The government has been temporarily re-opened because our Democratic Members of Congress stood firm and refused to cave into the bully demanding 5 billion dollars of their tax dollars for a “vanity wall project” most Americans did not want. Thanks to the support of Indivisibles in all 50 states and U.S. territories, people made over 16,000 calls (at last count!) to their members of Congress demanding that they reopen the government with no funding for Trump’s wall. CNBC has reported that 90 percent of the administration’s overall de regulatory efforts have been blocked in court, or withdrawn after a lawsuit, according to a running tally maintained by the Institute for Policy Integrity. While the Russia investigation continues to heat up, newly elected Democratic governors and legislatures spent yet another week marching forward on progressive legislation. Read on for so much more good news.
🧕🏻IMMIGRANTS can feel a tiny bit safer, welcomed, and supported now that the Supreme Court has left DACA in place for the moment, another local county will not work with I.C.E., the Illinois Governor signed a “Immigrant Welcoming” executive order, Philly is trying to protect them from deportation, and NY is trying to help them go to college.
- Supreme court leaves in place a ruling upholding DACA, making it unlikely to be before the court during its current term.
- A Maryland county council voted not to rejoin I.C.E.’s 287(g) program that had officers screening inmates arrested on other charges for immigration violations.
- An Executive Order signed by the Illinois Governor will expand access to state welcoming centers to help immigrants access health care, education, mental health, jobs and legal services, guide them on the path to citizenship, and also requires state agencies to put together a “Know Your Rights resource sheet” for immigrants and refugees.
- About 300 prosecutors in Philadelphia started training on how to minimize the risk of deportation for low-level and nonviolent offenders.
- The New York State Legislature approved a bill that gives access to undocumented students to state financial aid and scholarships for higher education, and the governor should be signing it.
⚖️ECONOMIC JUSTICE for teachers are being fought for in Los Angeles and Denver, truckers are getting more livable wage, Nebraska parents get a hand, and opioid addicts get help in NJ.
- The striking Los Angeles teachers won a new agreement that includes a 6% raise, a gradual decrease in class sizes over the next few years and more counselors, librarians and nurses.
- While public school teachers in Denver overwhelmingly voted to go on strike to press their demands for more money and incentive pay.
- Walmart is raising the pay for its truck drivers, increasing their average salary to $87,500, bringing another job opportunity to a living wage.
- Nebraska state employees now have access to maternity leave donation program for new and expecting mothers on family medical leave who have exhausted their sick time accrual.
- NJ Gov. added opioid addiction to the list of illnesses that qualify for medical marijuana and expanded Medicaid coverage for medication-assisted treatment,
☮️ SOCIAL JUSTICE means that a bar learns what MLK day really means and North Carolina has a chance to maintain a less conservative court.
- A bar in Iowa canceled an event honoring Martin Luther King Jr. called “MLKegs” after the planned holiday weekend bash was blasted on social media as racist, insensitive and the result of unchecked “white privilege.”
- The North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice is resigning which means the Democratic Gov. will decide who fills the Republican’s seat on the court.
👨🏿⚖️SEEKING RACIAL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE Money and video does not make things right but hopefully it leads to change after million dollar settlements of two major cases against those treated unjustly and the knowledge that the public can see police actions, the police are held accountable, and California children may no longer be controlled by the prison system.
- NYC will pay $3.3. million to the family of a man who killed himself after spending three years as a teenager, much of it in solitary confinement. In jail because he could not pay $3000 in bail for allegedly stealing a backpack.
- An African-American doctoral student who was violently arrested in Illinois after cops thought he was stealing his own vehicle settled his lawsuit for $1.25 million.
- The Ohio Supreme Court has formed a task force to review bail reform options.
- Greensboro police release bodycam footage in death of black man in police custody.
- California Gov. announced he intends to shift control of the state’s Juvenile Justice Division away from corrections officials to government health and human services providers to build on efforts to divert children from a path to prison.
- The Vermont Supreme Court found the state liable for unreasonable searches and seizures and held that the faint odor of marijuana in a car does not justify its seizure by the state.
🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT was a new stated goal for Illinois and two other countries grew their renewable energy.
- Illinois Gov. signed an executive order to join the United States Climate Alliance, committing the state to reduce carbon emissions consistent with the Paris Agreement.
- Kazakhstan turned on the largest solar park in Central Asia and India added a record 74% of its power capacity based on renewable energy technologies.
👩#MeToo And WOMEN’S RIGHTS saw State legislatures, corporations, and the U,K. are taking some accountability.
- The California Legislature made several appointments to a new workplace conduct unit and panel of legal experts to review and investigate sexual harassment claims in the Senate and Assembly.
- CVS Pharmacy unveiled an initiative in U.S. stores which labels photos of models in its beauty aisles to make it clear whether the images had been digitally altered.
