Yesterday I went to Trenton to testify on bill S2070/A3101. This bill reorganizes the Department of Children and Families. One provision transfers the Division on Women (DOW) from its current position in Community Affairs to Children and Families. Unfortunately, the original wording changed the title to the Office on Women. Taking away the status of Division would really disempower the organization, taking way its sub-cabinet rank in the executive hierarchy.
Former Directors of the DOW (including Linda Bowker) raised the alarm. The Women's Political Caucus of NJ (WPC) jumped on the issue. Senator Barbara Buono worked hard behind the scenes and negotiated an amendment to the bill to change "Office" to "Division".
The bill was scheduled to be heard at simultaneous hearings of the Senate and Assembly Budget committees. Both hearings started at least an hour after their scheduled start times of 9:00 and 9:30. (Presumably they were negotiating last-minute amendments.) I was hanging out with the WPC women, including Janice Kovach - the previous Director of DOW.
Late morning, the Senate hearing addressed S2070. Senator Buono testified about her amendment, which was approved. (Yay!) Janice and I were called to testify. Taking my cues from Janice, I said NOW just wanted to make sure that DOW retained its Division status. The amended bill was approved. We gathered with Barbara Buono at the side of the hearing room. I told her were were very excited that she would be keynote speaker at our conference.
Then we went back to the Assembly hearing. About 11:40 they took a temporary adjournment. They were to caucus, and to have 1 PM Assembly voting session. There were dozens of bills up for approval. We got an estimate that the Budget committee hearing would resume about dinner time. We went to the cafe and lunched together. I decided not to stay. On my way out, I met up with Rosemary Lontka, who was there with a group of NAACP people. I chatted with them about a half hour. Then I headed home.
So I don't know what happened to A3101. There is no update on the njleg web site.
Thanks to Linda Bowker for giving me the heads up on this issue. I think it was really important for NOW to show up in support of DOW.
In the meanwhile, I encourage you all to send a quick email to Barbara Buono, thanking her for her persistence in retaining the Division status for DOW.