Keeping the momentum after the Women’s March on Washington
As thousands of Ohioans participate in the Women’s March on Washington and sister marches across the state, there is a need to ensure that the momentum to advance progress for women does not end with the marches. The Women’s Public Policy Network – a coalition of over 20 women’s advocacy organizations convened by Innovation Ohio Education Fund – provides a hub of resources and advocacy opportunities, including a newly-updated Women’s Economic Security Legislative Scorecard for Ohio’s 131st General Assembly.
Last summer, we announced the formation of the Women’s Public Policy Network with the release of a Legislative Scorecard to measure progress made by the 131st General Assembly to advance our policy agenda. Today, ahead of the Women’s March on Washington, we released a final, updated Scorecard reflecting activity that occurred during the final weeks of the “lame duck” legislative session.
While we hoped the Lame Duck legislature would finish work on pending legislation to improve the lives of women and families, unfortunately that opportunity was missed and, instead, lawmakers set back the cause in several policy areas. Below are the highlights from the updated Scorecard:
Of the 22 policy goals outlined in the Scorecard, over two-thirds failed to score above a ‘D’ grade, and not a single policy goal earned an ‘A’
Despite the start of positive steps forward for women in this legislative session, little or nothing was done by the legislature to actually give traction to proactive bills, earning ‘D’ scores for 11 policy goals
3 policy goals had scores move in the wrong direction, dropping from ‘D’ grades to ‘F’ grades upon passage of SB 331 during lame duck, which included last-minute amendments added to prohibit cities from enacting minimum wage, worker benefits, or scheduling protections that go beyond state or federal set levels.
Lawmakers continued to advance legislation that restricts access to reproductive healthcare services: passing 2 unconstitutional abortion bans out of both chambers and earning 3 of the policy goals dealing with women’s healthcare ‘F’ scores
While the 6-week abortion ban, known as the ‘Heartbeat Bill’, was line-item vetoed by the Governor from the language of a bill it was added to as an amendment, a 20-week abortion ban with no expectations for rape, incest, or fetal anomalies was passed out of both chambers and eventually signed into law by the Governor
State lawmakers cited the incoming presidential administration and the promise of a new Supreme Court as the primary reason that they were emboldened to advance these abortion bans
Meanwhile, a number of proposals to restore access to reproductive health services (HB132, HB356, HB357, HB370, HB376, HB408, and SB101) were introduced in the legislature, but only three bills received one committee hearing each, and none made it out of committee
The only ‘C’ grade was earned by the policy goal dealing with protections against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or caregiver status: Senate Bill 301, which would provide basic accommodations for pregnant women in the workplace, received 4 committee hearings resulting in a substitute version of the bill being introduced during lame duck, but ultimately did not end up advancing out of committee
There was a concerted effort to advance bills supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence earlier in the session, earning ‘B’ scores for the three policy goals relate to this issue
However, stating that a bill strengthening protection orders for victims of domestic violence (SB 76) was ‘too complicated’ to take up during lame duck after an amendment was added to extend domestic violence protections to intimate partners, the Ohio Senate failed to formally pass the legislation; leaving it as a high priority for next session
It’s even more important now for Ohioans to stay engaged, and the Women’s Public Policy Network can be a vital resource to stay in-the-know about what’s happening on the federal level, but – more importantly – on the state and local levels where we can make the most direct impact. Together, we can hold state lawmakers accountable for their actions through tools such as our Legislative Scorecard. Be sure to sign-up for the Women’s Public Policy Network email alerts to stay up-to-date on legislative updates and calls to action here.
More details on the Women’s Public Policy Network and a full copy of the Scorecard can be found online, at womenspublicpolicynetwork.org.