|Significant progress is being made in efforts led by NOW
Foundation to inform and encourage states to incorporate the Family
Violence Provisions in their new welfare-to-work plans. At least ten
of the 41 states plans, which have been filed with the federal government,
contain some or all of the provisions of the Family Violence Option, while
16 other state plans include some domestic violence language. Nine states'
plans say nothing about family violence in their welfare plans which must
be submitted to the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services in order to receive block grant funding.
As reported in the October NOW Legislative Update, President Clinton urged states to incorporate the Wellstone-Murray family violence amendment in their plans and instructed Attorney General Janet Reno and Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala to work with advocates and state welfare planners towards that end. You may recall that Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) were successful in getting provisions initially adopted by Congress. Those provisions required, among other things, states to confidentially screen welfare recipient for domestic violence and to provide referral for counseling and support services. However, the Conference Committee working on the final version of the welfare bill (Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act Reconciliation Act of 1996, P.L. 104-193) made this component optional, rather than mandatory, for states.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, states that have adopted some or all of the provisions of the Family Violence option are:
Due to differing interpretations of the language contained in several state plans, it is not completely clear in a number of instances whether states intend to screen and refer welfare recipients for violence reasons. For instance, Massachusetts has considered adopting the family violence provisions, but had not done so as of early December. Wisconsin, although listed by the Department of Health and Human Services as containing some provision about domestic violence in their plan, specifically rejected the family violence amendment.
Florida's plan contained language which suggested that the state adopted the Family Violence provision, but in fact it did not. The Florida governor's office said that there was interest in including it; domestic violence program advocates in the state indicate that the governor needs to hear from activists. Two additional states are seriously considering including the amendment, but need to hear from activists; these are: New York and Indiana. New York, reportedly, will be filing an amendment to opt in with the Family Violence Amendment. Indiana may be considering applying this only to selected counties -- something which is neither desirable for poor families suffering from violence nor good public policy. Even though Missouri does not have a formal plan filed with HHS, the state does intend to include the FV provisions. Maine might be adopting the provisions at some point, but sources were not certain whether and when.
States which have not adopted the Family Violence provisions, but have other domestic violence provisions or language in their welfare plans are Alabama, California, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Dakota. Iowa, Michigan, and New Hampshire have the Family Violence Provision under consideration and Connecticut said that they would exempt individuals who reported problems with domestic violence from certain welfare-to-work requirements. Nine state's welfare plans do not address domestic violence in any way. These states are Arizona, Kansas, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming. South Carolina and Wisconsin specifically rejected the Family Violence Provision. Even though protections for abused poor women and children are not included in these plans, they may be amended to add this critically important component. Some welfare plans are being written in budget and planning offices, some in social service offices; and others in the governors' offices. Also, U.S. territories like Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa as well as the District of Columbia are subject to the new welfare law and must file plans with HHS in order to receive block grant funding.
One factor hindering progress is the lack of clear guidance from the White House on whether welfare recipients experiencing domestic violence can be excluded from the existing 20% exemption from work and other requirements under the new welfare law. NOW Foundation and NOW/LDEF have argued that violence survivors should not be part of that 20% pool -- that the intention of Congress was to protect victims of abuse as it indicated by both houses originally adopting the Family Violence amendment and resolution.
|Write, call, fax or e-mail to thank the governor and key legislative
leaders if your state has chosen to incorporate all of the Family Violence
Provisions. More importantly, for states that have not adopted the provisions
in their already filed plans, you should urge officials to amend their
plans to include these critical elements. With regard to those states that
have not filed any plans yet, they should be urged to incorporate all of
the provisions, preferably relying on the model statutory
provisions that domestic violence program advocates have drafted. The
model statute is available from the NOW Foundation and NOW/LDEF and is
being mailed to state governors, key legislators and activists.
Another very important action is required. Please contact President Clinton and Secretary Shalala to urge them to become more forceful advocates for poor battered women and to provide a clearcut policy to states allowing good cause waivers for survivors of abuse who may be at risk under the new welfare law. Proper implementation of the Family Violence Provision as well as long term success of welfare-to-work plans depends upon their leadership.
|Model statutory language for a state's Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) plan (the new welfare program
which replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children, AFDC) is available
from NOW Foundation or NOW/LDEF. The suggested language can be directly
incorporated into either state statutes or regulations in authorizing and
implementing a state's new welfare plan.
