This past Saturday, I attended the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Call to Action Panel in Brewer with 28 other women representing organizations from all across Maine. I was welcomed by an enthusiastic group of women of all ages, from Maine’s legislature, University of Maine Women’s Resource Center, Maine NEW Leadership, Business and Professional Women/ME, Maine, Maine Women’s Hall of Fame, and other organizations, gathered together to discuss the current state of the ERA and to move forward with strategy ideas.
A very happy 35th birthday to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The PDA amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. It marked an enormously important step forward in the fight against discrimination in the workplace, but the work still goes on.
Last Friday, Governor Paul LePage and Public Safety Commissioner John Morris held two Drug Awareness Summits with local law enforcement. These summits were in response to recent data showing rising drug abuse rates in Maine and were closed to both the media and the public. A New York Times article published this past summer highlighted the increased use and availability of heroin throughout New England.
On Sunday evening I took part in an exciting panel discussion in Porter on the issue of public financing and money in politics. These are complicated topics, and ones that good people frequently disagree over. And as yesterday’s packed house evidenced, it’s an issue that many Mainers are thinking heavily about as we get ready to enter a gubernatorial election year.
Last week I was fortunate enough to attend part of a week-long symposium organized by Maine Inside Out – a non-profit organization that collaborates with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people to create and share original theater. The symposium was titled Culture of Punishment – From Parenting to Prisons and culminated with keynote address by prominent anti-death penalty activist and author of Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean.
Today was our first student conference of the year – and it was our largest ever! With 242 students attending from 13 different schools, it was a packed house of eager youngsters ready to listen, discuss and debate on the great constitutional issues of their day.