TN Economic Council on Women works to avoid termination

The Tennessee Economic Council on Women is currently scheduled to “sunset,” or terminate, on July 1, 2016, but Executive Director Phyllis Qualls-Brooks and others are working while the General Assembly is out of session to win approval of a Senate committee needed to give the panel a new lease on life, reports the News Sentinel.

Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, R-Knoxville, said she’s confident that the council will be funded.

“The council has learned that they need to be able to tell their story better,” Massey said, “and talk about their accomplishments better.”

Local elected officials, including Knox County Commissioner Amy Broyles and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, also support funding the council, which was $226,600 in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

“Our state is never going to achieve its economic potential unless, and until, women are able to achieve their economic potential,” Broyles said. “When you’re holding up women, you hold up the whole state.”

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry also supports funding the group.

“I was disappointed when the Legislature failed to renew the Tennessee Economic Council on Women earlier this year. Women make up 51 percent of the population in Tennessee, but we don’t make up 51 percent of corporate boardrooms, we don’t get 51 percent of public contracts, and 51 percent of small businesses are not women-owned,” she said in an emailed statement.

…The group, created in 1998, focuses on employment policy, education, child care, property rights, health care, domestic relations and the effects of state and federal laws on women in Tennessee.

A 2013 council study reported that violence against women costs the state almost $1 billion per year in tax resources and law enforcement costs. The council also produces biennial reports on the status of Tennessee women by county that the Federal Reserve uses, Qualls-Brooks said, “to see how well banks are doing with the Community Reinvestment Act.”