By Jan Hochadel
As I run for state Senate, I have the opportunity to visit with voters at their home to discuss the issues most important to them. Women are especially eager to talk about their concerns. Reproductive rights is often the first issue they mention. They feel the recent Supreme Court decision is an injustice and are ready to have their voices heard this election. Unlike some conservative states and candidates who support such restrictive measures, we are fortunate to live in a state where a woman’s right to choose is legally protected. However, we should not let our guard down because we cannot risk having this right stripped from us as was done on the national level. It only takes one election for Connecticut women to be in the same situation as the women in Oklahoma or Texas.
People are also concerned about the economy. The state economy is recovering from the worst days of COVID, but the financial stresses are falling disproportionately on working men and women. Families rely on sick days to take care of loved ones, but Connecticut’s sick leave laws need to be improved to cover all workers. The current law exempts employers in the service industry with fewer than 50 employees. “Service workers” include home health aides, restaurant workers, and others. Many nonprofits are also exempt. A recent study by the National Partnership for Women and Families found that 88% of all employees are not covered by the law. We can do better.
Families and businesses alike are struggling with post pandemic challenges. Businesses need reliable employees and employees need reliable child care. The lack of child care is an issue that was highlighted by the pandemic. I will work towards a system that addresses the needs of businesses and families. One in twelve child care jobs have been lost since the spring of 2020, limiting access to quality child care and driving up costs. Consequently, one in four women with children under the age of five report that they are having trouble balancing work and family duties. Many child care providers were unable to keep their businesses afloat due to the instability of the workforce or left the field of early childhood education due to the demands and poor pay. Simply put, Connecticut needs to invest in child care.
Connecticut enacted the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, landmark legislation that provides families up to 12 weeks of paid time off to care for their children, parents, or spouses at little cost to the state. As with any law that establishes a new program, some adjustments need to be made. I hear from voters about the need to strengthen the CT Paid Family Medical Leave Act. Some employers are using the law to roll back benefits they have previously provided by replacing existing sick time with Paid Family and Medical Leave. Connecticut needs to maintain our reputation as one of the best states to raise a family and amend this law so that it is used as intended and make a good law even better.
These are just some of the issues people are sharing with me at the doors. They are concerned about having a job that lets them both provide for and care for their families. My position as a leader who represents frontline workers, such as teachers and nurses, means I fight so my members have their rights protected as they serve our communities. I am running for state Senate so that people in my district and throughout the state can have that same security. Thank you to all the people who have taken time out of their weekend or their evening to talk to me. With your help and support, I will take these stories and concerns with me to the State Capitol as your next state senator.
Democrat Jan Hochadel is seeking election to the 13th Senate district seat.