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House Democrats say “equality issues” aren’t moving in the Legislature

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A quartet of Democratic lawmakers on Thursday held a press conference to discuss issues  they say will help women in the workforce.

However, they are having a hard time getting those “equality” bills heard.

For five years, Rep. Janet Cruz has filed an equal pay for equal work bill. Dubbed the Helen Gordon Davis Fair Pay Protection Act after a long-serving Tampa senator, Cruz said she has been unable to get HB 25 heard in one committee this year.

“This is 2015. It is time to end this ridiculous disparity,” Cruz said, adding that women make up more than half of the workforce, but never will be able to understand the full power of the economy without access equal wage.

Nationally, women make 82 percent of the weekly earnings of men, Cruz said, citing statistics provided by the Women’s Bureau, which complies the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Florida women do slightly better earning 83.2 percent of men’s weekly earning.

“Why is this very important and very simple bill, equal pay for equal work, why has this bill not even been (placed on an agenda) in one committee?” Cruz said.

Another bill Democrats couldn’t persuade the Republican majority to place on a committee is HCR 8001, a resolution for Florida to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. It has been filed for the last five years by Rep. Lori Berman.

While two bills have been thwarted to date, one measure, HB 625, is advancing. The bill would amend the Florida Civil Rights Act to expressly prohibit discrimination because of pregnancy. It is filed by Rep. John Cortes and unanimously approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. The bill codifies into law a Florida Supreme Court ruling.

The companion bill, SB 982, has been approved by one committee and has been referred to two others.

“I’m happy to see good policy done and I don’t are about pride of ownership as much as making progress on this issue,” said Berman.

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