Week after week, we keep fighting, advocating, winning battles, and seeing the results of taking back state legislatures and governorship. This week was no different. Some highlights are;
- #Immigrants Some Haitians in the U.S. get to keep their protections for the moment, many immigrant children from Central America may get to safely reunite with their parents and those with DACA protections in Arkansas get more employment and education opportunities.
- #FightFor$15 Arizona made occupational licensing more equitable and Little Rock is helping the homeless with dignity.
- #UnionStrong Stop and Shop employees are striking to save their wages and benefits and Illinois governor took a strong stand to back unions,
- #GreenNewDeal The city of Cambridge improved bike commuting and New York is reducing plastic.
- #BlackLivesMatter Colorado and Dallas took major leaps forward on bail and criminal justice reforms.
- #NeverAgain Colorado Governor signed “red flag” gun laws
- #WeWillNotGoBack Georgia is giving some low-income women free menstrual supplies and Kentucky is speeding up rape-kit testing.
- #NoH8 Arizona repealed anti-LGBTQ+ laws.
AND MORE SO READ ON
🧕 STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS
- Thanks to years of hard work by the International Refugee Assistance Project a legal settlement was reached with the administration that will allow almost 2,700 children living in Central America to safely reunite with their parents, who reside in the U.S. under protected status, by allowing them to apply for refugee status without having to travel through dangerous conditions to reach the United States border.
- A second U.S. federal judge is blocking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from forcing tens of thousands of Haitians to return to Haiti by ending their temporary legal protection.
- Life just got a little better for DACA recipients in Arkansas with the governor signing two bills allowing them to access nursing licenses and in-state tuition rates at public universities.
- A group of dedicated activists in Rhode Island took the time to stand up and stand outside for immigrants and pressured the Wyatt Detention Center to end their contract with I.C.E. Volunteer groups like the Angry Tias and Abuelas are continuing to help the flood of asylum seekers released by I.C.E. get to safe and welcoming destinations. In Tennessee, TIRRC, stopped legislation requiring verification of parent’s immigration status on birth certificates.
⚖️ THE INTERSECTION OF CIVIL RIGHTS, RACIAL EQUALITY, ECONOMIC FAIRNESS, AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE
- Community residents in L.A. beat back efforts by the mega-sized charter school company, Kipps Bay, from opening another school in their neighborhood.
- MiraCosta College (CA) is expanding its free tuition program to include a second year for full-time students as part of the The MiraCosta College Promise Program.
- Arizona Gov. signed legislation making the state the first in the nation to automatically grant occupational licenses to anyone who moves there with an unblemished credential from another state, removing barriers to low to high wage occupations from doctors to manicurists.
- New York saw an increase in the number of students qualifying for free tuition under the new program for middle-class families started two years ago. And with one year under its belt, the NY Times did a report on how Lebron James’s support of a new public school has led to significant improvement in achievements for the young children left behind by other schools.
- Not only have thousands of Stop and Shop workers in the northeast gone on strike to demand better compensation from a company that made $2 billion in profits last year and got a $225 million tax cut, but teamsters, firefighters, store customers, and local communities are respecting the picket lines. The Cleveland Symphony also remains on strike.
- Backing union efforts, the Illinois governor signed into law a bill that bars local governments from establishing anti-union “right-to-work” zones.
- Another union effort succeeded, this time it was employees at the Vermont state attorney’s office.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
- Little Rock started a Bridge to Work program that pays homeless people in the city minimum wage to pick up trash as part of a trial program to help them transition out of homelessness.
- Rite Aid, one of the biggest U.S. pharmacy chains, is putting children over profits and will stop selling e-cigarettes and vaping products because of the evidence that they are causing an increase in tobacco use among teens.
- Net neutrality is not dead, the Colorado Gov. is expected to sign net neutrality a bill the legislature passed banning internet service providers from receiving taxpayer money if they slow down internet access or unfairly speed up certain websites.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
- The Colorado legislature unanimously passed a bill that would ban judges from setting monetary bail for traffic offenses and petty crimes unless a defendant chooses to pay instead of waiting for a bond hearing and now it awaits the governor’s signature.
- Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot laid out sweeping reform policies he is implementing including reduction in cash bail, no longer prosecuting most misdemeanor marijuana possession or trace amount of drug possession, diversion for mentally ill/homeless facing criminal trespass, and so much more.
- The New Hampshire legislature voted to end the state’s death penalty, but this time they did so with the two-thirds majority necessary to override the Governor’s threatened veto.
- It is amnesty week in Gardendale Alabama, where anyone who is facing warrants for their failure to appear or pay for fines, costs, fees, or other charges in response to a subpoena, summons, or order issued by the Municipal Court, will be allowed to settle their cases without being incarcerated all because of a class action lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
- One well-informed judge in Lakewood, Ohio has stopped using a fixed schedule to set bail because he believes it can be unfairly applied and result in the needless jailing of poor defendants.
- Bail reform and other criminal justice initiatives were so effective in Manchester New Hampshire that the superintendent of the Valley Street jail requested a budget reduction for 2020 because staffing and prison expenses went down due to less people waiting for trial, shorter sentences, and more diversion to mental health and substance abuse programs.
- Inmates in Washington state prisons will still get to receive and read used books from non-profits after officials were shamed into reversing their initial ban by public uproar.
- As a result of good investigative journalism and advocacy, a report by City Lab on the use of electronic ankle monitors with microphone and speaker capabilities in Chicago led to Cook County officials ending their use by juvenile probation officers pending further review.
- New York City agreed to pay $700,000 to three black NYPD Detectives who alleged race based discrimination in promotions in the department’s Intelligence Bureau in a class-action lawsuit.
- The black lives matter flag with fly at a Vermont High School.
- JBS trucking company has agreed to pay $250,000 and to stop discriminating against the disabled in their hiring practices as part of an EEOC lawsuit.
- The New York City Council passed legislation that would bar many New York City employers from testing prospective job candidates for marijuana as a condition of employment.
🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT
- A federal judge ruled that the administration failed again to justify its reversal of a regulation, this time for gas leases on federal land.
- The newest bike friendly city is now right here in the U.S., with Cambridge (MA) passing the The Cycling Safety Ordinance, the first city to mandate construction of permanent, protected bike lanes.
- New York City’s mayor issued an executive order prohibiting city agencies from buying any unnecessary single-use plastics, including straws, cutlery, cups and plates.
- Netherlands made train travel free for one day for anyone that traveled carrying a copy of the novel Jas van Velofte (“Jacket of Promise”) which was a also a free book written especially for the occasion to serves as a token for travel anywhere in the country. Norway’s oil fund, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, has decided to invest billions of dollars in wind and solar power.
- Whales, fish and coral will have a better chance at survival. Belize and Indonesia expanded marine protection areas and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service committed to proposing a rule acting on the Center for Biodiversity petition for orca habitat protection off Washington, Oregon and California.
- When you mess it up, you clean it up in Vermont, so the state reached an agreement with a plastics manufacturer to provide clean water to homes whose wells they contaminated with PFOA.
👩#MeToo And WOMEN’S RIGHTS
- Of all the places you would least expect it, Georgia has included money in the state budget to provide women and girls with free menstrual pads and tampons at schools and community centers located in low-income areas.
- With the help of the ACLU, one woman in Illinois won $190,000 for pregnancy discrimination on the Frankfort Police Department and new policies governing how they treat pregnant employees.
- Kentucky announced they will begin using a new technology that allows law enforcement to get test results on sexual assault kits within hours instead of the months long wait with the current process.
- The New York Times gave due respect to one woman fighting to close a loophole in the Minnesota marital rape laws with a moving article on her story and accomplishments.
- The New Orleans City Council established the Equal Pay Advisory Committee.
- Women in Korea are celebrating a big win with the Constitutional Court striking down the country’s laws prohibiting abortion. Women in Australia can access abortions with dignity, respect, and safety with the countries High Court upholding safe access zone laws, which prohibit harassment outside abortion clinics. Over in Italy, the country’s highest court overturned a decision where the judge said a woman was too “masculine” to be raped,
- Allison Mack pled guilty to federal sex trafficking charges for NXIVM.
🕬 GUN REFORM
- The Colorado Governor didn’t back down in the face of opposition from many local sheriffs and signed the “red flag” bill to keep guns out of the hands of those deemed a risk to themselves or others.
- The Allegheny County district attorney declined to charge the mayor of Pittsburgh and city council members for passing gun control legislation after AR-15 owners filed charges saying it violated their rights under Pennsylvania law.
- Don’t mess with women in red shirts. Moms Demand Action activists and others stopped the Arizona legislature from allowing guns in school parking lots, a number of other bad legislation in Tennessee, and permitless concealed carry in Alabama.
