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California Lawmaker Mother Compelled to Journey with 1-Month-Previous to Vote in Individual

September 4, 2020
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We're big fans of politicians like Senator Tammy Duckworth, who normalize working motherhood by taking their babies to work, but let's be clear: mothers should have a choice on this matter.

Buffy Wicks, a member of the California Congregation, did not receive one. The mother of two was forced to travel from Oakland to Sacramento with her newborn daughter because the congregation's leadership turned down her motion to vote on Monday, Politico reports. She was told that her recent work did not qualify her as high risk for the coronavirus, despite the fact that several members of the upper chamber, the Senate, were allowed to vote from afar.

"Please, please, please pass this bill," she said on the floor of the gathering as she held her 1 month old daughter Elly and advocated laws that would facilitate the construction of apartment buildings. "And I'll finish feeding my daughter."

She confirmed her presence in the capital on Twitter after a reporter said she was "absent" on maternity leave, and another mother and counselor quickly corrected him to indicate Wicks was present. "Yes, I'm here! (And Elly too)", she replied with a photo of Baby Elly in a carrier and covered with a wrap.

She also posted a video of her speaking while holding her windy newborn baby.

Apparently, on August 3, the California Convention passed rules allowing proxy voting, but these must be approved by the Convention spokesman Anthony Rendon and eligible members "are at greater risk from the COVID-19 virus." Wicks applied for proxy but was turned down "on the grounds that maternity leave does not qualify for proxy," said spokeswoman Erin Ivie.

A Rendon spokeswoman who declined her request said lawmakers stood by the decision.

“The speaker understands that Members have an obligation to comply with their legal obligations while trying to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure. The house resolution on proxy is very specific, as only members with a higher risk of COVID-19 are eligible for proxy, ”Talbot told Politico. "This approval limit should always be high in order to ensure that our legislative process is protected."

It's an odd attitude for the spokesman, who became a father late last year and spoke to the press about taking paternity leave and how his then 3 month old husband keeps him up at night. Even stranger because he previously fought to expand paid vacation in the state. He knows exactly how important it is to bond with your baby for the first few weeks.

Less than 5 percent of congressmen are mothers with young children, according to Vote Mama, a political action committee that supports Democratic mothers with young children running up and down for office. And because state legislation is often a critical stepping stone to higher office, we should make it easier for mothers to serve as elected leaders. Not harder.

Aside from the coronavirus risks (although we suspect this is a pretty big problem for mothers of newborns), the better question is, why can't legislators vote on maternity and paternity leave remotely or through proxy at any point? Don't they deserve the same vacation everywhere as mothers and fathers?

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