While Californians are suffering from some of the worst fires in the state’ history, the governor took a moment to sign legislation that was recently passed by the legislature, many of which progressive groups spent year working to enact. My thoughts are with them and I hope their inspiring dedication is not extinguished and they continue to be an inspiration for all. Here is the week of 10/14/17 summary of what went right.
CALIFORNIA PROGRESSIVES – This week the California Governor signed a large number of progressive legislation including; the most comprehensive drug price transparency bill in the nation which forces pharmaceutical companies to notify the state when they plan to raise the price of a medication by 16 percent and requires them to justify the increases. He also signed laws to; ensure all children are not denied a full lunch because of their parents’ debt, encourage Californians to buy more zero-emission vehicles, require political ads to specifically identify the largest contributors to the entities producing them, allow youth sentenced to life without parole to have the right to a parole hearing after 25 years of incarceration, require all future rape kits be logged into state database, allow a check off box on state taxes to self-fund the backlog rape kit testing, require public schools in low-income areas to stock at least half of their bathrooms with free menstrual pads and tampons, require companies with 20 to 49 workers to allow employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn or adopted child without losing their jobs, ban employers from asking a job candidate his or her previous salary, provide free Community college tuition for the first year for all Californians, and for animal lovers, require pet shops to sell rescue animals.
ELECTION WINS – Democrat Nicole Stewart, won a seat on The Raleigh City Council, North Carolina, after the independent challenger declined to seek a run-off when Stewart secured more votes than him, saying he didn’t want to divide the city. Democrat Matt Newton won a seat on Charlotte City Council. Democrat Gary Stanga was re-elected Clerk of Court for Tangipahoa Parish in Louisiana. Democrats Joe Giarrusso, Jared Brossett, and Helena Moreno won seats on the New Orleans City Council. While New Orleans, Louisiana, has not yet elected its new mayor, the top two candidates to win in the first round of voting are women, so no matter the outcome, one of them will be the first female Mayor of the city in its nearly 300 year old history.
SAVING THE PLANET – The U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider an appeal by Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship for his conviction for conspiracy to violate federal mine safety and health standards which led to the deaths of 29 miners in a 2010 explosion. Vistra Energy Corp announced it would shut two coal-fired plants in Texas. Paris officials announced a new goal to ban gas-powered cars from by 2030 and diesel vehicles by 2024 in the city. Oxford, England is also considering banning petrol and diesels vehicles from the city starting in 2020 to create the world’s first zero-emissions zone. Thailand has moved to ban smoking on 20 of the country’s main tourist beaches.
STOPPING PRUITT AND THE DESTRUCTION OF THE EPA – Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut’s Attorney General’s pledged to sue the EPA over its move to eliminate rules limiting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The Environmental Defense Fund and other groups requested a U.S. Court of Appeals reject a trucking association request to stay new rules on tractor-trailer MPG’s. With pressure from red states and farmers, the EPA agreed to a deal with major agribusiness companies for new voluntary requirements on the toxic herbicide Dicamb. The companies will label the product as “restricted use”, require additional training for workers using it, and limit when and how it can be sprayed. Sometimes it’s hard for the administration to pick which competing group of conservatives to make happy, but in this case the environment wins as a by-product.
DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – The Supreme Court declined to decide on one of the challenges to the travel ban stating that it is moot since that particular aspect of the ban has now expired. I will call this a positive thing, as the court did not uphold the ban, but rather said they don’t need to make determination at this time. Sometimes a pass can be a win of sorts. California’s South Pasadena City Council passed a “sanctuary city” ordinance.
OUR CIVIL RIGHTS – The ACLU sued the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stop them from seizing and conducting warrantless and suspicion-less identification checks of passengers disembarking from domestic flights. The United Labor Unions filed a complaint against the Dallas Cowboys alleging they violated the National Labor Relations Act by threatening players if they choose not to stand for the national anthem.
GUN CONTROL – The Brady Center for Prevent Gun violence, filed suit against a bump stock manufacturer seeking damages and counseling for the survivors of a mass shooting in Las Vegas earlier this month. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that gun store location can be restricted by the government.
