LegNet February 2009
Violence Against Women Act Receives Additional Funding in Stimulus Package
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (www.Recovery.gov) signed by President Obama last week contained significant funding increases for the Violence Against Women Act and the Victims of Crime Act. GFWC members were part of a large coalition of groups advocating for this increased funding for this priority issue.
Specifically, $175 million was allocated to the states to fund training for police officers, prosecutors, and the courts on the needed response to domestic violence. Another $50 million was earmarked for VAWA transitional housing, to help fund operational expenses for managing and maintaining emergency shelters. Finally, $100 million was allocated to support the Victims of Crime Act and directly assist those who depend on the Act for services.
Domestic violence experts indicate that higher unemployment and economic insecurity lead to increased tension in the home and exacerbates an already tense situation. As the economy has faltered in recent months, the National Domestic Abuse Hotline has reported a twenty percent increase in calls requesting assistance. The funding for VAWA and the Victims of Crime Act comes at a critical time for many families affected by crime and domestic violence. Once again, calls and letters from GFWC club women made a difference on this critical and timely issue.
HEART for Women Act Filed
The Heart Disease Education, Analysis, Research, and Treatment (HEART) for Women Act was reintroduced in the 111th Congress on February 12, 2009. The HEART for Women Act, sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Congresswomen Lois Capps (D-CA) and Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), is one of GFWC's top public policy priorities for 2009. The bill received a favorable U.S. House vote, 418-4, in 2008, but did not receive a floor vote in the U.S. Senate. Clubwomen can help push for a floor vote this year by contacting their Senators (www.Senate.gov) and Representatives (www.House.gov) to ask them to support the HEART for Women Act. The bill would institute new standards for the research and scientific review of women and heart disease. It also provides funding for an educational campaign to address heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease in women. Heart disease is the number one killer of women and the HEART for Women Act will go far in raising women's awareness of the issue.
State Children's Health Insurance Program Passes Early in the 111th Congress
Experts estimate that 11 million low-income children and pregnant women will be eligible for health care coverage under the State Children's Health Insurance Program. The program was established to cover families who have incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but lack private health coverage. According to the Census Bureau, nearly nine million poor children lack any type of medical coverage, and this bill will go far in ensuring that children receive the medical care they deserve. The bill and its mandate, sponsored by Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and endorsed by the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, will be funded via an increase in the federal tobacco tax.