WHAT IS THE FEMZ AGENDA?
Last session, we were proud that our Deeds’ advocates were instrumental in supporting the passage of key legislation to create a safer environment on college campuses as well to create a statewide human trafficking prevention curriculum in our public high schools. This session, we continue to advocate for an agenda that seeks to prevent sexual assault as well as to expand gender equity through our FEMZ Agenda.
Under the FEMZ Agenda, we seek to create a more equitable framework through legislation that will assure:
- Freedom from sexual assault
- Economic opportunity through wage equity and reproductive autonomy
- Maternal health and Menstrual equity
- All powered by Generation Z
The FEMZ Agenda isn’t a female agenda, it’s a feminist one that seeks gender equity, regardless of orientation or identity. We hope that with these legislative reforms, increased opportunities will be made possible for all identities.
Highlights of our agenda include:
SB 146: Senator Rodriguez, HB 311: Representative Howard, HB 755: Representative Wu
Tampons are a necessity. You would think that’s obvious, but to some Texas lawmakers, not so much. Essential items are exempt from sales tax, like medications and even nicotine gum. But tampons are not exempt, making them more costly. This bill eliminates that tax. The multiple bills and authors listed above mean that multiple legislators filed this bill.
SB 585: Senator Watson
College campuses should have clear policies against sexual assault and tell students about them. Can you believe that’s not already mandatory? Under this bill, schools must define sexual assault & harassment, dating violence, and stalking, and make sure students know these policies and the repercussions of violating them. Colleges also need to make survivor resources clear. Students need someone to whom they can confidentially report and to know that they can report their assault to their university without filing a police complaint, for example. These are basic, overdue protections. A similar bill, HB 1735, is coming through the House thanks to Rep. Howard. Complementary bills increase the likelihood that the policy passes.
DISCIPLINARY NOTATION ON TRANSCRIPTS
HB 449: Representative Turner
What’s the point of reporting sexual assault on campus if your abuser can transfer to another school with a clean record? HB 449 requires schools to include a suspension or expulsion on a student’s transcript. If a student withdraws from school during a pending investigation, the school will continue the investigation process until a conclusion has been reached to determine responsibility. If the school decides to suspend or expel a student, that decision will be recorded on their transcript.
HB 287: Representative Thompson
According to federal law, the deadline for reporting pay discrimination is the date you discovered that you were being paid less than a male co-worker. But in Texas, the two-year timer starts when you are hired or when you signed your employment contract. What if you didn’t find out about the pay disparity until after those two years had already passed? The federal system allows more women to seek just pay discrimination claims, whereas the Texas system tries to put up roadblocks to equal pay by making it more difficult to file a pay discrimination complaint before the deadline. This bill makes the Texas system match the federal one, giving more women the ability to fight for equal pay.
RACIAL BIAS IN MEDICINE
HB 607: Representative Thierry
Our medical education system is expensive. This leads to a population of doctors that grew up with the ability to afford med school and one that looks pretty homogenous as a consequence. Doctors that can relate to their patients and their livelihood make better caretakers, point-blank. And those that don’t can make poor healthcare decisions, leading to spikes in maternal mortality for black women as just an example. This bill works to educate doctors on cultural differences and implicit biases that they might unconsciously hold so that all patients, no matter their background, can get equal, quality healthcare.
MENTAL HEALTH EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS
HB 204 and HB 198: Representative Thierry
In order to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health, public schools can teach their students more about these conditions and how to recognize if they are suffering from them and therefore be empowered to seek help. This bill would make mental health curriculum mandatory in public schools. Health classes already teach students how to take care of their bodies; your mind deserves healthcare too. <3
HB 3719: Representative González
TX teaches us that abstinence is the only type of sex-education we need. This bill would introduce age-appropriate, medically accurate information that: addresses women’s health and talks about the importance of OBGYN visits; educates students on healthy, age appropriate relationships; and discusses sexuality as a healthy part of life; A similar bill, HB 2161 by Rep. Cole and Rep. Talarico is similarly supportive of comprehensive sex ed.
CAMPUS VOTING PLACE EXPANSION
HB 375: Representative Hinojosa
Only seven of Texas’ 22 universities have an on-campus voting location during elections. With this bill, all universities with over 10,000 students will have on-campus polling locations. This is an effort to end voter suppression and increase young people’s access to the ballot box. Everyone has a fundamental right to vote and our government should make that process as simple and accessible as possible.
THE LAVINA MASTERS ACT
HB 8: Representative Neave
The rape kit backlog in Texas is serious. Lavinia Masters’ rape kit containing the biological evidence from her assault sat on a shelf for 21 years instead of being tested, way past the 10-year statute of limitations. This bill would require an audit to determine the number, status and location of all rape kits in Texas, so kits don’t get lost in the shuffle like Lavinia’s once did. This bill prevents law enforcement from destroying rape kits in uncharged or unsolved cases before the statute of limitations ends or 50 years passes, whichever is longer. And a survivor will have five years to decide whether or not she wants to press charges before her kit is thrown out. It also puts the 10 year statute of limitations on pause unless and until a collected rape-kit is tested.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
HB 2279: Representative Zwiener
This bill expands protections against sexual harassment in the workplace to ALL workplaces, rather than just those who employ 15 or more employees (as is currently the case). It also creates a protection for unpaid interns, not just paid employees. Sen. Zaffirini has filed SB 46, the Senate companion bill.
ANTI PAID SICK LEAVE – AGAINST
SB 15: Senator Hall
Going to work when you’re sick sucks. Getting sick from someone who came into the office when they should have stayed home sucks even more. Last year Austin and other communities across the state took matters into their own hands and passed paid sick days ordinances. SB15 seeks to take away power from local leadership by prohibiting local government from making these type of decisions that directly affect its constituents. You (and your family) shouldn’t have to pick between health and a paycheck. We’re against this bill.