Lessons From My Mother
The most important lesson my mother taught me was that by believing in myself I could handle anything. The confidence she instilled in me has propelled me through my whole career and helped me through many personal and professional challenges. On this Mothers' Day, I salute the mothers of MomsRising who have been tireless advocates for Nevada’s mothers.
I celebrated the passage of health insurance reform with Donna Norton and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner when they visited me this past week. This new law is so important to Nevada families. Many health insurance providers have extended parental coverage for adult children up to age 26 in advance of the mandatory change in September. That is when insurers will no longer be permitted to use pre-existing condition exclusions for children. The industry has already indicated its willingness to comply with providing coverage without regard to a child’s pre-existing condition.
Health insurance reform will protect mothers from discrimination based on pre-existing conditions when it is fully implemented and insurers will not be allowed to discriminate based on gender or health status. The new law will create more health insurance options for Nevada families, simplify the process of choosing insurance, and increase access to preventive care so that serious illness can be caught early and treated. My mother did not have access to care and we wouldn’t have been able to afford it anyway. As a young man, the most memorable gift I gave my mother was a pair of dentures that cost $250.
Last week I was able to talk by phone to a group of moms, including Kathleen Chrismer, who are part of the MomsRising blogging community. I was so impressed with their strong advocacy for legislation to improve conditions for their families. As the moms who joined me on the call know, I support efforts to make sure each member of the family gets paid according to the work they do instead of their gender, starting with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act we passed last year and continuing with the Paycheck Fairness Act.
I also support efforts to provide flexibility in the workplace that allows parents to perform their jobs while spending more time with their families. Working moms shouldn’t have to choose between the jobs they need and the opportunity to share in their families’ lives. I remember when I had the flexibility in my job to be the “Team Mom” for my son’s baseball team. None of the other moms had the time to organize outings and snacks for practice, so as the only parent able to arrange my own schedule I became the “Team Mom.”
I support legislation that is already addressing the challenges of workplace flexibility. Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) is sponsoring a bill that would require executive agencies to establish a telework policy and Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) is working on a House Bill that would allow employees to request changes in the terms of their work conditions without fear of being treated differently. I would like to see a Government Accountability Office study of workplace flexibility in federal agencies to see what costs and changes would be associated with increased flexibility policies, and how that would translate to the private sector. Modern families need the ability to request a work schedule that makes sense with modern technology.
I know that many mothers are concerned about the safety of the food they feed their families, especially the Nevadans who have experienced the nightmare of severe food borne illness. The failings of the system that allow children like allow children like Kathleen’s daughter Rylee Gufstason http://www.missrylee.blogspot.com/>, get sick need to be fixed. That’s why I support the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Unfortunately, politics is getting in the way of passing comprehensive food safety legislation. I encourage all mothers to write their congressional representatives, especially Republicans, to tell them how important passing a food safety bill is to your family. This is a bipartisan bill and I will work to make sure it is passed as soon as possible so that all mothers feel secure about the food they put on the table.
Nevada moms are the best advocates for themselves and their families. I am always happy to work with them so I can put forth the best possible laws that help them work and care for their families. I wish all mothers a very happy Mothers' Day, and extend my appreciation and respect for the work they do every day to raise the next generation of Nevada leaders.