The model language stipulates that the state has established and is enforcing standards and procedures to confidentially identify applicants and recipients who are past or present victims of domestic violence or at risk of domestic violence. And that the state is referring these individuals for counseling and supportive services and will waive, with good cause, any program requirements that will make it more difficult for domestic violence victims to escape violence or unfairly penalize past or present victims or those at risk.
Requirements that will be waived for these persons include time limits on receipt of aid, work requirements, paternity establishment, child support cooperation requirements, family cap provisions (a prohibition against providing additional assistance to children born while the parent is on welfare), limitations of TANF assistance to non-citizens and other restrictions included in new welfare plans. Additional model language pertaining to battered immigrants is included in the suggested statute.
|Make certain (if your state has not incorporated the Family Violence Provisions in its new welfare-to-work plan) that key officials have copies of the model language. Information and technical assistance is available through the NOW Foundation Public Policy office or from NOW/LDEF, contact Martha Davis and Sherry Leiwant at 212-925-6635 or Pat Reuss at 202-544-4470. If you have any news about what your state may or may not be doing with regard to the Family Violence Provisions, please let us know.|
|NOW and NOW/LDEF with the National Task Force on Violence Against Women are working on extensive legislation to expand the battle against domestic violence. With the successful implementation and nearly full funding of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA), this new round of legislative initiatives seeks to address those areas not included in this first historic measure. Featured in the Violence Against Women Improvement Act of 1997 are provisions in the areas of health care, law enforcement and judicial training, workplace safety, welfare, insurance and mortgage discrimination, education, housing, batterers' programs, immigrant women, child safety, shelter services, reducing gun violence, access to the legal system, older women, native Americans, lesbian violence, and violence in the armed forces and sports organizations.|
|Contact NOW's Government Relations office if you have suggestions on provisions for the new violence against women legislation.|
|Rumor has it that the House of Representatives will quickly move to
exempt law enforcement officials from the Domestic Violence Offender Gun
Ban. Pressure from certain police departments in several states, most likely
organized by the National Rifle Association
(NRA), is being brought to bear on members of Congress to have law
enforcement officials removed from the effect of the statute. These groups
assert that they effectively police their own membership and that the new
law, passed in the closing days of the 104th Congress, will mean that certain
law enforcement officials will lose their jobs if not allowed to carry
One option that will be considered is to make the law effective only as of a future date, not affecting any law enforcement official who may have been a DV offender in the past. Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) is reported to be introducing legislation soon that would "excuse" prior domestic violence convictions, however, it was not known as of press time whether Rep. Barr's language would single out government officials only or apply to ANYONE who had been convicted in the past of a domestic violence offense. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is leading the effort to oppose any effort to weaken the law.
|Immediately contact your member of Congress and let them know that law enforcement officials should be subject to the same laws which apply to ordinary citizens. Oppose any effort to weaken the domestic violence offender gun ban, either through the prospective effective date or other means. If Rep. Barr is, indeed, trying to exempt ALL past DV offenders, then that proposal should be vigorously opposed.|
|Family planning programs, both domestic and international, have been
under serious attack since right wing extremists assumed leadership in
Congress after the 1994 elections. Their goal has been to weaken the strong
support of family planning programs expressed by the United States at the
Cairo and Beijing
international women's conferences by tying this issue to abortion rights.
Actions by Republican leaders show that not only do they oppose abortion
rights, but want to do away with all public programs of assisting in family
planning information and service provision.
The chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Robert Livingston (R-LA), first proposed to eliminate domestic family planning programs (Title X) altogether in 1995, then tried to slash the Title X funding in the following year -- both times losing in a narrow floor vote. (Incidentally, that margin of support for family planning funding has narrowed following the recent election.)
International family planning/population assistance funding suffered a setback in 1996 when a punishing set of restrictions were adopted on top of already deeply cut aid levels. As noted in previous NOW Legislative Updates, the Mexico City policy (an abortion restriction on international family planning funds, which President Clinton rescinded when he first came into office) was beaten back by family planning supporters, but Congress then adopted a moratorium on release of any funds until July 1, 1997, a 'metering' system to release funds in monthly installments, and a nearly 35% reduction in overall funding.
