What brought me joy this week was seeing Stacey Abrams give a powerful Democratic response to the SOTU speech, as the first black woman to ever do so. And thanks to state and local elections having real consequences, the new democratic Michigan AG is withdrawing the state from many federal cases seeking to undermine reproductive rights, environmental protections, the separation of church and state, civil rights, and more. The new progressive and democratic governors, legislature, district attorneys, city councils, etc. continue another week of marching forward with the tangible changes promised during their campaigning. States matter! Here is all the news you can read without cringing for this week and a view of a Fair Fight SOTU watch party.
🧕 STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS by not using state troops for a fake crisis at the border or state police to intimidate and arrest undocumented immigrants, treating naturalized service members with respect, standing up for vulnerable residents in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Baltimore, and the Netherlands. #StandWithImmigrants
- New Mexico’s Gov. ordered the withdrawal of most National Guard troops who have been deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border.
- A federal judge ordered the Defense Department to stop discriminating against naturalized citizens who serve in the U.S. Army by making them undergo continuous security monitoring not applied to American-born citizens.
- Pennsylvania state police adopted new policies to limit officers from questioning passengers about their immigration status during a traffic stop and may not detain people just for the purpose of questioning them about their immigration status.
- The Los Angeles City Council and the Palm Springs City Councils passed “Sanctuary City” resolutions and ordinances.
- Campbell Law School launched an Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project to work in partnership with local organizations to help residents with immigration issues. A Baltimore eatery received much support after the restaurant’s owner said she received a death threat over a anti-Trump poster and a Netherland church held a nonstop 96-day long church service to protect a family from deportation came to an end after the govt agreed the refugees would no longer face immediate deportation.
⚖️ECONOMIC JUSTICE for Puerto Rican’s now entitled to more fair disability benefits, Idaho residents in need of Medicaid, vulnerable residents in residential facilities, under-served students in need of real STEM education, and better wages and benefits for New Jersey, Instacart, Vermont State, and Walmart workers. #FightForFifteen
- A U.S. judge ruled that the federal government is violating the Constitution by prohibiting people who live in Puerto Rico from receiving Supplemental Security Income.
- The Idaho Supreme Court ruled that a voter-approved initiative expanding Medicaid in Idaho is legal.
- The Arizona Gov. issued an executive order aimed at increasing oversight at health care facilities.
- A federal judge criticized Massachusetts for being too slow to provide mental health services to low-income children and denied its request to be removed from court oversight.
- Baltimore enacted new rules to protect tenants from substandard housing.
- Illinois schools launched a 5-week, all-expenses paid STEM summer camp for high school students from underrepresented groups in Chicago and Southern Illinois.
- Walmart started giving hourly employees some paid sick leave and bonuses for not having unexpected absences.
- Instacart will stop stealing money from their workers by changing their policy where Instacart was using customer tips to subsidize the $10 per delivery minimum payment the company guarantees its workers.
- Vermont Gov. launched an “Infants in the Workplace Program” for children between the ages of six weeks and six months old.
- NJ governor signs $15 minimum wage law.
👨🏿⚖️ ☮️CIVIL RIGHTS AND RACIAL JUSTICE happened for youth in Philadelphia, the Black Lives Matter movement in LA, and California saw more police transparency and less racial profiling. #BlackLivesMatter
- Philadelphia’s District Attorney announced a series of new juvenile justice policies aimed at keeping juveniles charged with low-level crimes out of the court system and out of custody.
- A California county judge ruled the new state police transparency law required that years of discipline and use-of-force documents can be made public and not just going back to the date of the law.
- Los Angeles officials agreed to drop all criminal charges against one of the city’s most visible Black Lives Matter organizers after activists fought the city for trying to silence a critical voice.
- The Los Angeles Mayor ordered police to scale back on vehicle stops in response to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times showing that an elite unit was pulling over a disproportionate number of African Americans.
🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT by delaying or stopping exploration for oil, banning harmful sunscreen ingredients, challenging the EPA for not doing their job, and because judges gave a little bird and solar power in Hawaii a chance to thrive. #ThereIsNoPlanetB
- A plan to conduct seismic testing for oil and gas exploration across a large swath of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska has been shelved for this winter, Interior Department officials have said.