- Massachusetts “health care providers” can no longer subject minors to “gay conversion therapy” now that the Gov. signed into law a bill banning such torture, making them the 16th state to do so.
- The Medicaid program in Illinois will now cover gender reassignment surgery.
- Arizona also made the state more supportive of the LBGT+ community by repealing a sex education law that banned programs that promoted a homosexual lifestyle and barred HIV instruction that taught safe-sex methods for homesexual sex or portrayed homosexuality as a positive lifestyle.
- Tasmania’s transgender community is celebrating after efforts led to passage of laws that make gender optional on birth certificates, removes the requirement for people to have surgery in order to have their gender recognised, allows those 16 years or older to change their registered gender without parental approval, and clarifies laws that protect the right of an individual to express their gender without discrimination.
- A tire company in Colorado learned the $60,000 reasons why you don’t discriminate against transgender people and put their new understanding in an apology letter as a result of a U.S. E.E.O.C. lawsuit. While a town clerk in New York state was also required to give a public apology to a gay couple she refused a marriage license to as a result of the settlement of their lawsuit, which also included a $25,000 payment for the violation of their rights.
- One celebrity put her riches to good use and donated $113,000 to fight anti-LGBT bills in Tennessee, thank you Taylor Swift.
- The good news coming out of Baltimore is the city’s Public School board of commissioners approved a policy allowing transgender students to use the names, pronouns, and bathrooms aligning with their gender identity.
- The San Jose City Council voted to surround the anti-LGBTQ restaurant at the city’s airport with pride flags.
- Dutch transgender children under the age of 16 can now change their gender on passports in ‘extreme circumstances’.
- In a first of it’s kind ruling a court in Russia ruled that a transgender woman was fired illegally after she transitioned while working in a job that under Russian law can only be performed by men.
- Morehouse College, a historically black all-men’s school, will begin admitting transgender students who identify as men.
- More than 70 employers, including corporate giants, came to a job fair for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals in L.A.
🕫🗳️FAIR AND ETHICAL VOTING
- Idaho Governor vetoed legislation that would have made it more difficult for citizens to get ballot initiatives onto the ballot by increasing the signature and distribution requirements and reducing the allowed circulation period among other restrictions.
- Federal court upholds FEC donor disclosure requirements in John Doe v. FEC Case.
- To make sure that as many people get to exercise their right to vote in Salt Lake Indivisible is holding a voter registration training session.
💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE
- The Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin cannot avoid the consequences of his actions after a federal judge ruled that he must appear in person for a deposition in a lawsuit alleging he unleashed a dangerous anti-semitic troll storm on a jewish realtor in Montana.
- Students at Georgetown University voted to add a new fee to their tuition bill, with the proceeds going to support education and health care programs in Louisiana and Maryland, where many of 4,000 known living descendants of slaves live that the university sold nearly two centuries ago to save the school from financial problems.
- Run for Something candidate, Sarah Ullman was elected to the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council.
- Victor Angry won the special election for Prince William County Supervisor and will be the first black supervisor. .
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: It sucks to be related to the cheater-in-chief, as Maryanne Trump Barry found out. She has retired as a federal appellate judge in order to end an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings.
There was a lot of good to come out of big elections this week in Chicago and Pennsylvania. But there were also smaller wins in local elections for candidates supported by Run for Something and Postcards to Voters. We may not succeed every fight but we can’t stop trying, because you have to be in it to win it. The Democratic house is picking up steam in living up to their obligation to investigate and hold the administration responsible for their actions. And of course the field of qualified and intelligent democratic candidates for presidents just keeps growing to bring us great choices. I have yet again scoured the news for you so you can have this one place to read about all the positive happenings this week. My highlights are;
- #StandWithImmigrants Motel 6 will pay for call I.C.E. on customers and some asylum seekers get more due process.
- #RedForEd Union backed candidates won seats on the Milwaukee School Board and LA is making sure every high school student gets to take the SATs.
- #CareNotPrisons Judge says city can’t criminalize homelessness.
- #GreenNewDeal Wetlands and forests on the west coast get more protections and Maryland band styrofoam takeout.
- #BlackLivesMatter New York and Mississippi pass criminal justice reform.
- #NeverAgain Colorado passes red flag law and Pittsburg says no to automatic weapons.
- #FairFight New York gets early voting and online voter registration.
- #NoH8 Utah expands hate crime laws.
