SIX MONTHS IN AND WE ARE STILL STANDING STRONG!

We have now survived six months of a twittler presidency so I am taking a moment to reflect back on the past six months and create my own personal list of the good for me as a result of the election before I get to the regular weekly what went right for 7/22/17.

I have met hundreds of really cool, inspiring, strong, and committed people who stand for and believe in progressive values, making many new friends along the way.  I had a wonderful weekend trip to DC with over half a million of my friends. I have grown closer to my friends after spending countless hours with them making posters, writing postcards, attending protests and fundraisers and I have come to learn that I am proud of the character of the people who have been a part of my life for years.

I have learned about all the planning and hard work that goes into putting together protests, fundraisers, and civil disobedience. I have been trained on many new legal skills and how to keep people safe at a protest and put those skills to good use providing legal assistance to protestors and immigrants. I have learned how to be more supportive of, and act in a way that makes those differently abled and different from me feel more included. I am so much more educated and knowledgeable about topics such as the Black Lives Matter movement, abortion access across of the country, and mundane things like federal rule making, methane gas regulations and Dodd-Frank regulations. Not only do I know my elected officials, but I have their numbers on speed dial, and I am well versed in the names of dozens of legislators, the committees they sit on, their state, and how they voted on key issues. I can find the status of a bill in every state with one hand tied behind my back.

The walls of my home are filled with colorful, creative, witty, handmade, inspiring posters. I made old and new friends happy when I learned how to crochet and started making piles of pink pussy hats to share with them. I was able to use my money not just to buy unnecessary material things, but to become a new “card carrying” member of so many great organizations such as the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, SPLC, HIAS, National Lawyers Guild, and the NRDC. I have freed up space in my apartment by using the Facebook group “pay it forward’ to send my surplus medical supplies to those in need from states that haven’t expanded Medicaid.

I have stronger leg and arm muscles from countless hours of marching and sign holding. I am grateful that I am alive to write this summary because I still have life-saving healthcare, have not been obliterated in a nuclear war or had my family separated because of immigration laws. I would love for you to share in the comments what positive things happened for you in the past six months as a result of the election.

Now on to your regularly scheduled edition of What Went Right for the week ending 7-22-17

DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – The Supreme Court has allowed the lower court ruling expanding the exemptions for extended family members such as grandparents to stand. Homeland Security has authorized an increase of 15,000 H-2B visas for low-wage, seasonal workers in fisheries, hospitality and other industries a 45% increase in the number of visas normally issued.  NYC Commission on Human Rights brought a civil complaint against a landlord who reported his tenants to ICE after they filed a complaint about him to a city agency in violation of a city law that prohibits discrimination based on immigration status or national origin. Laredo voted to join the lawsuit against the Texas bill prohibiting “sanctuary cities”.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – Montana Gov. signed bills reforming the state’s bail sentencing policy to reduce prison populations, including creating a risk assessment tool for determining bail and expanding release without bail before trials. Seattle’s Mayor ordered the police dept. to equip officers with body cameras. The Chief Judge of Cook County, Ill., ordered judges in Chicago to determine whether a “defendant has the ability to pay the amount necessary” and not set bail so high that they are forced to remain in jail because they cannot afford bail.  CT passed civil forfeiture laws that require property be returned to its owner if the prosecutors do not secure a guilty verdict or a plea bargain.

LOVE IS LOVE – A U.S. District Judge ordered Kentucky to pay $221,695 in attorney’s fees to the same-sex couples who sued the Rowan County Clerk for refusing to give them marriage licenses saying “Davis represented Kentucky when she refused to issue marriage licenses to legally eligible couples. The buck stops there.” Despite dismissing a lawsuit challenging a new law defining terms by their ‘natural meaning,’ the Davidson County Chancellor declared that same-sex couples in TN have the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to designations on birth certificates after artificial insemination. Allentown, PA, City Council and RI passed laws banning gay conversion therapy for minors.

