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1/4/19 


Contact Federal Government Officials


Find elected officials: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

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1.   Nancy Pelosi has been elected to her second speakership of the House of Representatives which makes her the first and second woman to serve in that role:  https://thehill.com/homenews/house/423717-house-elects-pelosi-to-second-speakership  Let’s take a moment to thank her for her service in challenging times:  https://pelosi.house.gov/contact-me

2.   The first piece of legislation the new Democratic House majority will introduce is a sweeping democracy reform bill, known currently as HR1.  The bill will improve American government by modernizing our elections and curbing the influence of big money in political campaigns. Let's read about the key elements of the bill as compiled by the League of Women Voters then contact our representatives to let them know that we support HR1 and want them to support it as well. 

3.   The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled William Barr's confirmation hearings for January 15th and 16th (https://n.pr/2Qkwva9). Barr has been nominated by Trump to replace Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, which some point out may be because of his outspoken views of the Mueller investigation. While this in itself is cause enough for senators to demand that he recuse himself from the investigation if he is confirmed, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Hum­­­­an Rights has taken a look at Barr's record and noted his troubling positions on LGBTQ issues, justice reform, immigrant rights, and reproductive freedom. Let's read through the letter that they, along with 74 other organizations, sent to senators detailing Barr's positions. Then, let's contact members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asking them to either outright oppose his nomination, or to oppose his nomination unless he recuses himself from the Mueller investigation. Then, let's call on our own senators with the same ask. 5calls.org has a simple call script we can use: https://5calls.org/issue/barr-recuse-attorney-general-russia

4.   While the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, (H.R. 6545), was set to be temporarily extended through early February, the partial government shutdown has caused VAWA to expire (https://n.pr/2GERBRj). Let's contact our MoC and tell them that allowing this act to expire months after the reauthorization bill was introduced is a complete failure, and that we want this legislation to be made a priority.

5.   Just before the government shut down, the administration made a move to rescind an Obama regulation that limits the level of mercury emissions from coal plants, a move that even utilities have stated should remain in place. https://www.npr.org/2018/12/28/679129613/trump-epa-says-mercury-limits-on-coal-plants-too-costly-not-necessary. Let’s make sure to keep monitoring these moves and submit public comments, once they are published in the Federal Register, which should happen soon after the government re-opens. We can find get more information on how to comment on the mercury regulation proposal here.

6.   From one of our own:  Yet another child has died in US custody:  https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/25/us/guatemalan-boy-dies-in-us-custody/index.html  and https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/immigration/2018/12/28/migrant-children-deaths-health-warnings-came-months-earlier-border-patrol-jaklein-caal-felipe-gomez/2416379002/  The staffing cuts, lack of medical care and oversight and the slow trickle of refugees allowed into this country are causing children who have already lived a lifetime of suffering to lay languishing at the border and they are dying This is unacceptable from the wealthiest country in the world. This is not how we treat refugees. When will Congress start protecting these poor people?!  Call your members of Congress: A) Demand the reallocation of funding toward increased staffing and resources at the border. This administration has dramatically cut staffing to process asylum seekers which is why they are only coming in at a trickle and staying in unsanitary camps outside the border where conditions can breed disease. B) Demand adequate medical care and staffing at ports of entry and independent medical oversight of this care. When migrants do get in there is insufficient medical care at ports of entry for vulnerable children who have been enduring these conditions and there is no independent medical oversight to assess quality of care.  C) Demand humane conditions in processing centers. When they first get here migrants are kept in processing covers the first few days where it is so cold they are referred to as ‘ice boxes’ , where the water is said to taste like bleach , the lights are left on 24hrs a day and the food is said to be partially frozen when served . Not acceptable.

7.   GEO Group and CoreCivic, for-profit companies that run immigration detention centers, spend millions to lobby the federal government. These and other private prison companies have made large donations to Trump’s campaign and inauguration. And while they run lucrative businesses, they pay slave wages to the detained immigrants languishing in their facilities. https://www.thedailybeast.com/dollar800-million-in-taxpayer-money-went-to-private-prisons-where-migrants-work-for-penniesLet’s tell our MoCs that we want the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to investigate this matter.

