First majority women caucus of the Indiana General Assembly reflects on legislative priorities that support women, mothers and working families
INDIANAPOLIS – The 17 women who make up the majority of the Indiana House Democratic Caucus today compiled a package of bills that prioritize women, mothers and working families. Today, we also celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment in Indiana, which granted women the right to vote.
“Women are just as capable as men of making the important decisions that affect this state. Even more so, because we understand the privilege it is to be here and how hard our predecessors had to work to give us this right,” the Indiana House Democratic women remarked. “Not only do we work hard for Indiana, but we also work hard for each other. Whether it’s co-authoring a bill or simply giving advice, there is nothing stronger than the support of our fellow women in office.”
Studies have shown that women legislators are more likely to introduce legislation that specifically benefits women. The women of the House Democratic Caucus compiled legislation to demonstrate their efforts during the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions to prioritize women, mothers and working families.
The bills and resolutions included below reflect a selection of legislation championed by the women of the Indiana House Democratic Caucus:
2020 LEGISLATION OFFERED
House Bill 1034: Equal Pay | Authored by State Rep. Carolyn Jackson (D-Hammond)
Makes it an unlawful employment practice to pay wages that discriminate based on sex for similar work. Further, it would secure an employee’s ability to inquire about, disclose, compare, or otherwise discuss their wages. This bill additionally provides that the Civil Rights Commission would have jurisdiction to review any disputes and allegations of wage discrimination.
Jackson said, “On average, women are paid about $13,000 less per-year when doing the same job as a male colleague. What does that mean? It means after 30 years in the workforce, women have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars less than men. The gap in pay adds up over time and that also means women experiencing a pay gap will retire with significantly less money than men.”
House Bill 1141: Birth Control Prescriptions | Authored by State Rep. Rita Fleming (D-Jeffersonville) and co-authored by State Rep. Terri Austin (D-Anderson)
Establishes, with specific requirements, that pharmacists can prescribe and distribute hormonal contraceptives. And determines that health plans must provide coverage for contraceptives and certain services, with an exception for nonprofit religious employers.
“Access to providers is something that limits some women in our state from being prescribed contraceptives. The expansion of pharmacists’ prescribing authority could meet the needs of Hoosier women, particularly in more rural parts of the state,” said Fleming.
Austin said, “Pharmacists have long been an underutilized resource in our health care system. This is simply about giving more women access to hormonal contraceptives in our state.”
House Bill 1226: Sales Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products | Authored by State Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis)
Exempts the sale of feminine hygiene products from the state gross retail tax, including things like: menstrual cups, tampons, pads.
“Today, in Indiana, if you buy Viagra, you do not pay taxes. So, this is a real inequity in our tax system,” said Hamilton. “This exemption could represent a small but relatively easy way for us to help Hoosier women and their families. It also sends a message that we respect and support women.”
House Bill 1248: Postpartum Medicaid for Pregnant Women | Authored by State Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis)
Provides Medicaid to eligible women for the duration of their pregnancy and for one year after giving birth. Additionally, changes in household income during the pregnancy or period after giving birth will not affect the mother’s ability to receive aid.
Summers said, “Many women in Indiana are being left without a pathway to coverage and become uninsured during a medically vulnerable phase of their lives. This helps fill the gaps in coverage particularly for low-income women who become pregnant.”
House Bill 1355: Marital Violence | Authored by State Rep. Ragen Hatcher (D-Gary)
The bill seeks to address marital violence between separated spouses. It states that acts of a spouse to exert control over property established and owned by the other spouse are considered theft. It also allows for marital violence victims to expedite processes for child support, temporary custody of a child, temporary possession of property, and temporary spousal support.
“The violence doesn’t stop when a victim of domestic violence leaves an abusive home,” said Hatcher. “The sad truth is that 75 percent of women killed by their partners recently separated, with many experiencing an escalation in violence after they left. This is about ensuring the safety of women who are trying to move on with their life after leaving an abusive relationship.”
2019 LEGISLATION OFFERED
House Joint Resolution 1: Equal Rights and Equal Pay Amendment | Authored by State Rep. Pat Boy (D-Michigan City)
Amended the Constitution of the State of Indiana to prohibit wage discrimination based on sex.
Boy said, “The median earnings of full-time male workers were $12,717 higher than the median earnings of full-time female workers. It’s past time to end wage discrimination in Indiana based on gender.”
