What an exciting month it has been! In addition to my work in the legislature, I started a new job as Executive Director of Suited for Change, an organization that supports women in the DC Metro area who are re-entering the workforce after facing various challenges, including health crises and domestic violence. Many of my constituents have been clients or longtime volunteers and supporters of Suited for Change, and I'm enjoying working with them in this new capacity as well.
If you know me, you know I have spent a lifetime working to improve Family Economic Security. A modern economy requires businesses and government truly adapt to women in the workforce—and I believe there are solutions that are good for both businesses and families. I am so excited to see greater national attention being paid to the issues I have spent my career committed to—especially pay equity and paid family leave.
During the Democratic Debate, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley all strongly advocated for Paid Family Leave. In fact, Governor O'Malley even mentioned my 2014 bill expanding Parental Leave as one of his Administration's successes! My favorite issue is on the move across the country, and right here in Maryland. You can read more about how far we have come on this issue in this blog I wrote for MomsRising, You've Come A Long Way, Baby! The Fight for Paid Family Leave in Maryland.
I have been traveling across the state talking to business and community groups about my proposal for Paid Family Leave (which is different from Paid Sick Days—Paid Family Leave is a government program like unemployment insurance that addresses those long-term absences from work you might need to care for a new child or a sick or elderly relative). I'll be discussing the plan at The Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development and Government Relations meeting Tomorrow—October 28 at 8:00a.m. If you would like more information about this meeting please visit the B-CC Chamber's website HERE.
Maternal Mental Health Task Force Work is Underway
I just attended the first meeting of the task force to study maternal mental health, a product of last year's legislation I sponsored with Senator Brian Feldman. The goal of this task force is to make policy recommendations regarding mental health disorders that occur during pregnancy and the first postpartum year. We have gathered a wide range of experts, including representatives from the Mental Health Association of Maryland, the Maryland Hospital Association, the Maryland Chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness, Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to look at this issue. Public comment and ideas are always welcome as we move forward with this process. We expect to have a final report and recommendations issued byDecember 31, 2016.
Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Programs
Remember the legislation that passed in 2014 to require hospitals treat victims of sexual assault? As a result of that legislation, HB 963, in addition to new hospital protocols, a workgroup was formed to try to increase the access to sexual assault exams for victims. These exams, known as SAFE exams, preserve DNA evidence and allow victims of a sexual assault to receive necessary medical care. My office has been a regular participant in these meetings. We will be issuing a report in December 2015 with stronger more victim friendly recommendations for improving access to rape kits in Maryland. Special thanks to all the advocates, hospitals, and other stakeholders for working with us so diligently on this important issue.
There was a great article published last week about the expansion of midwifery care in Maryland. After four years of dedication and hard work with tons of supporters (See Photo Below!), we were able to pass HB 9 and Maryland is now the 29th state to license certified professional midwives (CPM). To read the full article from The Washington Jewish Week click HERE.
Midwives Bill Signing
Save the Date for my Upcoming Fundraiser - December 8
Please save the date December 8 for my upcoming fundraiser Women (and Men) for Ariana Kelly. Come celebrate my birthday with me in style! I'm inviting all my political supporters to join me in my new home to toast to past accomplishments and look ahead, because the best is yet to come! To purchase tickets (or to make a contribution even if you can’t attend) please click HERE.
Montgomery County Delegation Local Hearings
As chair of the Economic Development Committee for the Montgomery County Delegation I am expecting a number of interesting local bills this year--especially those related to alcohol in Montgomery County. If these issues are of interest to you, I encourage you to view the list of local legislation on the Montgomery County Delegation website HERE and provide your public comment at the local bill hearings on November 30 in Rockville at 7:00 p.m. on the 3rd floor Hearing Room of the Stella Werner Council Office Building.
For more information on any of these issues, please feel free to contact my office at Ariana.Kelly@house.state.md