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September 23-29 Weekly News Round Up

A round up of current news story on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

At a rally in Hamden, CT politicians and advocates for greater worker protections drew attention to how CT can improve its current laws. While CT was ahead of other states in passing family medical leave, many workers still can’t afford to take advantage of leave that is unpaid. Representative Rosa DeLauro spoke at the event and advocated for a federal paid sick leave bill.

From Tuesday to Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz  “filibustered” the Senate vote on a House spending bill that would also have defunded the Affordable Care Act. Democrats and  some Republicans saw Cruz’s antics as having more to do with gaining personal publicity than the legislation at hand. Congress must pass a spending bill to continue funding the government and avoid a looming October 1 shutdown, but the Senate predictably rejected the House version that would defund the Affordable Care Act.

This Tuesday is the big day for the Affordable Care Act, as the state healthcare exchanges, one of the core pieces of the legislation, open in all 50 states. How smoothly the exchanges operate and how many people enroll will be a huge factor in judging the success of the Affordable Care Act. You can find information on CT’s exchange, Access Health CT, here.

A Connecticut task force created after the Newtown shooting is responsible for making recommendations on how to improve mental health services in the state. Figuring out how to better address mental illness is something that all states should be devoting greater energy to. However, one issue I do have is that addressing mental health as part of a response to Newtown reinforces the stereotype that the mentally ill are prone to violent behavior, ironically enabling the stigma the taskforce is trying to prevent.  Most mass shooters are not mentally ill, and to my knowledge there is still no evidence indicating that the Newtown shooter suffered from mental illness.

John Olsen, president of the CT AFL-CIO, stepped down earlier this week with a farewell speech that warned against threats to labor even in liberal states such as Connecticut. Governor Malloy was present to voice his support for organized labor. The new president, Lori Pelletier, will be the first openly gay woman to lead a US state labor federation.

Governor Malloy has issued an executive order that will make it easier for veterans to transfer their military experience into college credit.

State government officials, including Governor Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen, are objecting to changes in federal tribal recognition standards proposed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The concern is that the changes, which would relax current standards, would allow for the recognition of several additional tribes in Connecticut, entitling them to land and the right to open casinos. The clear stance of CT officials regarding the changes has led Indian news outlets to accuse state officials of being anti-Indian.

Women’s groups in Texas have filed a lawsuit against the new anti-abortion provisions in the legislation that was famously filibustered by Wendy Davis, who is running for Texas Governor. Hopefully, the suit will stop implementation of provisions that have the potential to shutter several Texas abortion clinics. The law will otherwise go into effect October 29.

Finally, what would a roundup be without a good dose of righteous outrage? The chairman of Barilla Pasta went on a radio show and decided it would be the perfect opportunity to discuss why he would never have a gay family in their advertisements. Seriously? Obviously anti-gay sentiment has not gone anywhere, but at least most public figures have figured out that no one wants to hear about their homophobia. And must we drag poor pasta, in all its carb-laden goodness, into this?

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