It may have been particularly hard to see the good news this week after another horrific mass shooting sparked by hatred but this is the place to have your moment of positivity, because inspirational things did happen. People across the world came together and showed their love, acceptance, and support for muslims in their time of need. The New Zealand government promised to pay for burial and support for the victims and their families and swift legislation to expand gun control. The youth around the world came together to demand action on climate change to save the earth they will inherit. While all that was going on, the courts and in-session state legislatures were busy making things better for all of us with decisions and new laws. There is a lot more great legislation still making it’s way through the legislative process that I did not cover this week that hopefully will see the light of day soon. The other highlights this week are;
- #ClimateChangeStrike Another state joined the U.S. Climate alliance and Maryland came one step closer to ending unnecessary Styrofoam use.
- #MeToo Oregon and the Federal Judiciary will now have to take sexual harassment a lot more seriously, rape-kit backlog declining and testing bringing results, and Utah says no to some child brides.
- #FightFor15 Free college tuition in Tennessee, a higher minimum wage in Denver, meatless Mondays in NY, and rules to stop racism in special education services became the future.
- #BlackLivesMatter No death penalty in California, Kentucky and Florida take steps forward on reforming criminal justice, and another officer was taught that Black Lives do Matter.
- #NeverAgain Dicks Sporting Goods just got even better and Connecticut courts put gun makers feet to the fire.
- #FairFight Mississippi has to fix their gerrymandering, some Texas and Georgia counties will make polling more accessible to disabled and students, voter ID in North Carolina delayed, and FEC imposes big fines for campaign violations.
- #NoH8 Indiana and New Mexico just got more transgender inclusive, more school districts protecting LGBTQ students right to be safe and happy while learning, and South Africa courts rule the right way on same-sex marriage.
- #BlueWave2020 Democrats held onto seats in Arizona, Texas, Maine, and Pennsylvania in special elections.
AND MORE SO READ ON
👩#MeToo AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS
- The Oregon legislature signed a $1.3 million settlement with state regulators and nine women who experienced sexual harassment at the Capitol and which will also require them to implement a list of reforms including creating a new Equity Office.
- Manhattan District Attorney and the U.S. Justice Department announced an update on a joint investment in clearing a backlog of over 250,000 untested rape kits from more than 24 states, going back years has resulted in over 1,000 arrests in the last three years, over 100,000 kits tested, and hundreds of convictions.
- New ethics rules were adopted by the federal judiciary to under which judges and employees are required to report alleged misconduct, including “unwanted, offensive or abusive sexual conduct” creating a hostile work environment, bans intentional discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, gender, gender identity, pregnancy, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age or disability and bans retaliation for reporting misconduct.
- The Utah legislature passed a bill raising the minimum marrying age to 16 and now waiting on Governor’s signature.
- Georgia state Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick is floating the idea that if men can legislate women’s reproductive rights, women should have a vote on what men do with their bodies and I applaud her creative legislation.
🧕 STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS
- The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services filed a civil rights complaint against Homeland Security alleging they continue to wrongfully detaining migrant children for longer than is legally allowed.
- Twelve republicans broke ranks leading the Senate to join with the House and pass a resolution overturning the fake declaration of a national emergency.
- Hundreds of activists from across New York gathered at the capital to demand lawmakers pass legislation to allow driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants residing in NY.
- The University of Tennessee will begin providing free tuition to in-state students from families with income of less than $50,000 per year.
- Denver passed a city ordinance raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour for city workers, contractors, and subcontractors working at city facilities, including the airport.
- New York City announce that starting next school year, all schools in the city will have “Meatless” vegetarian meals on Mondays.
- A federal judge ruled that the U.S. Education illegally delayed a rule that required states to address racial disparities in special education programs by requiring districts to examine policies and practices that contributed to the disparities and fund remedies.
- Thousands of teachers, parents and students flooded Maryland’s capital, shutting down roads to rally for a dramatic increase in school funding.
- Washington’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit against three major opioid distributors alleging they negligently shipped billions of prescription drugs into Washington, fueling the state’s epidemic.
- The musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra went on strike in an effort to save their pension plans and Workers at Anchor Brewing voted to unionize.
👨🏿⚖️CRIMINAL AND CIVIL RIGHTS
- The Kentucky legislature voted to expand the state’s law that allows people to clear some Class D felonies from their records after a five-year waiting period and now it awaits a governor signature.
- The California governor signed an executive order putting a moratorium on the death penalty in the state.
- A Miami police officer was relieved of duty and is being investigated after video surfaced of officers violently forcing a black woman to the ground during an arrest.
- The Florida legislature passed a bill that will repeal the state’s ban on medical marijuana in smokable form and it now awaits the governor’s signature.
- A federal court ruled that we have a constitutional right to give a police officer the middle finger under the first amendment. The New Mexico legislature sent a bill to the governor that removes criminal penalties for marijuana possession.
🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT
- The Nevada Governor signed on to the U.S. Climate Alliance, making it the 23rd state to do so.
- Trader Joe’s is dropping 1 million pounds of single-use plastic from stores along with other environment saving actions.
- The Maryland state legislature passed a ban on polystyrene foam food containers and cups with a veto proof majority, making Maryland the first state in the country to ban the styrofoam containers.
- Over a million young people from over 123 countries walked out of school in a planet wide climate strike to protest climate change.
- Sun Power launched a program to help the Sierra Club.
🗽BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND NAMES MATTER
- Winston-Salem (NC) removed a Confederate statue from the grounds of an old courthouse.
- The Chicago Torture Justice Memorials has created an exhibition showcasing six designs for the future memorial.
🕬 GUN REFORM
- Dick’s Sporting Goods will stop selling guns and hunting gear at 125 of its 729 stores nationwide.
- Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that a lawsuit against gun manufacturer Remington for the use of their weapon at the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre can go forward despite federal statutes shielding gunmakers from liability, using a novel legal strategy involving separate state laws.
- The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles began issuing driver’s licenses and identification cards with a non-binary option.
- The New Mexico legislature sent a bill to the Governor to make it easier for residents to change the gender on their birth certificate by removing the requirement that they prove they had gender reassignment surgery and only requiring a signed statement from the individual, as well as offering a non male or female option.
- Two more school districts in Missouri added sexual orientation and gender identity to the district’s non-discrimination policies.
- The Pasco County School Board refused to cave from pressure by conservative groups to rescind its transgender bathroom rights or other LGBTQ protections and the Cascade school board took their first step towards adding those protections.
- A court in South Africa ruled that the Dutch Reformed Church’s rules against same-sex marriage are “unlawful and invalid.”
🕫🗳️FAIR AND ETHICAL VOTING
- A federal appeals court ruled that Mississippi must redraw a state Senate district after finding that it was racially biased.
- Harris County (TX) reached a settlement with the Dept. Of Justice over disability access at the polls and will make accessibility improvements, hire two outside election experts, designate an ADA compliance officer and pay to be monitored by the DOJ for 4 years.
- The ACLU is suing four of the largest Georgia counties for failing to provide adequate resources at the polls on Election Day in 2018.
- The Federal Election Commission imposed record fines of $940,000 on the Right to Rise USA, the super-PAC that backed Jeb Bush in 2016, and international investment company, American Pacific for illegally accepting and paying million dollar donations from foreign companies for a U.S. election.
- The North Carolina Governor signed a new law delaying the implementation of requiring voter IDs to vote until 2020 while at the same time a state court ruled that a constitutional challenge to the voter ID law can proceed.
- The Lowndes County Board of Elections (GA) voted to reopen the VSU campus polling location
💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE
- A four-day sit-in by students over racism at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York City ended after administrators complied with a long list of student demands.
- Dayton (OH) is suing a KKK-affiliated group in an attempt to stop it from holding a downtown rally over Memorial Day weekend alleging they are a paramilitary group.
- Advertisers on Tucker Carlson’s show plummeted after his multitude of disgusting comments were exposed and Jeanine Pirro has so far lost four advertisers, including NerdWallet, Novo Nordisk, and LetGo for her Islamophobic comments about Rep. Omar.
- Lilly Singh will take over for Carson Daly with A Little Late with Lilly Singh, and will be the first woman host of a late night show on network TV in 30 years.
- Episcopal Diocese of Arizona elected their first woman ever to serve as Bishop.
🙂 A VERY QUICK LOOK AT RUSSIA ETC… The Manhattan District Attorney indicted Paul Manafort in connection to a mortgage fraud scheme, announcing the charges within minutes of his sentencing in federal court in Washington, D.C. A New York state appeals court ruled that a defamation lawsuit by a former contestant on “The Apprentice” brought against the groper-in-chief can proceed. The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions against a Russian-based bank for evading restrictions placed on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company
- Progressive backed democrat Kate Gallego won the election for Phoenix Mayor, the second woman ever elected.
- Democrat Ray Lopez won a runoff election for the Texas State House, and in Maine, Democrat Joe Perry won his race for the Maine House, keeping both seats democratic.
- Movita Johnson-Harrell won a special election for a state representative term in Pennsylvania becoming the first Muslim woman elected to the Pennsylvania legislature.
And here you can find inspiring actions and events from groups like Indivisible NWAL, Sleeping Giants, Capital Region Indivisible, Rise and Resist, Moms Demand Answers, Mi Familia Vota, Dream Defenders, Southern Poverty Law Center, Justice for Migrant Families, Kremlin Annex, Town Hall Project, Campus Vote Project, ACLU and so many more. And my favorite creative action this week is John Oliver unleashing robocalls every 90 minutes to the five FCC commissioners and the Chairman to bring attention to the problem of de-regulating robocalls.