To soften what family planning supporters decried as a crippling blow to international family planning (which provides information and services to 35 to 40 million people in developing countries), an "escape clause" was added. The moratorium deadline could be changed to March 1, providing that President Clinton determines, in a report due February 1, that these strictures are having a 'negative' impact on the proper functioning of family planning programs. Both houses of Congress must vote to accept that report, then a strict timetable of committee consideration of a resolution to release the funds ensues. An up or down vote in both houses is to occur by February 28, 1997. Some observers see the vote as a Congressional referendum on the value of family planning programs and it is certainly one of the first critical women's rights votes of this term.
If international family planning funding continues to be restricted (for the one-year, 35% reduction), experts estimate that four million unintended pregnancies, 1.9 million unplanned births, 1.6 million abortions, the deaths of 8,000 women in pregnancy and childbirth, and deaths of 134,000 more infants will occur. Keep in mind that the maternal death figure is in addition to 585,00 women estimated to die each year due to pregnancy and childbirth. Population growth in developing countries is still high and global poverty is seen to be increasing.
Opposition forces are busily organizing for this vote. Reportedly, Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) will offer legislation releases the additional population control funds only in if there is a ban on the funding of overseas organizations that perform abortions (Mexico City policy) or that campaign to repeal foreign nations anti-abortion laws.
|Try to meet with your member of Congress while s/he is back in the district or, at the very least, schedule a phone call discussion of this issue. Members will be in Washington January 7th through the 9th when they'll be sworn into office, but many will return home for a brief period just prior to the Inauguration on January 20th. Needless to say, it is extremely important to make personal and direct contact. If you have any information about how any member whose name appears on the list above will vote, please communicate that information to NOW's Government Relations office as soon as possible. Local actions demonstrating popular support for family planning funding will be useful during the time up to February 28th when Congress holds the up or down vote. Talking points are available from the NOW Government Relations office.|
|Late Term Abortion Ban News is Mixed||News on the late term abortion
front is mixed. Senate Minority Leader Tom
Daschle (D-SD) was reported to have said that he would support a ban
on all late term abortions, except in cases of extreme danger to the health
of the woman or a non-viable fetus. Exactly how "extreme danger"
to a woman's health is to be defined is not clear and, in reality, is probably
impossible to define in a statute. For example, is a 30% chance of death
an "extreme danger"?" What about loss of reproductive capacity?
Loss of a bodily function? With the addition of even more abortion rights
opponents to the 105th Congress, the future consideration of a late term
abortion ban bill is the subject of intense speculation. Although, President
Clinton did publicly reiterate his opposition to the ban, recently.
Some abortion rights advocates had feared in November that the American Medical Association, coming under pressure from abortion rights opponents, would adopt a resolution opposing late term abortion. A recent meeting of the AMA's House of Delegates, the organization's policy-making body, voted down a late term abortion ban and re-affirmed their position on abortion. Throughout the debate, AMA has not take an official position on specific legislation, but held that late term abortions should be the decision of a woman in consultation with her doctor. In the recent action, the group encouraged the AMA's Board of Trustees to undertake a study of which late term pregnancy termination techniques (and circumstances) conform to standards of good medical practice and also encouraged the board to work with specialty organizations (such as ACOG, the America College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) to develop appropriate practical clinical practice guidelines.
Abortion rights supporters were cheered by the outcome, saying that the AMA's action keeps late term abortion in its appropriate medical context.
|Again, touching base with members of your Congressional delegation is important. It is especially critical to let all new members know where we stand on the late term abortion ban. Any restrictive language is to be opposed.|
|Vatican Withdraws UNICEF Support||The Vatican recently suspended
a contribution of $2,000 to UNICEF,
charging that the international children's aid group has become involved
in contraceptive and abortion advocacy. Reproductive rights supporters
are being urged to protest this action through contributions to UNICEF
and letters of objection to the Vatican. The addresses are:
Carol Bellamy, Executive Director
H.E. Archbishop Renato R. Martino
|Ratification of Women's Rights Treaty||On International Human Rights Day, Dec. 11, President Clinton urged
the Senate to ratify the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW),
calling it an "embarrassment that the United States has not done this."
