by Pamela Powers Hannley
Tucson Rep. Victoria Steele has introduced two bipartisan bills to advance the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the Arizona Legislature. One has made it to committee, while the other is waiting on Speaker of the House Andy Tobin's desk.
HCR2016 is a bill to ratify the ERA. Although ERA ratification has 22 sponsors, including four Republicans, it hasn't made it "out of the gate" yet. According to an aid in Steele's office, HCR2016 hasn't had a "first read" yet. Bills are read first by Speaker Tobin, who determines committee assignments. If a bill is never assigned to a committee, it is dead in the water. (HB2016 text here.)
HCM2006 is a memorandum to the federal government asking that the ratification deadline be extended. HCM2006 has 19 sponsors, including two Republicans. The bill has been assigned to the Federalism and Fiscal Responsibility Committee (FFR) but hasn't made it on the committee's agenda… yet. (More about the committee here. HCM2006 text here.)
Bills can be killed in multiple ways: they can be voted down in committee, voted down by the Legislature, or just plain ignored by the Speaker or the committee chair. Although it's early in the session, it appears as if the ERA bills are being ignored– even though the ERA has bipartisan support in the Legislature and broad, popular support among the majority of Americans. (Sponsor list after the jump.)
That's where you come. You can contact Speaker Tobin (email@example.com, 602-926-5172, @Andy_Tobin) and FFS Chair Justin Olson (firstname.lastname@example.org, 602-926-5288, no Twitter) and tell them: 1) economic equality for women is an important civil rights issue– not only for women but for all of Arizona– and 2) the ERA deserves to be heard, debated, and voted on by the entire Arizona Legislature– not killed by inaction.
ERA Ratification Sponsors
Here is a list of the 22 sponsors of HB2016, ERA ratification. Fann, Townsend, Orr, and Ugenti are the four Republicans. If your representatives are on the list, please thank them. If your representatives are not on the list, you may want to find out their stance. (This is an election year.)
Why Do We Need the ERA?
Back in the 1970s, many people told us that we didn’t need the ERA because American women were obviously equal to men. Well, obviously, when you look at chronic pay inequality and persistent poverty, women are not treated equally in the US.
The economy is repeatedly cited as the most important issue to women. Economic inequality is at the crux of the problem. More women work part time. More women work at low-wage jobs. More women live in poverty. Single moms and their children are more likely to receive government assistance.
Politifact recently examined the issue of gender pay disparity and concluded that, outside of other contributing factors such as career choice or full versus part time status, 40% of wage disparity is due directly to gender discrimination and cannot be attached to other external factors. It is also true that while 72% of Americans believe The Constitutional Equal Rights Amendment is already law (it is not), 97% of Americans believe it should be.
To become an amendment to the US Constitution, the ERA deadline must be extended by the Congress, and three state legislatures have to ratify it. Currently, six states have ratification proposals in 2013: Florida, Illinois, Louisana, Missouri, Virginia, and Arizona; North Carolina and Nevada have ERA proposals for 2014.
P.S. Do I have to apologize to LD9 Rep. Ethan Orr, now? Thanks, Rep. Orr, for backing the ERA. Can you get Tobin to read it?