Stay engaged, involved, and up-to-date: 03/19/2018 Weekly Review


Stay engaged, involved, and up-to-date: In the weekly reviews from the Women’s Public Policy Network, we look back on last week’s highlights from the WPPN, share updates on bills affecting women that are moving at the Statehouse, showcase weekly news clips, and provide calls to action on bills pending in the Legislature. Sign up for our emails to receive these updates in your inbox every week!


As college students across the country prepare to embark on their careers post-graduation, they are making it clear that family-friendly benefits are an important piece of their job decisions. Offering paid family leave is becoming crucial for employers to attract and keep young talent. 

Liz Brett, our intern and public affairs student at The Ohio State University, makes this case for paid leave in her Letter to the Editor published this weekend in the Lantern. She stresses the importance of creating policies in Ohio that make our state a place where young people will want to work, live, and start a family. Read Liz’s letter here.

Yes, you read that right. House Bill 565, introduced last week, would ban ALL abortions; no exceptions for the health of the woman, victims or rape or incest, or fetal diagnoses.
This extreme, unconstitutional legislation would intrude on the health care decisions of Ohio women and is part of a larger strategy that would take aim to overturn Roe v. WadeTake a moment to write your legislators and urge them to stop the bans.

Last year, a Dayton Daily News investigation uncovered that due to loopholes in state law, child marriage was a reality in Ohio. The series found that between the years of 2000 and 2015 nearly 4,400 girls aged 17 years and younger – some even as young as 14 – were married, often to adult men much older than them.
State legislators were prompted to take action as a result of the investigation and introduced bills in the House (HB511) and Senate (SB198) to make updates to state laws limiting underage marriages.
We provided proponent testimony on House Bill 511 this past week, stating our support while urging the committee to amend the bill to consider the strongest and clearest solution of setting the marriage age at 18 without exceptions. Read more and take action here.


#OHLEG ALERT
We are tracking the progress of any state bills affecting women in the Ohio Legislature for the 132nd General Assembly. The legislature is back in session for 2018. Here are some updates from this past week and a look ahead at activity to watch for in the House and Senate:
  • HB 511 (Lanese, Rogers) – Marriage Age: Makes changes to the state laws governing marriage ages by requiring both males and females to be aged 18. The bill includes exceptions for 17 year olds, including: emancipation for the 17-year old, court approval of the marriage, and not allowing the other party to be more than four years older. Currently, Ohio law sets the legal age for marriage at 18 for boys and 16 for girls, with exceptions for younger individuals and no “age floor.” The Community & Family Advancement Committee held a second hearing on the bill for proponent testimony this past Wednesday, March 21. You can find all testimony from that hearing – including our own testimony – here (look under hearings for March 21).
  • HB 550 (Boyd, Boggs) – Family Leave: Establishes a statewide family and medical leave insurance benefits program. The program provides paid leave for Ohio workers to continue to earn a portion of their paycheck for up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period in order to care for and bond with a new baby, care for an ill family member or address their own serious health condition. The bill was referred to the House Community & Family Advancement Committee last week on March 20. It awaits hearings.
  • HB 565 (Hood, Vitale) – Abortion Ban: Outlaws all abortions in the state of Ohio, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or to protect the life of the woman. It  would categorize all abortions as murder, punishable by life imprisonment or even the death penalty. The bill was introduced in the House on March 19.
  • SB 214 (Terhar, Lehner) – Genital Mutilation: Prohibits female genital mutilation (FGM) for girls under 18, even without the defense of “cultural or ritual necessity” or consent from the girl or her parents. Ohio is still one of two dozen states that does not ban FGM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a second hearing on the bill this upcoming Tuesday, March 20. You can find all testimony from that hearing here (look under Committee Documents from March 20.)
  • SB 244 (Dolan, Manning) – Prostitution: Increases penalties for soliciting and promoting prostitution. The bill was passed out of the Senate with a unanimous vote of 33-0 on March 21. 
  • SB 261 (Tavares) – Paid Leave: Establishes a statewide family and medical leave insurance benefits program. The program provides paid leave for Ohio workers to continue to earn a portion of their paycheck for up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period in order to care for and bond with a new baby, care for an ill family member or address their own serious health condition. The bill was referred to the Senate Insurance & Financial Institutions Committee on March 21. It awaits hearings.

  • SB 270 (Tavares)  – Sexual Harassment: Requires legislative employers (including those employed by the Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio Senate, capitol square review and advisory board, state highway patrol, and employer of a retirement system lobbyist or executive agency lobbyist) to complete sexual harassment training. Creates the General Assembly Sexual Harassment Task Force in order to review sexual harassment policies, recommend best practices, and conduct anonymous surveys of employers regarding the culture of the workplace. And authorizes the Legislative Inspector General to investigate claims of sexual harassment within the General Assembly and allow for victims filing a claim to do so anonymously. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee last week on March 21.
  • SB 277 (Thomas, Schiavoni) – Minimum Wage: Increases the state minimum wage to $15 by 2025. The bill was introduced in the Senate last week on March 21. 
We will keep tracking any new updates and will be sharing timely legislative updates on these and other women-centric legislation on Twitter using the #OHLeg hashtag. Follow us to stay up-to-date on what’s happening at the Statehouse.

RAISE YOUR VOICE TO ADVANCE PAID LEAVE IN OHIO 
State legislators recently introduced bills in the Ohio House (HB 550) and Ohio Senate (SB 261) to establish a statewide paid family and medical leave program. The bills create an insurance program funded by employee payroll contributions, which allows workers to continue to earn a portion of their paycheck for up to 12 weeks of leave to:
  • Care for and bond with a new baby;
  • Care for a family member with a medical issue; or
  • Address their own medical emergency
The bills have both been referred to committees, but have not been scheduled for hearings yet. Use our letter writing tools to contact the committee chairs and urge them to hold hearings on the bills: