Bipartisan Effort by Female Lawmakers to Aid Women

The 2017 Women’s Legislative Caucus presented to lawmakers a package of bills that addresses many topics including equal pay; paid maternity and paternity leave; child-care facilities; and domestic violence involving a police officer; and a resolution about work-furlough programs for female offenders.

House Bill 671, which I co-sponsored, prohibits wage secrecy and retaliation or discrimination against employees who disclose, discuss or inquire about their coworkers’ or their own wages.

Also relating to economic opportunities is HB 670, which creates the Hawaii Working Family Tax Credit – a refundable credit of up to 10 percent of the federal earned income tax credit.

HB 681 addresses domestic violence and specifies that citizen complaints against a police officer that involve allegations of domestic abuse against a family or household member by a police officer shall not be required to be in writing or sworn to by the complainant.

Another police-related measure is HB 682. It requires that three commissioners on each county police commission have knowledge and professional experience in three areas: advocating toward equality for Hawaii’s women and girls; civil rights and preserving them for all individuals in our state; and law enforcement. Enabling the executive directors or commissioners from the State Commission on the Status of Women and the State Civil Rights Commission would improve transparency, accountability and efficiency, and benefit the general public.

HB 683 establishes a six-week paid maternity and paternity leave for government employees. This would help ensure that Hawaii’s working families are supported when they must provide care to a newborn or bond with a new child.

For children’s health and safety – which is a primary concern not only to women, but also to the general population – HB 672 formally establishes the Hawaii Keiki: Healthy and Ready to Learn program in the Department of Education. It appropriates $4 million from a newly established special fund to expand and sustain it.

Furthermore, all licensed child-care providers would be subject to regulation by the Department of Human Services under HB 674. These caretakers would have to obtain and maintain liability insurance as a condition of licensure, temporary permission or registration.

For children who are less than one year old, HB 684 would strengthen the safe-sleep policy for them at child-care facilities. This includes placing keiki on their backs for sleeping, and establishing notice and annual training requirements.

Lastly, HB 685 allows a civil action for recovery of damages by people, who were victims of sexual offenses as a minor against the perpetrators at any time. It repeals the statute of limitations for the period during which victims of child sexual abuse may bring civil action against the abusers or entities including the State and counties.

The Women’s Legislative Caucus is a bipartisan group of women from the House and Senate. Since its founding some 23 years ago, the caucus has introduced a package of measures each year, and has earned its reputation as the leading Women’s Legislative Caucus in the nation.

Thielen’s Turf in MidWeek – February 22, 2017 – http://midweek.com/pdf/Windward/2017/0222/