Original Document
Original Document
Ann Brancato, Campaign speech on the importance of electing women to the state legislature and the need to pass an effective unemployment compensation bill, 1936.

During the Regular Session of 1935 and the special session 1936, I had the privilege of being selected by the leaders of my party as Chairman of the Committee on Cities, an important committee, through which passes all legislation affecting the City of Philadelphia. The work in this committee has brought forcibly to my attention the needs of our own city of Philadelphia, and given me the training to spot out those measures which are inimical to the best interest of our people. The experience of two regular and three special sessions has enabled me to learn the problems which confront the State, and her people, to become familiar with the intricacies and mechanics of law making, and to learn to avoid the pitfalls, which comes from inexperience. Those who have spent years around the legislative halls appreciate the necessity for returning Members who have acquired a knowledge of legislative practice and procedure in order to assure a smooth working legislative body and a prompt dispatch of public business.

Furthermore, women are entitled to a fair representation in the legislative body of the state, but very few have been so honored in Pennsylvania. Only eleven women have been elected to the Legislature since woman suffrage was granted, and at the Session of 1935, and the Special session of 1936, I was the sole representative of my sex in either House. I am appealing to the voters of my legislative district to keep at least one woman Member in the Legislature by voting for my reelection. Women have votes, they pay taxes, they have the same rights and privileges as other citizens, and they are entitled to representation. But it is not alone for this reason that I solicit your votes. I solicit your passage of an adequate and proper unemployment compensation law to aid those who are thrown out of work through no fault of their own. Such a measure was passed by the house of representatives at the special session only to see the senate amendment it in such a manner as to be no longer recognizable by its sponsors. Again smarting under their defeat of 1934, they proposed to place the administration of this measure in a commission dominated by three republican holdover officers. The House refused to accept such a proposal and the bill failed in conference. The result is that the employers in this state will be required to pay the federal payroll tax and can receive no credit for payment into an unemployment compensation fund. This tax will flow into the coffers of the federal treasury and cannot be used the payment of compensation to our unemployed. This shortsighted policy penalizes Pennsylvania employers and employees. Another effort will and must be made at the next regular session to a pass an unemployment compensation law, and it is highly important that those who are friendly to such a measure should represent you in the halls of the legislature, and not those whose only desire is to break down the whole social security system for their own selfish purposes.

No matter what our former political philosophies may have been, the fact remains undisputed that the expansion of industry, with its resulting concentration of population in limited areas, away from the soil, has produced new social problems which must be met by the means of legislation unknown to and undreamed of by the forefathers ,who built this nation. From an agricultural society we have gradually changed into an industrial empire with the majority of our people no longer self sufficient unto themselves, but dependent solely upon the jobs, which gigantic combinations of capital make available. …

This is humanitarian legislation. It aids the needy and the destitute, The enactment into law of this Bill will provide relief to those who, through no fault of their own, are about to be evicted from their homes, and at the same time it affords equal protection to the landlord in that it safeguards his interests.

I urge upon you your favorable consideration of this measure. This Bill merely gives the destitute, who through no fault of his or hers can not obtain employment, the right to seek relief in the courts against being thrown upon the streets of our Commonwealth. It is sponsored in the interest of the protection of the health and the maintenance of good order through(out) the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We in the congested cities particularly need this legislation, and the poor and downtrodden in the district that I have the honor to represent are greatly in need of it. I will thank you for your affirmative vote.

Credit: Pennsylvania State Archives, MG 368, Anne Brancato Woods Papers Box 3, F "Speeches"
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