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Decorative Gourd Season goes GOTV

Does this election season have you stressed out? I’ve got a solution for you! Let’s Gourd Out The Vote and carve some electoral pumpkins!

What the what? What is “Gourd Out the Vote” and what is an electoral pumpkin? A weird band? A polling firm? Nope! Gourd out the vote is a seasonal play on “get out the vote” and electoral pumpkins are my go-to election season stress reliever.

Let me explain. A few years ago during a particularly stressful campaign, I found myself doodling and sketching out campaign signs while looking across a table at a pumpkin and thought – I’m gonna put this campaign sign on a pumpkin and…voila! Since then, I've really come to think outside the box when it comes to pumpkin carving patterns. Why not use your gourd to GOTV (get out the vote) or promote your favorite issues and organizations? One of the first rules of organizing is to go where the people are – and if people are coming to your door to collect treats why not put your message right in front of them?

So with all of that in mind, I’m super excited to share hot-off-the-presses pumpkin patterns featuring some of my favorite MomsRising and voting images! Click the links below to download templates for your own pumpkin carving pleasure!

Once you're done carving your pumpkins, be sure to take pics and share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more! Use these hashtags so we’ll be sure to see your creations. Tag @MomsRising and use hashtags like #MomsVote, #Halloween #CantWait2Vote #MeUrgeVotar #BeAVoter #WhenWeAllVote #Nov6 and #vote! 

And be sure to visit the MomsRising MomsVote page to find tons of information to get you through election season, including kits for getting your kids involved in voting, discussion guides for talking to your friends and family about the importance of voting, sample questions to ask candidates, and more!

I hope you enjoy these! Make sure to share your pictures on our Facebook page and/or tweet a picture to @MomsRising via Twitter with the hashtag #CantWait2Vote!

Know Your Voting Rights!

Right now there are 53,000 people in Georgia who think they are registered to vote, but in actuality, their voter registrations are “pending” because of an unfair and discriminatory policy. As a result, tens of thousands of Georgians may be prevented from voting on Voting Day. There also have been voter registration issues reported in Texas and North Dakota.

This is voter suppression and we won’t stand for it! It is important now more than ever that you know your rights when heading to the polls.

With all that is happening in the weeks before Voting Day, it’s important that you know your rights. Here are a few short tips to follow before and when you are going to vote:

  1. Check to make sure you are registered to vote! Considering what is happenings, it’s super important that you check to make sure you are registered to vote. We’ve heard from MomsRising members all over the country, not just Georgia, who thought they were registered to vote, and it ended up they no longer were. Check your registration here.
  2. If you suspect you are one of the 53,000 in Georgia, here are the steps you should take: Check to see if your registration form is on hold here. If it’s on hold or there is a problem a red bar will appear at the top directing you to your county registrar for next steps. Per Georgia law, those with pending applications have 26 months to fix the verification issue. Even if a registration application is pending on Voting Day, if the voter provides proper identification, the Secretary of State's office said they can cast a regular ballot and not a provisional ballot. You can find more information here.
  3. Put together a voting plan and be prepared when you go to vote! Every state has different requirements on what you need to bring when you go to vote, including what forms of id are acceptable.The best thing to do is have a plan! Educate yourself on what to do beforehand, so there are little to no surprises when you show up to vote. Learn the rules for voting in your state by going here.
  4. Know what to do if you encounter voter intimidation! Voter intimidation is rare and unlikely but also illegal if you encounter it. Voter intimidation could be aggressive questioning about voting qualifications or false information about voter requirements (like saying you need to be an English speaker or that you have to take a reading test to vote). It’s good to know what voter intimidation looks like and know your rights. Check out this FAQ from the ACLU.
  5. If you encounter any problems at the polls when you go to vote, do not leave! If anything weird or confusing is happening, if they are telling you you’re not registered to vote, or if you are unable to vote in any way it’s very important to stay calm, do not leave (stay in line if you can) and call the voter protection hotline to figure out next steps and for FREE legal advice! 866-OUR-VOTE. Program this number into your phone in case anything comes up and you need advice or help!

If you are facing a conviction you might also want to check out this blog, which talks about your voting rights.

