Bills protecting economy, health, and safety of women introduced by Delaware legislators

     House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst is joined by other lawmakers to announce the package of bills in Dover Tuesday afternoon. (Charlie O'Neill/WHYY)

    House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst is joined by other lawmakers to announce the package of bills in Dover Tuesday afternoon. (Charlie O'Neill/WHYY)

    A series of bill ranging from a year of maternity leave to better reporting of college assaults will be introduced into this legislative session.

    It’s an 11-bill package sponsored or co-sponsored by every female lawmaker in Dover along with several male legislators of both parties.

    After months of research and collaboration a coalition of women legislators agreed upon three major areas where reform is needed most for women in Delaware: justice and public safety, health care and employment.

    The scope of the individual bills ranges from equal pay for equal work on state contracts to family leave for public employees and breastfeeding accommodations for jury duty.

    “The breadth of issues affecting Delaware’s women is significant and this legislative effort acknowledges that,” said Senate President Patricia Blevins, D-Elsemere. “These bills represent a collaborative effort to make some real progress in the areas of women’s health, safety and economic equality.”

    House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, noted, “in a time when women are increasingly becoming the breadwinners in the family, they lag behind their male counterparts in many areas.”

    She called the legislation “a list of things we need to do for women”. 

    Two of the bills call for a better understanding when crimes are committed against women. One bill, sponsored by Representative Stephanie Bolden, D-Wilmington, would allow for family leave when a woman is a victim of domestic violence. In another, sponsored by Rep. Helene Keeley, D-Wilmington South, greater emphasis would be placed on victim centric police training. 

    The next step is for the bills to be introduced through various committee in both the house and senate for debate.

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