8.   While there are many things to look forward to about Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives, we need to make sure that our new representatives stand for our values. The recent announcement of the limitations of the Select Committee on Climate Crisis should therefore be extremely concerning to us. https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/423492-house-dems-formalize-climate-committee-plans-without-green-new-deal. Let’s remind our MoCs that it was our people power that got them elected and tell them we want to see strong and definitive environmental action, not a do-nothing committee, and let’s ask our Reps. what they will personally do to advocate for strong environmental legislation. We can go as far as telling them that they will not receive our support if they do not act.

9.   Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is trying to impose Title IX rules that would encourage and even require schools to be complicit in sexual harassment and violence. Fortunately, Enough is Enough has a simple way for us to help us speak out against this.  We can join them in advocating for survivors by completing handwritten postcards telling DeVos to keep her #HandsOffIX.  When we click this link, we’ll get a  toolkit with postcards and scripts here:  https://bit.ly/2EcRrxv  If we are looking for more information on the proposed changes, we can take a look here: https://bit.ly/2LU1N5z and here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXthPJPgNts&t=3s Deadline for public comment on this rule change is January 28.  We can comment here:  https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=ED-2018-OCR-0064-0001

10. We all know generally that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russia's interference in our 2016 election, but knowing some specific details makes that interference's insidious and corrosive nature much clearer 
(https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/17/us/politics/russia-2016-influence-campaign.html). Whatever the final effects on the election and our fractured society are, this was a malicious attack on the nation that must be fully revealed, despite concerted efforts by some to bury it. So, when pressing our MoCs to support Mueller's probe, let's be sure to push in the right ways while avoiding the wrong ones.   https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-the-democratic-house-majority-could-help-mueller-or-trip-him-up/

11. For one tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the government shutdown comes with a price tag: about $100,000, every day, of federal money that does not arrive to keep health clinics staffed, food pantry shelves full and employees paid. The tribe is using its own funds to cover the shortfalls for now. But if the standoff in Washington continues much longer, that stopgap money will be depleted. Later this month, workers could be furloughed, and health services could be pared back. https://www.bustle.com/p/the-government-shutdown-affects-native-american-communities-in-a-huge-way-heres-how-15643101  It might be a minor inconvenience for most of us but it’s paychecks, food, medical care and more for many including our Native American populations.  Call your reps today and ask that they pass the bills to open the government. 

Election/Voting

1.    Asking voters to request vote-by-mail ballots is still one of the most effective get out the vote strategies there is. Postcards To Voters (P2V) is starting 2019 will Campaign 142: Florida Vote By Mail (VBM) Enrollment, Miami-Dade County. Florida's Pasco County saw their VBM enrollment among Democrats go from a little over 400 before P2V volunteers started writing to over 1,200 after we had finished. Let's request 5 addresses today. If we are new volunteers, we can sign up here.

2.   A new year brought the swearing-in of newly elected officials in Harris County, Texas, and among them were 17 black female judges. The group of women, who were part of a local democratic campaign called "Black Girl Magic Texas," first made history -- and headlines -- when they won their respective midterm elections in November. Together, they make up what is believed to be the largest group of black female judges to be elected at the same time in Harris County history.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/01/03/17-black-female-judges-take-seats-harris-county-texas-magic/2470667002/ Just a note of good news entering 2019. Be inspired and keep resisting . . . It’s working. 

Other Actions

1.    As we near the two-year mark for Trump’s presidency, we are also reaching the two-year mark for resistance actions against his administration. In the spirit of the New Year, let’s pause to consider how we want to prioritize our resistance energy; what we want to focus on this year; and how we are going to build more breaks and self-care into the mix. What we hoped would be a sprint is turning into an ultra-marathon.

2.   In its continuing war on the environment, the administration plans to open up drilling in the Alaskan arctic as early as this summer. https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/422289-new-trump-plans-could-open-alaskan-arctic-to-drilling-by-next. Let’s submit a public comment to the Alaska Bureau of Environmental Management. We can find talking points here.

