Legislation Affecting Working Parents
- (02/12/21) The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has released new guidance for reopening schools. This is not the CDC mandating that schools reopen, but them explaining the proper mitigation that can help keep kids and staff safe at school. The CDC warns that schools are lulled into a false sense of security due to low community transmission rates. But there could still be a spread the virus if they don’t enforce mask-wearing and socially distanced classrooms. This update derives from Biden’s promise to reopen schools in his first 100 days, but brings complicated feedback. Opening schools would lighten pressure for working parents who have simultaneously been teaching their children but would raise concerns for heightened COVID-19 transmissions. Read the color-coded chart and reopening options here.
- (02/11/21) The House Ways and Means Committee has advanced a portion of Biden’s coronavirus relief bill, including the Child Tax Credit Bill. The Child Tax Credit Bill is a part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan and would expand Child Tax Credit up to $3,600/year paid in monthly installments beginning in July 2021. Read more about the details of the bill and how the expansion would affect working mothers in our post, “What the Child Tax Credit Bill Could Mean For Working Moms”. Other things selected to pass include $1400 COVID-19 stimulus checks and increasing unemployment benefits from $300 to $400. These advancements are the instrumental beginning to financially supporting women who may have been under- or unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but are not enough for the long-term support women need.
Healthcare and Reproductive Health
- (02/10/21) The Biden Administration has declared that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains constitutional, reversing the Trump Justice Department’s position that the entire healthcare overhaul was void because Congress reduced to zero the penalty for failing to carry insurance. Congress is currently considering the expansion of federal subsidies for ACA health plans, a part of the proposal being presented to the House Ways and Means Committee this week. This proposal would fully cover premiums for people with incomes up to $19,000 for individuals and $40,000 for a family of four. It would also end the rule making made premium subsidies unavailable to consumers with incomes more than $51,000 for individuals and $106,000 for a family of four. This proposal would expand healthcare opportunities for more families, especially those who need the support after the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- (02/08/21) The state of Arizona has expanded state law employment protections for pregnant workers. Arizona employers are now expressly prohibited by state law from discriminating against employees on the basis of pregnancy or childbirth. This ensures that women and people affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes. The state has become the 28th state to preclude pregnancy discrimination expressly under state law.
- (02/11/21) For the first time ever, LGBT Americans will be protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) declared today that the new interpretation clarifies that discriminating on the basis of an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation is forbidden according to Title VII. Under this new doctrine, LGBT Americans will have recourse under federal law. Though announcing the new rules is an important first step to extending necessary protections, the HUD needs to ensure enforcement. Housing barriers on the basis of education, income, and race still persist – all of these blockades can prevent stability and safety for women, especially trans women, when not enforced.
Global Women’s News
- (02/11/21) Marta Lempart, a leader of the Polish Women’s Strike, was formally read charges relating to her involvement in protests against the widely criticized near-total abortion ban in Poland. The charges include insulting a police officer and causing an epidemiological threat for organizing protests during the coronavirus pandemic. These protests are in response to the Polish government unveiling plans to further tighten already restrictive abortion laws last October.
- (02/10/21) Loujain al-Hathloul, one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent women’s rights campaigners, has been released after more than 1,000 days in prison. Halthoul is known for her role in the women to drive movement and in opposing the Saudi male guardianship system. During her detention, Hathloul received multiple awards, including the 2019 PEN America award. Her release comes less than a week after the White House had called on the kingdom to release political prisoners, including women’s rights activists.