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