It is Super Bowl Sunday and your team may or may not be in the game, and you may or may not care about who wins, or you are saying to yourself what is the Super Bowl and it it today? But no matter your thoughts on the game, there is good news, and only good news, that you can count on in this week’s roundup of What Went Right for those of wanting this country to be a more healthy, just, welcoming and equitable place to call home. And if you are looking for a non-sports show then you can tune in to the Rachel Maddow Show. It is now the number one non-sports show on all of cable, not just just news programming. Now onto the weekly list;
🧕 IMMIGRANTS got a boost in Arizona, Maine, and from a nationwide network of activists.
- Arizona gave up its appeal of a lawsuit and will now issue state driver’s licenses to all deferred-action recipients.
- Maine withdrew from the lawsuit challenging DACA.
- Abuelas Responden, Grannies Respond, a nationwide network of volunteers continue to meet asylum seekers from Central America when they arrive at bus stations after leaving I.C.E. custody.
⚖️ECONOMIC JUSTICE with court’s ruling against opioid makers and for veterans exposed to Agent Orange, Maine withdrawing Medicaid work rules, Colorado and the CFPB making it harder to take advantage of people using payday loans, pilot programs to address homelessness and veteran needs in MA and Tennessee, stopping the expansion of charter schools in CA, standing up for teacher in Virginia and low wage workers in NJ, and the possibility of real improvement in conditions for NYC housing authority residents.
- HEALTHCARE Massachusetts judge ruled that more details contained in a lawsuit that accuses the maker of OxyContin of deceiving patients and doctors about the risks of opioids must be made public. The new Maine governor rejected new work requirements for Medicaid recipients that were requested by the former Gov.
- CONSUMER PROTECTION Colorado proposition 111 went into effect which limits interest rate on short-term loans, commonly called payday loans, to a yearly rate of 36 percent and eliminated all other finance charges and fees associated with the lending. The CFPB banned payday lender NDG Financial, three corporate officers and nearly a dozen affiliated companies from lending to consumers in the U.S.
- VETERANS A federal appeals court ruled that Navy veterans of the Vietnam War qualified for service related aid based on a “presumptive exposure” to Agent Orange. Tennessee is opening a military veterans-only housing units at three prisons in an effort to reduce recidivism and provide extra support.
- EDUCATION The Los Angeles Unified School District board voted to put a moratorium on new charter schools. Thousands of teachers in Virginia protested for more school funding.
- HOUSING Massachusetts is beginning a pilot program to offer homeless community college students free housing at nearby state universities aimed at combating youth homelessness. The New York City Housing Authority, home to 400,000 people, and HUD came to an agreement to appoint a federal monitor and set deadlines for the corrections of a host of repair issues.
- WAGES New Jersey lawmakers approved a measure to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour.
☮️ SOCIAL JUSTICE AND CIVIL RIGHTS with the ACLU continuing to fight for us, Illinois courts standing up for privacy, and Alabama doing the right thing for driver.
- The ACLU is standing up for our civil rights and suing multiple federal agencies for failing to comply with a FOIA request for documentation on the government’s social media surveillance of individuals, the Sacramento Police dept. for banning black lives matter activists from their public Facebook page, and Arizona for excluding gender-confirming surgery from its health insurance plan.
- Alabama began processing applications for “hardship licenses,” modified driver’s licenses that will allow people to get to work or school even if the state previously revoked their privileges for non driving related infractions.
- The Illinois Supreme Court upheld consumers’ right to sue companies for collecting data like fingerprint or iris scans without telling them how it will be used.
👨🏿⚖️SEEKING RACIAL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE took a leap forward in Baltimore with marijuana reform, in Missouri with bail reform efforts, and Chicago with police accountability.
- Baltimore’s top prosecutor announced that the city will no longer prosecute any cases related to marijuana possession, regardless of quantity or a person’s criminal record and he filed a petition to vacate nearly 4,000 convictions for marijuana possession.
- ”The chief justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri announced a pretrial reform plan to reduce the use of monetary bail and to make bail amounts align with an accused ability to pay, among other things.
- A judge approved a consent decree for the Chicago police department are part of an effort to bring an end to excessive force and racially discriminatory policing.
- People showed up to show support for pre-trial detainees being held in a federal jail in NYC without heat, hot water, or electricity in the middle of the polar vortex, and the city showed up with blankets.
🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT by having Germany agree to leave coal behind, companies continuing to move away from using single use plastics and reduce use of greenhouse gases, states demanding the EPA regulate asbestos, and helping grow the next generation of environmental reporters and state parks.
- Germany, one of the world’s biggest consumers of coal, announced that it will shut down all of its coal-fired power plants over the next 19 years to meet its international climate change commitments.
