Women showed up again to to be heard loud and clear a third year in a row. States with newly elected democratic governors and legislatures wasted no time getting to work on positive changes for women, minorities, LGBTQ, low-income households, voters, the environment and more. In fact, newly democratic states are making improvements so fast it is hard to keep up with them all. Some advocates in New York are even commenting that they are digging deep into their bag of absolute dream legislation because their top wish list are coming to fruition quickly and with little effort. So many different companies, people, organizations, etc are stepping up to help the federal workers paying the price for our newly democratic U.S. House standing up for what it right. The U.S. House Committees have already begun staffing up, setting up hearings, and sending out requests to the administration for documents. Better add C-Span to your favorites channel if you haven’t already. Don’t forget to remind those that are standing up for us in Congress that we have their back. I hope this extra long post of positivity helps make up for the weeks of missing good news because sometimes life gets in the way of this one woman, volunteer endeavor. I plan to be back every week as much as possible.
🧕🏻STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS A federal judge barred immigration officials from conducting unannounced raids on Cambodian immigrants living in the US with deportation orders and ordered them to give a 14-day written notice before detaining them. Springfield City Council (MA) overrode the mayor’s veto and passed the an ordinance instructing city employees not to make inquiries about a person’s immigration status, prohibits them from targeting legal action or discriminating against a medical, educational, or faith-based institution that provides sanctuary to immigrants. Maryland courts will now allow parents concerned about being deported to designate a caregiver for their children under an expansion of emergency guardianship measures. HELPING ONE PERSON AT A TIME New York Gov. pardoned 22 immigrants who were at risk of deportation because of criminal records. A federal appeals court ruled the U.S. government must pay millions of dollars to lawyers for a Muslim woman who was mistakenly classified as a potential terrorist and placed on a “no-fly” list.
⚖️ECONOMIC JUSTICE Starting with💵 WAGES AND BENEFITS Thousands of “Au Pairs” who provided child care for U.S. families under a State Dept. program will share a $65.5 million settlement against the companies that brought them to the U.S for allegedly colluding to keep their wages low, ignoring overtime and state minimum wage laws, and allowing families to require them to perform prohibited duties. Massachusetts Gov. extended unemployment benefits to National Grid workers who were locked out of their jobs during contract talks. Illinois gov. signed laws to protects the wages of workers, promote gender and racial diversity in companies with state contracts, and gave raises to state unionized workers. Thousands of Los Angeles teachers went on strike in the second largest school district in the country, demanding improvements to schools, including smaller class sizes and more support staff and better wages. Twenty states will see a rise in the state minimum wage this year. ⚕️HEALTH The new democratic governor of Maine used her first executive order to direct the state to begin implementation of Medicaid expansion. Indiana is working to entice mental health professionals to work in rural and opioid-stricken counties by offering to help pay student loans. While not new for this month, here is something to read about that works to connect health and education to improve the lives of people in a creative way. 🛍️CONSUMER PROTECTION The Massachusetts passed a law that requires credit reporting agencies to provide a free credit freeze to consumers, requires companies to offer up to three years of free credit monitoring to victims of a security breach, and force companies to disclose breaches in a timely and public notification. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bank’s challenge of the constitutionality of the structure of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Delta Air Lines agreed to pay $2.3 million to settle a class action lawsuit for allegedly failing to provide job applicants with a “standalone” background check disclosure in violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and CA laws. The U.S. Supreme Court limited the ability under federal law for motor carriers to settle disputes with owner-operators in arbitration, a win for labor rights.
📜 CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS A federal appeals court ruled that a Virginia politician violated the Constitution by temporarily blocking a critic from her public Facebook page. A federal court ruled that the police can’t force people to unlock a mobile phone with their face or finger. A North Carolina county will pay $285,000 in a settlement with the ACLU over christian prayers at the start of commissioner meetings.
🏛️ CHANGES AT “OUR HOUSE” The House of Representatives passed a number of new rules for the legislative body including; a ban on members serving on corporate boards, a requirement that members take ethics training every year; a ban on employment discrimination against LGBTQ staffers and jobseekers, and to permit religious headwear on the floor.
