House Democrats offer legislation supporting women, mothers and working families
INDIANAPOLIS - The 15 women who make up the majority of the Indiana House Democratic Caucus today reflected on their legislation advancing women, mothers and working families as they look ahead to International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8.
“Women are just as capable as men of making the important decisions that affect this state,” the Indiana House Democratic women remarked. “Even more so, because we understand what a privilege it is to be here and how hard our predecessors had to work to give us this right.
“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 2021 Legislative Session 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:
2021 Legislation Offered
Authored by State Rep. Maureen Bauer (D-South Bend)
Pregnancy and childbirth discrimination. Prohibits an employer from discriminating against a pregnant job applicant. Requires an employer to provide reasonable employment accommodation for a pregnant employee.
“Welcoming women in the workforce also means supporting women who choose to be mothers,” Bauer said. “Pregnant Hoosiers are made to feel expendable in the workplace when an employer is unwilling to prioritize a workers' health and safety, forcing her to choose between a paycheck and her well-being.
“Current law does not guarantee pregnant workers the right to reasonable accommodations like a place to sit or additional bathroom breaks. The need for reasonable pregnancy accommodations has only grown as pregnant workers face new risks and additional discrimination amid a global pandemic.
“Reasonable pregnancy accommodations protect a woman's rightful place in Indiana's workforce while promoting economic growth and equality.”
Authored by State Rep. Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette)
Requires the Department of Workforce Development to establish a Paid Family and Medical Leave program to provide payments for employees who take family and medical leave.
“For over a year, we have simultaneously struggled with a public health and economic emergency,” Campbell said. “As the COVID-19 pandemic puts a disproportionate burden on women, communities of color and working-class Hoosiers, a Paid Family and Medical Leave program becomes a moral mandate instead of just a mission.
“No one should be forced to choose between caring for themselves or their families and putting food on the table or a roof over their head. Before and after the pandemic, commonsense policies to bolster workers will protect public health, retain talent and make workplaces safer.”
Co-authored by State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie)
Provides that a person commits rape if the person engages in sexual activity with another person and the other person submits to the sexual activity under the belief that the person committing the act is someone the victim knows, other than the person committing the act, and such belief is intentionally induced by any artifice, pretense, or concealment practiced by the person or if the person engages in sexual activity with another person who has expressed a lack of consent, through words or conduct, to sexual activity.
“I am proud that we are making headway in updating Indiana's rape statute,” Errington said.
“This change would not be possible if it were not for the strength and perseverance of the women who came forward in the Me Too Movement. They pushed our society's understanding of rape culture and consent to evolve, but unfortunately our state's legislation failed to keep pace.
“With HB 1176, Indiana is shoring up protections for all Hoosiers and empowering sexual assault survivors. I am dedicated to ensuring the General Assembly remains vigilant in updating our state's rape statues to match the day's understanding.”
Implements a state-level child and dependent care tax credit.
Authored by State Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis)
“Even before the pandemic, a child care crisis was unfolding in Indiana, subjecting our working families and state to undue economic insecurity,” Hamilton said. “When Hoosier families and women have access to affordable, quality child care, they can pursue training and employment opportunities to revive our state's economy. We cannot overlook the critical role increased access to child care could play in our state's ability to recover from COVID-19 and beyond.”
Authored by State Rep. Carolyn Jackson (D-Hammond)
Makes it illegal to pay wages that discriminate based on sex for similar work. It also allows employees to discuss and ask questions about their wages without the fear of repercussions from the employer. The Civil Rights Commission would have jurisdiction under this bill to investigate allegations of wage discrimination.
“It is unacceptable to pay women less for the same responsibilities,” Jackson said. “Women have been fighting for equal pay for decades, and yet in Indiana, we still earn only 75 cents for every dollar a man earns. On top of that, the pandemic took a disproportionate toll on women. However, we will come back stronger and continue the demand for our equal rights.”
Authored by State Rep. Renee Pack (D-Indianapolis)
Establishes a minimum health care standard for women currently incarcerated in Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities. Mandates the department provides free and unlimited access to essential health products like toilet paper, tampons and pads. Requires the creation and implementation of policies that improve the quality of life and safety of women, pregnant women and babies.
“Only 4% of the female population lives in the United States, yet we lock up one out of every three women on planet Earth,” Pack said. “We profess to be the land of liberty and justice for all, but Indiana currently treats our most vulnerable incarcerated individuals as an afterthought.
“Like many things created at the inception of our country, our prison systems were not created with women in mind. Women face unique circumstances while incarcerated, and regardless of crimes committed, deserve dignity and access to basic health care for themselves and their pregnancies.”
Authored by State Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis)
Provides Medicaid coverage for an eligible pregnant woman for the duration of the pregnancy and for the one year postpartum period, regardless of any change in income in the family.
“Any woman who wants to grow her family and raise children should be free to do so without fear of dying,” Summers said.
“In 2018, 86% of pregnancy-associated deaths occurred postpartum and all causes were treatable conditions. If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times: Indiana needs to do better for its expecting and postpartum mothers. Extending Medicaid coverage for one year more would be a simple yet significant step in saving the lives of mothers and their babies.”