DECRIMINALIZING MARIJUANA – The MA Supreme Court ruled a woman who was fired for testing positive for marijuana that she had been legally prescribed under state law could sue her former employer for handicap discrimination. NH passed a law decriminalizing marijuana, making it the 22nd state to eliminate jail time for those convicted of simple possession.

PROTECTING THE PLANET – UK Environment Secretary announced that microbeads will be banned in the UK after growing evidence of environmental harm caused by the tiny plastic particles. CA approved a 10-year extension of the state’s cap-and-trade program which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions as well as legislation aimed at improving air quality. Environmental Integrity Project sued the EPA alleging it failed to police pollution enforcement by Texas. Rooftop solar panels will be required for all new residential construction in South Miami, FL.  A federal judge ruled that the permits authorizing the DAPL to cross the Missouri River near the Standing Rock reservation violated the law and ordered additional hearings.

SAVING HEALTH CARE – A bipartisan group of 11 governors issued a statement urging congress not to repeal the ACA, including OH, MT, MD, LA, AK, CO, MA, PA, VT, VA, and NV. Major portions of the Republican bill to repeal and replace the ACA fall under the Byrd Rule, according to the Senate parliamentarian, making it unlikely to survive a vote. Under the Byrd rule, the Senate is prohibited from considering extraneous matter as part of a reconciliation bill and the offending provision or amendment is stricken unless a 3/5 Senate majority vote to waive the rule. Continue reading

WE WILL PERSIST AND BARE OUR ARMS!

It’s hard to believe that the loss of healthcare for 22 million people this week hinged on the removal of a small blood clot in an elderly man’s head, but thanks to coagulation we are saved from a vote for another week. That being said, let’s get to what else went right this week ending 7/15/17.

DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – The US District Court again partially halted the travel ban in a challenge brought by Hawaii, ruling that “grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins” constitute sufficiently close family and a refugee resettlement agency’s “formal assurance” to a refugee seeking admission are bona-fide relationships to allow for entry. A group of girls from Afghanistan were granted permission to enter the US to attend an international robotics competition after previously being denied visas twice, because there is nothing more dangerous than a teenage girl with a pocket protector.

SAVING THE PLANET – The Gov. of Colorado signed an executive order launching a climate-action plan to reduce greenhouse-gas and carbon-dioxide emissions, cut down the amount of electricity used, and make Colorado the 14th state to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, which has committed to following the Paris Climate Accord. The Interior Secretary recommended that two national monument designations, Idaho’s Craters of the Moon and Washington’s Hanford Reach, remain without any changes. Activist groups sued the EPA to force it to reverse its decision to delay issuing smog cleanup rules.

STATES AND CITIES DOING THE RIGHT THING WHEN CONGRESS WON’T – Seattle’s city council passed a 2.25 percent income tax on the city’s wealthiest residents saying it is designed to “replace our regressive tax system with a new formula for fairness” while ensuring Seattle can withstand 45’s austere budget. Gov. of Alabama banned the appointment of registered lobbyists to state boards and commissions.

PROTECTING A WOMEN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE – Hawaii passed a law requiring anti-choice pregnancy centers distribute a notice to every client informing them the state offers free abortions, as well where and how to get such assistance from the state, reigning in the real “fake” info provided to women when they are at their most vulnerable. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency announced they will only provide funding to organizations that do not refuse to provide information and assistance with abortions to counteract the “global gag” rule reinstated by the White House.

VOTING RIGHTS – Presidential Commission on Election Integrity Voter Suppression Panel temporarily halted its effort to collect voter information after a complaint was filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and resistance from almost every state and the ACLU has also sued the commission alleging violations of federal law requiring transparent government and fair and balanced staffing.

THOSE PESKY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO FREE SPEECH, FREE PRESS AND FREEDOM OF RELIGION – Desiree Fairooz conviction for disorderly conduct for laughing during Sessions confirmation hearing had her conviction overturned and a new trial ordered. Knight First Amendment Institute and a group of Twitter users blocked by the twittler-in-chief brought suit against him arguing that his account amounts to a public forum that he, as a government official, cannot bar people from because they expressed opinions he did not like or agree with.  The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Rowan County, NC’s holding mostly Christian prayer practices before its meetings unconstitutional.

