Alliance Releases New Federal Policy Agenda and Toolkit

The Alliance is pleased to publicly share its new Public Policy Toolkit. The toolkit provides helpful information on everything from planning an event with a legislator to engaging media around advocacy work. It is comprised of multiple short, informative guides that can easily help you find the information you need. Additionally, the Alliance has been conducting numerous webinars and in-person information gathering sessions, as well as engaging with members to update our Alliance policy agenda. At the Senior Leadership Conference, the Alliance policy staff officially released our updated 2019-2020 federal public policy agenda. We encourage you to review it and look forward to your feedback.

Introduction of the SAFE Act of 2019 in House and Senate

The Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act of 2019 was introduced in late February by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in the Senate and Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) in the House of Representatives. This legislation aims to address economic barriers that prevent domestic violence victims from taking steps to keep themselves and their families safe. The SAFE Act builds on past legislation like the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by allowing survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking to take time off without penalty in order to make court appearances and seek legal assistance.The SAFE Act supports survivors of domestic violence by giving them the tools and opportunities to securely make the choice to seek help or leave an abusive situation.  The bill is now pending before the Senate HELP Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee. The SAFE Act would:

  • Expand the National Resource Center Grant program under VAWA to include survivor services organizations.
  • Allow a survivor to take up to 30 days off work to receive medical attention, seek legal assistance, attend court proceedings and get help with safety planning.
  • Protect employees from being fired because they were harassed by their abuser, obtained protective orders, participated in the criminal or civil justice process, or sought modifications at work to increase workplace safety in response to domestic or sexual violence.
  • Require employers to make reasonable safety precautions or job-related modifications if requested unless doing so would impose an undue burden.  
  • Ensure that survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking who have been separated from their employment as a result of such violence, are eligible for unemployment insurance. 

Introduction of the American Family Act of 2019 in Senate

Earlier this week, Senators Bennet (D-Colo.) and Brown (D-Ohio) and Representatives DeLauro (D-Conn.) and DelBene (D-Wash.) introduced the “American Family Act of 2019.”  The act would create a child allowance, significantly extending the current child tax credit to reach the families who need it most. The bill would increase the benefit substantially, make it fully refundable, establish a young child tax credit, authorize advance payments monthly, and adjust the benefit for inflation. This bill is now pending before the Senate Finance Committee.

Last week, the National Academies of Sciences released their landmark study A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty. This study put out several policy recommendations aimed at significantly cutting childhood poverty rates in the U.S. One of the study’s conclusions stated that a child allowance policy of $3,000 per child per year would produce the largest child poverty reduction and would also address the goal of reducing deep child poverty.

Source: Children’s Budget Coalition

Opioid-Related Deaths Continue Rising Despite Medicaid Treatment 

In 2017 the federal government expanded Medicaid spending on opioid treatment from $190 million to $887 million. Drug overdose deaths involving any opioids—prescription opioids (and methadone), heroin, and other synthetic narcotics (mainly fentanyl)—rose from 8,048 in 1999 to 47,600 in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In many states, Medicaid has coverage limitations that fail to provide an adequate time-duration of treatment and services.  A health policy researcher from the Urban Institute gave the following statement: “We need to develop systems that will keep people in care, which means addressing a broader system of supports that pertain to housing, employment, and other things that keep people in treatment.” 

Vaccines Save Lives: What Is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?

The Senate Committee on HELP met Tuesday morning to discuss recent outbreaks of preventable diseases such as polio and measles in communities where vaccination rates are low. Chairman Alexander discussed the safety of vaccines and said not vaccinating is causing a public health crisis. The Chairman encouraged parents to seek out reliable research and information about vaccinations rather than being misled by unreliable sources. Several doctors and health professionals spoke at the hearing and brought to light the current and future dangers our nation is facing by not properly vaccinating.

House Hearing on Gun Violence as a Public Health Emergency 

The House Committee on Appropriations held its first hearing on gun violence in more than 20 years. The hearing is the beginning of discussions on federal funding for gun violence prevention research as Congress enters the fiscal year 2020 budget process. Chairwoman Lowey (D-N.Y.) said that Congress needs to provide funding so that the CDC can begin research on understanding the causes, impacts, and scopes of gun violence.

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