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The Majority Report 04/14/18 - Senate moves to protect, advance women's rights

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Senate passes Equal Rights Amendment

Senate floor

After a nearly 50-year-long battle, the Illinois State Senate took a historic vote Wednesday to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and solidify equal rights for all.

"Women across the nation are rising up and pushing back against laws and policies that deny our equality," said State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago), sponsor of the measure. "By voting to ratify the ERA, Illinois lawmakers are saying to women everywhere, ‘We hear you, and we stand with you.'"

The Equal Rights Amendment declares that equality of rights will not be denied by the United States or any state on account of sex. It was initially introduced in Congress in 1923 and was sent to the states for ratification 46 years ago.

"Many people do not realize women have no guaranteed equal rights under the U.S. Constitution. From equal pay to equal health care access, women's rights are in jeopardy as long as our equality is not cemented in the Constitution," Steans said.

Several advancements for women's rights, such as the Equal Pay Act and Title IX, could be repealed by a majority vote in Congress. The Executive Branch could also reduce enforcement of these acts. The ERA solidifies legal protections for women.

Currently, 36 states have voted to ratify the ERA, with Nevada being the most recent. To be ratified to the Constitution, 38 states must approve the amendment.

The legislation now moves to the House for further consideration. For Illinois to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, three-fifths of House members must vote in support.

Read more and watch Senator Steans discuss the Amendment HERE.

The Illinois Senate Women's Caucus also gave the Equal Rights Amendment their support at a press conference before Wednesday's vote, the first piece of legislation to earn the bipartisan group's backing. Watch the press conference HERE.

In the news:
State Senate says #UsToo on Equal Rights Amendment - nearly half a century later (Chicago Sun-Times)
Illinois Senate approves Equal Rights Amendment (State Journal-Register)
Illinois Senate approves federal Equal Rights Amendment, more than 35 years after the deadline (Chicago Tribune)

 


Illinois Senate declares April 10 Pay Equity Day, calls for equal pay for women

Equal Pay DayOn Tuesday, the Senate observed Equal Pay Day - the date each year on which the average woman has earned as much as the average man did the previous year - by issuing a call for equal pay for equal work.  

Senator Toi Hutchinson sponsored Senate Resolution 1362, which declares April 10, 2018, Pay Equity Day, in the interest of raising awareness of an issue that continues to hold back the state's economic development. The resolution passed the Senate unanimously.

Hutchinson noted that the pay disparity is even greater for women of color than for white women.

"Over a 40-year career, African-American women lose over $400,000 of potential income," Hutchinson said, speaking to the resolution on the Senate floor. "For Latina women, that is nearly a million dollars that they lose over the course of their working lives. We're going to highlight this to continually ask the question, ‘What kind of state do we want to be? What kind of country do we want to be?'"

Click below to watch Senator Hutchinson discuss the wage gap.

 


Sims passes legislation protecting mothers' right to participate in courts

Sen. Elgie R. Sims Jr.

State Sen. Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) passed legislation this week requiring circuit courts to have a lactation room.

Sims was motivated to introduce the legislation because many mothers across the state struggle to use the court system in Illinois when they lack a place to breastfeed and pump.

"Mothers should not have to worry about where they'll be able to pump and breastfeed while they're working or visiting our courthouses. A simple solution is to provide them with space to pump and feed their children so they can return to court," Sims said.

The legislation stipulates that the rooms be located outside of restrooms, and they must include a chair, table, electrical outlet and a sink with running water.

Senate Bill 3503 passed the Senate unanimously and moves to the House for consideration.
Watch Sims discuss his measure HERE.

 


Collins' plan for Illinois Council on Women and Girls moves forward

13074364353rTo continue pushing for equality and break down the social and economic barriers that hold women back, State Senator Jacqueline Collins advanced a new measure that would focus state resources on researching and implementing policies to help women and girls in Illinois.

Senate Bill 3402 would create the Illinois Council on Women and Girls, a group that would advise the governor and the General Assembly on policy issues with a female focus. The council would be required to issue twice-yearly reports on its policy recommendations.

"The Illinois Council on Women and Girls would focus on finding those areas of systemic disadvantage or bias in our policies and seek realistic ways of reforming them," Collins said. "I urge my colleagues in the Senate to take this step toward knocking down the barriers that stand in the way of our sisters and daughters."

The Senate State Government Committee unanimously approved the measure on Wednesday.

 


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