- #BlueWaveDemocrats flipped an important seat in the PA legislature, and Chicago elected its first black lesbian Mayor, among other wins.
AND MORE GREAT STUFF SO READ ON Continue reading
March madness for me is all the good that came out the legislatures in states newly controlled by democrats or democrat leaning like New Mexico, Maryland, and New York. The New York budget negotiations wrapped up this weekend and it will take me a few days to sum up all the good in the first budget under a state fully controlled by democrats, so expect it to be in the next roundup, but it does so far appear to include criminal justice reform, a plastic bag ban, and congestion pricing. My highlights for this week are;
- #StandWithImmigrants Liberians get a reprieve from deportation and two California counties get out of the immigration detention business.
- #HealthCareForAll Judges blocked Medicaid work rules and some junk insurance plans.
- #FightFor15 Maryland is the next state to have a $15 minimum wage and McDonalds will stop wasting their time fighting it.
- #GreenNewDeal Courts blocked drilling in the Arctic and makers of Roundup are paying the price for selling a product that causes cancer.
- #NeverAgain The ban on bump stocks take effect.
- #WeWillNotGoBack A judge rules girls can’t be forced to wear skirts to school, North Carolina can’t restrict abortions, and Utah says get you can get your birth control without a doctor’s prescription.
- #FairFight One more state to get same day voter registration.
- #NoH8 Facebook will ban white nationalists at the same time that HUD charges them of offering discriminatory ad choices.
AND MORE SO READ ON Continue reading
Since other reports that may be of interest to you are not yet available you can get your fill of good reading with this weekly summary of some of the inspiring actions and accomplishments from across the country and the globe of those trying to save our democracy. The British took to the streets to demand a reconsideration of Brexit, New Zealanders continued to show love and support to those mourning their lost love ones, and across the U.S. big and small local groups protested and descended on their state legislatures that were in session to demand progressive legislation and to try to stop regression on so many issues. You can also follow WhatWentRight.org on Twitter at @WhatWentRight_ to get additional daily good news posts and information about actions and activities that you can participate in. Some highlights from this week’s are;
- Minnesota and Pennsylvania agreed to take better care of their prisoners.
- Harmful chemicals in paint stripper and oil and gas drilling on some federal lands were blocked.
- Facebook will change the discriminatory nature of many of their ads.
- Baltimore and Virginia put a stop to bad gun laws that were proposed.
- Michigan will stop funding adoption groups that ban LGBTQ parents.
- The Virginia governor stood up for immigrants.
- Judges put a temporary stop to two different abortion bans in Kentucky and Ohio.
- And it was a very good week for Native Americans with the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the terms of an 1855 treaty with the Yakama Nation, Washington state making it easier for them to vote and Texas prisons now allowing them to grow their hair long as part of their religion.
- READ ON TO FIND OUT ABOUT SO MANY MORE GOOD THINGS Continue reading
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
Congress is issuing more subpoenas and holding more hearings. We had great decisions protecting immigrants, those in need of mental health services, blocking immigration questions on the census, and more. We even saw progress on gun control. It also feels like almost everyday now that acts of racial, ethnic, gender, religious, and LGBT discrimination are receiving media and congressional coverage with demands for accountability, change, and protections. Thank you for all you do as we continue on this long road to change and please don’t loose hope. This week’s list of the good includes;
- #StandWithImmigrants Immigrants can now appeal U.S. immigration asylum decisions, those from the South Sudan with TPC can stay, lawyers are suing to get the same protection for Liberians, thousands more children are added to the ACLU suit against family separation, Illinois, Westchester and Milwaukee are making immigrants feel more welcome with rally, translation services, and stopping I.C.E cooperation.
- #FightForFifteen United Behavioral Health must now actually pay for the behavioral health services they are required to provide, New Hampshire may have to pay for medical marijuana, Virginia is protecting kids from tobacco and nicotine at school and Maryland is trying to help opioid users, and Philadelphia is standing up for the un-banked.
- #RedForEd West Virginia is on the verge of making community college free, Kentucky teachers walked out again for schools, and one Olympic medalist brought swim lessons to low-income students.
- #CivilRightsForAll Supreme court says no at the moment for government funding to preserve churches, the NSA will stop some of their spying on Americans, Utah joins the 21st century and decides it is not illegal to have sex outside of marriage, and LA will treat the homeless with a little more dignity.