House Bill 1282: Pay Equity | Authored by State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) co-authors State Rep. Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette) and State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Munster)
Would have provided that an employer may not discriminate between employees on the basis of sex by paying an employee less than the rate at which the employer pays wages to employees of the opposite sex for similar work on jobs under similar working conditions.
Errington said, “This legislation would have helped improve transparency in the workplace and ensure all Hoosiers are fairly compensated, especially women.”
“The gap in pay adds up over time, and that also means women experiencing a pay gap will retire with significantly less money than men, said Candelaria Reardon. “This was about empowering women to know their worth and ensure they are being properly compensated in comparison to their colleagues.”
House Bill 1288: Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit | Authored by State Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis) and co-authored by State. Rep. Lisa Beck (D-Lakes of the Four Seasons)
Would have created a state-level child and dependent care tax credit. This state credit would have helped working mothers afford things like infant and child care when they enter or re-enter the workforce.
Hamilton said, “In Indiana, our young, new families are paying $12,000 per-year, on average, in infant child care, which is a cost that most families cannot afford. My bill would have helped working mothers and families access high quality and affordable childcare.”
Beck said, “I was proud to co-author this bill because we need real action to provide financial relief to working and middle-class women and families. We should be putting money back into the pockets of the hardworking women and families in Indiana to help them afford the rising cost of child care.”
House Bill 1302: Paid Family and Medical Leave Program | Authored by State Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) and co-authored by State Rep. Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette) and State Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis)
Would have provided a Paid Family and Medical Leave program for working families across Indiana.
“The inability to take family and medical leave circles back to so many of the health issues that I have discussed, such as infant mortality,” Shackleford said. “Pregnant women often do not take time off from work during pregnancy because they cannot afford to do so. They’re at work lifting things they shouldn’t lift and standing on their feet all day. Because of this, many women miss prenatal and postnatal visits resulting in more complicated births and possible infant mortality.”
“This proposal was about helping working Hoosier families,” said Campbell. “As a working mother, I know how tough it can be to balance work, caring for your kids and caring for aging parents at the same time. It can be exhausting. Implementing a paid family and medical leave program would have helped our children, women and seniors live healthier and happier lives.”
“When there is a lack of affordable access to child care or sick care for elderly family members, it makes it more difficult for women to participate in the labor market. This is not just a family issue or a women’s issue, it’s an economic issue that affects the state as a whole,” said Pryor.
House Bill 1313: Rape Kit Audit | Authored by State Rep. Carolyn Jackson (D-Hammond) co-authored by State Rep. Karlee Macer (D-Speedway)
Would have helped rape victims successfully move through the recovery process, while also protecting their identity by helping them anonymously track their rape kit as it moves through processing when they are received, tested, examined, processed and results are finalized.
“This would have helped bring peace of mind to victims of rape who chose to have their kits tested,” said Jackson, “It was my hope that this law would prove to help rape victims successfully move through the recovery process, while also protecting their identity.”
“I had hoped it would hold all of us accountable to make sure that we don't let victims of rape fall through the cracks,” said Macer.
House Bill 1598: Human Trafficking Prevention Programs | Authored by State Rep. Melanie Wright (D-Yorktown)
Proposed an appropriation from the state general fund to aid the prevention of human trafficking.
“Local law enforcement definitely needs training so they have formal plans in place,” Wright said. “We should offer rehabilitation for survivors and really protect children in the foster system, as they're most at risk.”
House Bill 1628: Pre-k pilot program | co-authored by State Rep. Tonya Pfaff (D-Terre Haute)
Successfully expanded the pre-K pilot program statewide. Families in rural communities and small towns in particular benefited from the expansion, since many of them could not previously apply for the vouchers.
“We as a state should do everything possible to encourage our kids to learn at an early age and learn to love learning,” said Pfaff.
Senate Bill 192: Nonconsensual Pornography | Sponsored by State Rep. Sheila Klinker (D-Lafayette)
Set consequences for people who distribute revenge porn. Revenge porn is when someone, usually an ex-romantic partner, will release pornographic photos of another person as punishment for a breakup or other issue.
“We wanted to protect people, and a majority of the time we are talking about women, from having an intimate photo shared online and offline without their permission,” said Klinker. “We are no longer a society that will accept this kind of treatment of women, and that’s a good thing.”
To access each one of these women state legislator’s websites, to download their high-resolution photo, and to learn more about other bills and proposals that they are working on, please click here.