Women have a lot at stake when it comes to the kinds of policies that are crafted and passed out of the Statehouse. Our state lawmakers wield a vast amount of power and influence on the lives of women and their families and it is crucial that the impact that legislation will have on women is front and center in those decisions.
That’s where our work comes in: At the end of every two-year General Assembly, we release a Statehouse Scorecard report to evaluate how the State Legislature, as a whole, has performed on issues important to women’s economic security, workplace opportunity, and health and well-being. The report monitors all of the bills that are introduced, advance, and passed during the legislative session and scores each policy goal in our coalition’s agenda based on how the Legislature has advanced or impeded those goals.
Earlier this year, we released our Scorecard Report for the 132nd General Assembly, which takes a look back at how the state legislature from the 2017 – 2018 session performed. The previous General Assembly made steps in the right direction on some of our coalition priorities, showing substantial movement on the issue of domestic violence and protections for survivors and victims of violence and incremental progress on increasing accessibility and affordability of childcare. However, many of our policy goals were ignored altogether, or moved in the opposite direction, specifically with goals focused on access to reproductive health care.
But we can’t just look back at what has happened; we need to also look forward to what is happening in this current General Assembly. This is the first post in a new series we’ll be publishing on the blog over the next few weeks, providing a spotlight on a few of the priority issues core to women’s lives. As the 133rd General Assembly (2019 – 2020) approaches their summer recess, we’re looking closely at some of the key issues that still require action in the current legislative session, and we are urging legislators to prioritize policies that better serve Ohio’s women and families. As each of our key issues is being addressed (or ignored) in the legislature, we’ll bring you the current status of the issue in Ohio and the direction legislators are moving in.
THEN: A grade — New protections for survivors of domestic violence was the policy goal with the most corresponding bills, many receiving serious attention and passage.
In our Statehouse Scorecard Report from last GA, the policy goal related to creating new protections for survivors and victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and stalking had a total of 25 corresponding bills, all of which were positive and proactive legislation. Many of these bills received serious attention by the legislature, and a number of them were actually signed into law during the last General Assembly. Perhaps, most notably was House Bill 1, which extended victims of dating violence access to domestic violence protections, such as the ability to file for a restraining order.
NOW: Opportunity to make important strides, but looming legislation could move progress in the wrong direction
In this current GA, there is continued opportunity to make important strides in enacting new protections for domestic and sexual violence victims and survivors. House Bill 3, known as Aisha’s Law, would increase protections for domestic violence survivors and attempt to mitigate future risks. The bill has bipartisan support, and House leadership on both sides of the aisle have flagged this bill as a priority piece of legislation for the current session.
In contrast, bills like House Bill 178 would put more Ohioans at risk to experience violence. This bill continues to move forward in the committee process in the House and could be up for a possible vote in committee before the summer recess. House Bill 178 would allow for the concealed carry of firearms, without any permit, background checks, or training process. A lack of permit process for concealed carry will likely make it easier for abusers to access firearms. There is a clear and direct connection between domestic violence and gun violence.
Rather than pass legislation to make weapons and firearms even more accessible, the 133rd General Assembly should build on the momentum for violence prevention by passing proactive legislation like Aisha’s Law.
This post is the start of a series of blog postings we will be publishing to provide a deep dive into the ‘Then’ and ‘Now’ of what our State Legislature has done on core issues affecting women and families. Stay tuned throughout the summer for current updates on child care, paid leave, maternal health, and reproductive health care. For additional information on our Statehouse Scorecard Report, take a look at the resources below: