It's a new two-year session, and Pennsylvania's Women's Health caucus is back with a lengthy list of bills aimed at strengthening women's rights.
The proposed measures would affect pregnant, nursing and working mothers, as well as victims of domestic violence, the caucus' co-chairs said Monday.
They include a bill that would require employers to provide a private and clean space to express breast milk; a proposal to end the exemption from the state's sexual harassment law for those who employ three or fewer people; and a measure to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour:
Another bill would exempt a greater portion of earned income from cash assistance income limits to help low-income, working families that find they are using a large percentage of their take-home pay for transportation, child care co-payments, clothing and other expenses. The legislation would raise the exemption from 50 percent to 75 percent of earned income to encourage people to work.
A separate piece of legislation would exempt domestic violence victims from fees when removing themselves from an abuser's cell phone contract or having the abuser removed; another would allow for early termination of a rental lease with 30 days' notice if the tenant is the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, and to have their locks changed within three days at the tenant's expense.
Said Sen. Judy Schwank (D., Berks), one of the caucus' co-chairs, in a statement: "Women and families play a pivotal role in the overall health of our communities and the commonwealth. To know that there are still many things we can do to help deliver better policies, better laws and better protections for all means we still have some work to do."