LegNet November 2008
LegNet November 19, 2008
The November elections are behind us; what does the outcome mean for your community and for the country?
Women Make Gains at the State and Federal Level
The 2008 election was another step forward for women in Congress. Women will hold a record 17 percent of U.S. Senate seats, and 18 percent of seats in the U.S. House, up from 16 percent in 2006. Though, at the current rate, women will not achieve equal representation until the end of the 21st century, some political scientists believe that women are nearing a critical mass in the nation’s chief legislative body.
What influence can the small percentage of women actually have on Congress and what are issues are they most likely to name on top of their lists for the 111th Congress?
In this case a critical mass of female Congressional representation would bring to national attention a number of issues that GFWC members care about. Of the 12 newly-elected women in the U.S. House and Senate, eight cite health care and five cite education as the issues they want to tackle in Congress. These issue priorities cut across party lines as women members on both sides of the aisle plan on promoting them.
New Hampshire has become a harbinger for women in leadership roles and is a state to watch in the next few years. It elected its first ever female U.S. Senator, former Governor Jeanne Shaheen, and is the first state to have a female majority legislative body. On November 4, New Hampshire voters elected 13 women to the state Senate, out of 24 total seats. Eleven of these state Senators are democrats and two are Republicans. Both the New Hampshire Speaker of the House and Senate President are women.
To learn more about the role of women in this election and throughout American history, visit the Center for American Women and Politics at the Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics.
President-Elect Obama’s Puppy Pledge
On election night, Barack Obama laid out his hopes for his coming administration. One of the key highlights from his speech was the promise to his young daughters to adopt a puppy to take with them to the White House, and during his first press conference he indicated his family’s preference would be to adopt a shelter dog. While critical economic and political issues will surely take precedence come inauguration day, the President-Elect’s pledge did bring some much-needed attention to abandoned and abused animals in need of a home.
Several key animal protection provisions were included in the 2008 Farm Bill, including measures to curb the import of puppies for sale from foreign puppy mills in Eastern Europe, China, and Mexico, and ensure that those puppies brought into the U.S. are healthy and have been treated humanely. The effort was led by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Jim Gerlach (R-PA).
Also included in the Farm Bill were provisions to crack down on animal fighting, sponsored by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Representative Elton Gallegly (R-CA). The language of the bill made it a crime to knowingly possess or train animals for fighting, increased the penalty for animal fighting to a maximum five-year sentence, and made it a federal crime to move animal training or fighting across state lines.
»Find out more about about the animal protection clauses of the Farm Bill or other animal rights legislation.
On a lighter note, you can also view possible “first dogs” and vote on the dog you would like to see in the White House come January.