👨🏿⚖️SEEKING RACIAL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE 🔒IN PRISONS Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program reached an agreement with the Alabama prison system over how to monitor and resolve the prison system’s failure to comply with with a court order obtained in a class-action lawsuit over health care in state prisons. New Mecklenburg County Sheriff (NC) will no longer hold teenage offenders in solitary confinement. 👮POLICE REFORM The Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that Nashville’s vote creating a civilian board with the power to investigate police was legitimate. 💰 BAIL Harris County (TX) is implementing a new bail system after the old system was found to be unconstitutional, which allows most individuals with misdemeanor cases to be released without bail. 📃PARDONS, EXPUNGEMENT, RIGHTING THE WRONGS The Florida Clemency Board symbolically granted pardons to four African-American men who were wrongly accused of raping a white woman in 1949 amid Jim Crow laws. Washington Gov. announced a plan to expedite pardons for individuals convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession. Denver unveiled a new program to give people the chance to get low-level marijuana convictions that occurred before recreational use became legal in the state expunged. St. Louis County prosecutor fired the lawyer who presented the evidence to the grand jury that failed to indict in the case of Michael Brown.
🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Exxon Mobil’s appeal of a ruling allowing the Massachusetts Attorney General to proceed with her investigation of the oil company about whether the company knew and lied to the public and investors about the impact of burning fossil fuels on climate change. The Pennsylvania governor signed an executive order establishing for the first time a statewide goal of reducing carbon pollution and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 26% by 2025 and 80% by 2050 and creating a “Green-Gov Council” to work with state agencies to reduce energy use and improve the efficiency of state buildings and vehicles. Springfield (MA) City Council is forming a committee to address environmental issues in the city, including air pollution and energy use. The Florida governor announced funding and a 15 part plan to address the “red tide” in Florida. The democratic AG withdrew Michigan from two class actions challenging the right of the EPA to regulate various air pollutants at coal plants.
👩#MeToo And WOMEN’S RIGHTS 👰 MARRIAGE AGE The Ohio governor signed a new law that increased the state minimum marriage age to 18 for both parties, with some exceptions. In New Hampshire the minimum marriage age for girls went up to 16 from 13, a step in the right direction. 📝SEXUAL HARASSMENT RULES Dartmouth College is revising its sexual misconduct policy, including a single sexual misconduct policy, a processes for dealing with violations, mandatory training on laws barring gender discrimination, and putting more resources into mental health, and more. New Hampshire’s House of Representatives voted to require all lawmakers to undergo sexual harassment training. Illinois Gov.signed an executive order forbidding state agencies from asking job applicants how much they earned in previous jobs. FIXING THE WRONGS Thomia Hunter was granted clemency after serving 15 years of a life sentence for killing her abusive ex-boyfriend in Ohio and in Tennessee Cyntoia Brown was granted clemency after serving 13 years of her life in prison sentence for killing a man who forced her into sex trafficking when she was 16 years old. Florida Senate will pay a $900,000 settlement with a legislative aide who alleged that she was sexually harassed and retaliated against for reporting it. GETTING RID OF THE HARASSERS Good riddance to the Michigan State University president who was forced to resign for saying that victims of sexual abuse are “enjoying the spotlight.” And Washington State Sen. Kevin Ranker resigned following allegations of improper sexual conduct. CHANGING THE LAWS The newly passed ballot initiative exempting feminine hygiene products from taxes in Nevada went into effect. STANDING UP Not only did women march in cities across the U.S. but Millions of women formed a massive human chain in India to protest gender inequality. A few photos of signs at the NYC March.
🗽BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND NAMES MATTER – REMOVING THE HATE A confederate monument in a Madison (WI) cemetery was ordered moved by the city council and it is now being placed in a Veterans Museum. A Confederate plaque claiming slavery was not the cause of the civil war was taken down from the Texas state Capitol after a bipartisan effort from lawmakers. Winston-Salem (NC) ordered the removal of a statue of a Confederate soldier on private property. An Alabama judge overturned a state law that prevents the removal of Confederate monuments from public property and the city of Birmingham doesn’t have to take down its wooden screen placed around a Confederate monument. ADDING RESPECT North Dakota placed the flags of the five Native American tribes in the state on display in the state’s Memorial Hall. The governing body of all global Little League-affiliated leagues and teams updated its rules to prohibit the use of “racially insensitive, derogatory or discriminatory” team names and mascots.
🕬 GUN REFORM WITH NEW LAWS New Hampshire’s House of Representatives voted to ban firearms in the state House chamber. Washington state officially banned anyone under age 21 from buying semi-automatic assault rifles. Illinois Gov. signed a bill requiring gun dealers and shops to be regulated and certified by the state, bans retailers from selling guns without certification and allows the state to gather information on private sales and illegal gun transfers. AND LAWS THAT ARE WORKING Law enforcement officials announced that In the three months since the implementation of Maryland’s “red flag” gun safety law more than 300 protective orders across the state were issued.