- #CareNotPrisons One bank is getting out of the business of private prisons, North Dakota is improving sentencing laws, officers are indicted and convicted for wrongful behavior, and students stand-up against police violence.
- #GreenNewDeal Some protections against pesticides actually became law as did plastic bans in some Vermont towns, a Trump golf course found to have broken the law, one legislature got creative, and New Mexico is standing up for clean water against the military, and Finland and the Netherlands are doing their part to help stop climate change.
- #MeToo U.S. women soccer players and Adidas are making a stand for equality, 21 states are trying to save Planned Parenthood and birth control, women may join men as part of the draft, Chef Mario Batali and one restaurant learned 80,000 and more reasons for not allowing and subjecting women to sexual harassment, gender pay reports are returning, and one exposed breast may no longer lead to criminal charges.
- #NeverAgain New Mexico and Illinois took steps forward on gun control and one woman stopped Arkansas from taking a step back.
AND MORE SO READ ON Continue reading
This week I took some time to travel to Washington D.C. to explore the National African American History Museum and it definitely lived up to the hype. I highly recommend a trip there if you ever have the chance. It is a monument to a thoughtful and thought provoking look on over 600 years of history. I did have to sacrifice time researching and writing this week’s summary so I ask my readers to add their pieces of good news for the week in the comments for actions or accomplishments that I may have missed. Now here is your short list of what went right this week;
- #StandWithImmigrants The democratic U.S. House is holding the administration accountable for how they treat people and the fake national emergency, one more democratic governor stops national guards at the border and New Hampshire dems stop bad legislation.
- #RedForEd Oregon gives big leg up for tenants rights, Kentucky teachers stand up for themselves again, and Fox takes a hit for their illegal ways.
- #CivilRights New York says no to racial hair discrimination and new Democratic Attorney General in Michigan shakes things up.
- #GreenNewDeal The Atlantic Coast pipeline still isn’t going anywhere, Lake Erie has new protections, the World Bank must protect the world not destroy it, U.S. Steel can’t keep polluting and Costa Rica doing its part to save the planet.
- #MeToo Men and women can now both be drafted, Wynn to pay steep fine for decades of sexual harassment, and one charter school learned the hard way that equal pay is the law of the land.
- #BlackLivesMatter San Francisco is taking back 9,300 wrongs on the war on drugs, Michigan jails are being forced to change their ADA violating ways, New Mexico bail reform stands firm, and those with dementia don’t get put to death.
- #NeverAgain Bump stock ban holds up under legal challenge and red flag laws expand to New York.
- #WeWillNotGoBack A Missouri transgender student will get his say in court, a 1971 gay marriage is recognized and Walmart is pissing off conservatives with their cute gay couple ad.
- #FairFight Texas stopped from their voter suppression registration purging and North Carolina takes legal action against ballot stealing.
- #NoH8 Politicians in Maryland and West Virginia continue to learn there are consequences for racist and anti-muslim speech.
- #OscarsNotSoWhite this year and Chicago will get its first female African-American Mayor in April . AND MORE SO READ ON
The OSCAR are coming but let’s not forget to honor all the great work that ordinary people, organizations, communities, and others do everyday to help save our democracy and make this a livable and just country for all. Some of the movies nominated remind us how far we have come and how far we still need to go for equality and justice. This past President’s day protest and so many other actions show us that we are not alone, that we have not given up the struggle, and we will continue to make progress on the issues we fight for.
- #StandWithImmigrants New jersey is holding those who run detention facilities accountable for what goes on in them and Wisconsin is not selling state facilities to help grow detention centers, groups are holding noise protests to support detained immigrants, and courts are treating citizenship the same for LGBTQ families.
- #RedForEd Teachers in West Virginia ended their strike after stopping charter schools, teachers at some Chicago schools win big, and Oakland teachers on strike.
- #FightFor15 Boston is building affordable housing, New Jersey expanding paid leave, Illinois raising the minimum wage, CA and Maine standing up for ripped off truck drivers and consumers, and Wisconsin is not getting bad idea tax cuts.
- #GreenNewDeal We are taking back public ownership of our shorefront, banning the use of harmful styrofoam in MD, agreeing to reduce harmful emissions and coal production in the EU and coal generating plants in Alabama.
- #MeToo Thanks to lawsuits, complaints and investigations IHOP and KFC franchises will pay for allowing sexual harassment, federal prosecutors are being held accountable for not protecting underage sexual abuse victims, and one high school will give dignity back to its female students.