ELECTION WINS – Two Democratic candidates in Oklahoma won in special elections, flipping two of the three seats up for election due to resignations in disgrace. Michael Brooks won his race for state senate in District 44 and Karen Gaddis won for a House seat in District 75. Continue reading

EUROPEAN ACTIVISTS SHOW US THEY GOT OUR BACK!

Even though I do not at this time condone or advocate violence, I am proud of how our counterparts in Europe have come out in droves to stand up for human rights and this planet in so many creative and powerful ways during the G20 summit.  And even while we here in the US are deep into the lazy days of summer so much good happened this week ending 7/8/17.

STOPPING PRUITT AND THE DESTRUCTION OF THE EPA – A federal appeals court ruled the EPA cannot suspend rules to restrict methane emissions from new oil and gas wells finding that the agency’s decision was “unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious and it did not have authority under the Clean Air Act to do so. Attorneys Generals for NY, MY, VT, WA, MA, and DC filed a motion to join in a federal appeals case challenging the EPA’s decision not to ban the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos. AND SAVING THE PLANET – France announced that it would aim to end the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by 2040, a day after Volvo said it would phase out the internal combustion engine. France will also stop issuing new oil and gas exploration permits this year, and stop using coal to produce electricity by 2022. California announced they will convene The Global Climate Action Summit to host the world’s climate leaders in 2018 with representatives from government, business, investors, and activist leaders. The United Church of Christ approved a resolution on climate change denouncing US plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and urging the church to take action.

STATES DOING THE RIGHT THING- Attorney generals from 18 states and DC filed suit against the U.S. Dept. of Education challenging their decision to freeze rules for erasing the federal student loan debt of those who cheated by colleges that acted fraudulently. Arizona’s new sick leave law went into effect, providing 40 hours a year of sick time, which can also be used for seeking help with domestic violence and sexual assault, and applies to temporary and part-time staff too. Washington enacted paid family medical leave into law, with the most generous of benefit of all 4 state that currently provide it, covering at least three months of leave and up to 90% of pay for low-wage workers, for pregnancy, adoption and other serious medical issues. As of now, not one state has agreed to fully comply with the voter commission request, some are still considering it, a few have agreed to turn over what is already considered public information, but none have agreed to turn over private information.

DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – A federal court held that undocumented immigrant children detained by federal authorities are entitled to hearings to determine if they should remain confined and requires authorities abide by a 1997 settlement establishing a policy for the treatment of minors in immigration custody.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE ISSUES – Florida’s updated “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law was held unconstitutional by a judge who ruled that lawmakers overstepped their authority in modifying the law to force prosecutors to disprove a defendant’s self-defense claim at a pre-trial hearing. New court rules took effect in Mississippi requiring judges to consider releasing people who can’t afford bail, using non-financial conditions to ensure people show up for court, and appointing lawyers for people who can’t afford them at their initial court appearance. Municipal courts across Missouri have new operating standards which require they have a judge available at all times and cannot charge illegal fines/fees after a findings by the Dept. of Justice that the courts operated in large part to fund city operations.

HOLDING ON TO OUR RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH, FREE PRESS, AND SOME GUN CONTROL – A federal court held there is a constitutional right to film on-duty police officers in public. As of now, half of all the states are now covered by rulings protecting the videotaping of law enforcement. The U.S. Supreme declined to hear a challenge to a California law that limits the carrying of concealed guns, leaving the law in place.

HEALTH CARE FOR ALL – A voter-introduced ballot initiative to require the state to expand Medicaid under the ACA has been approved to move to the ballot box. The Ohio House failed to rally enough Republican votes to override the Republican Governor’s veto of a law that required him to limit enrollment in Medicaid.

