Public Policy

Equal Pay Day April 12, 2016 Several AAUW members across Maine worked to mark Equal Pay Day and educate their communities about the persistence of the pay gap. Members of the Bath-Brunswick branch tabled about AAUW and Pay Equity at Southern Maine Community College and Bowdoin College. Additionally, State President Kristin Sweeney presented to a group at the University of Maine Augusta about the Pay Gap. Members in Waterville held a bake sale at Shaw’s Market in Waterville. Bets Brown reported, “We sold gingerbread cookies at a cost of $0.79 for women and $1 for men.  It was fun talking to the shoppers that stopped by the table.”

A letter to the editor about Equal Pay Day and the persistence of the pay gap was published in the Times Record, cosigned by State Public Policy Co-chair, Molly Bogart, and Bath-Brunswick Branch Co-President Sophie Whitehouse. You can read the letter here: http://www.timesrecord.com/news/2016-04-20/Opinion/The_Need_to_Address_Pay_Disparity.html

Legislative Session Overview Once the legislative session has concluded, we will share information about bills AAUW of Maine worked and watched in the second session of the 127th Legislature.

Supreme Court Vacancy In March, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy left by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. AAUW members and supporters nationwide have urged the president to move forward with a nominee, thereby beginning the critical constitutional process to fill the seat. The president believes that Garland, a seasoned appeals court jurist, meets the criteria for this lifetime appointment because of his “independent mind and unimpeachable credentials [and an] unquestionable mastery of the law.”

It is now time for the U.S. Senate to undertake its constitutional duties on Garland’s nomination. AAUW is hopeful that our elected leaders will rise above the partisan fray and simply do what the Constitution requires: The Senate must move forward to fairly and expeditiously consider a nominee. In so doing, the Senate will reassure the American people that a fully staffed court will be available to deliver this year’s critical Supreme Court decisions. To do anything less is an insult to the proud precedent of our constitutional government transitioning peacefully and efficiently, especially in election years.

Raising the Minimum Wage This spring, the Board of AAUW of Maine voted to endorse the minimum wage referendum spearheaded by the coalition Mainers for Fair Wages. This referendum will be on the ballot in November 2016, and seeks to raise the minimum wage to $9 in 2017, then by $1 per year through 2020, reaching $12. Once that is reached, an annual increase will be tied to the cost of living so it remains a living wage. Additionally, it will require the tipped wage to reach the minimum wage by 2024.

Alliance for Maine Women AAUW has long been a member of both the Coalition for Maine Women and Maine Alliance for Reproductive Freedom (formerly Maine Choice Coalition). These coalitions are no more. The two groups merged over the winter to become the Alliance for Maine Women. This merger will allow the coalition to be more efficient and effective in our efforts, and has given member groups a chance to re-invest their energy and strength in the coalition’s efforts. The mission of the new coalition is as follows:

The Alliance for Maine Women is a broad network of organizations working to ensure that all Mainers have the economic, social, and political power to make decisions about their bodies, sexuality, health, and families—with an emphasis on securing these rights for Maine women. The Alliance for Maine Women brings together members with diverse expertise and experiences who understand that all people in Maine benefit when Maine women have the right to economic security and reproductive justice (including access to abortion), and can live their lives with agency, autonomy, and freedom from violence. Members of the Alliance for Maine Women work to achieve this through legislative and legal advocacy, community organizing, and public education.

Women’s Day at the State House On January 21, over 100 women and allies joined the Alliance for Maine Women at the State House for a press conference to announce the coalition’s priorities. The day also included a policy briefing for attendees, skills trainings, and an opportunity to table and talk with legislators. AAUW had significant representation from the Waterville and Bath-Brunswick branches, as well as the State Board.

Girls’ Day at the State House Carrying on a years-old tradition, Dora McCarthy, Kristin Sweeney, and Betty-Jane Meader volunteered at Girls’ Day at the State House on March 1. During the day, hosted by the Maine Women’s Policy Center, over 100 8th-grade girls come to the State House in Augusta to learn about public policy and develop their leadership skills.