CA Senate OKs bills protecting women at work, home
Associated Press, May 31, 2011
By Judy Lin
Women in California would receive better protection at work and at home under two bills passed out of the state Senate on Tuesday.
A bill by Sen. Noreen Evans, SB 299, prohibits employers from canceling health insurance for female employees who are on maternity leave for up to four months. Current law does not require health coverage for an employee who is on leave.
The bill passed 26-11 and now moves to the state Assembly.
Evans, a Democrat from Santa Rosa and chair of the legislative women's caucus, said the bill seeks to close the gap in health insurance for women on maternity leave by bringing the state's pregnancy disability leave in line with related state and federal family and medical leave laws.
"It's important for women of the state of California and their children," Evans said.
The bill would allow employers to recover insurance premiums from the employee if she fails to return from maternity leave for a reason not covered under the state's family rights act or some other health condition.
Lawmakers also approved SB 430, which clarifies that strangulation is a traumatic condition that can lead to more serious felony charges in domestic abuse cases. Supporters say strangulation is often a precursor to murder in abusive relationships.
Backed by law enforcement groups and nonprofit organizations fighting domestic violence, the bill by Democratic Sen. Christine Kehoe of San Diego passed 39-0. It now moves to the Assembly.
"If we can stop abusers when they first strangle their partners, we will prevent the deaths of 20-30 women per year in California," said Casey Gwinn, president of the National Family Justice Center Alliance based in San Diego, which sponsored the legislation.
Gwinn said the center's research found that most abusers don't strangle their partners in order to kill them. Rather, abusers strangle their partners to show them they can kill them anytime they want, forcing victims to live in fear.