- #BlackLivesMatter Bail bondsman in New Orleans stopped from cheating clients and bail reform working in PA and started in Berkshire County,
- #PoliceReform Houston police to stop no-knock attacks on citizens, LA and New York City must release police records.
- #CriminalJusticeReform The Supreme Court stopped states from excessive fines and forfeiture of property and LA stopped the use of pepper spray on children.
- #CivilRights A topless protester is set free, Tree company and staffing agency to compensate African-Americans and Latinos for discrimination, PA won’t keep private prisoner mail, Chicago to delete gang database.
- #FairFight Santa Monica and Idaho were stopped from political and racial gerrymandering, North Carolina gets new election for House seat due to republican fraud along with their voter ID and tax caps struck down, dark money disclosure in Montana will continue, and the NAACP’s novel approach to end racial gerrymandering in CT got the thumbs up to continue by the courts.
- #NoH8 Feds stop white supremacist terror attack, Utah catches hate crime perpetrator, Indiana tried to curb hate crimes, Alabama editor calling on the KKK to ride again is out and so is a homophobic officer in Florida.
- #FakeNationalEmergency Sixteen states suing over the Fake National Emergency declaration and they are not alone. The ACLU representing the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, a group of about 60 organizations along the southern border, CREW and Public Citizen, have also field suit. The U.S. House is due to take it on this week. And citizens took to the streets all across the country to demand action to stop this unconstitutional power grab.
AND MORE SO READ ON…
🧕 STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS
- County officials in New Jersey will be holding a hearing on unsanitary conditions at a migrant detention facility uncovered by investigators.
- A federal judge ruled that children of married, same-sex parents, one American, and one non-American regardless of their biological relationship, are eligible for citizenship from birth and that there is nothing in federal citizenship law to support the State Department’s policy for requiring DNA testing.
- Wisconsin’s Democratic Gov. blocked the sale of a former state prison to a private company to operate federal immigration detention center by the republican controlled state legislature.
- Activists held a noise demonstration outside of a Boston I.C.E. detention facility in support of the immigrants inside on a hunger strike over conditions.
- The Boston Mayor announced that more than $26 million has been allocated to support affordable housing projects.
- New Jersey expanded paid family leave under a new law, which doubles paid time period, increase payments, includes caring for siblings, in-laws, grandparents, grandchildren and more, covers victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, and more.
- Illinois governor signed legislation raising the state’s minimum wage.
- The Federal Trade Commission and the Maine Attorney General’s Office reached settlements with two companies who both falsely marketed weight loss supplements that will result in nearly $3.5 million in refunds going to consumers affected by the alleged scam.
- A California Court of Appeal granted class certification to a group of truck drivers alleging wage fraud by Dark Horse Express Inc.
- Wisconsin Democratic Gov. vetoed a GOP bill to cut taxes because it did not limit tax cuts to wealthy companies.
- Public school teachers in West Virginia ended their strike after a bill which would have brought charter schools to the state and provided private school tuition to some households that they opposed was killed in the state House.
- Teachers at the Chicago International Charter Schools ended their strike after winning a 35% pay increase, reduced class sizes and protections for counselors and social workers.
- Educators in Oakland are on strike to demand higher pay and better resources for students.
👨🏿⚖️SEEKING RACIAL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE
- The Supreme Court ruled the constitution’s prohibition on excessive fines applies to state and local governments, limiting their abilities to impose financial penalties and seize property and continuing ability to “police for profit” through the practice of seizing cash, cars and other property from those convicted, or even suspected, of committing a crime.
- L.A. supervisors approved a “phased elimination” of pepper spray use by staff at juvenile facilities.
- Bail bondsmen in Orleans Parish were ordered by the Louisiana Insurance Commissioner to issue refunds to about 50,000 clients at a total cost of $6 million, for overcharging them on bonds for years .
- Philadelphia DA announced that the bail reform efforts of the DA’s office led to fewer defendants sent to jail before their first hearing, a 23 percent decrease in defendants released without bail, defendants with bail amounts of $5,000 or less dropped by 41%, and the number of eligible defendants spending at least one night in jail dropped by 5% all without any noticeable increase in crime or defendants failing to appear for their court dates.
- Berkshire County district attorney’s office (MA) implemented a model of bail reform.
- The Houston Police Department announced it will end its use of no-knock warrants in most situations, after public outcry over the recent deaths it led to.
