Which SA Reps Support the Equal Pay Act?
Published: April 2, 2014
In an impassioned speech last Monday morning, gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Forth Worth) played offense by bashing her campaign challenger, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, for not backing the state version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law that would grant more flexibility to women when fighting for equal pay in court. Davis also criticized Abbott for paying women in his office less on average than their male counterparts and took a shot at remarks made by GOP female leaders who, when seeking to defend Abbott, ended up digging him a deeper hole.
“I have a message for Greg Abbott today: Stop hiding behind your staff members. Stop hiding behind your surrogates. This Texas gal is calling you out,” said Davis before a crowd in Austin. “Act like a Texan and answer this question for yourself: What on earth is going on at your Attorney General’s office? Why do you think it’s OK to pay women in your office less than men when they do the same work?”
Opponents of the equal pay measure, like Abbott, have played down the issue, saying existing federal rules already protect women.
However, the Act would extend the timeframe a woman could file a complaint, making the process easier. State law requires discrimination claims be filed within 180 days of when the act of discrimination occurred, but the federal Act prolongs the window to 180 days from when the act was discovered. (So, for instance, if you receive an unequal paycheck but don’t realize it until later, you are afforded more time to lodge a grievance.)
Finding rare compromise across political lines, the state law was passed during the 2013 session with bi-partisan support from the Texas Legislature, but eventually vetoed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry who, in a cable news interview last week, said he’s under the impression the only reason legislators got behind the bill in the first place was so that he could axe it, a curious take on events considering it garnered Republican support. It was brought to the floor “for the sole purpose of politics. Let’s face it, this was passed for no other reason than to say we’re going to make you veto this bill,” Perry said, calling the entire debate “nonsense.”
So, which SA reps helped its passage and which ones opposed it?
On the House side, all SA reps voted for the state version of the Act, except state Rep. Doug Miller (Republican state representatives Lyle Larson, Harvey Hilderbran, both absent, and Speaker Joe Straus did not cast a vote). On the Senate side, all SA Senators supported it—including Tea Party darling and champion of the state’s new abortion restrictive law (considered part of the War on Women to critics) state Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels). And she’s not the only GOPer—more than 20 House Republicans and two additional GOP state senators ushered in the bill.
But the same can’t be said about U.S. congress members reppin’ SA.
While current U.S. representatives Henry Cueller and Lloyd Doggett voted for the federal Act, passed in 2009, Rep. Lamar Smith didn’t get behind it. That fact may not please women of his district, who earn about $10,000 less than men in the area, ranking 12th in equal pay in Texas, according to data compiled by the American Association of University Women. (Democratic Rep. Al Green’s Houston district came in first showing the smallest wage gap while Republican Rep. Mike Conaway’s West Texas district trailed in pay discrimination, ranking last.)
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