PROTECTING WOMEN’S HEALTH – The Oregon legislature passed a bill making abortion free for all, which the governor is expected to sign, which provides free abortions for residents and non-resident, requires insurers to cover abortions without a co-pay, and pays for abortions for anyone not covered by insurance. The Welsh and Scottish governments will offer free abortions to Northern Irish women, where it is still illegal.

PROGRESS FOR WOMEN AND PEOPLE OF COLOR –Benedict College has named Roslyn Clark Artis its first woman president. Pam Wagner was appointed the first female police chief for the Ironton, OH Police Dept. Raphael Bostic was appointed the president of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, and is the first black and first openly gay president of a regional Federal Reserve Bank.

G20 NEWS – 1,000 “Zombies” descended on Hamburg in protest. FLOTUS was not allowed to leave her hotel to go to the spouses party because of large protests and rioting (boo hoo), but at least she had a room, unlike her husband whose staff were too dumb to remember to book him one. My favorite video of the week is Poland’s first lady appearing to snub 45’s offer of a handshake. Continue reading

NOT ENOUGH BOURBON IN KENTUCKY BUT LOTS OF PRIDE AS PRIDE MONTH ENDS

Each week I think that what comes out of the White House and Congress can’t get more cruel, disgusting, and downright crazy, but it does. So to remind us that we can and do have an impact in our towns, cities, and states, here is this week’s list of what went right ending 7/1/17.

PRIDE MONTH PROGRESS – SCOTUS ruled that an Arkansas law discriminated against same-sex couples by requiring married lesbian couples get a court order to have both spouses listed on their children’s birth certificates. DC is the first in the nation to implement allowing people in the US to choose X as their gender marker instead of male or female on driver’s licenses. Germany voted to legalize same-sex marriage. Serbia elected Ana Brnabic as prime minister, the country’s first female and openly gay leader.  Microsoft, Google, and CBS, are among 50 US companies that filed papers encouraging a federal court to declare discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal. Timothy Hailes was installed as London’s first openly gay Sheriff. Prince William County School Board voted to expand the board’s non-discrimination policy to add protections for gay and transgender people.

PROTECTING WOMEN’S HEALTH – A federal judge blocked portions of an Indiana law that makes it tougher for girls under 18 to get an abortion without her parents’ knowledge. Alaska is eliminating rules that impede access to abortion by scrapping many onerous state medical board rules after being sued by Planned Parenthood. Center for Reproductive Rights filed a federal challenge to a Louisiana licensing law resulting in more than a thousand anti-abortion regulations, such as requiring a vaginal exam even if the doctor doesn’t think it’s necessary.

VOTING RIGHTS – So far 29 states are resisting the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity Voter Suppression Commission request for voter data. The best responses are from Kentucky, “There’s not enough bourbon here in Kentucky to make this request seem sensible,” Mississippi told the commission to “go jump in the Gulf of Mexico,” and RI said “Kobach was unfit to lead.”

SAVING THE PLANET – CA will add the herbicide, glyphosate, to CA’s list of chemicals that can cause cancer. An Appeals Court ruled the Clean Air Act does not allow for lawsuits to force the EPA to conduct coal job studies after a Coal mining company sued to force the study. The NRDC and others sued the EPA alleging that they are at fault for not promulgate water quality standards that comply with the Clean Water Act harming water in. Ireland voted to ban hydraulic fracturing.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – CT passed bail reform legislation preventing judges from setting money bail for misdemeanor charges unless it is a family violence case or the judge deems the defendant a danger or a risk to flee and requires courts to hold a bail review hearing within 14 days. The ACLU settled a lawsuit against Scott, Neshoba, Clay and Newton County Mississippi for jailing residents for up to 10 months without indictment or appointing a lawyer. Under the settlement, all four counties will now have public defenders. CA will no longer suspend driver’s licenses because of unpaid traffic fines saying it doesn’t help collect fines and sends low-income people into a cycle of job loss and poverty.

DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – A federal judge put a temporary hold on the deportation of Iraqi nationals. SCOTUS sent a case back to the lower court saying there was no basis for the lower court to conclude a Border Patrol agent is entitled to qualified immunity in a case where a 15 year old standing in Mexico was shot by an agent standing in the US. Continue reading

NEVER GIVE UP. NEVER SURRENDER.

Let me start this week’s list of what went right (6/24/17) by saying that there is a groundswell of change happening at the local level and a new wave of thousands of progressive leaders are running for school boards, city councils and other positions in their communities. In time they will rise to the top to be our Mayors, Members of Congress, and Governors. I will continue to have hope for the future. There is much to be grateful for and proud of this week.

DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – Houston lawmakers voted to join the other cities challenging the states ‘anti-sanctuary cities’ bill. The Supreme Court ruled that a naturalized immigrant can’t be stripped of their citizenship for making false statements during the naturalization process that are irrelevant to an immigration official’s decision to grant or deny citizenship. Minneapolis dropped all the criminal charges against Ariel Vences Lopez , the immigrant wrongly asked about his immigration status in violation of city policy. Both Nashville TN and Salinas CA voted to restrict local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration officials. The ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit to halt the deportation of more than 100 Iraqi nationals recently rounded up in raids arguing that ICE must give them an opportunity to prove they could face torture or death if returned to Iraq. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of an immigrant whose lawyer was incompetent and falsely told him that pleading guilty to a drug charge would not lead to his deportation and held that he should be able to reopen the proceedings against him and take his chances at trial.

SAVING THE PLANET – A group of Conservation groups filed notice of intent to sue the EPA for failing to ensure that Mississippi and Alabama have measures to prohibit conflicts of interest on state boards that approve and enforce Clean Air Act pollution permits. Many residents of Ottawa County Oklahoma are suing Michelin and B.F. Goodrich to hold them responsible for their alleged negligence in discharging dangerous chemicals at their local facility. Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice filed suit against the EPA for delaying implementation of the revised rules related to pesticides such as mandatory age minimums and better training for pesticide applicators to protect workers and the public from poisoning (belated report).

PRIDE MONTH PROGRESS – The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Quality of Life Advisory Commission held its first meeting after years of work by city staffers, activists and elected officials to establish it. California’s Attorney General has restricted state-funded or state-sponsored travel for state employees from business trips to Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota since those states passed measures limiting the rights of LGBT people.

WINNING FOR CIVIL RIGHTS – The U.S. Supreme Court held that a defendant is entitled to an expert who is independent from the prosecutor to gauge their health when they face the death penalty. The 11th Circuit Ct of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that prevented the ACLU from obtaining records regarding the use of cell phone tracker technology by the Sarasota Police Department. The ACLU sued the DC police for improperly using pepper spray and flash-bang grenades without warning or justification, and holding demonstrators (including a photojournalist and legal observer) without food, water or access to toilets, among other actions on Inauguration Day. A federal judge ruled that a cross located in a public Florida park must be removed after the American Humanist Association sued stating it made them feel unwelcome – that pesky constitutional separation of church and state.

PROTECTING A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE – NY Attorney General filed a lawsuit against a coalition of anti-choice protesters who harass and threaten patients, escorts, and staff at a women’s medical center that provides abortion services. Delaware Governor signed legislation removing restrictions on abortions from state law and guaranteeing women the right to seek the procedure even if federal law changes.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – Louisiana became the first state to prohibit all public universities from asking applicants about their criminal history. A federal judge branded Wisconsin’s juvenile prison for boys as a “troubled institution” for placing too many inmates in isolation and over-reliance on pepper spray and shackles in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. Continue reading

MUCH NEEDED WINNING FOR IMMIGRANTS AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

Amidst the chaos and violence it is ever more important to keep our heads up and eyes on the prize, long lasting positive change, and we accomplished a lot this week ending 6/17/17, as we do every week.

DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – Following in the footsteps of the 4th Circuit, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also struck down the revised travel ban finding that the language in the executive order itself did not make a rational case for why a travel ban was needed. The administration quietly announced that it is leaving in place Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals DACA and Jessica Colotl, one of the faces of DACA won a temporary reprieve of the revocation of her DACA status when a judge found that proper procedures were nor followed in revoking her protection.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – Cook County IL State Attorney instituted a new policy instructing prosecutors to consider recommending no bail for those without prior violent criminal history who are charged with low-level felonies. NYC’s new Criminal Justice Reform Act was implemented this week and directs police to issue civil tickets rather than criminal one for petty offenses such as public drinking. TX enacted the Sandra Bland Act requiring jails to immediately determine whether inmates suffer from mental illness and divert those who do to a mental health facility. Louisiana passed a package of laws aimed at reducing the prison population, with shorter sentences and parole and probation periods, less fines for those unable to pay, and eligibility for public benefits, among other things. Agnes Gund sold her Roy Lichtenstein “Masterpiece” for $165 million to establish the Art for Justice Fund to support criminal justice reform and reduce mass incarceration in the US helping to move this momentum forward.

SAVING THE PLANET – A U.S. District Court ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers failed to take into account how a spill at the Dakota Access pipeline might affect “fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice” and the Army must redo parts of its environmental analysis. The EPA said they are not revoking the waiver allowing CA to set higher air quality standards then the Clean Air Act. Five state and city officials responsible for the Flint Michigan water poisoning have been charged with involuntary manslaughter for the Legionnaires deaths caused by the water, in addition to the lead contamination.

THAT PESKY EMOLUMENTS CLAUSE – The Attorney Generals of Maryland and DC filed suit accusing 45 of putting hotels and convention centers operated by their governments at a competitive disadvantage. Almost 200 Democratic members of Congress allege in a lawsuit that 45 is profiting from business dealings with foreign governments without congressional approval and they have been deprived of their right to rule on whether he can accept such benefits from foreign governments. Let’s see who wins first.

PROGRESS THIS PRIDE MONTH – Danica Roem, become the first transgender candidate to win a primary for the VA House. NY named Paul Feinman, the first openly gay judge to NY’s highest court. Oregon became the first U.S. state to allow residents to identify as neither male nor female on state driver’s licenses allowing residents to choose an “X” for non-specified, displayed on their driver’s license.

AROUND THE WORLD – Serbias president nominated Ana Brnabic, as the country’s first female and openly gay prime minister. Australia will pay $70 million to compensate almost 2,000 asylum seekers held in a detention center on a remote Pacific island who were subjected to violence, rotting food, and denied access to drinkable water, hygiene and medication.

WINNING AGAINST HUNGER – Jeffrey Lew raised $93,000 to erase the school lunch debt and eliminate school lunch shaming at public schools in Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane in WA after initially launching an online fundraiser for just the $97 owed at his child’s school. The Canyons Board of Ed. in Utah passed a new school lunch debt policy prohibiting school lunch shaming of children.

FREE SPEECH – WH announced it will nominate Jessica Rosenworcel, an ardent net neutrality supporter, to fill a slot at the FCC. Senate Republicans backed away from a proposal to restrict media access in the Capitol after it caused an angry backlash. A U.S. Ct of Appeals declined to block the FCC from easing Obama-era limits on local television ownership and preventing a wave of media consolidation.

MORE AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION- SCOTUS held that that manufacturers of low-cost bio-similars don’t need to wait an extra six months after FDA approval to launch their product, which could save people billions of dollars. Nevada passed the U.S’s strictest requirements for drug companies requiring they reveal how certain prescription drug prices are set, disclose annual list prices, profits they make and discounts they give middlemen, and provide explanations for price hikes. Memphis launched a Student Loan Reduction Program providing eligible city workers with $50 monthly contributions towards loan repayment, becoming the first major U.S. city to offer this. The U. of Michigan-Ann Arbor announced that students with a family income less than $65,000 will receive free tuition.