Chances are you will have an easy time voting. But in case not, it’s always good to know your rights, be educated and informed, and prepared to take action if anything concerning comes up.

We want to get this info out there so make sure to share this blog with your friends and family! Send them the link and post to Facebook and Twitter so everyone knows their rights!

*Want to know more about what's going on in Georgia? Here's the lowdown:

Even though the voter registration deadline in Georgia has already passed, it has been discovered that 53,000 voters might be unable to vote on regular ballots come Voting Day due to an unfair and discriminatory policy called “exact match.” 

“Exact match” states that your voter registration could be rejected, or placed in a “pending” status if your name and information doesn’t exactly match the information on your driver’s license or Social Security card. 

And we mean an exact match—a missing hyphen, changed last name, or the addition of a middle initial is enough to make the Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office put on hold the voter registration forms of tens of thousands of voters. Know who is most likely to add a hyphen or name change? 80% of married women, including moms. And 70% of those 53,000 voters who are being suppressed because of this policy are Black. 

This is outrageous! It’s discriminatory. It’s voter suppression less than a month before the midterms. And it must stop now.

Thankfully, a number of civil rights groups are suing the Georgia Secretary of State, calling on Brian Kemp to process the 53,000 voter registration forms. 

→ We want to add the voices of moms, dads, and concerned people to this chorus and call on Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to process those voter registration forms that are on hold because of the “exact match” policy and do away with this discriminatory and oppressive policy.

Tell Congress to invest in childcare - not child prisons!

Nina Perez's picture

"I receive childcare assistance through my local DHS office. If I didn’t get this assistance I could not work (even though I live paycheck to paycheck) and would have to apply for Welfare. I’m more than grateful for every penny I receive for childcare. Without it I would have to pay $120 a week! My daughter is learning so much from the program that is offered: she knows how to count, read (some small sentences,) knows her alphabet, and she knows how to draw. She is four years old." – Amanda

Investments in affordable, quality childcare can be THE difference in a family’s ability to thrive. Just like it is for Amanda’s family. 

But at a time when most families are struggling to scrape by paying for childcare that can cost more than their rent or mortgage, important early childhood and education funds are being diverted to pay for cruel anti-immigrant initiatives that harm children instead of helping them grow and succeed. This is NOT okay. 

We know childcare is critical for families, but too often our elected leaders don’t. Instead many are focusing their efforts on funding harmful policies. YOU can help change this. 

Have you or someone you know ever benefited from childcare assistance? Share your childcare experience directly with elected leaders by clicking this link and urge your members of Congress to get their priorities straight! It’s time to increase funding for affordable, high-quality childcare - not child prisons.

Things have clearly gotten all kinds of mixed up and messed up. Leaders need to hear our experiences and be reminded about where the priorities are - investing in programs like affordable, high-quality early education and care. Not initiatives that directly harm children and families. 

The allocation of billions of dollars to fund family separation and detention is cruel and a massive waste of taxpayer funds. And I mean like a MASSIVE waste. In FY18, the Department of Homeland Security estimated that it cost on average $798 dollars per day, per family, to incarcerate a family on the border. On the other hand, with the Family Case Management Program, (which the Trump administration terminated in 2017), children and their parents were provided with individualized family service plans, and had a proven, nearly 100% success rate ensuring the family attend their hearings, and it cost only $36, per family, per day! 

Families need safe and nurturing environments for their children, not detention centers. Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars, leaders should instead allocate funding for programs that families really need, like high-quality early learning, that actually boosts our economy! There is almost no better return on investments for taxpayers than investing in early education and care. Studies show that for every $1 invested in early learning programs (like childcare and pre-k), taxpayers see a 13% return in investments due to fewer later grade repetitions, fewer later interactions with the criminal justice system, and more. 

This is a no brainer. Now it’s time to make sure our elected leaders see it, too. 

**Click here to tell your members of Congress (it can be one sentence or twenty!) why investing in programs like affordable, high-quality childcare is what families and our communities really need! 

Why is it so important that they hear directly from families in the thick of it? 

Too often, people think of childcare and early education as a “personal issue” - as in, our own problem to solve. But we know that when enough people are experiencing the same problem, it’s not an epidemic of personal failings, but a larger systemic issue that needs a larger solution. And lifting up your experiences shows elected leaders that the childcare struggle isn’t isolated, but a big issue impacting families in a real way. 

Children need enriching environments to develop and grow - and we know that early learning opportunities like preschool and childcare can set the foundation for children to experience success in school and life.

It’s time to get back on track with what really matters. 

Tell your members of Congress to focus on building a nation where our littlest learners are thriving, not imprisoned, by sharing how access to childcare has impacted your family or a family you know.

 

The spin begins: basic needs programs are blamed for increasing the deficit, when tax cuts are really at fault

When the 2017 $1.9 trillion in tax cuts were enacted, many of us predicted that the hole in the budget caused by the lost revenue would be used by the Trump Administration and some in Congress to justify cuts in basic needs programs like Medicaid, Medicare, housing, and SNAP.

And we were right:  the Treasury Department just put out year-end figures showing an increase in the deficit (up $113 billion over the previous year), and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both said that the way to reduce deficits was to cut spending, with nary a peep about the tax cuts’ impact.

But here’s the truth:  as a nation, we have obligations to meet the health care and other needs of low- and moderate-income people and retirees. When we expand Medicaid, dramatically reducing the number of people without health insurance, that’s good news. More people are well enough to work and fewer people face bankruptcy from medical debt: that helps the larger economy. Yes, it costs money, just as baby boomers retiring leads to increased Social Security costs. Knowing that we have these obligations should cause us to make sure that our revenue streams stay adequate.

Our leaders instead passed a giant tax cut. As a result, in the year-end balance sheet, we see revenues increasing less than one percent in the past year, and dropping from 17.2 percent as a share of the economy (GDP) in FY 2017 to 16.5 percent in FY 2018. Corporate tax revenues declined by nearly one-third (an eye-popping 31 percent drop, especially in a strong economy) over the year. If corporate revenues had stayed level, most of the increase in the deficit would have been wiped out.

Federal spending did rise last year, by about 3 percent overall, which is relatively modest (as a share of the economy, federal spending actually dropped, from 20.7 percent to 20.3 percent). Pentagon spending went up 6 percent, an area where savings are really possible. Some basic needs programs saw spending decreases: SNAP/food stamps outlays dropped by more than $1.6 billion (down 2.3 percent).  Combined Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare costs were up 4 percent, a pretty modest increase considering the growing numbers of retirees and people newly eligible for Medicaid because of expansion in many states.

Majority Leader McConnell told Bloomberg News “I think it’s pretty safe to say that entitlement changes, which is the real driver of the debt by any objective standard, may well be difficult if not impossible to achieve when you have unified government.” He was unsurprisingly mum about the role of the tax cuts. And while party leadership usually calls for unified control of House, Senate, and the presidency, he now has pivoted in an apparent attempt to shirk blame for the deficit’s increase.

OMB Director Mulvaney also sought to use the deficit to call for spending cuts: “This fiscal picture is a blunt warning to Congress of the dire consequences of irresponsible and unnecessary spending,” as quoted by NPR.

No – the fiscal picture is a blunt warning that the tax cuts, with their huge disproportionate benefits to the wealthiest Americans and corporations, are unaffordable and profoundly unfair. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, in 2018 the lowest-income households (earning less than $23,000) got an average tax benefit of $90, or 25 cents a day. Middle-income households (with incomes of $40,000 – $110,000) got $1,000, or $2.75 a day. The richest one percent (over $590,000) got $47,650, or $130.55 a day. Siphoning revenues out of the Treasury to further enrich the already rich will make it harder to pay for Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security (as well as housing, education, and all the other domestic needs). That matters quite a bit to the people averaging a few dollars or a lot less every day from the tax cuts. The top one percent? Their wealth grows, widening the already gaping inequality.  And the disparities are even worse by race/ethnicity. Whites in the top one percent averaged a $52,400 tax break in 2018.  Blacks and Latinos in the top one percent averaged less than $20,000 (and in the bottom group received $90 or $110, respectively).

Millions of Americans need health insurance, Social Security, education, and protections from economic and other disasters beyond their control. Our leaders, having transferred trillions of tax cut dollars overwhelmingly to the rich, now want to tell us these necessities are “irresponsible and unnecessary spending.”  Nope – that would be the tax cuts.

This post was originally published on the Coalition on Human Needs' blog, Voices for Human Needs. Receive similar articles in your inbox by subscribing today, and follow CHN on Facebook and Twitter.

Fact of the Week: Nearly 8,500 Arkansans have been kicked off Medicaid since Sept. 1 due to harsh time limits

More than 4,100 Arkansans lost Medicaid coverage on Oct. 1, adding to the more than 4,350 adults in the state who were kicked off the Medicaid roles on Sept. 1. These nearly 8,500 adults lost their coverage due to the state’s harsh new work reporting requirements, which require beneficiaries to report at least 80 hours of work or work-related activities every month.

Those who are don’t report the required number of hours for three months lose their Medicaid coverage regardless of their reason for not reporting – whether they can’t find a job, have a job (or multiple jobs) with unstable hours that don’t get them to 80 hours a month, don’t have access to a computer to file their hours or have trouble using the online portal, can’t work because of health reasons that don’t qualify for an exemption, or don’t even know that they are supposed to be reporting their hours in the first place. And in Arkansas, once you are kicked off Medicaid for failing to meet the strict reporting requirements for any three months in a plan year, you are locked out of getting your coverage back for the rest of that year. For these nearly 8,500 adults, that means that they can’t get their Medicaid health insurance coverage back for the rest of 2018, even if they meet the requirements going forward or become exempt from them due to illness or other reasons.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Arkansas Department of Human Services, nearly a quarter of Arkansans subjected to the reporting requirements – or more than 16,750 people – failed to meet them. As Jennifer Wagner with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) pointed out, in addition to the nearly 8,500 people who have already been kicked off Medicaid, “Almost 5,000 beneficiaries now have two months of non-compliance with the work requirement and will lose coverage if they don’t report 80 hours of work or work-related activities for another month this year. And another 7,500 have one month of non-compliance and will lose coverage if they have two more non-compliance months. Thousands of them will likely lose coverage in the coming months.”

At an event held on Oct. 16 with the CBPP and the Hamilton Project, Marquita Little Numan with Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families talked about her state’s time limits. She said the policy is so administratively complex and difficult to navigate that people fall through the cracks. The online portal required to report hours has had all sorts of problems and goes offline for hours every day. When the reporting requirements started, there were so many problems with the website that the state extended the deadline for reporting, but many people never got that message. She noted that people with mental health issues, those facing homelessness, and many others caught up in the administrative barriers have all been hurt with coverage cuts. She stressed that rather than cut health care coverage, we need instead to address the barriers to meaningful work that those in and near poverty face, such as a lack of transportation options, a biased criminal justice system, and others. The event was held in conjunction with a new report from the Hamilton Project showing that the majority of SNAP and Medicaid participants who would be exposed to work requirements are working, but that a substantial share would fail to consistently meet a 20 hour per week threshold due to high volatility in the low-wage job market, health issues, and other concerns.

We’re written in the past about why work requirements don’t work and about how, despite claims that these harsh time limits help people get jobs, proposals to add work requirements are really just a way to push people off programs that help provide basic living standards, in part to pay for things like the bill Congress passed last December to give massive tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations. Now, however, thousands of people in Arkansas are feeling the very real effects of this harmful policy.

For more information about the punishing time limits in Arkansas, see these resources from Families USA.

This post was originally published on the Coalition on Human Needs' blog, Voices for Human Needs. Receive similar articles in your inbox by subscribing today, and follow CHN on Facebook and Twitter.

 

New study shows expanding Medicaid improves access to care for low-income adults

We know that states that expanded their Medicaid program have far fewer uninsured working-age adults. Now, thanks to a new study from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), we know that such health insurance coverage is leading to better access to care.

Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in September showed that in 2017 the uninsured rate for 19-64 year olds in states that did not expand Medicaid eligibility was 16.7 percent, while the uninsured rate in states that did expand Medicaid was 9.4 percent. The new report from the GAO shows that low-income adults in expansion states are less like to report having unmet medical needs, are less likely to forego care because of cost, are more likely to have a usual place of care, and are more likely to receive selected health care services (like getting a flu shot or a blood pressure check) than their peers in states that did not expand Medicaid.

The GAO worked with the National Center for Health Statistics to analyze federal survey data from 2016. Among the report’s findings:

  • The percentage of low-income adults who reported any unmet medical need was more than 50 percent higher in nonexpansion states compared to expansion states (40 percent in nonexpansion states vs. 26 percent in expansion states).
  • Low-income adults in states that did not expand Medicaid were more than twice as likely to forgo medical care due to cost: roughly 20 percent of low-income adults in nonexpansion states reported they were forced to forgo needed medical care because they could not afford the service, compared to nine percent of low-income adults in expansion states. Twenty-two percent of low-income adults in nonexpansion states said they needed but could not afford dental care, compared to 15 percent in states that did expand Medicaid.
  • Even low-income adults who were uninsured fared better in expansion states than their peers in nonexpansion states in many respects. They were less likely to report having unmet medical needs and less likely to report having to forego health care services because of cost than their counterparts in states that did not expand Medicaid.

The GAO report doesn’t say why it is that uninsured low-income adults have fewer unmet needs or financial barriers to care compared to folks in expansion states, despite not having insurance. One could speculate that states that chose to protect more low-income residents by expanding Medicaid eligibility are also more likely to provide more funding for community health centers or other sites for care, and/or that they are better at providing other services like food and shelter that allow people in need to spend their limited resources on needed medical care.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who requested the study, said following the report’s release, “States around the country have an opportunity to expand Medicaid to more people – these findings help show why it’s a winning proposition for states and the millions of Americans currently left out of America’s health care system.”

These findings are similar to the positive results compiled by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which found, for example, that while 32 percent of uninsured people reported having a medical problem but did not see a doctor, that was true of only 9 percent of Medicaid enrollees. Medicaid enrollees were also less likely to report medical debt or trouble paying medical bills. In addition, surveys in Medicaid expansion states Arkansas and Kentucky found increases in enrollees getting health check-ups (30 percent and 54 percent up, respectively). Arkansas’ recent denials of Medicaid to nearly 8,500 people who could not meet work reporting requirements would be expected to reduce the number of people overall receiving check-ups.

According to Families USA, residents of four states will be voting on Medicaid expansion via ballot initiatives this November. Residents in Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska will be voting on whether to expand their Medicaid programs, while voters in Montana will decide whether or not to continue their Medicaid expansion program, which is currently set to expire in 2019. The findings in the new reports should tell voters that Medicaid expansion will help more of their neighbors get medical care.

This post was originally published on the Coalition on Human Needs' blog, Voices for Human Needs. Receive similar articles in your inbox by subscribing today, and follow CHN on Facebook and Twitter.

Top #5Actions of the Past Week: Oct 19, 2018

Happy Friday! We have a dual focus this week. With just over two weeks left until the election, we need all hands on deck to help get out the vote. See below for easy ways to get involved. At the same time, we need to keep the drumbeat going around critical issues like immigration. The Trump administration has actually introduced yet another effort to hurt immigrant families, and our voices are needed. Scroll down for a chance to thank Dr. Blasey-Ford, too. 

Please remember to share this list with family and friends, too. Thank you for all you do! On with the list ... 

1. MomsVote GOTV Power Surge: Sign Up to Make Calls and Texts!

BACKGROUND: MomsRising has been thinking carefully and working hard on our plans for the final sprint to get out the vote. For the last few days before Nov. 6, we've designed actions that are strategic, easy and that maximize your time and effectiveness.

When you join our MomsVote GOTV power surge, you'll be reaching out to low-propensity voters in under-represented communities through phone banking and/or texting, using YOUR personal voice to connect with them and help inspire them to vote. We need moms, dads, grandparents and everyone who cares about the future of our country to join MomsRising's burst of power to the polls! Sign up now to make a few calls, send a few texts, or BOTH!

