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Maria Shriver urges Gov. Jerry Brown to speak out on poverty

Maria Shriver urges Gov. Jerry Brown to speak out on poverty
Maria Shriver is urging Gov. Jerry Brown to speak out about poverty. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

SACRAMENTO — Former First Lady Maria Shriver returned to the state capital for her first public appearance in more than three years to urge lawmakers to take action to help women and children living in poverty.

Shriver spoke to a packed auditorium at the California secretary of state's office, promoting a new report aimed at calling attention to "women on the brink," 50 years after her father, Sargent Shriver, led the War on Poverty under President Lyndon Johnson.

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Shriver followed up her afternoon talk with a private meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown. She said she planned to urge the governor to speak out on issues affecting women and the poor.

"I think there's so much power in the pulpit to talk about women and families, to talk about the changing workplace, and the role of government, business and personal responsibility in helping those who are struggling," she said.

Brown has received some criticism for not emphasizing the estimated 9 million Californians living in poverty. But she gave the governor credit for "emphasizing many of these issues in the past."

Among the policy proposals Shriver is urging Congress to adopt is requiring employers to offer paid sick leave to their employees.

A California proposal by San Diego Democrat Lorena Gonzales would force businesses to give their employees three paid sick days per year.

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