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Policy Updates from the Rutgers Social Work Policy Network
March 30, 2021

A glimpse of the Social Work Policy Network’s weekly updates. The Social Work Policy Network sends weekly resources on national & local legislature, events, as well as media. Subscribe to receive the Social Work Policly Network’s full e-newsletters every Tuesday! Subscribers will receive numerous policy updates as well as events, podcasts and job opportunities.

LOCAL & REGIONAL UPDATES
In-person voting before Election Day almost a done deal in NJ, NJ Spotlight: "New Jersey is poised to become the 25th state to require early, in-person voting by machine this fall. The requisite measure was on schedule for final passage by the state Senate Thursday, with Gov. Phil Murphy expected to sign as early as next week."

NJ marijuana legalization: Parental notification now law for child's first offense, Trenton Bureau: "Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday signed into law a bill requiring parents to be notified the first time their children are caught with marijuana or alcohol. One day earlier, the state Senate and Assembly sent the bill to Murphy's desk after unanimous votes. Many lawmakers, police and parents considered requiring parental notification a necessary tune-up to the legal marijuana legislation signed by Murphy last month."

Proposed bill on sexual harassment in NJ politics would include investigative unit, NJ Spotlight: "The workgroup tackling harassment, sexual assault and misogyny in state politics held a public hearing Tuesday. One key proposal is that legislation would include the creation of an independent investigative unit to review complaints and allegations of sexual misconduct. The goal is to give survivors confidence to come forward and report those incidents."

NATIONAL UPDATES
Derek Chauvin trial Day One: Five things to know, The Hill: "The murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who faces three criminal counts for the death of George Floyd, began Monday in downtown Minneapolis with the replaying of the harrowing last moments of Floyd’s life."

Georgia G.O.P. Passes Major Law to Limit Voting Amid Nationwide Push, NY Times: "Georgia Republicans on Thursday passed a sweeping law to restrict voting access in the state, introducing more rigid voter identification requirements for absentee balloting, limiting drop boxes, and expanding the Legislature’s power over elections. The new measures make Georgia the first major battleground to overhaul its election system since the turmoil of last year’s presidential contest."

Joe Biden is stretching Obamacare as far as it can go, Vox: "The American Rescue Plan made 3.7 million more people eligible for the ACA’s premium subsidies. The Biden administration had already opened up enrollment after taking office, and 200,000 Americans signed up in the first two weeks. Now the administration is extending enrollment until August 15, backed by millions of dollars in advertising."

'It's Hurtful': Trans Youth Speaks Out As Alabama Debates Banning Medical Treatment, NPR: "This year, state legislatures have proposed a record number of anti-transgender bills. Alabama is one of 20 states that have introduced bills that would prohibit gender-affirming medical care for trans youth. And Alabama's bill is one of the toughest. It would make it a felony to provide transition-related medical treatment, such as puberty blockers, hormones or surgery, to transgender minors."

COVID-19
COVID-19 variants help drive NJ infection rate to highest in nation, NJ Spotlight: "New Jersey currently has the highest rate of new COVID-19 infections in the nation, likely fueled at least in part by the presence of large numbers of viral variants that state health officials are having a tough time quantifying due to the dearth of specialized testing."

Vaccines alone won’t end Covid. Biden’s new testing strategy could help finish the job, Politico: "The White House announced last week that it would spend $10 billion on screening programs for K-12 students as part of a broader national effort to return kids to classrooms. The administration has also inked deals with several manufacturers of rapid tests designed for at-home use. The moves come as demand for testing is dropping nationwide, and both lawmakers and the public are focused on the vaccine rollout.

Black workers, hammered by pandemic, now being left behind in recovery, Politico: "While Hispanic workers initially saw the sharpest uptick in unemployment when business shutdowns began last spring, Black people have seen a slower return to work even as the economy is poised for a robust rebound, government data and economic analyses show. When the overall unemployment rate ticked down in February, Black workers were the only group that saw a rise in joblessness, a 0.7 percentage point increase."

Farmworkers say they are essential workers without essential protections, The Hill: "Though farmworkers were deemed essential and have started to finally receive vaccines, many of them, especially those who are undocumented, face multiple barriers that keep them isolated and vulnerable."

POLICY IN RECENT PUBLICATIONS
Racial Disproportionality and Disparities in the Child Welfare System: Why Do They Exist, and What Can Be Done to Address Them? 

Alan J. Detlaff and Reiko Boyd
"Children of color are overrepresented in the child welfare system, and Black children have been most significantly impacted by this racial disproportionality. Racial disproportionality in child welfare exists because of influences that are both external to child welfare systems and part of the child welfare system.

We summarize the causes of racial disproportionality, arguing that internal and external causes of disproportional involvement originate from a common underlying factor: structural and institutional racism that is both within child welfare systems and part of society at large. Further, we review options for addressing racial disproportionality, arguing that it needs to be rectified because of the harm it causes Black children and families and that forcible separation of children from their parents can no longer be viewed as an acceptable form of intervention for families in need."

UPCOMING EVENTS
The State of Paid Leave: Discussion on Paid Leave in the US and NJ
TODAY - March 30 (11:00 AM EST via Zoom)
Free. Registration Required.
Paid leave is key to all of our long-term health, stability, and prosperity. Yet the U.S. is the only industrialized country without guaranteed paid leave -- it's time for a robust and equitable national paid leave policy. New Jersey has a long-standing and recently expanded paid family leave program that can serve as a model for a national program. Join NJ's First Lady Tammy Murphy, U.S. Representative Mikie Sherrill, and Senator Booker and invited guest, US Department of Labor Women's Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon, for this live event on zoom (and also live-streamed to Facebook) in celebration of Women's History Month!
Learn more about The State of Paid Leave event here.

Join Shira Hassan for a conversation about Harm Reduction, Abolition and Social Work: Reflections on 25 Years of Resistance and Cooptation.
March 31 (6:30 PM - 8:00 PM EST via Zoom)
Donation based event fee. Registration Required.
Harm reduction is a critical movement tool used for generations to create change, build long-term relationships, and support healing while working to reduce harm in our community.
Learn more about Harm Reduction, Abolition and Social Work.

MEDIA OF THE WEEK
Why the gun control debate is stuck, Vox - Today Explained

"Recent mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado have recharged the movement to regulate gun ownership. But federal gun control legislation has little chance of passing. Patrick Blanchfield from the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research argues that the best way to mitigate gun violence may be not talking about gun control at all."

The Social Work Policy Network's e-newsletter is created by:
Brittany Libby, MSW Graduate Student, Network Research Assistant
Dr. Lenna Nepomnyaschy, RU Associate Professor, Network Founder

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