Brown Signs Bills Providing Free Tampons, Expanding Family Leave

Governor Jerry Brown signs a package of bills surrounded by members of the California Legislative Women's Caucus.

Governor Jerry Brown signs a package of bills surrounded by members of the California Legislative Women's Caucus. (Katie Orr/KQED)

Decked out in “Wonder Woman” t-shirts, members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus celebrated some hard-fought victories at a signing ceremony with Governor Jerry Brown Thursday in Sacramento. Among the bills getting his signature was a measure that expands eligibility for 12-weeks of job-protected maternity and paternity leave. Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D- Santa Barbara) has been working on the issue for two years. She says the time off work is critical for new parents and babies.

“They are not a fun 12 weeks,” Jackson said. “They are hard work.”

Her bill requires companies with between 20 and 49 employees to provide the unpaid leave. Brown vetoed a slightly different version of the legislation last year. The current law only applies to workers at companies with 50 employees or more. The smallest companies will continue being exempt from the rules.

Other measures taking effect in January include one requiring middle and high schools with low-income students to provide free tampons and pads in bathrooms.

Another from Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D- San Diego) provides some welfare recipients with $30 a month to buy children’s diapers. Day care centers often require families to provide their own diapers. Gonzalez Fletcher says the bill will allow women to more easily provide for their families.

“Those women who are on Cal-Works and have a job or are getting an education and have subsidized child care, it will ensure that they get a diaper subsidy so that they don’t have another barrier to work or education,” she says.

This was Gonzalez Fletcher’s third attempt at the bill. A 2014 version would have provided an $80 subsidy. It died in the Senate. Another attempt in 2016 called for a $50 subsidy, it was vetoed by the governor.

Other measures expand eligibility for state-subsidized child care, prohibit employers from asking about job applicants’ salary histories and extend the amount of time rape kits must be preserved.

Brown Signs Bills Providing Free Tampons, Expanding Family Leave 13 October,2017Katie Orr

Author

Katie Orr

Katie Orr is a Sacramento-based reporter for KQED’s Politics and Government  Desk, covering the state Capitol and a variety of issues including women in politics, voting and elections and legislation. Prior to joining KQED in 2016, Katie was state government reporter for Capital Public Radio in Sacramento. She’s also worked for KPBS in San Diego, where she covered City Hall.

Katie received her masters degree in political science from San Diego State University and holds a Bachelors degree in broadcast journalism from Arizona State University.

In 2015 Katie won a national Clarion Award for a series of stories she did on women in California politics. She’s been honored by the Society for Professional Journalists and, in 2013, was named by The Washington Post as one of the country’s top state Capitol reporters.   She’s also reported for the award-winning documentary series The View from Here and was part of the team that won  national PRNDI and  Gabriel Awards in 2015. She lives in Sacramento with her husband. Twitter: @1KatieOrr

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