MORE GOOD STATE ACTIONS – Texas will no longer allow any one younger than 18 from marrying unless a judge consents and prohibit anyone under 16 from getting married at all. The NY Governor is expected to sign a bill that bans marriage for children under the age of 17 and requires 17-year-olds to get court approval after a thorough review process. Maine joins the bandwagon and requires insurers to provide 12 month of birth control at a time

Continue reading

BRITAIN MOVES LEFT AND SCOTUS GIVES BACK OUR VOTE!

There is no Comey testimony here, only a brief summary of a fraction of our accomplishments in making the world a better place for all for the week ending 6/10/17.

THE SUPREME COURT –  SCOTUS upheld a lower court’s decision to throw out 28 NC legislative districts, another big ruling against gerrymandering by republicans. The Court rejected the Haris County (TX) emergency request for a stay of a lower court ruling challenging bail rules and ordering that inmates who can’t afford their bail to be freed from jail. They also placed limits on the government’s ability to seize assets from people who are convicted of crimes but receive little of the illegal proceeds.

SAVING THE PLANET – Hawaii became the first state to pass a law adopting the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. CA’s governor signed an agreement with China to lower greenhouse gas emissions and to partner on renewable energy, zero-emission vehicles, and low-carbon urban development. The United States Climate Alliance, a group of states dedicated to upholding the accord has grown to include HI, CT, DE, MA, MN, OR, RI VT and VA. Attorney Generals from NY, CA, ME, MD, MA, WA and VT formally challenged the EPA’s decision not to further restrict the use of the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos. Six conservation groups sued the EPA for suspending rules to stop methane leaks.

DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – Arresting or denying someone services based on their immigration status is now against the law in Columbus OH.  Ipswich MA and Arcata CA voted to become “sanctuary cities”. Dallas joined other cities in the legal challenge against the Texas Anti-sanctuary law that prohibits cities from protecting immigrants. The American Immigration Lawyers Association is relocating its 2018 convention from Texas due to the state’s new anti-immigrant laws. The 15,000-member group pulled out even with penalties for venues already booked saying members wouldn’t feel comfortable in Texas.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM- New Mexico overhauled its bail system so that defendants are detained based on their individual risk of danger/flight, not on their ability to pay a bond and will permit some arrested on minor offenses to be automatically released without bail. Illinois also enacted bail reform, which will eliminate the requirement for cash bail for those charged with non-violent misdemeanors, offering home monitoring, curfews or drug counseling, and offering a rehearing for those who can’t come up with bail money. Provincetown RI passed significant police reform, including prohibiting police from profiling based on race, ethnicity, language, housing status, or political affiliation, baring officers from inquiring about immigration status or from complying with outside requests related to enforcing immigration law, and grants more power to an external review authority.

STATES DOING THE RIGHT THING – Colorado and Nevada passed laws requiring insurers to cover 12 months of birth control at a time and New Mexico instituted a policy allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control directly to women. Kansas has basically called their experiment with economic trickle down a failure after 4 years and even republicans voted to repeal the massive tax cuts because of the bigly deficit it caused, enabling them to spend more on education.

WINNING COURT CASES– A federal court awarded $6.7 million ($1.7 mil in compensatory damages and $5 mil in punitive damages) to a female Milwaukee County inmate who was sexually assaulted by an officer at the jail run by the notorious Sheriff David Clark. Des Plaines, Il will pay a Muslim group $580,000 to settle a federal lawsuit for using zoning laws to discriminate and prohibit them from building a mosque.

ELECTION WINS – A record number of 200 women (⅓ of lawmakers) and over 40 openly LGBTQ parliamentarians won seats in Britain’s election not mention the fact that the Labour Party gained 30 costing the conservative party their majority.  In DeSoto County MS, Horn Lake elected LaShonda Johnson, an African American woman to the Board of Aldermen for the first time since Reconstruction and in the town of Walls, Dr. McLemore and Calvin Farmer, were the first two African Americans elected as Aldermen. Continue reading