Legislative Update

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Paid leave (S. 997 & H. 5137) 

These bills would provide state employees with 12 weeks of paid family leave. Paid leave has many public health benefits, including decreased infant mortality and improved physical and mental health of new parents. This policy will also improve employee retention, productivity, and morale. A recent poll conducted by WREN and the National Women’s Law Center found that 90 percent of South Carolinians support paid family leave. Support for this policy is overwhelmingly bipartisan; a plurality of likely Democrat and Republican voters agree that lawmakers should prioritize paid family leave.

Here’s where we are:

The Governor hosted a press conference on Wednesday, March 4 with a bipartisan panel of legislators to endorse the policy. The South Carolina Paid Leave for State Employees bill passed the Senate Sub-Committee unanimously today. With the endorsement of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and bipartisan leadership in both chambers, we are optimistic that this bill CAN pass this year!

Here’s what you can do:

Ask your legislator to sign on as a co-sponsor and if they have already signed on to the bills thank them.

View our livestream here.

Lactation support act (H.3200)

Builds on the South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act that was passed in May 2018 and would provide more people with the right to break time and private space to express milk in the workplace.

This bill is at the final stage of legislative debate and needs a vote in the Senate before heading to the Governor’s desk.

Here’s what you can do:  Take action today and ask your senator to VOTE YES.

 

Anti-Shackling of a Pregnant Person (H.3967)

This bill bans the use of restraints for an incarcerated person who is pregnant, in labor, during the initial bonding with a newborn, or in postpartum recovery.

By a unanimous vote of 42-0, the South Carolina Senate advanced a bill that will virtually abolish the practice of shackling incarcerated people who are pregnant, in labor, giving birth and recovering from childbirth. The bill was amended on the Senate floor to expand protections for pregnant incarcerated people. It will now go back to the S.C. House of Representatives.

With the new amendment, SC prisons, jails, and work camps have to provide pregnant people with adequate nutrition and access to a bottom bunk. The amendment will also prohibit these institutions from holding pregnant people in solitary confinement in most circumstances.

And that’s not all. The amendment requires correctional institutions across S.C. to provide access to menstrual hygiene products and to cover the cost of these products for people who cannot afford to pay.

What you can do: Contact your SC Representatives and ask them to pass this bill. For too long, incarcerated people in SC have had to bring new life into the world under cruel and inhumane circumstances. Improving conditions for pregnant people and those giving/recovering from birth will greatly increase the likelihood of positive outcomes for parents and their children alike.

View our livestream here.

 

Pay equity (H. 3616 & S. 372) 

This policy will ensure that employee pay is based on factors such as skill, effort, and responsibility; bans the use of salary history; and provides pay transparency without retaliation.

The overall wage gap for South Carolina women has narrowed by a mere four cents over the last 20 years. If today’s wage gap persists, a Black woman in South Carolina will lose $860,000 to the wage gap over a 40 year career. For a Latinx woman, this adds up to more than $900,000 in lost earnings over a 40 year career. In order to “catch up” to what the typical white, non-Hispanic South Carolina man is paid by age 60, depending on her race, a South Carolina woman would need to work anywhere from 12 to 34 additional years.

When asked how important these policy proposals were, equal pay for women ranked as “very important” to 81% of respondents, including 97% of Democrats, 83% of independents, and 64% of Republicans. Equal pay is especially important to unmarried respondents (89% “very important” compared to 74% among married respondents), younger voters (87% among 18-34 year olds), and Black/African American voters (98% “very important” compared to 75% of white voters).

The bills have been assigned the House Judiciary Committee and Senate LCI Committee respectively.

Here’s what you can do: Ask for a hearing, contact your legislators today!

 

6 week ban (H.3020 & S. 32) 

South Carolina is facing an urgent threat to abortion access. In early 2019 legislators in the South Carolina General Assembly introduced H 3020 (“The SC Fetal Heartbeat Protection from Abortion Act”), which outlaws abortion before most people know that they are pregnant. This radical and dangerous ban is similar to those recently passed in Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, and North Dakota.

While we face an onslaught of anti-abortion bills every year in South Carolina, this bill has a startling amount of momentum. The South Carolina House of Representatives passed the bill in April 2019. In an unprecedented move, the Senate leadership convened its committees during the fall, outside of regular session, to debate and advance the bill. We are facing a crucial fight in the South Carolina Senate in early 2020. The final year of the current two-year legislative session runs from January through May 2020, and we anticipate that this bill will be a top priority for its proponents. The Governor has declared that he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk. WREN and our partners are mounting a response to ensure that it does not get that far.

Here’s what you can do: Call your senator and tell them to vote NO on H3020 and be ready to flood the statehouse if the bill comes up.

 

 


The nature of the General Assembly is that the status of legislation can change from hour to hour.  These updates are on the status of our bills as of 3.12.2020 at noon.

To receive the most up to date information about these bills, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  If you want to receive text updates on these bills and all WREN news text “TEXT ME” to 52886.

The post Legislative Update appeared first on Women's Rights and Empowerment Network.

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