February 5, 2018
It’s #FightingforFamilies Week – 25th Anniversary of Medical Leave Act
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I’m proud to stand up for hard working Alaska families every day. That’s why this week I’m proud to join legislators across the country as part of the State Innovation Exchange’s #FightingForFamilies Week of Action to celebrate the anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act and continue our work to make sure that all hard-working Alaskan and American families have economic opportunity.
If you haven’t already, please make sure to “like” my facebook page so we can highlight the many issues that families need to succeed – quality education, health care, equal pay for equal work, infrastructure investment, a workplace free from harassment, comprehensive immigration reform, contraceptive coverage and so much more.
Once again I have introduced legislation to provide a living wage to lift women out of poverty. I have a bill that would provide paid sick leave. And every day I’m fighting for an economy that grows the middle class and provides opportunities for the next generation.
Alaska’s Education Challenge Gets Unanimous Approval
I had a great meeting last week with leaders from NEA Alaska, in town after the recent unanimous passage of a new three-pronged commitment to school success, that includes cultivating safety and well-being! I’m especially supportive of this area, because it is broad enough to include programs I have been working toward, including restorative justice, trauma-informed practices and new techniques involving meditation and mindfulness.
More than 300 delegates adopted this new approach that involved hours and hours of stakeholder meetings with leaders from business, tribes, education, school boards, parents and all the members of the House and Senate Education Committees. Student success must be the focus of every school, classroom, and administrative decision. Students need a wide range of academic opportunities in order to grow, but alongside that- our students need and benefit from academic support from pre-k through post-secondary.
HJR17: Burial Rights For Hmong Veterans
We’re one step closer to fulfilling a promise 50 years overdue for United States Veterans of Hmong descent. HJR 17 encourages Congress to pass legislation granting the Hmong-American and Lao-American veterans burial rights in U.S. national veterans cemeteries. It would mean so much to the Hmong and Lao veterans and their families, some of whom reside in my district, to be honored in this way. Like other veterans, they deserve to be allowed to be officially buried or cremated and lay in honor alongside their fellow American soldiers, who they fought side by side with during the Vietnam War. Currently the U.S. national veterans cemeteries do not include Hmong and Lao veterans.
Senator Lisa Murkowski introduced Senate Bill 1179, and we’re hoping that our HJR17- which is heading to the House Floor for a vote soon, will give Senator Murkowski’s bill the push it needs so we can get our veterans the rights they deserve! We’re still accepting letters of support for this resolution, and we’re asking them to be sent in before the end of next week!
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Call to Action: 68 cents is not enough!
Photo: Seated in front: Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, Rep. Charisse Millett, Rep. Geran Tarr and Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (white shirt) with women and men at Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Lunch and Learn at the State Capitol
This past Monday was the 9th Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which amended the US Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide more protections for women who can prove their employer paid them less in the same job as a man. It changed the statute of limitations for presenting an equal-pay lawsuit so that it begins on the date that the employer makes the initial discriminatory wage decision, not the date of the most recent paycheck.
This is important because employers across the country have been discriminating against women – paying them less than their male counterparts - for decades. That money could be the difference between a new home, a college education for their children, and security for their families. We had a packed room for our lunch & learn in the Capitol building, with this year’s invited speakers representing the YWCA Alaska, the American Association of University Women, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, The Foraker Group, and the Alaska Department of Labor.
The new data from the department of labor shows that in the past 30 years, Alaska women have only gained six cents. We went from earning 62 cents for every $1 a man earns to earning 68 cents. Having had such a great turn out, we asked everyone to take action in a number of ways - educating ourselves about the gender pay gap, learning how to ask your employer for more money, talking about the problem, sharing information and knowing the laws around workplace discrimination. were all suggestions made by our talented panel of speakers.
The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development produces job reports, including on the Gender Pay Gap. You can read the March 2017 report here: http://laborstats.alaska.gov/trends/mar17art1.pdf Find more reports on the gender pay gap here: http://live.laborstats.alaska.gov/trends/results.cfm
Anchorage Elections to be All Vote by Mail – Learn More this Week
As you may have heard, Municipal elections will now be all Vote by Mail, beginning with the April 3, 2018 Mayoral election. To learn more about the process, the Municipal Clerk's Office has announced a partnership with the League of Women Voters - Anchorage to host an Open House series at the MOA Election Center. The Open House series provides an opportunity for the public to connect and understand Anchorage Municipal Elections and the functions of the Vote by Mail system.
The series will be hosted once monthly until March 2018 at the MOA Election Center, 619 East Ship Creek Avenue, Entrance C, Suite 100, Anchorage, AK 99501, on dates and times as follows:
• Thursday, February 15, 2018, 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
• Thursday, March 1, 2018, 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Let us know if there is anything we can do for you. We love hearing from our neighbors.
All my best,