Public Policy Update

(November 2020)  AAUW co-sponsored the SRVUSD School board debate on September 23rd.  Topics included the reopening of schools, teacher retention, police on campus, and the budget. 

The Nov. 3 ballot includes current Board President Greg Marvel, local business owner Shelley Clark and SRVUSD parent Priscilla Graft (Trustee Area 2, central and eastern Danville), and community volunteer Laura Bratt, project manager Kumar Nallusamy, and San Ramon Valley Education Foundation board member Scott Roberts (Trustee Area 3, Dougherty Valley).  The candidates debated a range of issues including managing the COVID-19 crisis, social justice reform, and teacher retention.

  1. Safe re-opening of Schools:  All candidates would like students to return to class as soon as it is safe.
  2. Promotion of diversity:  Candidates agreed that the promotion of diversity and inclusion should be a top priority, and that the best place to begin addressing anti-racism was in the classroom.  Clark said, “That means more education in the areas of ethnic studies in the area of curriculum, anti-racism programs like ‘No Place for Hate’ and ‘Teaching Tolerance’.”
  3. Emotional Learning and Wellness:  Bratt advocated for more counselors to help students with emotional learning and wellness. Clark advocated for social and emotional learning among students in small groups, promoting “Breaking Down the Walls,” a program which encourages students share their lives and experiences with one another.
  4. Police on campus: Marvel said that school resource officers’ goal was to make students feel safe, but newcomer Bratt argued that some students feel more afraid when they see police officers and called for understanding and more inclusivity for all students.
  5. Teacher Retention:  Some candidates thought that the district had not done enough to meet the needs of teachers. “Our students are our future leaders and our teachers are our heroes,” first-time candidate Nallusamy said, adding that negotiation is the key to good relations with teachers. Nallusamy advocated for increased transparency and communication among district staff as a way to improve teacher retention.  He would also ask teachers for the top five things that could be implemented now.
  6. Budget:  The SRVUSD is the second-lowest funded school district per pupil in California. Candidates spoke strongly in favor of seeking other sources of revenue due to the budget deficit anticipated from declining enrollment and the financial crisis from the pandemic. Candidates had divergent views on a bond, which would be an extra burden on parents at the time of COVID.

National: The confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett is anticipated.  The Supreme Court faces cases on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and Roe vs Wade.  Meanwhile, election fever has gripped the nation and early voter turnout has been in larger numbers than before.

Asha Bajaj, Public Policy chair

(October 2020) AAUW Supports 7 of 12 Ballot Initiatives.  Twelve (12) ballot measures were certified to appear on the ballot for the election on November 3, 2020.  AAUW CA has announced its support for seven of the 12 initiatives.  Branches are not required to adopt the supported measures but they cannot oppose them.

Click the number of the proposition below to find out more specifics from Ballotpedia.org.  Or, review the California 2020 Ballot Initiatives Pros and Cons on from the League of Women Voters posted on our DAW AAUW website.

Type Prop # Subject Description AAUW CA Position
CISS 14 Bonds Issues $5.5 billion in bonds for state stem cell research institute Support
CICA 15 Taxes Requires commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on market value and dedicates revenue Support
LRCA 16 Affirmative Action Repeals Proposition 209 (1996), which says that the state cannot discriminate or grant preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, education, or contracting Support
LRCA 17 Suffrage Restores the right to vote to people convicted of felonies who are on parole  

Support

LRCA 18 Suffrage Allows 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in primaries and special elections Support
LRCA 19 Taxes Changes tax assessment transfers and inheritance rules No
CISS 20 Law Enforcement Makes changes to policies related to criminal sentencing charges, prison release, and DNA collection No
CISS 21 Housing Expands local governments’ power to use rent control Support
CISS 22 Business Considers app-based drivers to be independent contractors and enacts several labor policies related to app-based companies No
CISS 23 Healthcare Requires physician on-site at dialysis clinics and consent from the state for a clinic to close No
CISS 24 Business Expands the provisions of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and creates the California Privacy Protection Agency to implement and enforce the CCPA No
VR 25 Trials Replaces cash bail with risk assessments for suspects awaiting trial  

Support

Source: https://ballotpedia.org/California_2020_ballot_propositions

GOTV (Get out the Vote) Voter Guide

“California is well positioned to vote by mail given its past use and overwhelming voter acceptance.”  Michael Baldassaro, Public Policy Institute of California.