BREAKING GLASS CEILINGS AND PROGRESS FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR – United Technologies Corp appointed Judy Marks the president of Otis elevator, she is the first woman to head a subsidiary at the conglomerate. Dr. Connie Book was selected as the first female president of the 128 year old Elon University. Becky Hammon was the first woman head coach of an NBA team pre-season game. In Mississippi, Cossandra Feltson is the first woman to become a member of the Jackson Police Dept’s SWAT team and Leann Farr was the first woman to be promoted to captain on the Olive Branch Police Dept. Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan became the first woman in Saudia Arabia to lead a federation covering sporting activities for men and women. Dr. Dwight McKenna was elected as the first African-American Coroner of Orleans Parish, LA.
LGBTQ RIGHTS – A California District Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender-identity in healthcare. A coalition of 76 of the top U.S. businesses, legal scholars and the leading LGBT rights organizations submitted friend of the court briefs urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a petition brought by LAMBDA LEGAl to decide whether the Civil Rights Act prohibits sexual orientation discrimination on the job. Boca Raton, Florida banned gay conversation therapy for minors. Four lawmakers formed the Arizona Legislature’s first LGBTQ caucus group. Same-sex couples can now be legally married on Celebrity Cruises’ ships sailing in international waters. Civil rights groups appealed the Mississippi law allowing discrimination against gays to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Iowa Dept. of Transportation proposed rules to make it easier for transgender Iowans to change the sex designation on their driver’s licenses. Michael and Kai Korok, who married in Germany after it became legal last week, are the first same-sex couple in Germany to adopt a child. Greece passed legislation allowing citizens over the age of 15 to change the gender listed on their identity cards at will, following a simplified procedure in court, without the previously required sex reassignment surgery.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – The City Council of Reading, PA passed a motion urging state lawmakers to lower marijuana possession penalties to a summary offense from a misdemeanor. The ACLU sued two South Carolina towns for their failure to provide free lawyers for defendants facing misdemeanor charges that could lead to jail time.
PROTECTING WOMEN – The Supreme Court of India ruled that sexual intercourse with a girl who is under the age of 18 is rape regardless of the marital status of the girl. Pennsylvania’s and Washington D.C’s Attorney General’s joined the growing list of states, along with the ACLU, that are suing the administration over its attempt to roll back the ACA’s birth control coverage. The National Women’s Law Center announced the launch of the first national legal network to battle sex discrimination. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU joined forces to stop a new Missouri law that places additional restrictions on abortion, including a requirement that women seeking an abortion get information about the procedure 72 hours prior to it from the same physician who will perform it.
ONE PERSON ONE VOTE – A group of Democratic voters argue their voices are muted in Pennsylvania’s congressional elections gerrymandered districts and have moved for extraordinary relief with the State Supreme Court. New Mexico implemented new disclosure rules for political spending that require independent groups that spend heavily to influence the outcome of elections to name their contributors.
STATE AND LOCAL ACTIONS – Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., signed onto a federal lawsuit to stop the administration from cutting of the Affordable Care Act subsidies for low-income people. A School District in San Antonio Texas voted to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School to The Legacy of Educational Excellence (L.E.E HS).
FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT – Financial reports just made public show Trump owned Scottish golf resorts have yet to show a profit after he spent $200 million dollars on them, with Turnberry seeing revenue fall 21% in 2016 and Aberdeen showing a 28% increase in losses. And in case you missed it Republican Senator Bob Corker called the White House an adult day care center and Larry Flint/Hustler offered $10 million for information leading to 45’s impeachment.
CREATIVE ACTIVISM – Pastors and community leaders held a “Kneel-In before the NFL game in Charlotte, North Carolina, garnering some good local press. University of North Florida Students held a “Take a Knee UNF” rally for Black Lives Matter and in solidarity with the protest going on in the NFL across the country. The Washington Post reported that 16 of the 17 professional sports teams that had previously chosen to stay at Trump hotels while traveling confirmed they no longer stay at those hotels. New Yorkers know how to deal with racists. When a self-identified NYU Law School graduate started spewing racists comments on a NYC train a group of passengers took it upon themselves to physically toss him off the train with a faceful of free soup. I don’t condone violence but I do encourage people to stand up to hatred. Almost 200 protesters, in an action organized by local clergy were arrested in St Louis for shutting down I-95 to demand justice for Anthony Lamar Smith. This week marks the first anniversary of GrabYourWallet’s efforts to use the power of boycotts to stop 45.
Election Day is fast approaching in many states, including Virginia, with important statewide races for control of the State Legislature. If you haven’t already done so, check out Sister District, Flippable, or Swing Left to see how you can help progressive candidates win even if you live in a solid blue one.