2. Speak Out for Immigrant Families!

Background: Families come first. The Trump Administration has proposed a change to federal immigration rules that would hurt low income working families. The new “public charge” regulation makes immigration a pay-to-play game, putting the wealthy ahead of families who’ve waited years to be reunited, have worked hard, and played by the rules. If the federal government believes an individual could at sometime use programs such as SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, CHIP (children’s health insurance), Section 8 housing vouchers, or the low income subsidy for Medicare Part D, it could count against them when they apply to receive a green card.We only have 60 days to collect comments on this rule. working families and submit a comment today! Speak out to #ProtectFamilies

3. Tell GA Secretary of State Brian Kemp to Stop Suppressing the Vote!

BACKGROUND: Even though the voter registration deadline in Georgia has already passed, it has been discovered that 53,000 voters might be unable to vote on regular ballots come Voting Day (November 6th) due to an unfair and discriminatory policy called “exact match.” “Exact match” states that your voter registration could be rejected, or placed in a “pending” status if your name and information doesn’t exactly match the information on your driver’s license or social security card. And 70% of those 53,000 voters who are being suppressed because of this policy are Black. This is voter suppression and it has to stop right now. *SIGN our letter to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp demanding that he stop suppressing the vote of thousands of Georgia voters!

4. Send Thanks to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

BACKGROUND: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford gave the country an important teaching moment on the devastating impact of sexual violence with her dignified, forthright, and persuasive testimony about Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. With the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, we saw a stark demonstration of how much further we have to go as a nation in supporting and believing survivors of sexual assault and holding perpetrators accountable. Sign now to say “Thank you” to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford for bravely sharing her story and for her powerful testimony at last week’s Supreme Court Hearing.

5. Contribute Today to Help MomsRising Get Out the Vote! 

BACKGROUND: We need your support to help energize our #MomsVote work so we can bring forward the votes and voices of women and moms across the nation in the election season. With MomsVote, we can register women to vote, educate the candidates about what matters the most to women and moms, engage MomsRising members in the national political dialogue, and more.

Thanks for all you are doing to help Get Out the Vote in 2018! We so very much appreciate you!

Make it Work: Transforming the workplace for families and moms

[photo of 3 adults and 2 children]

October is National Work and Family Month and it’s a good time to talk about the demands of both work and family. Workers, especially working parents, need workplace supports that help address deep systemic inequities based on race, class, and gender. We need policies that make it possible for everyone to have strong families--like equal wages, paid leave, and affordable childcare.

National Work and Family Month was created to celebrate strides made in creating workplaces that promote the well-being of workers and their families. Washington was recently ranked as one of the best states to work in by Oxfam America based on workers rights and wages.  Let’s talk about why we’re on top and what’s the work ahead to make it an even stronger state for families.

Paid Family and Medical Leave

One policy that we’re especially excited about is Paid family and Medical Leave coming to Washington State. Paid leave is a huge policy for promoting true work-life balance for all workers and their families. And, the benefits for businesses are many, including: boosting morale, reducing costs with decreased turnover, keeps employers competitive in a global market, and makes it possible for smaller businesses to participate.

Beginning January 2020, Washington’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave program will make it possible for workers to be there for family during times of joy and times of sorrow. Paid Family and Medical Leave will be paid for through a statewide insurance pool that employees and some employers will contribute to beginning January 2019. The average worker will contribute just $2 per week from their paycheck. Read more here.  Sign up for MomsForce for Paid leave to help us keep the momentum going for paid leave.

Equal Pay

Equal pay for equal work is a matter of basic fairness., Equal pay is especially important for mothers, many of whom are the primary breadwinners for their families. Higher wages for moms will also boost the economy because the more they earn, the more they will spend.  In 2018, the WA legislature passed the Equal Pay Opportunity Act passed which is a fantastic win for families and workers. The law will:

  1. Protect the right of workers to share their wage or salary information with co-workers without fear of retaliation

  2. Create a new right of action for women who are unfairly passed over for promotions or tracked into lower paying jobs

  3. Provide a new administrative remedy for wage discrimination (which means that women can ask the State to investigate wage discrimination claims without having to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit)

Read more here.