Important Dates

  •  Oct 9, 2020: Deadline to register, online or by mail
  • Oct 27th: Deadline to apply for absentee Ballot by mail
  • Nov 3rd: Election Day

Voting Rules and options: Register at https://registertovote.ca.gov.  Voters will get a mailed ballot in October without requesting it. You can also request an absentee ballot at http://sos.ca.gov/elections/voter-registration/vote-mail No witness signature is required. No ID photo is required. Note that early voting begins Oct 5th in some counties.

Polling places

Find your voting location at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/polling-place. Polls will be open from 7am to 8 pm, will have sanitizers, and will practice social distance.

Resources

Remember your vote is your voice.  Let it be heard loud and clear at the ballot box.

If any of you are interested in doing phone banking or phone texting please send an email to the following address:  rov.dcmv@gmail.com

Get Out the Vote Postcard Project Update

We completed a very successful postcard writing campaign to get the vote out this month. The project involved writing cards to 500 people in Tarrant county Texas. The script was bilingual and we really enjoyed the exercise.  Estimados senoritas.

Our special thanks to the following volunteers:  Bev Nidick, Chris Ritter, Pat DeRensis (who took 3 packets), Pat Morrison, Judy Finch, Cathy Colman, Asha Bajaj, Martha Gus Slavin, and Isabel Lau. Apologies to some of the volunteers who were not able to participate:  Marcia Steinhardt, Judy Keenholtz, Nancy Murray, Dianne Tinnes (who wrote cards on her own initiative), and Kathy Gage.

There were a few glitches in zip codes in a number of addresses and our erstwhile group went the extra step to verify these as we went along –a full and profound gratitude to all of you.  We invite you all to the next project on Phone banking via texting.

We are looking for a few good activists to join the public policy committee.  If interested, please contact Asha Bajaj.

Stay engaged.  Stay alert.  Stay involved.

Asha Bajaj,  Public Policy chair

(September 2020)  August 18th 2020 Marks the Centennial Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage –a long battle to get the right to vote for women. Today we face the battle of exercising this right to vote. There are attempts to stop mail in ballots, people are getting dropped off the rolls and voter disenfranchisement especially in brown and black neighborhoods has become a rampant phenomenon.

DAW AAUW is acting to Support Access for All Voters -We have undertaken a postcard writing project directed towards voters who have been dropped from the rolls to make them aware and remind them to update this registration on time. Thank you much for the overwhelming support for this project.

What History Tells Us About the Importance of Voting

Organized work for women suffrage began in the United States with the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY., in 1848. Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, early leaders of Massachusetts and New York, called to action, in response to the indignation aroused by the refusal to permit women to take part in the anti-slavery convention of 1840. From the date of that convention, the suffrage movement in the United States
began the fight that lasted seventy years and ended with victory. Another convention followed in 1852 at Syracuse, N.Y., at which delegates from Canada were present and it was there that Susan B. Anthony assumed leadership of the cause to which she devoted her life.

In 1869 the National Woman Suffrage Association, with Miss Anthony and Mrs. Stanton at its head, was formed in New York and in the same year the American Woman Suffrage Association was organized in Cleveland with Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe as its leaders. At first differing widely in policy, the National Association, working to put a suffrage amendment through the federal Congress and its sister organization bending its efforts to convert the country state by state, the two associations later united under the name of the National Woman Suffrage Association. The Association’s drive for the vote was led, in turn by Mrs. Stanton, Miss Anthony, Dr. Anna Howard Shaw and Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, the latter of whom is now its president. One of our members, Connie Cady Stanton, is a direct descendant of this illustrious lineage.

Advocacy and Action are the Needs of the Hour if we wish to bring about positive change in our country and become a beacon of a society based on democratic principles. The idea of “for the people by the people and of the people” was a pioneering concept of our constitution. But this garden needs tending and pruning and weeding to allow it to flower again on the world stage and uphold our humanitarian principles.

