Monthly Archives: February 2018

10 posts

ACTION ALERT: Your voice needed to protect insurance coverage for women and children!

Testimony needed for public hearing taking place this Thursday, March 1

By Lauren Pizzoferrato

With Connecticut’s legislative session in full swing, HB 5210, AN ACT MANDATING INSURANCE COVERAGE OF ESSENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS AND EXPANDING MANDATED HEALTH BENEFITS FOR WOMEN, CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS, has been introduced.

This bill not only protects contraceptive equality established by the Affordable Care Act, but expands upon it by allowing patients to acquire a 12-month supply of birth control with one visit to the pharmacy.

Additionally, vital insurance coverage requirements such as maternal care and STI testing can be made into state law with the passage of this bill this legislative session.

You can help by submitting written testimony, appearing in person at the Insurance and Real Estate Committee public hearing at noon this Thursday, March 1, in room 2D of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, or by urging your legislator to support the bill.

Please feel free to get in touch with me if you would like assistance with any of these things.

Lauren Pizzoferrato represents Connecticut NOW on the Connecticut Coalition for Choice and can be reached via email at lapizzoferrato@gmail.com

 

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ACTION ALERT: Support the appointment of Justice Andrew McDonald NOW

Dear Connecticut NOW Members and Friends:

The Connecticut Senate Judiciary Committee needs to hear our voices, and our state legislators need to hear from their constituents!

Do you remember Merrick Garland and how the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate refused to hold a vote during President Obama’s last year in office? A similarly disturbing scenario is happening here in Connecticut within the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Governor Malloy has nominated Justice Andrew McDonald to be Chief Justice of Connecticut. Justice McDonald is an accomplished and respected jurist with over two decades of experience. He is respected by the legal community in Connecticut, is known as a brilliant lawyer, and has served as both a Connecticut State Senator and Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Despite his lengthy resume, experience as an attorney and judge, respect from within the legal community, endorsements by the Connecticut State Bar Association, and the support of two law schools, Justice McDonald’s nomination is in jeopardy. Several ultra-conservative, anti-choice and homophobic groups are actively working to prevent the hearing that would move his nomination forward.

Sound familiar?

We cannot allow conservative extremists to control Connecticut politics. Before the vote scheduled for this coming Monday, Feb. 26. call and email your state representative, state senator and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, telling them that you support the appointment of Andrew McDonald as Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Click here for Connecticut Judiciary Committee members’ contact information.

Click here to find your state legislators’ contact information.

Click here for talking points about Justice Andrew McDonald

You can make a difference in ensuring that a justice who is truly just receives the appointment he deserves, while at the same stopping the potential advancement of hate ideology.

Thank you,

Kate Hamilton Moser

Connecticut NOW Vice President of Legislative Action

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House Oversight Committee Must Investigate John Kelly and Don McGahn

A statement by national NOW President Toni Van Pelt:

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) has announced that his House Oversight Committee has opened an investigation into the Trump Administration’s employment of Rob Porter, seeking to discover when the FBI told the White House about the allegations of domestic violence against him. That’s not nearly good enough. We already know the answer to that question.

The Oversight Committee is being incredibly short-sighted and protectionist when it comes to this White House.The staff at the FBI is not the problem. The staff at the White House is the problem. We need to know more about John Kelly’s and Don McGahn’s roles in covering up for Rob Porter and perpetuating a culture of enabling abusive men—starting with the mysoginist-in-chief in the Oval Office. Chairman Gowdy, call John Kelly and Don McGahn before your committee. Ask them why their first inclination is to believe and condone abusers, and not the women they’ve abused.

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Paid family leave included in CT Democratic Values Agenda for 2018

By Nichole Berklas

Concurrently with the opening of the 2018 Legislative Session, Connecticut Democrats announced their Democratic Values Agenda. Key to the Democrats’ overall agenda for the 2018 Legislative Session is “supporting middle-class families and creating economic opportunities for everyone,” which provides, in part, a commitment for paid family leave.

Specifically, Democrats in the General Assembly have provided in the agenda that:

“Working families should not have to face the prospect of economic ruin when presented with serious family needs such as caring for a newborn, a spouse, or their parents.”

“The inability of employees to take paid time off to care for loved ones or themselves,” the agenda continues, “can leave them with no choice but to abandon family members in their time of need, or to neglect their own health.”

A commitment to solving this inhumane choice, they say, is “necessary and beneficial to our modern workforce.”

The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, specifically called the “Act Concerning Earned Family and Medical Leave,” can be easily tracked as it has the same bill number as last year: SB-1! Introduced on Feb. 7 with the support of 12 State Senators, SB-1 has been referred to the Committee on Labor and Employees.