- Sixteen Attorney’s Generals formed a coalition to demand the federal E.P.A. issue new rules to eliminate exemptions for asbestos reporting.
- Ohio purchased land to establish the state’s 152nd designated wildlife area to be used for wildlife conservation, propagation and habitat management.
- Ben & Jerry’s announced a move away from single-use plastics, saying it will no longer hand out disposable plastic spoons and straws, replacing them instead with wooden spoons and papers straws upon request. A new company in Brooklyn (NY) started a zero-waste, plastic-free, food delivery service providing produce, grains and herbs from local bulk shops and farmers’ markets. Some of the world’s biggest brands announced a project called Loop, where they will be offering products in refillable, reusable containers instead of single-use disposable packaging.
- Aldi announced it reached its goal of being a “carbon neutral business” in the UK and Ireland.
- InsideClimate News is expanding its summer Institute for Environmental Journalism to include a course in Maine, along with its program in New York City.
- A California state court judge upheld protection for gray wolves under the California Endangered Species Act.
👩#MeToo And WOMEN’S RIGHTS with a new generation of female state leaders, pay disparity taking another hit in Maryland, and expanded protections for child victims in NY.
- Not only did women win big in 2018, but in 2019 a lot of those women also won leadership positions. More women will hold leadership positions in state legislatures across the country than at any time in history according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Six state House chambers and nine State Senates will be headed by women, 51 women will hold top leadership positions in their respective legislative chambers.
- The Maryland Insurance Administration settled a lawsuit with the U.S. EEOC for paying female investigators less than men for the same work under which they will pay back wages and damages, create specific “non-gender-based criteria for setting wages” and post a notice outlining its obligation to meet the criteria and report to the EEOC.
- NYS under democratic leadership was able to pass the Child Victims Act which bolsters protections for child sex abuse survivors by extending the criminal and civil statute of limitation for child sex abuse offenses, allowing claims against private and public institutions, and providing training to judges on how to properly handle these cases.
🗽BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND NAMES MATTER we are removing Confederate statues in NC and Florida and adding monuments to MLK Jr. in MA.
- Officials in Winston-Salem (NC) say they are moving a Confederate monument into a local cemetery.
- A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Confederate rights groups, who are trying to stop Lakeland (FL) from moving a confederate monument from a city park.
- Brookline (MA) installed a sculpture of MLK Jr. by a local artist.
🕬 GUN REFORM The New York state legislature passed the most comprehensive set of gun control bills in the state since 2013, with measures including; a ban on bump stocks; ban on teachers from carrying guns in schools, extending the waiting period for individuals who purchase guns and have not passed an instant background check; expand the state’s prohibition of assault weapons and tightened certification requirements.
🏳️🌈LGBTQ PROGRESS with new gender neutral birth certificate options, expanded LGBT teachings, and help for transgender inmates.
- New Jersey will become the fourth state to include a gender-neutral option on birth certificates, with the law signed by the Governor going into effect this week and passed a law requiring middle schools and high schools to incorporate historical societal contributions of notable LGBTQ people into their curricula
- Massachusetts and Illinois prisons officials have taken the rare step of moving transgender women inmates from men’s prison to a women’s prison.
🤰🏽WOMEN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE A U.S. Supreme Court Justice Alito blocked Louisiana from enforcing new restrictions on access to abortion until at least Feb. 7 while the justices consider whether to grant a request for a longer halt.
🕫🗳️VOTING Rights starts with a chance at a correct census count, providing access to public records, and paying fines when you are found in contempt of court orders for violating people’s rights.
- A judge ruled that election officials in Kansas’ largest county violated open records law by refusing to provide names of hundreds of people whose provisional ballots were not counted in last August’s primary.
- A federal judge ruled that the NAACP can proceed with a federal lawsuit challenging the government’s inadequate preparations for the 2020 Census.
- The Kansas attorney general agreed to drop former Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s appeal of a federal court judge’s contempt order and he will pay $20,000 to the ACLU for attorney fees and expenses.
- U.S. District Court ordered the administration to release additional documents from the Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity former committee member, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.
💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE with Smith College and Duke University addressing the racially motivated behaviour of their faculty.
- A Duke University professor resigned after telling students to use “English 100% of the time” while on campus or in professional settings, university officials confirmed.
- Smith College announced that it’s overhauling policies involving calls to campus police in response to an incident where a student was racially profiled while doing nothing wrong.
👩🎓BREAKING BARRIERS Nikema Williams was elected the first black woman to lead the Georgia Democratic Party. The Salt Lake County Democratic Party chose Jenny Wilson to serve as county mayor at a special election, making her the county’s first female Democratic mayor.
🗹 ELECTION RESULTS Democrats in Texas held on to two democratic State Rep seats, in special elections; in El Paso, Art Fierro won and in Houston, two Democrats advanced to a runoff for a seat.