3.   If we are Progressives thinking about running for local, state or federal office, we can check this free two-day training workshop offered by The Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Training will “cover the A to Z’s of running for office, including pivoting to core message from curveball questions, having presence in the room, expanding your donor list, hiring experienced staff, winning local endorsements, earning great press, motivating volunteers, polling, and more.” We will also get a chance to take headshots, design logos, build a website and network with other Progressives from our state. We can find out more about where and when workshops will be held and then, if we decide to, apply here:  https://www.nationalcandidatetraining.com

4.   From Lawyer Moms of America:  We are pleased to announce that Lawyer Moms Foundation has partnered with Lawyers for Good Government to re-launch our airline miles donation program, allowing us to help reunite more immigrant families AND send more lawyers to the front lines of the immigration crisis to help asylum-seeking families.  If you have unused airline miles and would like to pledge them to this very important cause, please go to:  

5.   “Progressive Shopper empowers consumers to shop their values by providing current data on the political contributions of the most popular brands. Corporations spend billions each year funding political candidates, and while the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) collects this data and makes it available to the public, it lives in large databases that are hard to access, until now.”  https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/announcing-progressive-shopper-a-new-platform-for-the-socially-conscious-consumer-300761901.html  If we are using Chrome as our browser, let’s learn more about this extension:  https://progressiveshopper.com/

6.   We're always looking for good sources that can analyze the news in an accessible way. Just Security, based at the Reiss Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law, is one such source, specializing in "(1) crisp explanatory and analytic pieces geared toward a broad audience; and (2) deep dives that examine the nuances of a particular legal issue." Topics of recent articles range from impeachment to the withdrawal of US forces from Syria. Visit their website, or sign up for their newsletter, here: https://www.justsecurity.org

State Actions

1.   TX: A number of bills have been filed to fix voting in the state:
https://www.dallasnews.com/news/texas-legislature/2018/12/26/online-registration-ballot-receipts-lawmakers-ways-fix-problems-voters-saw-polls  If we’re in Texas, let’s tell our state legislators to co-sponsor the following bills:  A) Online voter registration and automatic voter registration (Rep Eric Johnson D-Dallas + 4 other Democrats), B) Allow auto-registration for college students (Rep Shawn Thierry, D-Houston), C) Voting by mail for residents who are elderly, sick, confined in jail, or will be out of their voting county on Election Day (Rep Evelina Ortega D-El Paso), D) Recognize photo ID from a tribal organization as a valid form of voter ID (Rep Alfonso Nevarez D-Eagle, E) Require four-year universities with more than 10,000 enrolled students to have a polling place on their main campus (Rep Gina Hinojosa D-Austin), F) Require Texas to develop a strategic plan for increasing voter turnout in Texas (Rep Evelina Ortega), and G) Allow a person who will be 18 on the date of a general election to vote in the primary that year (Sen Judith Zaffirini D-Laredo, and Rep Donna Howard D-Austin).  Bonus points for thanking Brianna Stone, the Dallas News reporter who wrote the story bringing attention to these proposed reforms: Brianna.stone@dallasnews.com

2.   VA: The gun safety group March for Our Lives is urging us to support State Senate Bill 1096, which will be introduced in the Virginia legislature in 2019. The bill will encourage safe storage, raise the age of gun access from 14 to 18, and toughen laws against irresponsible gun owners. 
https://twitter.com/mfolswva/status/1079107620131217408 If we’re in VA, let’s tell our state senators to co-sponsor this bill, and let’s tell our state reps to file analogous legislation in the House. https://openstates.org/

Marches/events/webinars/Tweetstorms to attend/organize

1.   The Indigenous Peoples March will be held on Friday, January 18, in Washington, D.C.  We can find more information here:  https://indigenouspeoplesmovement.com/

2.   Whether we align ourselves with the Women’s March, or March On, or Women’s March Alliance, or WoMen for All, or with no group at all, we have an opportunity to make history and march once again on Saturday, January 19, 2019.  Check with your favorite organization or local folks to help or to find out what is happening.

Reading/Watching


2.    A 10-Step Plan for Congress to save the Climate

3.   How I Finally Came to Understand My White Privilege - https://www.patheos.com/blogs/shanephipps/2017/07/02/finally-came-understand-white-privilege/






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