While we have have made great strides, there is still work to do to make our workplaces even more productive and family-friendly. Here are two changes MomsRising is calling for this next legislative session and beyond.

More affordable high-quality child care and early learning  

Families across Washington struggle to get to work while they search to find places for their children to be safe, loved and learning: nearly half of American families live in “childcare deserts” where there aren’t enough childcare options. Compounding that, affording childcare is an unsolvable math problem with infant child care costing more than public college tuition in our state.

Families know what works when it comes to our littlest learners: safe and nurturing environments, full of teachers who are well trained and fairly compensated, who reflect the diversity of our children, and meet the unique needs of every child. That’s why we’re urging Governor Inslee to ensure families have access to high-quality early learning opportunities like pre-k and childcare. Read more and take action here.

Caregiving reform for unemployment insurance

We also need safety nets for families who are looking for work or have left the workforce temporarily to help family. There are moments in life where family must come first and you shouldn't be denied unemployment because of it. But Washington's laws don't reflect the caregiving roles that many of us take on in our families nor do they set reasonable standards for working parents struggling to find childcare. Unemployment insurance is something a lot of us don't think about until we need it most. These benefits are a critical safety net for families who need a stop-gap between jobs.

We're building MOMentum to change Washington's unemployment insurance laws and call on the Washington State Legislature to take action. Read more here.

On National Work and Family Month, let’s stress to employers and lawmakers the importance of family friendly policies, which not only boost families and workers’ morale but also businesses and the economy. Paid family and medical leave, equal pay, affordable child care, and unemployment insurance are vital for everyone who is balancing their roles as great workers and caring family members.

Why the Midterm Elections are a Big Deal and Why I am Voting

What is the big deal with the midterm elections?  Everyone is talking about them. It seems you can’t surf social media, listen to the radio, or watch television without hearing something about them these days.  What is the big whoop? Well, let me tell you why they are important and why I am voting.

 

Remember in junior high when you learned about the branches of government and checks and balances?  The House of Representatives and the Senate are where bills are introduced, voted on, and then passed onto the President’s desk.  He can either veto the bills or sign them into law. All the members House of Representatives are up for election in the midterms and about one third of the Senate.  There are also 39 governorships up for election--36 states and three territories. Right now, the House and the Senate are controlled by the Republicans. Many people like me would like to “flip” the House and the Senate.  The way things stand now, Republicans are passing bills that are hurting my family and many others.

Do you care how much you pay in taxes?  Do you care about paid family leave? Do you care about gun laws?  I do. I don’t know what is important to you, but I do know that if you want your voice heard, then you need to vote.  I want legislators that listen to me and represent my views. I want legislators that will stand up for what is right.

Fifteen years ago, I became the main caregiver for my parents and my grandmother.   I did this while raising my young children. I did not work, not because I did not want to but because someone had to be able to take my Dad to his radiation appointments, to take my Mom to the hospital for her bi-weekly infusions and had to give my Grandmother a bath.  I left a high-level career in marketing and business development to do it. There was no one else. If my family would have had access to paid family leave, then I could have kept working. My conservative estimate is that I gave up around $900,000 over those years. That $900,000 could have gone back into the economy, it could have funded my retirement, it could have secured college for my kids.  My whole family paid the price and we are still paying it as I start my career over again. Paid family leave would have been a godsend.

The new tax plan is going to hurt.  My family currently pays just under $4,000 per month out of pocket for medical premiums and therapies for my three special needs kids.  That is basically two extra mortgages. Get a better insurance plan you say! I have the platinum plan. The insurance companies have become so difficult to deal with that medical providers are no longer taking insurance.  The ones that take insurance have three year wait times. Three YEARS. My kids need occupational therapy. My kids need to see a pediatric psychiatrist. I pay out of pocket. I used to deduct most of these costs. The tax structure has changed drastically and what I am going to see personally is that I will have less money in my pocket to support my family.  

Sandy Hook.  I am voting because of Sandy Hook.  I will not stop until we have better gun laws in place.  The American people turned their back on kindergarteners’ bodies getting ripped apart by a mad man with a semi-automatic gun.  Nothing has been done. I will use my vote to elect legislators that will do the right thing by creating stricter gun laws.

