Legislative Committee

Once per month, the membership chair delivers the legislative update.

August 2017

I think I have said this before, but I with all that it is going on nationally and locally it bears repeating.  The most important politics are local and state politics.  While national politics plays a role in what goes on in our communities, the people we elect to local and state office have a much larger effect on us every day.

In St. Petersburg we have two very contested races, one is the mayoral race which currently has 5 candidates eligible for election, Mayor Rick Kriseman, former Mayor Rick Baker, Jesse Nevel, Theresa “Mama T” Lassiter, Anthony Cates, III and Paul Congemi.  Unfortunately, Ernisa Barnwell has been disqualified, although she will be on the ballot.

The other contested race is City Council District 6 with 8 candidates currently running, Justin Bean, Robert Blackmon, Eritha Akile Cainion, Gina Driscoll, Corey Givens, Jr., Jim Jackson, James Scott and Maria Scruggs.  Please note that for primary elections you must live in District 6 to vote for a District 6 candidate.

Both of these offices are considered non-partisan races so I am not going to say anything about any of the parties any of the candidates may belong to.

If you live in the City of St. Petersburg, you have your work cut out for you with so many candidates.  Obviously, we will all have our own opinions as to the qualifications of each of these candidates with some being viewed as more qualified than others.  Some may be in it simply to see if the change that occurred at the national level in November will carry out into our city.  It is up to you to decide.

Frequently we don’t think it is as important to vote at local primary elections, but in this case it is entirely possible (although very unlikely) that the primary could decide who will be your next mayor or your District 6 representative.  All any candidate needs to do is secure 51% of the vote and they will have won.

General Election is on November 7 and there are county wide referendums on the ballot as well as municipality issues or candidates in Clearwater, Dunedin, Seminole and of course St. Petersburg.

If you typically vote early you should have already received your ballot in the mail.  There is no poll site early voting for this primary election.

If you have not already voted, because you are a geek like me who likes to go to the polling site, you have less than 2 weeks to the election.

Thank you all for being educated voters and I wish you happy voting!

February 2015

March is Women’s History Month and the National Women’s History Project is not only writing women back into history this year’s theme is “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives”.

The theme presents the opportunity to weave women’s stories – individually and collectively – into the essential fabric of our nation’s history and 2015 is the 35th anniversary of the Women’s History Movement and the National Women’s History Project. After decades of dedicated research and technological advances, the stories of American women from all cultures and classes are accessible and visible as never before.

In celebration of this landmark anniversary, they have chosen 9 women as the 2015 Honorees who have contributed in very special ways to the work of “writing women back into history.” What I find truly cool about this is that all but 3 are still with us and continuing to write women back into history.

This year’s honorees are:

Delilah L. Beasley (1867-1934) Historian and newspaper columnist.

Beasley was the first African American woman to be regularly published in a major metropolitan newspaper. She was an historian and newspaper columnist.

At her memorial service, which was a testament to her life-long crusade for justice, all attending stood and made the following pledge:

Every life casts it shadow, my life plus others make power to move the world. I, therefore pledge my life to the living work of brotherhood and material understanding between the races.

Gladys Tantaquidgeon (1899-2005) Mohegan Medicine Woman, Anthropologist, and Tribal Elder

In my early years, I wasn’t aware that time was going so rapidly …later I realized many of our old people were dying and their knowledge went with them. Something had to be done to preserve a record of their way of life. My goal has always been that this information …be passed on to future generations. Gladys Tantaquidgeon

Gladys life spanned the entire 20th century and she only completed grade school; at age 20 she took the opportunity to study anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1931, she co-founded the Tantaquidgeon Museum with her brother and father; it remains the oldest American Indian owned museum in the U.S.

Eleanor Flexner (1908 –1995) Historian and Independent Scholar

In the end all women and all men can only benefit from the more truthful and balanced image of women which will emerge from history where they are shown to have been actively involved in shaping their own destiny and that of the country. Eleanor Flexner 1975 Preface to “Century of Struggle”
Flexner’s groundbreaking 1959 book Century of Struggle: The Women’s Right Movement in the United States marked her as a pioneer in the field of women’s studies.

In this landmark publication Flexner relates women’s physically courageous and politically ingenious work for the vote to other 19th- and early 20th-century social, labor, and reform movements. Most importantly, she includes the importance of the campaigns for equal education, the abolition of slavery, and the advocacy of temperance laws.

Polly Welts Kaufman (1929-Present) Writer, Teacher, Activist

By connecting with the lives of your figurative sisters, mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers in all the diversity of the backgrounds they represent, you gain strength from the challenges and successes of the women who came before you. If she could do that — if she could overcome that — if she could create that — so can I! Polly Welts Kaufman

Kaufman is a writer, teacher and above all an activist for equality. She graduated from Brown
University in 1951 with a degree in American Studies, planning to teach high school in Providence, Rhode Island, she was asked, “Are you married or going to be married?” Answering “Yes,” she was told to look elsewhere for employment.

