This is the text of an address written by the Iowa League's Legislative Chairman, Adelyn Kimball Hunt, presented at the State Convention of the League of Women Voters of Iowa on April 18, 1943, in Sioux City, Iowa. Hunt outlined the legislative program of the League for the year, which included Iowa's Married Persons' Bill, the Marriage Bill, health bills, public welfare, and public school reform. The range of issues addressed by the Iowa League in 1943 underscored the broad civic role the League played, as well as the strength of the state League's interest in women's rights.
Iowa League of Women Voters
To the Iowa League of Women Voters
In convention assembled, at Sioux City, Iowa
Dear Members of the League;
It is with great regret that I am obliged to send my legislative report for the year instead of having the pleasure and privilege of mingling with you and being a part of your convention-meeting. I have maintained the hope until this late date (April 18th) that I might be able to attend, but this morning I am convinced that it is impossible; so I am making this brief report, hoping and believing that the person who reads it for me, will be amply qualified to make the supplementary remarks about each measure, that I had expected to add in presenting it in person.
The Legislative program selected for the Iowa League of Women Voters by its State Board is as follows:A. For special emphasis:
Any Bill which would provide adequate provisions for,
- State Dept. of Public Welfare (S.F. 111)
- Aid to Dependent [C]hildren
- Teachers' Annuity or Retirement Fund
- Marriage law, including some Waiting-period between application for and receipt of license, plus physical examination for venereal diseases.
B. Opposition to any measure infringing upon the equality of women:
- Married Persons Bill
C. In addition, our 'Continuing Responsibilities' are;
- Civil Service
- State Support for Public Schools, with Equalizing features
- Health Bills
- City Manager enabling (or corrective) Legislation
D. To aid with any federal legislative memsures[sic] at the request of the national which reaches us through our own state president.
In losing the struggle for S.F. 111 which would have set up a well-defined State Department of Public Welfare, with a policy-making, per-diem Board with an expert co-ordinating Director to have charge of administration; and including provisions for the departments of Child Welfare Services, Old Age Assistance, Aid to the Blind, Emergency Relief and Aid to Dependent Children, we lost the provisions for a well co-ordinated service to all those persons who need assistance of one kind or another from the state.
In the substitute measure which passed (H.F. 304) we have simply the appointed three-person, full time Board (on[e] of which is a woman--and a very good one too); appointed by the Governor, removable (for cause)? by him after a hearing before the Executive Council. The Departments of Old Age Assistance, Emergency Relief, Aid to the Blind and Child Welfare Services have been established through separate Bills, but the Bill for Aid to Dependent Children (H.F. 302) although passed by the Senate, is still being held in the Appropriation committee of the House, having failed to be voted out--after three attempts to secure the necessary 21 votes to accomplish it; also, despite the combined efforts of active women representing the Federation of Women's Club; the Parent-Teacher Association; the Iowa L.W.V. and the Iowa Business and Professional Women. At this late day, when the members of the House are concerned only with appropriations, the situation for our Dependent Children, who will be our citizens of to[ ]morrow, seems hopeless although we have conferred this morning, and are still contacting last-minute possibilities--and just hoping.
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The Marriage Bill (H.F. 59) which we have sponsored along with the members of other Iowa Women'[s] organizations--is very different from the 5-day Waiting Period law we had eight years ago--and lost; but it is a fine measure and contains most of the provisions the League members felt important. It is one of the three Health measures passed weeks ago by the House, but is now in the Sifting Committee of the Senate. Since this is one of the Measures rightly belonging to the Legal Status Department of the league-program, and Mrs. Vrooman is attending the Convention, I shall leave the explanation of the provisions of this measure and the great need of its passage to her.
The remaining two Health Bills which we know as H.F. 57 and H.F. 58, and measures---as is the Marriage bill---for the primary purpose of eradication of Syphilis and other venereal deseases. These two measures have been passed by the House and brought out of the Senate Sifting Committee, and are now on the Senate Calendar for passage. H.F. 27 is a measure providing for pre-natal examination of pregnant mothers, for the purpose of protecting the unborn child from [syphillisic] infection. It is far down on the senate calandar, and has small hope of even being discussed. H.F. 58 providing for lighter punishment for evasion of examination and treatment of those persons, known to be afflicted with the desease. The purpose of making the penalty lighter is to make it enforceable. This measure is well up near the top of the senate calender, and has some chance of passing. These measures may quite properly be considered within the Legal Status program by Mrs. Vrooman, altho H.F. 57 might also be a Child Welfare measure.
The Married Person[s'] Bill was a vicious measure introduced in the House. It's purpose was, first, to deprive married women--and eventually ALL women--of the right to work, providing their husbands had a small income from ANY source This measure gave us great concern, since it was brought out on the floor of the House despite the "Indefinite Postponement" report of the Committee. It is reposing--after fast and effective work by women from all parts of the state--in the depths of the Sifting Committee files. Mrs. Vrooman will also discuss this measure as a part of her Legal Status participation; and will emphasize the necessity of All women knowing what the passage of such a measure would mean to the legal and civil rights of Iowa women.
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It is indeed difficult for me to make such a discouraging report on this fine, interesting, unselfish and much needed Legislative program of the League of Women Voters. While I might very justifiably be criticized for not giving to its favorable passage, sufficient time and energy, I am not entirely alone in my humility, for many women representing other organizations, whose time was freer than mine to give to the passage of these same measures, are equally disturbed and distressed by their lack of successful work for these measures. However, that is cold comfort.
As you reconsider this report, you will see that UNLESS something favorable is done by the Legislature during its final days, the only successful report is that the Married Persons Bill was deterred from passage--a pitifully small accomplishment, although extremely important if women are not to lose the rights and privileges their mothers and grandmothers gave to them in their bequest of equal suffrage. If women are not to be relegated to the kitchen and wash tub as they have been in the Dictator countries; completely shorn of their rights to progress, we must stand together AS WOMEN without party or organizational boundaries.
With regret for my enforced absence; with appreciation for the splendid guidance and conscientious service of our State President; with kindliest greetings to our hostess League; and gayest of friendly greetings to you all, I am and always shall be
Your affectionate League member, and,
passing legislative chairman,
Adelyn Kimball Hunt.