Ohio Public Policy E-Newsletter – August 2010
Ohio Public Policy E-Newsletter – Aug. 25, 2010
From Jackie Evangelista, firstname.lastname@example.org
AAUW/Ohio Public Policy Chair
Dear Branch Public Policy Chairs, their Stand-Ins and Newsletter Editors: Thanks to all who have updated me about your status as a chair, stand-in or newsletter editor. I hope our branch chairs successfully advocated over the summer for a number of programs about public policy and are planning to update your members in brief reports at every meeting in the coming year. New public policy chairs or those interested in a refresher should take note of the section below entitled “Public Policy Chair Basics.” Because this is the first issue of a new program year, it is a little longer than usual so please bear with me. For that reason I have not appended the latest issue of Washington Update, but I encourage you to sign up to receive it directly. Information about how to do so can be found in the “Public Policy Chair Basics” article. Also note that I have highlighted the text regarding the attached items in teal bold. Have a great AAUW year! And feel free to e-mail me anytime. Jackie
SENATOR FEDOR WILL PARTICIPATE IN OUR FIRST AAUW OHIO PUBLIC POLICY CHAIR CONFERENCE CALL
If you were unable to attend the AAUW/Ohio Leadership Conference Aug. 14 or are a new branch public policy chair, here are two novel ways you can learn more about the problem of trafficking in Ohio–an issue your Ohio board feels is important for branches to get involved in– from the comfort of your home. First, Ohio Senator Teresa Fedor will participate in a conference call with us on one of these evenings—Sept. 20-22. Second, the Powerpoint presentations given during our Trafficking Luncheon at the Conference by Senator Fedor and Samar Ahmad have been posted on the AAUW/Ohio website at: http://wp.me/pS1oT-qM along with summaries of the other Conference presentations. Allow a couple minutes for the Powerpoints to load. An invitation to participate in the conference call with full details will be e-mailed soon.
The seriousness of Ohio ’s trafficking problem was just highlighted in a news release (attached) by the Polaris Project, a national anti-trafficking organization (www.polarisproject.org), which included Ohio among the “Dirty Dozen”—those states that have failed to adequately address the growing crime of human trafficking. Other references included on the attached page of “Key Links” further document the problem. This page also offers a number of ways you can act as a branch on the issue from educating yourselves and the public, to advocating with legislators, to starting study/interest groups.
While much remains to be done on the issue, Senator Fedor and her colleague in the House, Rep. Kathy Chandler, have introduced bills that would make trafficking a stand-alone felony. Currently, the young victims being trafficked into prostitution—usually runaways or foreigners smuggled into the country—are being arrested and left with a criminal record while the traffickers are being let go because our laws are weak. So, the first thing we need to do is work to get these bills passed this fall.
- Ask all branch members to send an action alert regarding S.B. 235 to their state senator at: http://actioncenter.polarisproject.org/ component/ content/article/35-action/873-oh-webalert-s235
- An alert regarding H.B. 493 appears to have been taken down from the Polaris website, but you can send your state representative the attached letter that Senator Fedor gave us at the Leadership Conference. You will need to omit the references to S.B. 235 and just focus on H.B. 493. Find your representative’s name and address with your ZIP code at: http://www.house.state.oh.us/ Alternatively, you could write a short letter, have members copy it by hand at your first meeting, and bring stamps so the letters can be mailed immediately. Attendees at the Leadership Conference reported success they had in changing a legislator’s mind about an issue through personal, hand-written letters.
Hearings related to these bills may be held in September, but the vote will probably not be taken until November. So, now would be a good time to register member opinion.
- I challenge branch public policy chairs to keep track of how many e-mails and letters are sent by your members and report the information to me so I can share with all branches the impact that AAUW/Ohio members were able to have.
MEMBERSHIP IMPLICATIONS OF TRAFFICKING ISSUE
Your Ohio board believes that working on the trafficking issue could help you recruit new members of all ages. If you sponsor a public information meeting like the Public Policy Brunch described below under “Program in a Box,” you should be able to garner excellent publicity as well as draw in concerned partnering groups and women. Perhaps Senator Fedor can offer suggestions in our conference call about who should be invited to participate in such a public meeting and what topics should be covered.
Since most of the victims of trafficking are young women and girls, you may be able to interest either college or high school age young women in the issue by scheduling a showing of a film such as “Taken” followed by a question-and-answer session with an expert. Our third speaker at the Leadership Conference was a young volunteer at a Columbus safe house who said she got interested in the issue because she watched this film. You could try to involve them in a branch public policy interest group designed to advocate for legislation on the issue advised by a few motivated branch members.
A really motivated branch could try to establish a safe house as there are only two such facilities in Ohio , both in Columbus . Some rape crisis centers are getting involved also because the need is so great. Zonta International has adopted trafficking as an issue and would probably welcome working in partnership with your branch. A group of Zonta members attended our Trafficking Luncheon.
