Response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade
I have worked for Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, and Catherine Cortez Masto, who is now the first Latina US senator in American history. Women's rights are human rights. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, nothing will change in blue states like California. However, we are already seeing the passage of laws in red states that will eliminate a woman's right to choose. As a result, women in red states will visit blue states like California. I will support the passage of legislation to ensure that they are not hampered by insurance and/or residency issues during their visit.
Remove taxes on diapers and menstrual hygiene products
SB 92 provided that the sale and use of “diapers for infants, toddlers, and children, and menstrual hygiene products, defined as tampons, specified sanitary napkins, menstrual sponges, and menstrual cups” would be exempt from sales taxes and use taxes for two years. I will support the passage of legislation making its provisions permanent beyond the two year period.
Paid family leave
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act, passed in 1993, allowed employees to take up to 12 unpaid weeks off work for reasons like childbirth, adoption, and personal or family illness, but only applied if there were 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee's worksite. The recently passed SB 1383, which updates the California Family Rights Act, allows workers in our state to take leave for up to 12 weeks if the employer has 5 or more employees, rather than 50. This is a step in the right direction because it expands the pool of workers who can take job-protected leave for family or medical reasons. However, these laws don't require the leave to be paid.
California does have a paid family leave program for workers who need to take time off to care for a seriously ill family member, bond with a new child, or participate in a similarly qualifying event. If eligible, workers receive benefit payments for up to 8 weeks. The current formula computes payments at about 60 to 70 percent of weekly wages earned 5 to 18 months before the claim start date. The payments come from the state rather than the employer.
I will introduce legislation that requires the employer to contribute the remaining 30 to 40 percent of wages so workers earn 100 percent of their wages during the leave period. I will also expand the paid leave period from 8 weeks to 12 weeks and expand the eligibility criteria so more workers and situations can qualify.
High quality, affordable child care
Families in the Bay Area have struggled to secure adequate child care. In 2020, as the pandemic took hold, over 8,000 child care centers closed in our state. And the centers that have stayed open are hard to find a space in because they have reduced capacity. Amidst the shortage, many women are being forced to sacrifice their careers because they simply have no other feasible option.
President Biden's Build Back Better legislation contained a number of provisions to increase the number of child care centers, raise the quality of child care, and make it more affordable for working families. Since the legislation does not appear likely to pass at the federal level, I am prepared to introduce similar legislation at the state level.