- The Key West City Commission banned the sale in the city limits of sunscreens that contain the ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate in an effort to save coral reefs.
- The NYS legislature passed a ban on offshore drilling in New York’s waters and the governor is expected to sign it.
- Six states and New York City brought a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s failure to stop pollution from coal-burning power plants that contribute to unhealthy air in the Northeast.
- The Environmental Law and Policy Center filed a lawsuit accusing the U.S. EPA of failing to hold Ohio accountable for pollution in Lake Erie.
- A federal judge stopped an effort by Texas Land Commissioner to lift habitat protections for the golden-cheeked warbler.
- A court in Hawaiʻi ruled that the State Energy Office was wrong in allowing “wholesale” exemptions from the state law mandate that all new single-family homes include solar water heaters.
- In other countries, a Swiss city announced plans to replace its fleet of buses with electric models, India installed solar power at an airport, and Australia announced they expect to meet their carbon emissions goal under the Paris Accord earlier than expected.
👩#MeToo And WOMEN’S RIGHTS thanks to a momentary save for Roe V. Wade and Massachusetts Senate saying no to bad practices.
- The Massachusetts Senate voted to ban the use of nondisclosure agreements by the state Senate.
- The Supreme Court temporarily blocked a Louisiana abortion law from taking effect, which would require physicians to hold “active admitting privileges” at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where abortion care is provided, while the case is decided.
🗽BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND #NAMES MATTER A Utah High School teams will no longer be known as the “Redmen.”
🏳️🌈LGBTQ COMMUNITY saw support and acceptance by the California National Guard, Oakland County, Maine Episcopals, and South Dakota. #TransRights
- The California National Guard told lawmakers that the they are not removing transgender soldiers from their ranks and they will continue to allow them to serve.
- A bill to require transgender students to participate in South Dakota high school athletics based on their sex at birth rather than their gender identity was killed by a Senate committee.
- Oakland County swore in its first ever openly gay circuit court judge and the Episcopal Diocese of Maine selected their first openly gay Episcopal bishop in Maine.
🕫🗳️FREE AND FAIR VOTING may be possible now that two gerrymandering lawsuits can go forward, Columbus residents will have the day off to vote, Michigan AG no longer supports voter suppression and the ACLU and others are challenging Texas voter suppression. #VotingRights
- A federal appeals court rejected a request by Ohio to delay a gerrymandering lawsuit that aims to put a new, fairer, Ohio congressional district map in place in time for the 2020 election and a U.S. Supreme Court justice denied Republicans’ request to delay a federal trial over gerrymandering in Michigan’s congressional and legislative districts.
- Sandusky (OH) commissioners decided that the city will no longer observe Columbus Day as a holiday and will be switching it for Election Day.
- Michigan withdrew its support of amicus brief in case supporting Kansas’s position that the risk of noncitizen voting justifies a documentary proof of citizenship requirement for voter registration.
- The ACLU and others are suing to block Texas counties from sending notices requiring certain voters to prove their citizenship.
💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE with consequences for hateful actions achieved by juries and public pressure.#NoH8
- A Virginia police sergeant was suspended for alleged ties to white nationalism thanks to the work to expose him by a group called Antifascists of Seven Hills.
- A fourth man was found guilty of taking part in the violent beating of a black man during the “Unite the Right” rally in 2017.
- Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce president resigned after he made misogynistic is Facebook posts about a group of congresswomen at the State of the Union speech.
👩🎓BREAKING BARRIERS Lawrenceville City Council (GA) appointed its first black member. Absecon’s City Council (NJ) appointed the city’s first female mayor. Chief Judge Donna Barnes was sworn in as the first woman judge to lead the Mississippi Court of Appeals. Coalport Borough Council (PA) appointed the first woman to serve as its president. Allete Inc. board of directors elected its first ever woman President of the company. #BlackGirlsRock
ANOTHER REPUBLICAN SEAT UP FOR GRABS U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) announced he would not seek re-election in 2020, another.