Term limits continue to keep women legislators trotting one step forward and two steps back in the battle for equal representation. Facing the worst budget deficit in history, legislators returned to Sacramento yesterday. It is times like these, when experience and institutional knowledge play an important role in negotiations to make sure that the budget is fair and responsible.
Unfortunately, due to term limits, some of our most seasoned legislators will be leaving office at the end of this year. In November 34 tested legislators will be leaving office on both sides of the partisan fence. It is during our uncertain economic future when decisions are being made that affect all Californians, we become acutely aware of the importance that experienced leadership can bring. With a two-thirds majority mandate required to pass a budget, those years of experience at persuasion and consensus-building are indispensable.
In February, CALIFORNIA LIST held some moderated focus groups to better understand the perspectives of women when it comes to the importance of women in politics. We found that there is a strong perception that female candidates and office holders will do a better job on the issues most important to them – in particular health care and education, two of the most contentious areas of the budget, but hugely important issues that affect all Californians.
As the founder of the CALIFORNIA LIST, I am concerned with the declining number of women in Sacramento. The term limits that have dwindled our Assemblywomen since 1992 make it likely that its ranks will lose as many as five women again this election cycle. This is indeed a disheartening downward spiral.
When we look at the women we are losing in this year we will have a tremendous loss of experience and leadership. These are knowledgeable women who have moved up the through the political pipeline to make a difference for future generations. And still mandated term limits continue to erode the foundation of our qualified women legislators.
On August 13th we will gather in our state capital to celebrate the tireless service of the following women who have impacted California during their tenure in the state legislature. If you would like to attend, click here for more information.
**Senator Sheila Kuehl, author of 171 bills that have been signed into law, including legislation to establish paid family leave.
**Senator Migden, author of laws to create California’s domestic partner registry and the DNA database to take rapists off the streets.
** Assemblymember Berg authored legislation to allow more seniors to stay safely in their own homes.
** Assemblymember Karnette who authored significant education reform and helped to enact the Amber Alert to rescue abducted children.
**Assemblymember Sally Lieber and Speaker pro Tempore is well-known for authoring laws to increase California’s minimum wage and laws to reduce air pollution.
**Assemblymember Nicole Parra passed legislation that makes it easier for prosecutors to prove implied malice for DUI offenses that result in a fatality.
** Assemblymember Soto has a legislative record showing her strong support for the working class including legislation that increased workers’ compensation benefits.