We will continue to provide updates on SB-1, as well as details of upcoming phone banks to support the passage of paid family leave, which will benefit all residents of Connecticut.

Nichole Berklas serves as Connecticut NOW’s representative to the Connecticut Campaign for Paid Family Leave.

 

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Hold the Abuser in Chief Accountable

A statement from national NOW President Toni Van Pelt:

In public, Donald Trump has nothing but praise for Rob Porter, calling him “wonderful,” “strong” and “innocent.” This is Donald Trump’s pattern. From Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly to Roy Moore and Mike Tyson, Trump ignores the accuser and portrays the accused as the real victim.

Donald Trump needs to know the consequences of his words and actions. Women and men around the nation who are in the throes of relationship violence cannot/must not be ignored or demeaned by anyone, and certainly not by the President of the United States. He has inexcusably defended the batterers and questioned the veracity of the victims in order to cater to his base. Polls show that even women in his “base” have just about had it with his disdain and misogyny. The elections this November will send the message.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline estimates that one in three women are abused in their lifetimes. We know that intimate partner violence can be a precursor to acts of murderous rage—the Boston Marathon bomber, the Pulse nightclub shooter, and the Sutherland Springs shooter all had histories of relationship violence.

Donald Trump’s White House is riven by a cover-up culture of men protecting men and disbelieving women. At least 19 women have come forward accusing Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, but the White House calls their accounts “false claims” and Kellyanne Conway said over the weekend they have “had their day.” In essence, “He won, you lost, so shut up.”

NOW supports Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s call for Congressional hearings to give Donald Trump’s accusers the “due process” Trump claims to uphold. What’s more, we need to hold the enabler-in-chief accountable for an upside-down culture where women who unmask sexual predators and perpetrators of domestic violence see their careers ruined, their livelihood threatened and their health compromised, while men get huge paydays for leaving the spotlight.

Furthermore, NOW renews our call for John Kelly to resign or be fired as Chief of Staff. And instead of appointing a crony like Mick Mulvaney or Chris Christie to replace him, NOW proposes that a strong, capable woman with a record that includes standing up for victims of domestic violence and abuse be selected to replace him.

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John Kelly Must Resign

A statement from NOW President Toni Van Pelt

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly must resign. His pathetic defense of staff secretary Rob Porter reveals his true nature—an enabler of sexual abusers, a betrayer of trust and an avoider of responsibility.

Why did John Kelly continue to support Rob Porter after he was told about Porter’s history of abuse? Why did he allow a man who was denied a security clearance because of his history of violence against women to continue in a high ranking position of trust? Why did he talk Rob Porter out of resigning, telling him he could “weather the storm,” according to press accounts?

General Kelly should know better. As a military commander, he took pride in protecting his troops. As chief of staff, it is his duty to protect the people who serve in the White House. Women who work for John Kelly are asking themselves today if they can trust General Kelly to protect them from sexual predators.

Clearly, they can’t. John Kelly has shown his true colors. He’s on Team “Grab Them By The Pussy,” leaving women who are victimized by sexual violence to fend for themselves.

John Kelly must go. Today.

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But wait. Don’t we already have paid family leave?

By Nichole Berklas

During the 2016 Connecticut legislative session, a paid family and medical leave act made significant progress to passage in the state. While it fell short, support continues to be high. But wait, you may ask. Doesn’t the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) already give us protection to take time off??

When the FMLA passed in Connecticut years ago, we were on the forefront of protecting workers who needed family and medical leaves. However, among other differences, FMLA protects leaves, but that protection is UNPAID.

WHAT? FAMILY EXPENSES DO NOT TAKE A LEAVE WHEN AN EMPLOYEE IS OFF!

This is the difference between being left in the wild to fend for yourself and having a map with snacks and water along the way to lead you back home.

While some employers do offer their employees paid leave, that offering is a personal decision by the employer, and neither universal nor a requirement.  FMLA does nothing to ensure that employees contemplating a leave will have a safety net of pay during their leave.  This often means workers are left choosing between their job/paycheck and their family.  This choice is neither sustainable nor healthy in Connecticut, where more than 70 percent of married couples with children under the age of 18 have both spouses in the workforce.

As the 2017 Connecticut Legislative session has just started, now is a perfect time to push for earned paid family and medical leave.  There are already states that have passed such legislation and have a history to give guidance on how paid leave acts work.  We need not reinvent nor invent the wheel.  We can see what has worked and the positive impacts such policies have made in other states.  Moreover, with much discussion in the local news over the last year about Connecticut’s need to attract and keep the skilled workforce of the next generation, the existence of a statewide program allowing employees to choose their families and themselves—without having to lose careers or face significant financial problems—is exactly the innovation the next generation (and the rest of us!) deserve and should demand.