Take a moment and ponder what is important to you.  What is important for your family? Your vote is your voice.  You might say it just does not matter. Maybe you think your vote is nothing in the grand scheme of things--it won’t make a difference. I would like to give you an example from my home state of Washington.  In 2004 Christine Gregoire won by only 133 votes. That was a margin of only 0.004842%.

If you read nothing else in this article, please read this:

Your vote = Your voice

Your Voice = Change

Without your vote, nothing changes.  I am not asking you to be the next Alyssa Milano. I am urging you to perhaps step out of your comfort zone and voice your opinions through your actions.  Please vote.

NC: It's time to VOTE!

BethM's picture

It's ON. Early voting is underway in North Carolina from Wednesday, October 17th, until Saturday, November 3rd (of course, you can also vote on Election Day, November 6th!). There's a lot at stake for women and families this election – now it's YOUR turn to have the final say when you head to the voting booth. It's time to own our power!

Early voting is the easiest way to make a plan to vote and avoid potential lines on Election Day. And–if you missed registering to vote by the October 12th deadline–you can still register and vote during the early voting period in North Carolina.

We've put together a quick reference for you to make sure you have everything you need to make your vote count this year. 

Voting Information:

Voting dates and locations: You can either vote at an early voting location from Wednesday, October 17th, until Saturday, November 3rd, or at your polling place on Election Day on Tuesday, November 6th. To find early voting times and locations in your county, click here. (Of course, you can also vote on Election Day, November 6th!)

If you live in an area impacted by Hurricane Florence and/ or have been displaced, visit https://www.ncvoter.org/after-the-hurricane-know-your-voting-rights/  or https://www.ncsbe.gov/florence for information on voting locations and voting by absentee ballot.

You do NOT need an ID to vote in NC this year (the courts struck that down) unless you are a first time voter in the county or will be using Same Day Registration during the early voting period.

Registration: If you missed the 25-day registration deadline of October 12th, you can use Same Day Registration during Early Voting. (It is not an option on Election Day.)

To use Same Day Registration, you must provide one of the following documents to an election official at an Early Voting location:

  • NC driver’s license
  • Other government photo ID with name and current address
  • Utility bill, bank statement, or payroll stub with name and current address
  • Student photo ID with a school document showing the student’s address
  • Any document from any government agency with the voter’s name and current address.

Not sure if you're registered? Check your voter registration here!

Got voting questions? There have been a lot of changes to NC voting laws recently, and we want to make sure you get all your questions answered. Our partners at Democracy North Carolina have put together a website designed to answer all your voting questions. Check it out at ncvoter.org. You can also visit the NC State Board of Elections for resources.

Make voting a family celebration! MomsRising is cooking up lots of ways to make voting fun for the whole family. We're hosting family voting parties in Winston-Salem on the morning of October 27th and in Durham and Charlotte on the morning of November 3rd. There will be face painting, balloon artists, story times, and more. If you live and vote in those communities, be on the lookout for more information headed your way soon. 

Our Super Voter Treasure Boxes are headed out across the state and will be at early voting locations in Buncombe, Cabarrus, Cumberland, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Orange, Union, and Wake counties at various times during the early voting period. They have coloring sheets, bubbles, small toys and more for children as they stand in line with their parents to vote. Our Treasure Map of times and locations where you can find a Treasure Box near you will be up on our NC MomsVote blog later this week, so check back soon. 

Finally, you can throw your own voting celebration. Click here to download our early voting party toolkit complete with craft ideas, conversation starters, and children’s book suggestions all designed to help make voting fun for the whole family!

Spread the word!  This is an important election, and it’s critical that we all remind our friends to vote. Will you change your Facebook profile picture to remind your friends that their votes (and their voices) matter? Together we can send a powerful message that voting matters in North Carolina!

Righ click on either of the images below to save it and then make it your profile picture on Facebook:

   

The voices of North Carolina moms and those who love them are powerful–but only if we use them. Make your plan to vote today on –or before! – November 6th today!