Joe Bornstein

Maine Education Association

FRIEND

Karen R. W. McGrady

FOUNDATIONS

Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust

P.W. Sprague Memorial Foundation

Virginia Hodgkins Somers Foundation

If you participated in Girls’ Day when you were in eighth grade, we’d love to talk to you. Contact Molly at 207-622-0851 x2 or mbogart@mainewomen.org.

 

#SCOTUS

The federal courts play a big role in many of the issues you care about. The decisions of the Supreme Court (also known as SCOTUS on social media) can influence policies for generations. That’s why it’s important that the Supreme Court be at full strength. Unfortunately, since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this month, Republicans in Senate Leadership and on the Judiciary Committee have made statements that they will not let the usual nomination process move forward. That’s just not acceptable.

We were glad to hear both Senator Collins and Senator King say that they think the process should move forward. Since it is Republican politicians speaking against the process, we’re asking Senator Collins to urge her colleagues to follow her lead and let the process work.

Add your voice by signing the petition today:bit.ly/CollinsPetition.

Learn more:

Five Reasons That The Supreme Court Vacancy Must Be Filled from NWLC

A Responsibility I Take Seriously by President Obama

Collins breaks ranks with Republican leaders over Supreme Court nominee

Sandra Day O’Connor Says Obama Should Get To Replace Justice Scalia

Follow #DoYourJob and #SCOTUS on social media

 

THE SUPREME COURT TAKES ANOTHER LOOK AT ABORTION ACCESS

Arguments for the most important abortion case in decades, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, will be heard by the Supreme Court on March 2nd. In recent years, anti-abortion politicians have been pushing through legislation that makes it harder and harder for women to access safe, legal abortion care. TRAP laws—which place unnecessary regulations on health centers that provide reproductive health care with the intent to force them to close—have passed in states like Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi with devastating results for women.

Do we really have a right to safe, legal abortion if we can’t access care because of distance, cost, and other obstacles?

We’ll be joining with other organizations to raise awareness about this case on Wednesday. Use the hashtags #StopTheSham, #UndueBurden, #HB2, and#SCOTUS to follow the latest on social media. Show your support by joining this Thunderclap:http://bit.ly/1WSBPPG, and use this Twibbon on your profile picture: http://bit.ly/1oKsM87. If you’re in the Portland area, you can join us for a press conference in Monument Square at Noon on March 2nd.

Learn more:

Why Courts Shouldn’t Ignore the Facts About Abortion Rights

The Very Real and Devastating Consequences of Texas Anti-Abortion Restrictions

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Abortion

 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

The Legislative Session has been very busy this month. Here are some highlights of bills we’re supporting.

  • Last week the Health & Human Services Committee took up LD 633, An Act To Improve the Health of Maine Citizens and the Economy of Maine by Providing Affordable Market-based Coverage Options to Low-income Uninsured Citizens. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Saviello (R-Franklin) and would allow Maine to accept the federal funds already set aside for our state under the Affordable Care Act to provide affordable health coverage to people with low incomes.

Conditions now favorable for expansion of Medicaid coverage in Maine by Trish Riley

  • LD 1477, An Act To Protect Victims of Sexual Assault, would help reduce barriers for victims of sexual assault who wish to raise their child and have the parental rights of the person who raped them terminated. Cara Courchesne of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault wrote this excellent piece about why we need this law: A woman shouldn’t have to co-parent with the man who raped her. LD 1477 is sponsored by Sen. Bill Diamond (D-Cumberland).

To take action on LD 633 or LD 1477, contact Kathy at 207-622-0851 x3 or kkilraindelrio@mainewomen.organd she will connect you to the best way to help.