Lynn Sherr (1943- Present) Broadcast Journalist and Author

The modern women’s rights movement has brought about the greatest social change in our lifetime. It woke me up, gave me purpose focused my energy…I joined a growing number of twentieth-century feminist determined to set the record straight and prove definitively that the same bold women who had blazed the trails deserved our unmitigated thanks. Lynn Sherr

Sherr spent more than 30 years at ABC, covering politics, space and social change. As a correspondent for the ABC news magazine 20/20, she has received many honors, including the George Foster Peabody Award in 1994 for “The Hunger Inside,” about anorexia.

Judy Yung (1946-Present) Oral Historian, Author, and Professor

The personal is political for me… Inspired by the Asian American and women’s liberation movements in the 1970s, I began researching, interviewing, and writing about Chinese American women in an effort to reclaim my history as a Chinese American woman, refute mainstream stereotypes of the China Doll and Dragon Lady, and set the historical record straight. And I haven’t stopped since. Judy Yung

As a second-generation Chinese American born and raised in San Francisco Chinatown, Yung embarked on a lifelong mission to reclaim the history of Chinese Americans and to educate Americans about the lives, struggles, and contributions to this country.

Darlene Clark Hine (1947- ) Historian and Educator

Receiving the 2013 National Humanities Medal… was both a blessing and a profound moment in the history of Black Women’s History because it represented acknowledgement and appreciation of the work that I and my generation of scholars did to include the contributions that black women have made to our nation’s progress and to the global struggle against social injustice, and economic and gender inequality. Darlene Clark Hine

As an historian Hine sought not only to explore African American history, but to expand the discipline of history itself by focusing on black women “who remained at the very bottom of the ladder in the United States.” A leading expert on the subject of race, class, and gender in American society, she is credited with helping to establish a doctoral field in Comparative Black History at Michigan State University.

Holly Near (1949-Present) Singer, Songwriter, Social Activist

I am open and I am willing
For to be hopeless would seem so strange
It dishonors those who go before us
So lift me up to the light of change. Holly Near

Near has inspired generations with music that chronicles progressive activism of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Her work with women in the military as well as women in countries occupied by the US military led Near to rethink the role of women in the world and the policy that challenges women in a very particular way. Near began to write songs specifically about women’s lives both in a global and personal context.

Vicki L. Ruiz (1955 – ) Educator and Pioneer in Latina History

For me, history remains a grand adventure, one which began at the kitchen table listening to the stories of my mother and grandmother and then took flight aboard the local bookmobile. Vicki Ruiz

The first in her family to receive any advanced degree, Vicki L. Ruiz earned a Ph.D in History at Stanford in June 1982. Two months later she showed up for her first teaching position with a baby on her hip and another on the way. Over the course of three decades, Ruiz has been a major force in shaping the field of Chicana history.

All material provided by Women’s History Project http://www.nwhp.org/2015-national-womens-history-month-honorees/

October 2014

Great news! We found out at State Conference last weekend that our request to the BPW PAC for endorsement of Judithanne MacLauchlan was granted. The BPW PAC has now endorsed our local candidate for Senate Seat 22 not just verbally but also with a $500 campaign contribution. Thank you to all of you for helping to make this endorsement a reality.

So now we have fan gate! No matter how old I get, the political process still amazes me. I wasn’t going to watch the debate last night for many reasons, then I turned it on and neither candidate was at their podium. The commentators didn’t seem to know what to do, so they let the viewers know that both Governors Scott and Crist were in the building. Then Charlie Crist came out and they were still confused as Rick Scott didn’t. They then told us that Gov. Scott wasn’t going to take the podium because of a fan requested by Charlie Crist. Then he came out and the debate went fairly well, even ending on time. So who is right and who is wrong in this scenario? Was there a winner in this? The contract called for no electronic devices. . . is a fan an electronic device? Was there truly a hand written addendum allowing a fan? It was interesting watching the news after the debate when our local newscasters made a point of saying that Charlie Crist ALWAYS has a fan . . ., now we know the real reason he never sweats. If you haven’t voted, will this make a difference to you? Only you know what the impact of fan gate will have on you, the rest of us will find out on November 4.

Don’t forget early voting has already started and election day is right around the corner. See you at the polls.

September 2014

While I know it is still September, I wanted to talk a minute about all of the important things that go on in October. October is National domestic violence awareness month. It is also National Diabetes Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Lupus Awareness month. All of which are very important issues for women and their health. Lest you think that October only has serious awareness issues it is also, Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, Apple Jack Month, National Popcorn Popping Month and my favorite, Sarcastic month just to name a few.

It is also 1 month before elections! And we have lots on the ballot including three Amendments to the Constitution. The proposed Amendments are titled: Water and Land Conservation ‐Dedicates funds to acquire and restore Florida conservation and recreation lands; Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions and Prospective Appointment of Certain Judicial Vacancies. Constitutional Amendments are very serious and should never be voted on lightly. In Florida it has been easier to change our constitution (does anyone remember the pregnant pigs?) than creating new laws through the traditional manner, the legislature.