- A Los Angeles judge ruled that records from shootings, use of force and some misconduct by police officers in California are public even if they occurred before a new public accountability law took effect.
- A New York appeals court ruled that police body camera footage is subject to public disclosure under state law.
🧑🏿ENDING THE DEATH PENALTY
- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas continued to use factors that have no grounding in prevailing medical practice and invite lay stereotypes to guide assessment of a defendant’s disability in determining whether the death penalty can be applied and they reversed the death penalty sentence for a 59-year-old intellectually disabled man.
- Another state takes baby steps in the right direction, with the Ohio Gov. halting all executions in the state until a new method of executions that is constitutional can be developed.
☮️ CIVIL RIGHTS
- The Asplundh Tree Expert Co., working as a federal contractor settled charges by the U.S. Dept of Labor for discriminating against African-American job applicants and will pay $55,000 in back wages and offer some application positions.
- A Virginia Judge who initially ordered a political protester who went topless held without bail (in a case not likely to even result in jail time) reversed course after public outrage and agreed to release her on a $1,500 bond.
- The ACLU and PA have reached a tentative agreement to stop the Dept. of Corrections from copying and storing inmate correspondence with their attorneys.
- The Cook County Board voted to destroy the controversial gang database.
- Four staffing agencies agreed to pay $475,000 to settle a U.S. EEOC complaint that alleges they abused workers in an Alabama poultry processing plant because of their race and ethnicity.
🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT
- The U.S. Supreme Court allowed an Indiana Supreme Court decision to stand that the state owns the shoreline to the ordinary high water mark and holds it in trust for all residents and did not allow residents to extend their property rights all the way up to the Lake Michigan shoreline.
- The Anne Arundel County Council (MD) passed legislation banning food service businesses from using polystyrene containers.
- The European Union agreed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from new trucks and buses by 30 percent
- Mining giant Glencore has pledged to cap its coal production and develop Paris Accord-consistent strategies for growth.
- Alabama Power Company announced it was permanently retiring one of their coal power generating plants.
👩 WOMEN’S RIGHTS
- Nine IHOP franchises agreed to pay $700,000, provide training and monitoring and take other steps to settle an EEOC lawsuit alleging female employees were subjected sexual harassment and the company retaliated against workers who complained.
- A federal judge found that federal prosecutors broke the law when they concealed a plea agreement from more than 30 underage victims who had been sexually abused by wealthy hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein.
- A Wisconsin high school is ending offensive cheerleading awards called “Big Booty” and “Big Boobie.”
- A jury has ruled that a KFC franchisee must pay over $1.5 million to a former employee who was demoted because she wanted to pump her breast milk.
🗽BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND NAMES MATTER Saint Elmo Brady, the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry, was honored with a National Historical Chemical Landmark dedicated to him on the University of Illinois campus.
- The Mormon church announced they won’t stand in the way of a proposal to ban gay conversion therapy for minors in Utah, of crucial importance in a state where the majority of legislators are Mormons.
- Utah police found and charged the suspect in an alleged anti-gay attack.
- A Kansas Republican disavowed an anti-LGBTQ bill he co-sponsored after being publicly shamed by his queer daughter
🕫🗳️FAIR AND ETHICAL VOTING
- A California State court ruled that Santa Monica’s at-large election system is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act and the California Constitution and ordered the city use the map drawn by an expert for the plaintiffs and that the City hold a special election for all seats on the City Council using the new district map.
- The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted to call a new election in the state’s 9th congressional after extensive evidence of voter fraud by the republican candidate.
- A North Carolina state court voided two constitutional amendments which would impose a photo voter ID requirement and lower the state income tax cap after ruling that the North Carolina General Assembly did not have legal authority to place constitutional amendments on the ballot prior to Nov 2018 because it did not act with the full will of the people. Why not full will you ask? Because the United States Supreme Court found the state’s legislative districts had been illegally drawn along racial lines and therefore they were not representative of the people until the new districts were used. What a brilliant approach by North Carolina NAACP, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and Forward Justice and win for North Carolina.
- A judge ruled an NAACP federal lawsuit can proceed challenging Connecticut’s practice of “prison gerrymandering” where they count incarcerated people as residents of the legislative districts where they are held, rather than in their home districts, increasing the balance of power in white rural areas where the prisoners can’t actually vote.
- The U.S. Supreme Court let stand Montana’s 2015 Disclose Act, a campaign finance reform law that seeks to make public “dark money groups” more transparent and require more public reporting on spending by political groups.
- An Idaho bill that would have allowed republicans to control redistricting was stopped by democrats threatening to bring all legislative business to a halt over it.
💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE
- Federal investigators stop white supremacist planned terrorist attack.
- David Duke’s longtime political adviser was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
- Indiana tried to curb hate crimes by passing a water-down hate-crime bill that will “allow a judge to generally consider bias when determining the severity of a sentence.” It’s a step in the right direction for a state with no hate-crime protections at all.
- The owner of a local Alabama newspaper who called on the KKK to ride again in an editorial has resigned and hired a black woman as editor and publisher to replace himself.
- Members of the Ole Miss basketball team kneeled in protest of the pro-Confederate march taking place on campus.
- A Broward County (FL) officer who posted homophobic slurs on Facebook was fired.
🙂 A VERY QUICK LOOK AT RUSSIA ETC…
- In an ancillary case brought to light by the Russia investigation, the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP will pay a $4.6 million settlement that charged the firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by not registering as an agent of the government of Ukraine.
- The judge in the Roger Stone case expanded the gag order in the case after he violated her prior order and posted a picture of her with crosshairs aimed near her head.
☑️ ELECTION RESULTS Democrats held on to the District 86 seat in a special election for the Virginia House of Delegates.
And here you can find inspiring actions and events from just a few of the groups working to protect the people like Moms Demand Answers, Sister District, Coalition Better Il 16, Little Lobbyists, North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign, Let NY Vote, Poor People’s Campaign, Sunrise Movement, Indivisible Il 9, New Mexico Dream Team, Restore Justice, Campus Vote Project, March For Our Lives, Get Organized Brooklyn, and so many more this list could be pages long.
One final note, I wish that more towns had pre-teen girls like the editor of the Orange Street News.
Indivisible, Move On, and many other groups are urging people to attend emergency rallies on President’s Day to protest the fake emergency declaration, so look up an event near you at www.crisisresponse.us/. Make your voices heard so that there is more good news to report on next week. If you spent hours yelling at your TV this week like me, this week’s list is here to remind you that our democracy is not lost and to have hope. Here is the brief summary, followed by the full list, in a new version of the blog I am trying out. Let me know your thoughts. Don’t forget to like the post and share it to help spread the good news with others.
- #StandWithImmigrants Another state withdraws their National Guard from the border, judges ruled cities don’t get punished for not working for I.C.E and asylum seekers rights can’t be restricted, and Las Vegas, the ACLU, Pennsylvania, and a small North Carolina community are helping to protect and support immigrants.
- #RedForEd Teachers in Denver settled their strike while those in Oakland are just about to get started, Charlotte is supporting minority owned businesses, and California is making workers whole again.
- #CareNotPrisons LA County and a Judge in Alabama are standing up for those with mental health issues, Virginia and Chicago gave civil rights and freedom back to felons and some are working on it in Mississippi, Dayton decriminalizes marijuana while Huston is expanding public defenders and Bennington is watching over the police.
- #ACLU A legislator learned you can’t block on constituents on Facebook, UPS can’t discriminate based on religion, and the govt must treat those with HIV fairly.
- #GreenNewDeal Two coal-fired plants will close, another state joins the Climate Alliance, LA is protecting animals and cutting back on natural gas use, a judge is standing up for public beach access, new electric buses are coming and more nuclear power on the way out.
- #MeToo Women are free to be free of their tops, a company learns workers win judgements when you sexually harass them, and predatory priests can’t stay hidden.
- #BlackLivesMatter Dallas and Richmond remove hate and add respect.
- #NeverAgain Exposing NRA money and holding Sheriff’s accountable for enforcing gun laws.
- #WeWillNotGoBack LGBTQ community gets an inclusive emoji, protection and consequences for hate crimes, hate speech, and conversion therapy in NYC, Tennessee, and Florida, better protections in San Bernardino prisons, and the right to transition health care and the bathroom in Iowa.
- #FairFight Virginia. Mississippi, and Ohio move a stop forward towards fairer maps, better voting machines coming to Indiana, voter registration forms going to Ohio voters, campaign money allowed for childcare, and a judge says no to voter suppression in Florida.
- #NoH8 Karma for those who spread hate and middle schools are learning not to allow hate or suppress free speech.
AND MORE … Continue reading
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