‘Women’s Issues’ Include Tax Reform, Tackling Opioid Addiction

By Kathy Gurchiek Jul 19, 2016
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The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) attended the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, reporting on events relevant to the HR profession. SHRM was the only HR organization at the convention and had a contingent, led by Henry G. "Hank" Jackson, SHRM president and CEO, representing SHRM members and the HR profession. SHRM attended the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia the following week.

  • For SHRM's complete coverage of the 2016 Republican National Convention, click​ here.​​​​​​​
  • For SHRM's complete coverage of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, click​ here.​​​​​​​

CLEVELAND—Opioid addiction was among the wide range of issues addressed during the Women2Women Conversations Tour on July 18 at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University during the Republican National Convention.

Approximately 1.9 million people in the U.S. suffered from substance abuse related to prescription opioid pain medicines in 2014, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported in January 2016.

Opioids are substances that produce morphine-like effects and are most often used to reduce pain, including dental- and injury-related pain. They reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect brain areas controlling emotion, according to the NIDA.

During the Women2Women Conversations Tour, Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Calif., and Rep. Susan W. Brooks, R-Ind., also tackled topics such as tax reform, the country's aging infrastructure, national security and finding ways to help families deal with mental health issues.

Sarah Chamberlain, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Main Street Partnership and Main Street Advocacy, moderated the event sponsored by the Republican Main Street Partnership.

"We have far too many people addicted to opioid prescription drugs," Brooks said, noting that when people can't get opioids through prescriptions they turn to heroin—which is often laced with other deadly drugs—on the black market. The consequences can be fatal, she said, as people overdose "at unprecedented numbers."

Babies are born with addictions because their mothers were hooked on opioids, Brooks noted.

"Our family courts are seeing an unprecedented rise of children addicted to drugs," she said, calling on people to volunteer as child advocates in juvenile courts to work with affected families.

President Barack Obama signed the Protecting Our Children Act in November 2015 to combat the rise of prenatal opioid abuse and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Taylor noted that opioid addiction was "a major epidemic" in her state, adding that the result is often, "You either end up in prison or you end up dead."

Tax Reform

"We need to reform our tax code. We need to simplify it. We need to allow our corporations to be more competitive," said Walters, who has served on the board of the National Association of Women Business Owners and was an advocate for fiscally responsible government during her tenure on the Laguna Niguel (Calif.) City Council.

"We need to allow our businesses to reinvest in America by allowing them a lower [tax] rate," she said, pointing out that the U.S. has not reformed its tax code since 1988. The result: Organizations are moving jobs overseas.

While there is so-called friendly competition among states to snare companies for their areas, Brooks noted that it behooves states to adopt a broader perspective.

"We're competing globally. Do we really want to take business from Ohio and Indiana? Now we're competing, all of us in the country, with other countries, and we need to make sure we have the environment to grow the jobs here" and encourage business investments from around the world.

To do that, "we need to make sure we have the education systems and workforce to keep those jobs here."

Taylor pointed out that Ohio has cut taxes by $5 billion, and it has a tax rate just under 5 percent.

"We have focused on things we think really matter," such as lower taxes and regulations "that make sense" for business, she said.

State agencies must perform impact analyses before creating regulations that make it easier, and less costly, for businesses to comply with regulations, Taylor noted.

Taylor stressed the importance of women doing their part to add value to their communities, state and country.

"We have a voice and we need to use it. We add a lot of value when we are at the table,​ and we need to push to be at the table," she said.

"We have this conversation around what are women's issues. I care about jobs. I care about the economy. I care about educational opportunities so my boys will have their own American dream," Taylor said.

"We need to continue having a conversation around the things that matter to us ... national security, the opioid crisis, all the events we talked about today." 

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