As always I encourage you to learn as much as you can about what is on your ballot. If you aren’t sure what is on the ballot or the language, please visit votepinellas.com.

August 2014

Florida Trend Article 8/21/14 Women Small Business Owners Struggle to Get Loans
Women are a growing force in the business world, but if they own a company, they may still struggle to get a loan from a bank. Women owners have long been at a disadvantage getting loans. Women’s business loan approval rates are between 15 percent and 20 percent below men’s, according to the online lending marketplace Biz2Credit.com. [Source: AP]


President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which allows victims of pay discrimination to file a complaint with the government against their employer within 180 days of their last paycheck. Previously, victims (most often women) were only allowed 180 days from the date of the first unfair paycheck. This Act is named after a former employee of Goodyear who alleged that she was paid 15–40% less than her male counterparts, which was later found to be accurate.


In Jan. 2013, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the ban on women serving in combat roles would be lifted. In a Jan. 9 letter to Panetta urging the change Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said, “The time has come to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service.” The move reverses the 1994 rule that prohibited women from serving in combat. The change will be gradual; some positions will be available to women immediately but each branch of the military has until 2016 to request exceptions to the new rule.

June 2014

We all know the official holidays but we rarely think about how many other important days there are in any given month, some not so glorious.  I thought I would use June as an example, so here we go:

Tianneman Square June 4 1989

First sustained air flight in the form of a hot air balloon, June 5, 1783 (France)

Robert Kennedy fatally shot June 5, 1968

Pionneering feminist Susan B. Anthony was jailed for voting in a presidential election June 6, 1872

D Day June 6, 1944

US Supreme Court struck down a law in Connecticut banning contraception, June 7, 1965

The Soviet military occupation of East Germany ended June 11, 1994

The Phillipines declared independence from Spain June 12, 1898

Civil rights leader Medgar Evers assassinated June 12, 1963

The New York Times started printing the Pentagon Papers June 13, 1971

US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Miranda v Arizona June 13, 1966

The first US Military Service the Continental Army was created June 14, 1775

John Adams introduced a resolution before Congress mandating what the American flag would look like June 14, 1777

Valentina Tereshkova, became the first woman in space in the Soviet spacecraft, Vostok 6 June 16, 1963

The beginning of Watergate due to the arrest of the burglars June 17, 1972

Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space June 18, 1983

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were the first US Civilians convicted of espionage and the only married couple ever executed  together June 19, 1953

US adopted the Great Seal of the United States of America June 20, 1782

Civil Rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner left for Mississippi to investigate a church burning June 21, 1964

Soviet Russia began blockade of Berlin June 24, 1948

Julia Gillard became Australia’s first female Prime Minister June 24, 2010

The Korean War began June 25, 1950

US Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for states to require a minor to notify both parents of abortion without providing other options June 25, 1990

Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from Yugoslavia June 25, 1991

Signing of the Treaty of Versailles formally ended World War I, June 28, 1919

US Supreme Court Ruled capital punishment was a violation of the Eighth Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment (later reversed) June 29, 1972

The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was enacted, granting the right to vote in all federal, state and local elections to American citizens 18 years or older June 30, 1971

The ruling power in China changed from British rule to Chinese rule June 30, 1997

May 2014

Gretta and I had the privilege to attend the Inaugural Black Women’s Equal Pay Event held on Monday, May 12 at the renovated Manhattan Casino.  While they do not actually reach pay equity until July they wanted to bring early recognition to this disparity and that there are plans in the works for a Latino Equal Pay Event in July, while they don’t reach their equity until November.

As we near Memorial Day I thought I would talk a little bit about it and its history.

How many of you know when Memorial Day first started or what its original name was? 

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are a lot of stories about how it actually began lots of places lay claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day.

There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: and a hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella Sweet carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead.  It is not important who was the first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established and that it is about reconciliation and coming together to honor those who gave their all.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873 and by 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South, however, refused to officially acknowledge the day, until after World War I, when it went from honoring only those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.

Memorial Day is now celebrated on the last Monday in May.

Actual observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored and neglected and most people no longer remember proper flag etiquette for the Day. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

The National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed in Dec 2000.  It asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or to listen to ‘Taps.”

There are many opportunities in our community to observe and honor the fallen.  I encourage you to contact a local Boy Scout, Girl Scout, high school Junior ROTC program or the veterans administration to find out what they are doing that day to honor the fallen.  As an example, I know the Dixie Hollins High School JROTC Program puts flags on the graves at Memorial Cemetery on 54th Avenue North before a Memorial Day program honoring the fallen.  They also serve as flag bears and in other officiating capacities during the program.

Here’s hoping you have an inspiring Memorial Day and that it is a day of observance.