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
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; Continue reading
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CNBC has reported that 90 percent of the administration’s overall de regulatory efforts have been blocked in court, or withdrawn after a lawsuit, according to a running tally maintained by the Institute for Policy Integrity.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.
Women showed up again to to be heard loud and clear a third year in a row. States with newly elected democratic governors and legislatures wasted no time getting to work on positive changes for women, minorities, LGBTQ, low-income households, voters, the environment and more. In fact, newly democratic states are making improvements so fast it is hard to keep up with them all. Some advocates in New York are even commenting that they are digging deep into their bag of absolute dream legislation because their top wish list are coming to fruition quickly and with little effort. So many different companies, people, organizations, etc are stepping up to help the federal workers paying the price for our newly democratic U.S. House standing up for what it right. The U.S. House Committees have already begun staffing up, setting up hearings, and sending out requests to the administration for documents. Better add C-Span to your favorites channel if you haven’t already. Don’t forget to remind those that are standing up for us in Congress that we have their back. I hope this extra long post of positivity helps make up for the weeks of missing good news because sometimes life gets in the way of this one woman, volunteer endeavor. I plan to be back every week as much as possible.
🧕🏻STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS A federal judge barred immigration officials from conducting unannounced raids on Cambodian immigrants living in the US with deportation orders and ordered them to give a 14-day written notice before detaining them. Springfield City Council (MA) overrode the mayor’s veto and passed the an ordinance instructing city employees not to make inquiries about a person’s immigration status, prohibits them from targeting legal action or discriminating against a medical, educational, or faith-based institution that provides sanctuary to immigrants. Maryland courts will now allow parents concerned about being deported to designate a caregiver for their children under an expansion of emergency guardianship measures. HELPING ONE PERSON AT A TIME New York Gov. pardoned 22 immigrants who were at risk of deportation because of criminal records. A federal appeals court ruled the U.S. government must pay millions of dollars to lawyers for a Muslim woman who was mistakenly classified as a potential terrorist and placed on a “no-fly” list.
⚖️ECONOMIC JUSTICE Starting with💵 WAGES AND BENEFITS Thousands of “Au Pairs” who provided child care for U.S. families under a State Dept. program will share a $65.5 million settlement against the companies that brought them to the U.S for allegedly colluding to keep their wages low, ignoring overtime and state minimum wage laws, and allowing families to require them to perform prohibited duties. Massachusetts Gov. extended unemployment benefits to National Grid workers who were locked out of their jobs during contract talks. Illinois gov. signed laws to protects the wages of workers, promote gender and racial diversity in companies with state contracts, and gave raises to state unionized workers. Thousands of Los Angeles teachers went on strike in the second largest school district in the country, demanding improvements to schools, including smaller class sizes and more support staff and better wages. Twenty states will see a rise in the state minimum wage this year. ⚕️HEALTH The new democratic governor of Maine used her first executive order to direct the state to begin implementation of Medicaid expansion. Indiana is working to entice mental health professionals to work in rural and opioid-stricken counties by offering to help pay student loans. While not new for this month, here is something to read about that works to connect health and education to improve the lives of people in a creative way. 🛍️CONSUMER PROTECTION The Massachusetts passed a law that requires credit reporting agencies to provide a free credit freeze to consumers, requires companies to offer up to three years of free credit monitoring to victims of a security breach, and force companies to disclose breaches in a timely and public notification. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bank’s challenge of the constitutionality of the structure of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Delta Air Lines agreed to pay $2.3 million to settle a class action lawsuit for allegedly failing to provide job applicants with a “standalone” background check disclosure in violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and CA laws. The U.S. Supreme Court limited the ability under federal law for motor carriers to settle disputes with owner-operators in arbitration, a win for labor rights.
📜 CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS A federal appeals court ruled that a Virginia politician violated the Constitution by temporarily blocking a critic from her public Facebook page. A federal court ruled that the police can’t force people to unlock a mobile phone with their face or finger. A North Carolina county will pay $285,000 in a settlement with the ACLU over christian prayers at the start of commissioner meetings.
🏛️ CHANGES AT “OUR HOUSE” The House of Representatives passed a number of new rules for the legislative body including; a ban on members serving on corporate boards, a requirement that members take ethics training every year; a ban on employment discrimination against LGBTQ staffers and jobseekers, and to permit religious headwear on the floor.
👨🏿⚖️SEEKING RACIAL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE 🔒IN PRISONS Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program reached an agreement with the Alabama prison system over how to monitor and resolve the prison system’s failure to comply with with a court order obtained in a class-action lawsuit over health care in state prisons. New Mecklenburg County Sheriff (NC) will no longer hold teenage offenders in solitary confinement. 👮POLICE REFORM The Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that Nashville’s vote creating a civilian board with the power to investigate police was legitimate. 💰 BAIL Harris County (TX) is implementing a new bail system after the old system was found to be unconstitutional, which allows most individuals with misdemeanor cases to be released without bail. 📃PARDONS, EXPUNGEMENT, RIGHTING THE WRONGS The Florida Clemency Board symbolically granted pardons to four African-American men who were wrongly accused of raping a white woman in 1949 amid Jim Crow laws. Washington Gov. announced a plan to expedite pardons for individuals convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession. Denver unveiled a new program to give people the chance to get low-level marijuana convictions that occurred before recreational use became legal in the state expunged. St. Louis County prosecutor fired the lawyer who presented the evidence to the grand jury that failed to indict in the case of Michael Brown.
🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Exxon Mobil’s appeal of a ruling allowing the Massachusetts Attorney General to proceed with her investigation of the oil company about whether the company knew and lied to the public and investors about the impact of burning fossil fuels on climate change. The Pennsylvania governor signed an executive order establishing for the first time a statewide goal of reducing carbon pollution and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 26% by 2025 and 80% by 2050 and creating a “Green-Gov Council” to work with state agencies to reduce energy use and improve the efficiency of state buildings and vehicles. Springfield (MA) City Council is forming a committee to address environmental issues in the city, including air pollution and energy use. The Florida governor announced funding and a 15 part plan to address the “red tide” in Florida. The democratic AG withdrew Michigan from two class actions challenging the right of the EPA to regulate various air pollutants at coal plants.
👩#MeToo And WOMEN’S RIGHTS 👰 MARRIAGE AGE The Ohio governor signed a new law that increased the state minimum marriage age to 18 for both parties, with some exceptions. In New Hampshire the minimum marriage age for girls went up to 16 from 13, a step in the right direction. 📝SEXUAL HARASSMENT RULES Dartmouth College is revising its sexual misconduct policy, including a single sexual misconduct policy, a processes for dealing with violations, mandatory training on laws barring gender discrimination, and putting more resources into mental health, and more. New Hampshire’s House of Representatives voted to require all lawmakers to undergo sexual harassment training. Illinois Gov.signed an executive order forbidding state agencies from asking job applicants how much they earned in previous jobs. FIXING THE WRONGS Thomia Hunter was granted clemency after serving 15 years of a life sentence for killing her abusive ex-boyfriend in Ohio and in Tennessee Cyntoia Brown was granted clemency after serving 13 years of her life in prison sentence for killing a man who forced her into sex trafficking when she was 16 years old. Florida Senate will pay a $900,000 settlement with a legislative aide who alleged that she was sexually harassed and retaliated against for reporting it. GETTING RID OF THE HARASSERS Good riddance to the Michigan State University president who was forced to resign for saying that victims of sexual abuse are “enjoying the spotlight.” And Washington State Sen. Kevin Ranker resigned following allegations of improper sexual conduct. CHANGING THE LAWS The newly passed ballot initiative exempting feminine hygiene products from taxes in Nevada went into effect. STANDING UP Not only did women march in cities across the U.S. but Millions of women formed a massive human chain in India to protest gender inequality. A few photos of signs at the NYC March.
🗽BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND NAMES MATTER – REMOVING THE HATE A confederate monument in a Madison (WI) cemetery was ordered moved by the city council and it is now being placed in a Veterans Museum. A Confederate plaque claiming slavery was not the cause of the civil war was taken down from the Texas state Capitol after a bipartisan effort from lawmakers. Winston-Salem (NC) ordered the removal of a statue of a Confederate soldier on private property. An Alabama judge overturned a state law that prevents the removal of Confederate monuments from public property and the city of Birmingham doesn’t have to take down its wooden screen placed around a Confederate monument. ADDING RESPECT North Dakota placed the flags of the five Native American tribes in the state on display in the state’s Memorial Hall. The governing body of all global Little League-affiliated leagues and teams updated its rules to prohibit the use of “racially insensitive, derogatory or discriminatory” team names and mascots.
🕬 GUN REFORM WITH NEW LAWS New Hampshire’s House of Representatives voted to ban firearms in the state House chamber. Washington state officially banned anyone under age 21 from buying semi-automatic assault rifles. Illinois Gov. signed a bill requiring gun dealers and shops to be regulated and certified by the state, bans retailers from selling guns without certification and allows the state to gather information on private sales and illegal gun transfers. AND LAWS THAT ARE WORKING Law enforcement officials announced that In the three months since the implementation of Maryland’s “red flag” gun safety law more than 300 protective orders across the state were issued.
🏳️🌈LGBTQ PROGRESS – TRANSGENDER WELCOMING New York City’s new law allowing a choice for “non-binary” on a birth certificate went into effect. The Harrison County (WV) school system placed an assistant principal who confronted a transgender student for using the boys restroom on unpaid suspension. Netflix will not be filming its show OBX in North Carolina as a result of the “bathroom bill” they chose not to fully repeal. Stephens College in Missouri, one of the oldest female colleges, is changing its admissions policy to include transgender women and non-binary students who were assigned female at birth. LEGAL PROTECTIONS The new democratic Michigan and Wisconsin Governors. signed executive orders prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people by state government agencies, contractors and service providers. New York passed the an act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identification or expression when it comes to employment, education, credit, and housing. STOPPING GAY CONVERSION THERAPY Denver and New York State became the first city in Colorado to ban gay conversion therapy for minors. OUT AND RESPECTED The Illinois House Speaker named Rep. Greg Harris the first openly gay House majority leader in the state’s history. MOVING INTO THE MAINSTREAM David’s Bridal featured a female couple in one of its ads for the first time. OTHER COUNTRIES Lithuania’s top court ruled that the country must grant residence permits to foreign spouses of gay citizens even though same-sex unions are not recognised by law. Two Austrian women became the first same-sex couple to officially tie the knot in the country.
🤰🏽WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE AND RIGHT TO CHOOSE Two different federal judges temporarily blocked rules allowing employers to refuse to provide free birth control on religious grounds from taking effect nationwide. New York is implementing a pilot program to have Medicaid cover a doula to provide physical and emotional care throughout pregnancy and after birth for some pregnant woman. A judge ruled that Kansas cannot prevent doctors from providing pregnancy-ending pills to women they see by remote video conferences.
🕫🗳️FAIR AND ETHICAL VOTING starts with NO GERRYMANDERING The U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from Virginia Republicans to block a federal court from approving new legislative district maps for 11 State House districts that they found to be racially gerrymandered 11 while their appeal is pending. The Richardson Independent School District (TX) agreed to reconfigure school board elections to single-member districts for five of seven positions with two at-large election status, to settle a lawsuit that the prior configuration prevented minority representation on the board. FAIR CENSUS A federal judge blocked the administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census finding it was “arbitrary and capricious.” VOTING RIGHTS New York state legislature passed a package of sweeping election and voting reform to allow for early voting, same day registration, combining state and federal primaries, and more Recent restrictions on voting in Wisconsin by outgoing republicans were temporarily halted by a federal judge finding the law violated a 2016 court order. Florida felons began registering to vote after winning passage of the ballot initiative. ETHICS The Oklahoma Ethics Commission for the first time is cracking down on political candidates who fail to file campaign reports or file them late. DARK MONEY The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a Montana’s voter-approved limits on contributions to political campaigns in state elections. A federal court struck down a Virginia election law that allowed incumbents who are running for re-election dictate to their own party, how that party nominates in that particular race.
💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE The families of Sandy Hook victims suing Alex Jones and InfoWars won a discovery requests from a judge allowing them them access to internal marketing and financial documents from him and the company. House GOP leaders remove Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) from all his committee assignments following his most recent racist comments. So far at least twenty companies have pulled their ads from Tucker Carlson’s show after he commented that immigrants making the U.S. “poorer” and “dirtier.”
👩🎓BREAKING BARRIERS Andrea Stewart-Cousins was elected as the first woman and African-American woman to serve as the New York State Senate leader in the body’s 241 years and Kimberly Lightford was selected as the first African-American Illinois Senate Majority Leader. Kim Reynolds, Iowa’s first elected female governor, appointed women to the top four positions in her administrative office. CBS announced that Susan Zirinsky will become the first woman to lead their news division. In addition to new diverse slate of congressional leaders comes Anne Reid, Sen. Warren’s new chief of staff and the only black woman serving in this role for a Democratic senator, and Shuwanza Goff, the first African American woman floor director. Wisconsin Gov. announced he would appoint Carolyn Stanford Taylor as State Superintendent of the Dept. of Public Instruction, making her Wisconsin’s first black school superintendent.
