California women’s caucus pitches bills on pay equity, child care, poverty

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) was among supporters of a package of bills aimed at helping women in California.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
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Democratic members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus on Tuesday announced a package of legislation aimed at providing pay equity on the job, expanding access to child care, creating family-friendly workplaces and addressing poverty.

“Women continue to increase our role and our impact on our economy,” Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said at a Capitol news conference. “It’s vital we pursue the policies that help ensure opportunity and equality. These actions will help more California woman not only participate in the economic recovery but also in building our economic future.”

The half-dozen bills include a measure by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) that would repeal a rule for the state’s CalWORKS system that prohibits additional aid for a child born into a family already receiving assistance from the welfare system.


Mitchell said the rule is a misguided attempt to discourage out-of-wedlock births and has not had an effect on that issue but has forced growing families to share welfare benefits among more family members, putting them deeper in poverty.

The rule has been “harmful and discriminatory,” Mitchell said in touting her SB 23. “Lifting women and children out of poverty and eradicating racial discrimination are the best ways to help marginalized children realize their full potential and to help our society make opportunity real.”

The caucus members also backed legislation by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) that would require food and retail employers with more than 500 workers to provide work schedules at least two weeks in advance and would require additional pay for last-minute changes. Weber said AB 357 would provide “considerable stability” for workers who have to schedule around other commitments and arrange child care ahead of time.

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the caucus chairwoman, has introduced legislation aimed at closing the pay gap between men and women. SB 358 would strengthen protections against pay discrimination and retaliation against workers who make inquiries about pay.

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