CEDAW is an international treaty that was originally approved by the United
Nations in 1979 and since then has been ratified by 130 nations. Only
the United States and Switzerland among the developed countries have not
ratified the convention. An outgrowth of the First World Conference on
Women in Mexico City in 1975, CEDAW provides a universal definition of
discrimination against women and aims to create substantive equality for
women, allowing states (nations) to implement temporary affirmative action
programs to achieve this goal. When various nations ratify this treaty,
they are obligated to eliminate discrimination by any person, organization,
enterprise, while most human rights treaties only obligate a state to monitor
itself and its agencies.
President Carter signed the treaty in November, 1980, and submitted it to the Senate for ratification. However, with a new, more conservative White House under Ronald Reagan, CEDAW sat for ten years in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until its first hearing was held, but no action taken. In 1993, 68 senators sent a letter to President Clinton urging him to take the necessary steps to ratify the convention. In September of the following year, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted CEDAW out of committee favorably by a 13-5 vote, but the Senate, as a whole, failed to bring it to the floor prior to the close of that session. The elections of 1994 produced a Congressional leadership esssentially hostile to women's rights and the rest is history.
Feminist critics of some provisions of CEDAW say that the reservations, declarations, and understandings ("RDU's") proposed by the administration are designed to support the administration's view that this treaty should not, in any way, change, or commit the United States to alter anything in law or practice to carry out the spirit and letter of CEDAW. In a 1994 letter to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, NOW/LDEF and Lawyers Committee for Human Rights legal analysts note that "there are several areas where the U.S. is not in compliance and lags behind much of the industrial world in guaranteeing full equality to women."
It is speculated that the same RDU's or even more restrictive ones may be attached to CEDAW should the Senate Foreign Relations committee take up ratification in the 105th Congress. The new make-up in a stronger Republican majority indicates a potentially narrow vote, both in committee and on for the floor. And the more conservative cast of Senate leadership does not bode well for ratification of a document advocating full equality for women. Further, the success of the California proposition repealing affirmative action programs has emboldened opponents and may effectively stalemate CEDAW because of its advocacy of temporary affirmative action programs to assist women.
|Contact NOW's Government Relations office
for the detailed analysis of CEDAW prior to speaking to your member of
Congress about the ratification vote. It is not yet known whether the Senate
will take up the measure soon, but activists should begin communicating
with members on this matter. Clearly, we want all RDU's to be removed which
delay or prevent progress in achieving full equality for women and we should
argue that continuation of affirmative action programs are absolutely essential
in reaching that goal.
Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations are Chair Jesse Helms (NC), Richard Lugar (IN), Paul Coverdell (GA), Charles Hagel (NE), Gordon Smith (OR), Craig Thomas (WY), John Ashcroft (MO), Rod Grams (MN), Bill Frist (TN) and Jeff Sessions (AL) Democrats are Joseph Biden (RI), Paul Sarbanes (MD), Christopher Dodd (CT), Richard Durbin (IL), John Kerry (MA), Charles Robb (VA), Russ Feingold (WI), Robert Toricelli (NJ), and Paul Wellstone (MN).
|105TH CONGRESS - New Faces||The election in November added 15 new faces to the U.S. Senate -- nine
Republicans and six Democrats -- maintaining Republican control by a margin
of ten members.
New Republican members are: Wayne Allard, former U.S. House member succeeding Hank Brown, Colorado: Jeff Sessions, former State Attorney General, Alabama; Tim Hutchinson, former U.S. House member, Arkansas; Pat Roberts, former House member and chair of the powerful House Agriculture Committee, Kansas; Sam Brownback, another House member who replaces Sen. Sheila Frahm who was appointed to fill retiring Sen. Bob Dole's seat, Kansas; Susan Collins, a newcomer to elective office, Maine; Charles "Chuck" Hagel, another newcomer to elective office, Nebraska; Gordon Smith, a former state senator replacing Mark Hatfield, Oregon; and Mike Enzi, also a former state senator and replacing Alan Simpson, Wyoming.
