As power has devolved to the states and activity regarding our issues has heated up, AAUW has become more active in Ohio politics issuing Action Alerts regarding legislation of interest to AAUW members on occasion and offering special assistance around certain key issues. Branch programming frequently addresses AAUW public policy planks and issues.
ANNOUNCING THE PUBLICATION OF THE AAUW OHIO VOTER GUIDE FOCUSING ON THE OHIO LEGISLATURE
AAUW/Ohio published an 2018 AAUW Ohio Voter Guide prior to the election that was introduced at our Oct. 2 program. Designed to inform us about what the legislature has been doing related to our public policy interests, it was circulated during the meeting; however, the document has been posted for members unable to attend as well as for further review by those who were present and interested readers. The primary bill of concern that violated many AAUW policy priorities was H.B. 49, the budget bill. Areas AAUW is displeased with are:
- Funding for K-12 education was increased by only 2.7 percent, which when adjusted for inflation actually resulted in a reduction;
- School transportation was cut;
- Almost $2 billion was taken from local districts to fund charter schools;
- Ohio’s voucher programs continued to grow with an allocation of nearly $600 million for the biennium;
- Higher education was increased by 0.11 percent, much less than the 4.5 percent requested to maintain current quality and services;
- So-called “crisis pregnancy centers,” which do not offer comprehensive family planning services, were given $600,000, which was taken from the federal TANF grant intended to be used for assistance to families in deep poverty, NOT for providing misleading and inaccurate information to pregnant women and girls.
These priorities will remain in effect until the legislature changes. That did not happen this year. Hopefully, when the new redistricting plan goes into effect, it will be possible to elect state representatives and senators who support bills related to AAUW issues such as:
- HB 180, the Ohio Equal Pay Act, which would require pay equity of contractors with state agencies and would prohibit employers from retailiating against employees who discuss wages with other employees.
- HB 403 would create a Gender Pay Disparity Task Force to determine the extent of pay disparity in Ohio, identify the causes, and develop recommendations to address the issue.
- SB 174 would strengthen state laws to help protect against wage discrimination.
- HB 461 would bring Ohio’s traffickling law into agreement with federal law, which defines all minors under 18 as victims and entitled to the same legal protections. Currently in Ohio, 16- and 17-year-olds are treated different from younger victims. By removing the age distinction, this bill also simplifies the prosecution of traffickers.
- HB 234 would criminalize the act of impeding access to reproductive health care facilities by employees and patients to protect them from violence and intimidation.
Members are asked to be alert to deeply controversial bills being considered during the lame duck period after the Nov. 6 election. At this writing, the Ohio House passed the “Heartbeat Bill,” HB 258, that would prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which often happens before a woman knows she is pregnant. Be prepared to call your State Senator soon as the bill has been introduced in that house. Also be alert for two “stand your ground” gun bills; a bill that would ban the dilation and evacuation abortion method used after 12-weeks gestation (92% of abortions are performed within the first 13 weeks according to Planned Parenthood); and a bill that would transfer most of the State Board of Education’s powers to the governor making public education much more political and reducing the citizen’s ability to influence state education policy via the State Board of Education. Watch for more information on these bills here and please note any news you hear about any of these bills on our branch Facebook page.