The state Legislature, LGBTQ+issues and the Paid Family Medical Leave law were all topics discussed at the November ICSEW regular membership meeting. In case you missed it, here is a short summary of each session. Meeting minutes are available here.
Karen Fraser – Legislature 101
Former Senator Karen Fraser presented on the Legislative process, walking everyone through the bill process from a local level perspective as it becomes a state law.
She also gave an overview of how all levels of government interact and impact each other and where powers as well as checks and balances lie. She did so with wit, humor, and a vast wealth of knowledge and answered questions about the Electoral College and personal experiences with obstacles specifically impacting women in government.
Resource: How a Bill Becomes a Law: http://leg.wa.gov/legislature/Pages/Bill2Law.aspx
Resource: Legislative Process Overview: http://leg.wa.gov/legislature/Pages/Overview.aspx
Nick Streuli, the Employment Security Department’s director of legislative and executive operations gave an overview of what may likely be the most controversial and highly-watched issues in the upcoming 2020 legislative session.
Streuli said the Department of Transportation will face challenges in balancing its budget. He said with the approval of the I-976 initiative on $30 car tabs, many transportation projects may have to be suspended until alternate forms of funding are found.
Streuli also talked about other challenges the DOT’s strained budget will have to address, including funding fixing and replacing several of the state’s culverts (large pipes that allow streams to flow under waterways). The culverts can prevent salmon from reaching their spawning grounds. In 2001 state tribes sued Washington state over harmed salmon habitat and drop in salmon numbers because of the culverts and impacting their right to fish. The supreme court ruled in favor of the tribes, and requires the state to fix the culverts.
Resource: Nick Streuli’s Presentation: https://icsew.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/legislative-session-2020.pdf
Paid Family and Medical Leave
April Amundson from the Employment Security Department gave a presentation on the state’s Paid Family Medical Leave Act. Washington workers will be able to use benefits starting in 2020. The benefits generally allow up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year care for oneself or their family members.
The presentation had information on eligibility, application process, participation requirements for employees and employers, calculation of benefits and definitions of exemptions.
Resources: Presentation – https://icsew.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/paid-family-medical-leave-presentation.pdf
ESD official site: https://www.paidleave.wa.gov/workers
The Rainbow Alliance Inclusion Network (RAIN) held an interactive question-and-answer panel with audience members. Panelists Allison Spector, Ayanna Colman, Mo Tabor and Joy Crouse presented an overview of the sex and gender spectrum and answered questions.
Several panelists talked candidly about some of the barriers they’ve experienced as LGBTQ+ people. They shared examples on how to address negative or ignorant comments (What you said hurts me; If you want to be respectful of these people, please stop) and what to do if you misuse a gender pronoun. If you do make a mistake, acknowledge it and keep trying. (“I know I keep messing up this pronoun thing, I promise I’m doing my best. Thanks for your patience. OR I’m not familiar with those pronouns. Can you go over them with me so I know if I am using them right?”) It’s also OK to ask someone their pronouns. It shows respect and courtesy.
The panel also provided examples of how employers can creative a more inclusive workplace for LGBTQ employees, such as:
- Creating gender neural bathrooms
- Including gender pronouns in email signature blocks
- Making it a regular practice to state your gender pronouns when you introduce yourself at meetings, job interviews and routine interactions
Resources: http://www.transstudent.org/ Transstudent.org is youth-led organization dedicated to transforming the educational environment for trans and gender nonconforming students through advocacy and empowerment. It has a definitions guide, illustrated graphics on pronoun etiquette, tips for being an ally and resources for LGBTQ+ people and for organizations to show support for LGBTQ+ people.