New Democratic faces are Max Cleland, former Georgia Secretary of State, succeeding Sam Nunn, Georgia; Richard J. Durbin, former U.S. Representative, replacing Paul Simon, Illinois; Mary Landrieu, former state Treasurer, succeeding J. Bennett Johnston; Robert G. Toricelli, former U.S. House member replacing Bill Bradley, New Jersey; Jack Reed, former U.S. Representative taking Claiborne Pell's seat, Rhode Island; and Tim Johnson, another U.S. House member who unseated Larry Pressler, South Dakota.
The party split in the House of Representatives is 226 Republicans, 207 Democrats, and 2 Independents.
New Republican House members, 31 in all, and their districts are Bob Riley (3rd-AL), Robert Alderholt (4th-AL), Asa Hutchinson (3rd-AR), James E. Rogan (27th-CA), Robert W. Schaffer (4th-CO), John M. Shimkus (20th-IL), Ed Pease (7th-IN), Jerry Moran (1st-KS), Jim Ryun (2nd-KS), Vince Snowbarger (3rd-KS), Anne Northup (3rd-KY), John Cooksey (5th-LA), Charles W. "Chip" Pickering Jr. (3rd-MS), Roy Blunt (8th-MO), Kenny Hulshof (9th-MO), Rick Hill (Al Large-MT), Jim Gibbons (2nd-NV), John E. Sununu (1st-NH), Mike Pappas (12th-NJ), Wes Watkins (3rd-OK), Bob Smith (2nd-OR), John E. Peterson (5th-PA), Joseph R. Pitts (16th-PA), John Thune (At Large-SD), Bill Jenkins (1st-TN), Pete Sessions (5th-TX), Kevin Brady (8th-TX), Kay Granger (12th-TX), Ron Paul (14th-TX), Merrill Cook (2nd-UT), and Chris Cannon (3rd-UT). Jo Ann Emerson (8th-MO) is listed as an Independent, but is part of the Republican Caucus.
Forty-two new House Democrats include: Marion Berry (1st-AR), Victor F. Snyder (2rd-AR), Ellen Tauscher (10th-CA), Walter Holden Capps (22nd-CA), Brad Sherman (24th-CA), Loretta Sanchez (46th-CA), Diana DeGette (1st-CO), James H. Maloney (5th-CT), Allen Boyd Jr. (2nd-FL), Jim Davis (11th-FL), Robert Wexler (19th-FL), Danny K. Davis (7th-IL), Julia Carson (10th-IN), Leonard L. Boswell (3rd-IA), Chris John (7th-LA), Tom Allen (1st-MN), Jim McGovern (3rd-MA), John F. Tierney (6th-MA), William D. Delahunt (10th-MA), Deborah Ann Stabenow (8th-MI), Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (15th-MI), William J. Pascrell Jr. (8th-NJ), Steven R. Rothman (9th-NJ), Carolyn McCarthy (4th-NY), David E. Price (4th-NC), Mike McIntyre (7th-NC), Ted Strickland (6th-OH), Dennis Kucinich (10th-OH), Darlene Holley (5th-OR), Robert A. Weygand (2nd-RI), Harold Ford Jr. (9th-TN), Max Sandlin (1st-TX), JimTurner (2nd-TX), Nick Lampson (9th-TX), Ruben Hinojosa (15th-TX), Silvestre Reyes (16th-TX), Virgil H. Goode Jr. (5th-VA), Adam Smith (9th-WA), Ron Kind (3rd-WI), and Jay Johnson (8th-WI).
This Legislative Update was compiled by the NOW Government Relations and the NOW Foundation Public Policy office at the National NOW office. Call Jan Erickson, Government Relations Director, at (202) 628-8669, ex. 768, if you have any questions. To receive free of charge copies of any of the above bills, call your Senator or Representative at (202) 224-3121. The update is mailed to NOW leadership; Any member can receive a copy of this update by mail for a yearly charge of $25 to cover postage. Anyone can read this Legislative Update at http://www.now.org/issues/legislat/legislat.html . Or they may receive it by e-mail if they join our Action Alert list by visiting http://www.now.org/actions/ and follow the instructions.
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