The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 passed the United States Senate yesterday on a vote of 94-3 after nine days of debate. The Senate bill and the House version that passed earlier this month, will raise the minimum wage from $5.15-an-hour to $7.25 by 2009. The Senate's version of the bill, however, includes $8.3 billion in tax breaks that were not included in the House's version. The bill will next be sent to a conference committee for Representatives and Senators to agree upon a final version. Republicans, including President Bush, have signaled that they will not support the bill unless the tax exemptions are included.
The act also provides that the Fair Labor Standards Act apply to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a US territory that has been exempt from US labor and immigration laws. Ms. magazine brought the plight of the predominately female, low-wage work-force in the CNMI to the attention of readers across the nation in an investigative report, "Paradise Lost."
Echoing the opinion of many Democrats, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) said of the bill "It should not be loaded up, it should not be complicated... The notion that we are still using this as a bargaining chip, dickering for various other tax breaks I think makes no sense. It's time to get this done."
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .