By Betty Folliard
ERA Members – I have good news and bad news:
First the good news:
You may have seen info I shared on social media regarding the intention of the US Speaker of the House to bring up HJRes17 – Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s bill to remove the extra-textual time limit on the ERA – next week! The plan is to hear it on Monday 3/15, if nothing else interferes, as that day is RBG’s birthday.
And to our advantage, because the US House has a rule that a bill which has had a hearing in committee in a recent previous session does not have to go through that process again and can go directly to the House Floor, we may get a vote on this bill as early as Monday.
The result of this action will put additional emphasis on getting POTUS (President of the United States) & the brand new White House Gender Policy Council to act on the ERA. That coupled with Merrick Garland’s nomination moving forward may get positive results out of the DOJ sooner rather than later to reverse the toxic Trump DOJ ‘opinion’ that stopped the Archivist from publishing the ERA. That’s good news all around!
One further note: on the litigation the judge who ruled against the AG’s lawsuit left the door open on the ERA for Congressional action. So let’s make sure they get that time limit removed!
One thing I know is that activists for the ERA never take No for an answer, but we can redirect our passion to federal action this week. You can use this ERA Coalition form to thank co-sponsors & to encourage those who are not on the bill yet to be co-sponsors of the federal ERA by signing up here: http://www.eracoalition.org/take-action/era-time-limit-removal-bills
Now the bad news:
I heard the final word from the MN House Judiciary Chair – something she signaled to many this week – that there simply was not room in committee to hear our bills before the first deadline today. This was due to time constraints and the pressure of passing a budget while dealing with the Covid pandemic and all while working under difficulties of for the first time holding Zoom remote committee meetings. Also there were delays in getting our bills out earlier because of internal snafus at the legislature, and late bill introductions due to remote working environments and abnormally slow Revisor’s office bill jacketing.
I have heard from several of our MN House bill chief authors expressing their regret and readiness to charge ahead next year. In the MN Senate, there was no chance of action; though Sandy Pappas told me that, in her conversation with Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, he gave a hard no to this year but said “maybe’ next year. That was the most hopeful word we’re hear from him in 5 years. (I can’t tell you the disappointment I feel, but we will prevail.)
But there is light at the end of the tunnel on the state ERA front:
Judiciary Chair Becker-Finn is a supporter of the ERA and has promised to hear all of our bills next session – still in time for the state ERA to be added to the 2022 General Election ballot. That is good news indeed.
AND – In the meantime, for our federal ERA Resolution to Congress push; Rep. Frank Hornstein is circulating a letter today – to garner signatures of as many legislators as he can – to send to Congress this coming Monday (3/15) asking our Congressional delegation to vote yes on HJRes17. He did not just look at what we can’t do, but looked for what we can do, and we applaud his initiative.
This past week saw an extraordinary push from ERA activists on the state level and we should be very proud of the work we have done thus far. We lifted the banner of ERA in spite of extraordinary headwinds of a global pandemic. Now let’s see where we can get nationally this next week.