A Time to Fight
Kiki went to Harrisburg today with what she called her “army,” the 123 pages of signatures and good wishes from 5,243 members of MomsRising that she held in her hands.
Starting with the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, Kiki visited Rep. O’Brien’s office, the chair of the House Judiciary committee, which is holding up HB 352.
My first stop was to Rep. O’Brien’s office where I met with his secretary Christine Crone. I introduced myself and gave her the “packet” and asked that Rep. O’Brien PLEASE take action and bring HB 352 to committee now. While I was talking to her, Michael Piecuch, Esq. who is chief counsel to the Judiciary Committee walked over. I repeated my speech to him as well. He said he has been asked if there is federal protection against marital/familial status discrimination. I told him if there were, I wouldn’t have to be fighting for the last 12 years to amend the PA Human Relations Act.
Kiki has now sent oodles of additional, support information to Mr. Piecuch. Perhaps he gets it now? We can only hope. Here is his email if anyone wants to add an endorsement: Mpiecuch@pahousegop.com
Next stop for Kiki was Sen. Gordner’s office, the guy who chairs the OTHER committee that is stalling, the Senate Labor and Industry Committee. It seems like Gordner is bound and determined not to let this legislation EVER see the light of day. Yeah, he’s so not cool.
I think the visit to his office proved enlightening for Kiki:
I met with Emilie at the front desk. When I introduced myself to her and told her about the questions asked during job interviews she said, “They aren’t allowed to ask those questions” to which I replied, employers most certainly can ask those questions and in order to prevent that, her boss needs to take immediate action on SB440. She looked in her computer to check the status of SB440 and HB352 and was surprised to see that both of those bills were presented in February and March of 2005 and NO ACTION HAD BEEN TAKEN ON EITHER ONE OF THEM. Which led into my telling her that was exactly why I was there today. I gave her the petitions and showed her that over 5,000 people want this legislation changed. She said that she and her colleague (I believe the name is Vonda) hadn’t even heard about this legislation until they started getting phone calls from women all over the country asking for action to be taken on it. I didn’t express this but I thought it was very sad and troubling that Gordner’s own people aren’t made aware of the legislation but on the other hand, you should have seen me beaming when she said that people from all over the country were calling in and sending e-mails. I told her she should probably expect more phone calls and e-mails because there IS enough time to pass this legislation and it is solely up to Sen. Gordner to do that. I told her I don’t care if he doesn’t like this legislation – what matters is what the committee has a say about it and if he keeps stalling, they’ll never have a chance to vote on it and women’s abilities to get jobs with dignity and respect will continue to be suppressed. Too many people will suffer by Sen. Gordner’s inaction.
WOW, if that doesn’t get you worked up, I don’t know what will! What is wrong with these guys?
I will leave you with this amazing message from our incredible Kiki:
I have to tell you what I saw that is inscribed on one of the walls outside the front entrance to the Capitol Building. It is this quote: THERE IS A TIME TO PRAY AND A TIME TO FIGHT.
I thought it pleasantly ironic that I have been praying and praying for help on this legislation and have been blessed with meeting all of you and now it is truly time to fight. Having the petitions of 5,243 people in my hands made me feel like I walked into the Capitol with an army! I believe that armed with the strength of the support from all those people truly resonated with the words and tone I used to urge action on the legislation. At least I hope so. One this is FOR SURE: the calls and e-mails still need to keeping coming in to Gordner and O’Brien, and the rest of the Pennsylvania legislature.
Oh, and this is a “PS,” as if you aren’t totally fired up enough yet -- get this email sent to Kiki from a Gordner staffer this morning before she got to Harrisburg (I put some of Kiki’s response at the end and I will include his email address because, well, Todd needs to hear from us, too, I think):
Thank for you again contacting Sen. Gordner regarding this issue.
As per his August 2 letter to you, the Committee is currently concentrating on bills that have already cleared the House of Representatives and Senate bills that have yet to receive consideration are not on the active agenda due to the limited time remaining in the legislative session.
Todd B. Roup
Senate Labor and Industry Committee
Dear Mr. Roup,
I am sorry that you will be unavailable today but I am always available to discuss this legislation and can be reached by phone. However, as you said with the limited time available, I feel it is imperative that I come to Harrisburg today so Sen. Gordner can see for himself how many supporters this legislation has with the physical hard copies of the material.
There are 23 other states in this country including states that have a significantly higher number of employers and employees than Pennsylvania does such as New Jersey, Washington DC, New York and California that DO NOT permit questions regarding marital/familial status during job interviews. They seem to be doing just fine with it. Again I have to ask you, why does Pennsylvania continuously and consistently support legal discrimination
against its residents by withholding this legislation???
I don't think timing is the relevant issue here. I don't mean to bring up a sore subject, but the midnight vote to give pay raises to our lawmakers is one of those issues that went through in record time - why not this bill?
We're not asking for a raise, just a chance to get a job with the dignity and respect we deserve so we can support our families. In the 12 years I have been trying to get this legislation passed, not one individual has ever
given me a valid reason why Pennsylvania is not keeping up with the rest of the country in terms of employment equality.
I have seen many other bills fly through the House and Senate over the years and become laws while I have also watched committee chairmen allow bills like SB440 & HB352 languish till their death at the end of the legislative
session. I hope that is not going to be the case this time.
No, it is not timing Mr. Roup, but archaic attitudes that are holding back SB440 & HB352. The word timing is being used as a tool (excuse) to continue to suppress Pennsylvanians (especially women and especially mothers) from
opportunities for survival. If we were to meet you in person today, I would ask you and Sen. Gordner, who was the Pennsylvania state motto written for?
Pennsylvania's state motto is "Virtue, Liberty, Independence." Virtue means goodness; liberty means freedom; and independence means to be able to survive on your own without the control of others. These things are very important to Pennsylvania.
There is no goodness in legal discrimination; we have no freedom to get jobs we are qualified to do; and the excuse of timing only enhances us being under the control of others - in this case, we remain under the control of the chairman of the Labor & Industry Committee and the Judiciary Committee who are both holding this bill and our survival in their hands.
For OUR independence sake, please ask Sen. Gordner to bring the bill to committee for a vote. There IS STILL TIME - if he makes the TIME. I will be there shortly to drop off the papers.
Very sincerely yours,