FINAL PUSH TO PASS PAYCHECK FAIRNESS ACT
On the national level, you may have received an e-mail from AAUW in early August titled “Let’s Get It Done,” which encouraged us to engage in a number of activities this month and next to try and get the Paycheck Fairness Act passed in the Senate. As I’m sure most AAUW members know, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act only removed the effects of a negative Supreme Court decision. The Paycheck Fairness Act, which has been passed by the House, provides a much-needed update to the original Fair Pay Act of the Sixties. If the Senate does not pass the Act this year, we will have to start over again in the next legislature.
New polling data just released by the Paycheck Fairness Act Coalition shows that 84 percent of voters support a new law that would provide women more tools to get fair pay in the workplace. Seventy-two percent of respondents strongly support such a law. Make sure your elected officials know that you’re looking to them to take strong steps that ensure workplace opportunity and fairness. For more information on the Paycheck Fairness Act, go to: http://www.aauw.org/act/issue_advocacy/actionpages/payequity.cfm.
A calendar page listing suggested activities on various days can be found at: http://www.aauw.org/act /issueadvocacy/ actionpages/upload/PFA_GetItDone.pdf. I encourage you to offer your branch members several options and work on the one they like best. Perhaps the most important thing Ohio women can do is try to influence Senator George Voinovich to vote in favor of the Paycheck Fairness Act. In that he is retiring, he might be receptive to persuasion. Send a letter to the office nearest your members—addresses can be found at: http://voinovich.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.OfficeLocations. Or e-mail him at: http://voinovich.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.ContactForm.
- Again, you might also keep track of how many contacts you make and report the number to me.
PUBLIC POLICY CHAIR BASICS
If you are a new public policy chair or a continuing chair who would like a refresher, please note first the AAUW Mission Statement: Advancing Equity for Women and Girls Through Advocacy, Education, Philanthropy, and Research. “Advocacy” is listed first, which underscores your importance to the mission. Next, go to the Public Policy section of the AAUW website at: http://www.aauw.org/act/ issue_advocacy/ and look around. Finally, please download and read the “AAUW Branch Public Policy Chair Resource Manual” at: http://www.aauw.org/member_center/tools/upload/ Branch-Public-Policy-Chair-Manual-PDF.pdf It covers your job description, how to carry it out, and the many resources available to you on the AAUW website. This document is located in the Member Center so you will need to enter your member number. There is a look-up feature if you don’t have an issue of Outlook handy. If you do, you’ll find your member number on the mailing label.
AAUW has established through market research that members join branches mainly for social reasons while members-at-large join to support the mission. Therefore, many members are not very familiar with our public policy program, and it is your job to educate them. I encourage branch public policy chairs to present something timely and related to the public policy program at every meeting and to try to schedule several meetings that elaborate on our public policy program in some way. Since our program is very wide-ranging, there are many options for interesting programs. Read our 2009-11 Public Policy Program at: http://www.aauw.org/act /issue_advocacy/principles_priorities.cfm. You can order the brochure at no charge for your members at the ShopAAUW website: http://aauw.source4.com/b2c/ProductInfo. asp?Category= 1583&Itm=47031. Another way to educate your members is to get them to sign up for the AAUW Action Network, which includes the Washington Update newsletter and periodic Two-Minute Activist Alerts. The sign-up form can be found at: http://www.aauw.org/act/issue_advocacy/upload/Action-Network-Signup-Flyer_web.pdf or they can sign up by submitting a Two-Minute Activist Alert at: http://capwiz.com/aauw/home/. It goes without saying that all public policy chairs should be signed up.
Public Policy Chairs should also be aware that since AAUW is now a 501©3 because of decisions made at our last national convention, our public policy work was separated into a 501©4 named the AAUW Action Fund that has its own website at: http://aauwaction.org/ Please check out all the resources available on this website as well.
USE PROGRAM IN A BOX
In my last e-newsletter, I encouraged branch public policy chairs to investigate the ready-made “Programs in a Box” listed under the heading “Public Policy Outreach” on the AAUW website at: http://www.aauw.org/member_center/programs/index.cfm. You’ll need your member number to log into the Member Center , where the Program in a Box titles reside. The Program in a Box includes a full detailing of the idea along with many suggestions about how to carry it out. Here is a listing of the titles listed under the heading “Public Policy Outreach:”
- Women’s Summit on Affirmative Action
- Women’s Summit on Work/Life Balance
- State Lobby Corps
- Public Policy Brunch
- Meeting with a Public Official
- The Shriver Report—A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything
- Pay Equity
- Woman-to-Woman Voter Turnout
The Public Policy Brunch seems especially appropriate vehicle for informing residents of your community about the trafficking issue. You might find a keynote speaker on Senator Fedor’s Call to Action, which is also attached to this e-mail.
Finally, this is an election year–a good time to encourage women to vote. Please check out the “Woman-to-Woman Voter Turnout” manual, which offers a host of suggestions.