  • Legislators are considering a bill that will align educational and supervision standards for Dental Hygiene Therapists (DHTs) with new, nationally-recognized guidelines. DHTs were established in 2014 to provide safety net clinics and private practice dentists a way to extend dental health care to people across our state. LD 1514 would allow DHTs, under the supervision of a dentist, to provide routine oral health to people in places where it isn’t readily available. This is particularly important for pregnant & postpartum women, children, and seniors who struggle to access this vital care in rural parts of our state. Take action atdentalaccessforme.com.

 

HEALTH CARE IS A HUMAN RIGHT

The YWCA of Central Maine and the Southern Maine Workers’ Center are collaborating to host a potluck and story share event in Lewiston as part of their ‘Healthcare is a Human Right’ campaign. This event will be an opportunity for community members to break bread, share healthcare stories, and take action toward a more just and accessible system.

For more information, contact Natalie at the YWCA at 207-795-4050 or Cait at Southern Maine Workers’ Center at 207-370-9477. There is also a Facebook event page:https://www.facebook.com/events/1708690856032353/.

 

CELEBRATING 23 YEARS OF FMLALOOKING AHEAD TO WHAT’S NEEDED NOW

When President Clinton signed the Family & Medical Leave Act into law, providing some workers with 12-weeks of protected unpaid time off to care for a new baby, recover from surgery or an illness, or care for a sick loved one was a big step forward. But today it’s not enough. As we celebrated the 23rd anniversary of that landmark legislation, we also highlighted the need for all workers to have access to paid family & medical leave.

Here’s a roundup of some of the best pieces written about this issue this month:

It’s Time to Ask, Why Wouldn’t You Support Paid Leave?by Ellen Bravo

Voters Say It’s Time for Paid Family and Medical Leaveby Debra Ness

FAMILY Act is the way to go by Michael Connolly

How to level the playing field for working families by Sen. Elizabeth Warren

 

CONNECT WITH US

Make sure you stay up to date on the latest news by connecting with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Help support our work by making a monthly donation as a Loyal Lobbyist or by making a one-time gift today.

Donate Now

If you would like to know more about our work or find out about volunteer opportunities, contact Molly at 207-622-0851 x2 or mbogart@mainewomen.org.

Finally, what words bring you inspiration and motivate you to continue to be an advocate for a better world? Send them to Kathy at kkilraindelrio@mainewomen.orgso she can share them with our members on social media or in a future edition of our e-news.

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Having access to the full range of health care women need throughout our lives includes preventative and routine dental care. But too many people in our state can’t access this important care. It’s an especially challenging issue for people living in rural Maine, those without transportation, and those who lack mobility—such as the elderly and disabled.

  • 31% of Mainers don’t have a dentist
  • Dental care is the most common unmet health treatment need in children
  • 15 of 16 Maine counties have federally designated shortage areas
  • 40% of dentists plan to retire or reduce their hours within the next five years

Right now, legislators are considering a bill that will align educational and supervision standards for Dental Hygiene Therapists (DHTs) with new, nationally-recognized guidelines. DHTs were established in 2014 to provide safety net clinics and private practice dentists a way to extend care to people who cannot get care across our state. We need your help to make this happen.

This bill would allow Dental Hygiene Therapists, under the supervision of a dentist, to provide routine oral health care to people in places where it isn’t readily available. It will make it easier for pregnant & postpartum women, children, and seniors to access this vital care.

Contact your legislators and encourage them to support LD 1514, “An Act to Conform Maine Law to the Requirements of the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation,” which will:

  • Align with Commission on Dental Accreditation’s (CODA) national accreditation standards;
  • Allow educational institutions to work with CODA to design curriculum and degree offerings;
  • Grants supervision authority exclusively to the supervising dentist; and
  • Establish reciprocity for DHTs trained in other states.

With your help, dentists across our state will be able to expand their care to more people in need.

Please go to www.dentalaccessforme.com, enter your zip code, and send your legislator an email today!

 

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Today we’re celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Since it was signed into law, workers have used it more than 200 million times to take unpaid time off when a baby is born, to recover from surgery, to care for an ill spouse, and help aging parents.