Stay tuned for ways you can get involved to help make sure earned paid family leave passes this Legislative session.

Nichole Berklas serves as Connecticut NOW’s representative to the Connecticut Campaign for Paid Family Leave.

 

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ACTION ALERT: Virginia needs our help to pass the ERA!

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

– 24 words that could change the lives of women throughout the U.S.

Please send emails and postcards NOW

The Virginia Legislature – which meets ONLY in January and February — has until next Monday, Feb. 12, to decide which bills it will vote on before the 2018 session ends. Virginia NOW has asked us to help pressure VA House Speaker Kirk Cox and Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment to bring ratification of the ERA to a vote, so VA can follow the lead of what Nevada did last March and bring our country one step closer to having the Equal Rights Amendment as part of the U.S. Constitution.

Why is this important? Click here for how the Washington-based ERA Coalition explains it.

Please send postcards and emails to Cox and Norment, telling them that by not bringing the ERA to a vote, they are holding Connecticut and the rest of the country hostage, as well as harming the women, children and families who would benefit economically, and in all aspects of life, if the ERA were to become national law.

Email and snail mail addresses:

  • Speaker of the House Kirk Cox,DelKCox@house.virginia.gov
  • The Honorable Kirk Cox, PO Box 406, Richmond, VA  23218
  • Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment:district03@senate.virginia.gov.
  • Senate of Virginia, PO Box 396, Richmond, VA 23218

To learn more about the history of the ERA and how this Virginia vote can affect our entire nation, visit this great website, http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/index.htm, which will provide you with invaluable information.

Throughout 2018, Connecticut NOW will host free screenings of the award-winning documentary Equal Means Equal at locations across state. The film provides an unflinching look at how women are treated in the United States today. By following both real life stories and precedent setting legal cases, director Kamala Lopez discovers how outdated and discriminatory attitudes inform and influence seemingly disparate issues, from workplace matters to domestic violence, rape and sexual assault to the foster care system, the healthcare system and the legal system. Along the way, she reveals the inadequacy of present laws in place that claim to protect women, ultimately presenting a compelling and persuasive argument for the urgency of ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.

To ensure you have access to our most-recently-added Equal Means Equal screenings dates, please visit Connecticut NOW’s Facebook page.

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Protecting reproductive rights will be a 2018 legislative priority

By Lauren Pizzoferrato

The latest attempts to limit women’s reproductive freedom are strong and frequent but so is the push back.

The 45th anniversary of Roe vs Wade (the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion for the entire country) was celebrated on January 22nd 2018.

Not far from this date on January 29th, the Senate voted on legislation that had passed in the House to ban abortion past 20 weeks.

The ban did not pass in the Senate, thanks to Senators such as Connecticut’s own Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.

Many Connecticut legislators will continue to advocate for expanding reproductive rights in our state and protect us from any changes that may take place on a federal level that threaten these rights. As you may recall, last year Connecticut failed to pass SB586, a bill that would have continued to protect insurance coverage of services such as co-pay free birth control, should the Affordable Care Act be repealed. Here is a list of what coverage is currently mandated by the ACA.

For this legislative session, an even stronger and better bill that aims to protect reproductive rights and guarantee continued insurance coverage will be proposed in Connecticut. Additions to the bill include stopping Crisis Pregnancy Centers from their practice of false advertising.  

Stay tuned for updates regarding activism opportunities to support this legislation.

Lauren Pizzoferrato serves at Connecticut NOW’s representative on the Connecticut Coalition for Choice. To learn more, please email her at lapizzoferrato@gmail.com.

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The Humane Society Has No Humanity

NOW Calls For Firing of Humane Society CEO

A statement by NOW President Toni Van Pelt:

In a shocking abdication of moral authority, The Humane Society has voted to keep CEO Wayne Pacelle in his job even after an internal investigation corroborated three complaints of sexual harassment against him. The group also offered settlements to three other workers who spoke out about Pacelle’s misconduct and were demoted or dismissed.

Like Donald Trump, the Humane Society is engaged in a cover up in plain sight. Instead of trying to enable a sexual abuser, they should dismiss him. Instead of making excuses, they should be making reparations. Instead of silencing or attacking women who’ve suffered abuse, and those who defend them, the Humane Society should change its own culture.

The Humane Society needs to know this. Women are watching. We know when a charity deserves our support, and when it fails the most basic obligations of trust.

The Humane Society has no humanity. Fire Wayne Pacelle. Do it now.

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