🏳️🌈LGBTQ PROGRESS – TRANSGENDER WELCOMING New York City’s new law allowing a choice for “non-binary” on a birth certificate went into effect. The Harrison County (WV) school system placed an assistant principal who confronted a transgender student for using the boys restroom on unpaid suspension. Netflix will not be filming its show OBX in North Carolina as a result of the “bathroom bill” they chose not to fully repeal. Stephens College in Missouri, one of the oldest female colleges, is changing its admissions policy to include transgender women and non-binary students who were assigned female at birth. LEGAL PROTECTIONS The new democratic Michigan and Wisconsin Governors. signed executive orders prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people by state government agencies, contractors and service providers. New York passed the an act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identification or expression when it comes to employment, education, credit, and housing. STOPPING GAY CONVERSION THERAPY Denver and New York State became the first city in Colorado to ban gay conversion therapy for minors. OUT AND RESPECTED The Illinois House Speaker named Rep. Greg Harris the first openly gay House majority leader in the state’s history. MOVING INTO THE MAINSTREAM David’s Bridal featured a female couple in one of its ads for the first time. OTHER COUNTRIES Lithuania’s top court ruled that the country must grant residence permits to foreign spouses of gay citizens even though same-sex unions are not recognised by law. Two Austrian women became the first same-sex couple to officially tie the knot in the country.
🤰🏽WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE AND RIGHT TO CHOOSE Two different federal judges temporarily blocked rules allowing employers to refuse to provide free birth control on religious grounds from taking effect nationwide. New York is implementing a pilot program to have Medicaid cover a doula to provide physical and emotional care throughout pregnancy and after birth for some pregnant woman. A judge ruled that Kansas cannot prevent doctors from providing pregnancy-ending pills to women they see by remote video conferences.
🕫🗳️FAIR AND ETHICAL VOTING starts with NO GERRYMANDERING The U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from Virginia Republicans to block a federal court from approving new legislative district maps for 11 State House districts that they found to be racially gerrymandered 11 while their appeal is pending. The Richardson Independent School District (TX) agreed to reconfigure school board elections to single-member districts for five of seven positions with two at-large election status, to settle a lawsuit that the prior configuration prevented minority representation on the board. FAIR CENSUS A federal judge blocked the administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census finding it was “arbitrary and capricious.” VOTING RIGHTS New York state legislature passed a package of sweeping election and voting reform to allow for early voting, same day registration, combining state and federal primaries, and more Recent restrictions on voting in Wisconsin by outgoing republicans were temporarily halted by a federal judge finding the law violated a 2016 court order. Florida felons began registering to vote after winning passage of the ballot initiative. ETHICS The Oklahoma Ethics Commission for the first time is cracking down on political candidates who fail to file campaign reports or file them late. DARK MONEY The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a Montana’s voter-approved limits on contributions to political campaigns in state elections. A federal court struck down a Virginia election law that allowed incumbents who are running for re-election dictate to their own party, how that party nominates in that particular race.
💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE The families of Sandy Hook victims suing Alex Jones and InfoWars won a discovery requests from a judge allowing them them access to internal marketing and financial documents from him and the company. House GOP leaders remove Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) from all his committee assignments following his most recent racist comments. So far at least twenty companies have pulled their ads from Tucker Carlson’s show after he commented that immigrants making the U.S. “poorer” and “dirtier.”
👩🎓BREAKING BARRIERS Andrea Stewart-Cousins was elected as the first woman and African-American woman to serve as the New York State Senate leader in the body’s 241 years and Kimberly Lightford was selected as the first African-American Illinois Senate Majority Leader. Kim Reynolds, Iowa’s first elected female governor, appointed women to the top four positions in her administrative office. CBS announced that Susan Zirinsky will become the first woman to lead their news division. In addition to new diverse slate of congressional leaders comes Anne Reid, Sen. Warren’s new chief of staff and the only black woman serving in this role for a Democratic senator, and Shuwanza Goff, the first African American woman floor director. Wisconsin Gov. announced he would appoint Carolyn Stanford Taylor as State Superintendent of the Dept. of Public Instruction, making her Wisconsin’s first black school superintendent.
🙂 LAWSUIT ROUNDUP The Supreme Court declined to block a federal judge’s contempt order and $50,000-a-day penalty for refusing to comply with a subpoena for an unidentified foreign-government-owned company intervene in a mysterious subpoena involving special counsel Robert Mueller.
😡 ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST Less than one month in, and the first republican has already resigned from the House, hats off to the first republican fleeing their sinking ship, Tom Marino (PA). Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) also announced he won’t seek re-election.
🗳️ ELECTION RESULTS State Del. Jennifer Boysko (D) won a special election for Virginia State Senate District 33 with 69.8% of the vote.