FMLA was a big step forward, but because it only protects unpaid leave for some workers, we need to do more. Several states have already taken action to provide their residents with paid leave. Maine—and the whole country—needs to follow their lead.

When you make a monthly gift of $5, $10, $20, or whatever works for your budget, you help sustain our work on this vital issue.

MAKE A SUSTAINING GIFT

A new poll released yesterday found that 4 in 5 voters support a paid family and medical leave law. That’s not surprising because we all know how hard it is to balance work with the rest of our lives. We know that moms need time at home after giving birth or adopting a child. We know that strokes, cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses don’t check to see if you have paid leave before attacking you or a loved one. We know that unexpected accidents can make it impossible to work.

Life happens. A state or federal paid leave law will help make sure that when we need to take time to care for our families, we don’t have to worry about missing a paycheck.

If you want to share your story about needing paid leave, talk to Molly at 207.622.0851 x2 or email mbogart@mainewomen.org.

Please consider making a donation to strengthen our work to make paid leave a reality for all Mainers.

DONATE TODAY

Happy Anniversary, FMLA! Here’s to making you even better!

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“So, my fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, our collective future depends on your willingness to uphold your obligations as a citizen.  To vote.  To speak out.  To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us.  To stay active in our public life so it reflects the goodness and decency and optimism that I see in the American people every single day.” –President Obama in his final State of the Union address

 

2016 LEGISLATIVE SESSION BEGINS

This month the second half of the 127th Legislature got underway. Thanks to the generous support of our members, we’re able to continue to be a strong advocate for Maine women during this legislative session.

Some of the issues we’ll be working on include:

  • Helping nearly 70,000 Mainers receive health care through a bipartisan effort to accept federal funds available to Maine under the Affordable Care Act;
  • Expanding access to dental care because dental care is another important part of health care—especially for pregnant and post-partum women;
  • Providing pregnant women with more control over where to safely deliver by supporting a bill to create a licensing program for midwives in Maine;
  • Adopting real solutions that help move Maine people out of poverty for good—and standing against any attempts to make it harder for families living in poverty to get back on their feet;
  • Raising Maine’s minimum wage and eliminating the subminimum wage for workers who receive tips—who are mostly women; and
  • Strengthening protections for victims of trafficking.

Our partners in the Alliance for Maine Women spoke about some of these legislative priorities at Women’s Day at the State House. The Alliance works to ensure that all Mainers have the economic, social, and political power to make decisions about their bodies, sexuality, health, and families – with an emphasis on securing these rights for Maine Women. Those who attended on January 21st also participated in workshops such as Standing Up for Reproductive Justice, Raising Maine’s Minimum Wage,Advocacy 101, and Changing the Conversation Around Poverty.

Read more about Women’s Day at the State House on our blog and MPBN.

Read some of the remarks from the Alliance for Maine Women press conference on our blog.

Throughout the legislative session we’ll be sharing opportunities to take action. If are particularly interested in helping with one of the issues mentioned above, please contact Molly at 207.622.0851 x2 or mbogart@mainewomen.org.

You can check out the status of bills, listen in to public hearings, watch or listen to the action the floor of the House and Senate, and more by visiting legislature.maine.gov.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Webinar: Expanding Access to Paid Family Leave & Earned Paid Sick Days

Wednesday, February 24

Noon – 1 PM

RSVP to kkilraindelrio@mainewomen.org or 207.622.0851 x3

Sometimes we all need to take time to get well or to care for a loved one. It might be a few days during flu season or it might be longer after a surgery or the birth of a child. But the majority of workers in Maine and our country can’t afford to take the time they need because they can’t earn even one paid sick day or they don’t have access to paid family & medical leave.

In this webinar, we’ll explore opportunities to change our workplace policies to better reflect the needs of families in the 21st century. You’ll also learn about opportunities to take action to move these policies forward.