- British women forced into marriages abroad will no longer be required to repay the government for the cost of helping them escape, reversing a policy that touched off intense public outrage.
🗽BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND NAMES MATTER Schools are removing offensive and culturally insensitive images from campus and legislature are adding positive ones celebrating abolitionists and humanitarians.
- The University of Notre Dame is covering murals on campus that depict Christopher Columbus in America with images that depict Native Americans in stereotypical submissive poses before white European explorers.
- Work began on bronze statues that will depict the abolitionists Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass at the Maryland State House.
- Officials announced that Louisville International Airport will be renamed after the boxer and humanitarian Muhammad Ali.
🏳️🌈LGBTQ PROGRESS with new state protections against discrimination in Ohio, Kansas, and New York thanks to new Governors and legislatures and Angola as well as more protections from “gay conversion therapy.”.
- Last week I reported that two governors had increased protections for LGBT, I apologize for my error, it was actually four new governors, who signed nondiscrimination orders that include sexual orientation and gender identity in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Kansas.
- New York passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and expression, becoming the 20th state with protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Angola removed the “vices against nature” provision in its law, widely interpreted to be a ban on homosexual conduct and also prohibited discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation.
- D.C. Mayor signed banning “gay conversion therapy” for adults who are under the care of a conservator or guardian.
🤰🏽WOMEN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE were protected in New York and Iowa by the legislature and the court.
- NY passed the Reproductive Health Act codifying abortion protections and expanding reproductive health rights which included removing abortion laws from the state’s criminal code and putting it in the public health law; expanded who can perform the procedure from beyond just physicians; and legalizes abortion after 24 weeks in cases to protect a woman’s health or where a fetus is not viable
- NY also passed the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act, requiring insurers to cover the contraception that is right for each patient, without out-of-pocket costs.
- An Iowa state judge ruled that Iowa’s “fetal heartbeat” abortion law is unconstitutional.
🕫🗳️ REAL VOTING RIGHTS starts with not allowing fraud to win out in North Carolina, stopping “irrational, illogical, and wholly unjustifiable” Voter ID laws in Iowa, getting states out of the cross-check system, and finally getting fair districts in Virginia, getting into the dark money battle.
- A North Carolina judge rejected the republican’s bid to be certified as the winner of the congressional vote at the center of an election fraud investigation.
- An Iowa judge struck down part of a voter ID law which prevented auditors from using an existing voter database to look up missing voter information when processing absentee ballot requests, making it harder to count the absentee ballots,
- The Illinois State Bd. of Elections voted to withdraw from the controversial crosscheck multi-state voter fraud prevention system over concerns about reliability and security.
- A federal court redrawing portions of Virginia’s House of Delegates district map as part of a racial gerrymandering case selected a new configuration that could result in more democratic leaning districts.
- Issue One is reporting that for the first time since the Citizens United decision, liberal dark money groups outspent conservative groups in the 2018 election. While I don’t favor dark money in politics, if it isn’t going to be a fair fight then there is nothing wrong with using the rules to our advantage.
💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE by making Florida and Oklahoma politicians and student learn there are consequences for racist actions and publicly condemning their hate statements, and convicting those who try to commit hate crimes.
- The republican Secretary of State for Florida resigned after photos emerged of him in blackface as a Hurricane Katrina victim, he was in the position for less than a month.
- Hallandale Beach (FL) commissioners voted to condemn Commissioner Anabelle Lima-Taub for writing that U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib might become “a martyr and blow up Capitol Hill.”
- Two University of Oklahoma students who made a blackface video posted to social media have left the school and were expelled from their sorority.
- Three members of a militia group were sentenced to a total of 81 years in prison for plotting to bomb Somali and Muslim communities in Kansas.
👩🎓BREAKING BARRIERS because colleges named women as presidents, one woman earned a prestigious science award, a community board and professional conductor organization named African-American as chair, for the the first time in their histories.
- Allegheny College named Dr. Hilary Link and Grand Valley State University named Philomena Mantella, as their next presidents, and the first women presidents in the colleges history.
- Teresa Huai-Ying Meng is the first woman to receive the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal for her “technical contributions to and leadership in the development of wireless semiconductor technology.” The members of a Brooklyn (NY) community board elected a black Caribbean-American as its chair. after being run by white men for decades.
- Julius P. Williams is the first African-American to be named President of the Conductors Guild, a global membership organization comprised of conductors of symphony, opera, ballet, choral, band, contemporary, and chamber ensembles.
🙂 LAWSUIT ROUNDUP Special counsel Robert Mueller charged Roger Stone with lying to the F.B.I, obstruction, and witness tampering as part of the Russia investigation and arrested him in a pre-dawn raid on his Florida home.