Democracy is not a spectator sport so Get Out and Vote. Send that mail-in ballot as soon as it arrives in your box. No one has the luxury of sitting this one out. Too much is at stake here and if we do nothing, we have no right to complain about the system.

Stay well, stay informed, stay engaged.

Asha Bajaj, Public Policy Chair

(August 2020) The U.S. Supreme Court issued several opinions on critical AAUW priorities.

Equal employment Act
In Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court ruled that it is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to fire any employee for being gay, lesbian or transgender. AAUW has long argued that Title VII encompasses this meaning and prohibits discrimination based on sex stereotyping.

Women’s access to reproductive health and safe abortions
In June Medical Services v. Russo, the Supreme Court struck down a 2014 Louisiana law that severely restricts access to abortion. Finding it nearly identical to a Texas law that was deemed unconstitutional in 2016, the Court reiterated that requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital “imposes an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to choose to have an abortion.” AAUW supports choice in the determination of one’s reproductive life and joined an amicus brief backing June Medical Services.

Gender pay equity
The Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision in Yovino v. Rizo that prohibited employers from relying on a person’s salary history to justify pay disparities. We are honored to have worked with Aileen Rizo, who challenged the practice under the federal Equal Pay Act, and are proud to have helped establish an important precedent that brings us a step close to gender pay equity.

Immigrant rights
In Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, the Supreme Court rebuked the current administration for their “arbitrary and capricious” decision to rescind the DACA program, as they did not show sufficient legal justification to terminate it. Unfortunately, the Court also issued unfavorable decisions in two cases AAUW weighed in on via amicus briefs. Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru concerned employment discrimination, and Little Sisters of the Poor Pennsylvania addressed contraceptive coverage protections within the Affordable Care Act.

Paid Family leave

On May 15, 2020, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) passed the House of Representatives. H.R. 6800 provides relief measures in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including addressing vital AAUW priorities such as expanding paid sick days, family and medical leave, unemployment compensation, and nutrition and food assistance programs, as well as providing student loan forgiveness to some borrowers and expanding funding for free, fair, accessible, and safe elections. Although the Senate has not taken up the HEROES Act, the Senate Majority Leader has signaled the chamber’s intent to pass another round of aid by the end of July before benefits made available in the CARES Act run out.

Racial equity and social justice
Representative John Lewis, the towering figure in the historic struggle for racial equality, “the conscience of Congress” and a Georgia Democrat, announced in December that he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He died on July 10th at the age of 80. On the front lines of the bloody campaign to end Jim Crow laws, Mr. Lewis was repeatedly beaten by Southern policemen and arrested 40 times from 1960 to 1966. He was one of the original Freedom Riders and the last surviving speaker from the March on Washington in 1963. Half a century later, Mr. Lewis saw the demonstrations in response to the killing of George Floyd as a continuation of his life’s work. “There will be no turning back,” he said in one of his final interviews.

AAUW condemns racism and recognizes that there can be no justice or equality when Black and Brown communities are seen as less deserving of basic human and civil rights. The statement from AAUW CEO Kim Churches, AAUW Stands Against Racism, pledges to work to advance the policies and systemic changes identified in the New Era of Public Safety: A Guide to Fair, Safe, and Effective Community Policing and Vision for Justice platforms.

Pandemic update
California and other states continue to respond to the Corona virus pandemic, with not much coordination for testing and/or equipment or guidelines from the White house. Instead, an embattled CDC tries to get its message out, based on science and data, and once again thwarted by the new edict to turn all virus-related stats to the Department of homeland security. In some good news there are 2-3 vaccines closer to market. Until then please remember to wear your masks and wash your hands and stay away from big group events.
With the November elections approaching, please write to your senators to vote to expand and safeguard voting rights.

The Voter Access & Education webinar information and recording can be found here.
Both this week and last week, we have included an updated call to support the Voting Rights
Advancement Act.

Stay engaged and informed exercise your right to vote

Asha Bajaj, Public policy chair