20th Annual Girls’ Day at the State House

Tuesday, March 1

8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Maine State House and Cross Office Building, Augusta

For two decades we’ve brought together 100 eighth grade girls from across the state for this special day. The girls learn about the importance of women’s leadership and how public policy decisions get made. There are several ways you can help make it a successful day for the girls who participate:

  • Become a mentor. Our volunteer mentors spend the day with a group of ten girls – we can’t do the day without them. We also have a few other volunteer roles that only happen for part of the day. Contact Molly atmbogart@mainewomen.org or 207-622-0851 x2 if you’re interested in volunteering.
  • Be a Girls’ Day sponsor. If you or your business would like to make a financial contribution to support this special day, contact Kathy atkkilraindelrio@mainewomen.org or 207-622-0851 x3.

Did you or someone you know attend one of our first 19 Girls’ Days at the State House? We’d love to connect with you as we celebrate our 20th anniversary of this special event. Let us know about your experience by talking with Molly at 207.622.0851 x2 or mbogart@mainewomen.org.

 

TALKING ABOUT THE FEDERAL COURTS

On January 28th, Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Kate Knox of Bernstein Shur, and Zach Heiden of the ACLU of Maine shared their expertise about the federal courts. The Art of Advocacy: How the Federal Courts Serve as an Effective Tool for Change was cosponsored by the Maine Women’s Policy Center, the Women’s Law Association at the University of Maine School of Law, and Courts Matter to ME.

Courts Matter to ME is a coalition that raises awareness about the importance of the federal courts and the growing number of vacancies on the federal bench that impede justice for us all. Our own Eliza Townsend wrote an op-ed about this with Patty Weber of the National Council of Jewish Women: Senate stalling on federal judge nominees needlessly harms justice system. And earlier this month, Courts Matter to ME hosted a tweetstorm with the hashtag #CourtsMatter2016. Some resolutions we’d like our U.S. Senators to adopt are:

1.  Prioritize clearing the backlog of judicial emergencies.

2.  Nominate and confirm federal judges with diverse backgrounds.

3.  Ensure qualified judicial nominees receive timely votes.

4.  Stop playing politics with our judicial system.

Follow @CourtsMatterME, #WhyCourtsMatter, and #SCOTUS on twitter for more updates on the federal courts.

 

SHARE YOUR HEALTH CARE STORY

Our friends at Southern Maine Workers’ Center are working to collect 1,000 health care surveys from across Maine before March 15th to help all of us better understand the challenges of the current health care system and what needs to change in order for us to have our needs met. We all need health care so all of us have a perspective that matters.

Health Care is a Human Right Survey

Now – March 15

Survey: bit.ly/1JWD4vv

 

NEWS ROUNDUP

We share a lot of news on Facebook and Twitter—that’s one of the reasons you should definitely connect with us on those sites. But in case you missed any of our posts, here’s some of the news stories we thought you might want to read this month:

Why we are suing for equal access to abortion

43 years after Roe v. Wade, why we (still) need reproductive justice

ME Human Rights Commission issues guidance on sexual orientation discrimination in schools

Conditions now favorable for expansion of Medicaid coverage in Maine

Anti-expansion stance keeps Maine’s uninsured rate from falling

After federal move, paid parental leave programs starting to expand in U.S. cities

The FAMILY Act would support us when we need it most

Mainers gather in Winthrop to share stories about immigration

The response to sex trafficking must be all-encompassing

These are the issues that lead to sex trafficking and how to prevent them

Self-care is a Political Act

 

SUPPORT THE MAINE WOMEN’S LOBBY IN 2016

One way to ensure that the Maine Women’s Lobby has a steady stream of income throughout the year is to make a recurring donation as a Loyal Lobbyist.

MAKE A DONATION

Your gift of $16 a month—or whatever works for your budget—helps us create a future where all of us can live our lives free from violence and discrimination, with access to a full range of health care, and with real economic security.

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