🙂 LAWSUIT ROUNDUP The Supreme Court declined to block a federal judge’s contempt order and $50,000-a-day penalty for refusing to comply with a subpoena for an unidentified foreign-government-owned company intervene in a mysterious subpoena involving special counsel Robert Mueller.
😡 ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST Less than one month in, and the first republican has already resigned from the House, hats off to the first republican fleeing their sinking ship, Tom Marino (PA). Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) also announced he won’t seek re-election.
🗳️ ELECTION RESULTS State Del. Jennifer Boysko (D) won a special election for Virginia State Senate District 33 with 69.8% of the vote.
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So it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post, not because there wasn’t any good news, but because I was practicing some self-care, taking care of health issues and celebrating the holidays. So my planned midweek and regular post did not come together. You have probably been reading all about the many positive election outcomes over the past couple of weeks but you can never have too many reminders of all the good we achieved so I’ve roundup some of the more later breaking news and analysis. This list is also here to remind you that there was a lot of good that may have gone unnoticed through the haze of tear gas. So here is my belated random goodness roundup,
🧕🏻STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS with the help of a lot of recent court wins. A federal judge temporarily blocked the government from denying asylum to those crossing over the southern border between ports of entry because it imposes a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden. A New York State Appeals court ruled that police officers and other local law enforcement officials in New York are prohibited by law from arresting undocumented immigrants on behalf of federal authorities. A federal court granted a preliminary injunction barring the Defense Department from blocking lawful permanent residents from serving in the U.S. military. A U.S. District Judge found that the administration lied to the court in order to indefinitely detain more than 120 Iraqis behind bars in a long-shot effort to deport them and ordered I.C.E. to release them within 30 days. AND HELPING ONE IMMIGRANT AT A TIME A federal judge ordered I.C.E to release a Somali refugee in a case brought by the ACLU for not giving him a bond hearing after more than 9 months. Over 140-of Seattle’s best restaurants donated 10 percent or more of profits to Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in a one day event. A small group at the Texas border is helping to feed, clothe, and friendship to migrants waiting to cross the border and those who are released by I.C.E. New Jersey allocated more than $2 million to help immigrants facing deportation. Students at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, College Park protested to demand their universities end contracts with I.C.E.
📰FREEDOM OF THE PRESS CNN reporter Jim Acosta had his press credentials restored and the administration has dropped its effort to strip him of his pass after a judge’s order restoring it expired.
☮️ ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL JUSTICE for so many 👮🎖️VETERANS A federal judge ruled that thousands of veterans can sue the federal government alleging they were discharged due to infractions related to untreated mental illnesses and denied Veterans Affairs benefits as a result. AND FOR 🏥 HEALTH CARE The Health and Human Services Administration will be offering states the opportunity to apply for a waiver from federal law to allow them to use Medicaid funding to pay for mental health treatment in facilities with more than 16 beds. 🏫STUDENTS The Texas State Board of Education backed a motion to reinsert Hillary Clinton and disability rights advocate Helen Keller into the state’s 11th-grade U.S. history standards, two months after voting to remove them and will change the way students learn about the Civil War by teaching that slavery played a “central role” in the war as opposed to being one of three sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery. The Boston school district has agreed to no longer suspend students in kindergarten, first and second grades, will block suspensions for third to fifth graders, except in cases where those students have committed serious misconduct, and pledged to train all educational staff on the negative consequences of suspension. 👷WORKERS Two of the former owners of Toys “R” Us have agreed to pay $20 million to help laid-off employees with a severance fund to pay former workers who lost their jobs when the company closed its stores. 🏦 CONSUMERS LoanMe, a high-interest lending company, has stopped making personal loans in Wisconsin after a Los Angeles Times report that drew connections between the company and a firm that was not permitted to make loans due to suspensions. A judge ruled that a sitting president can face a civil lawsuit in state court for actions not taken in his official capacity and allowed the New York state attorney general’s civil lawsuit against the Trump Foundation, tRump and his three eldest children who helped run it can proceed.
🏳️🌈LGBTQ PROGRESS Colorado residents will be able to choose a non-binary gender identifier on their driver’s licenses by the end of the month, according to an emergency rule approved by the Colorado Dept. of Revenue. The Sarasota County School Board recommitted to the district’s new gender guidelines protecting transgender rights after public hearings and another vote. Massachusetts voted to keep a state law that bars discrimination based on gender identity in access to public facilities. The Washington, DC school district will let families select “non-binary”, rather than male or female, when indicating the gender of their child on enrollment forms. The cast of The Prom ended their Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade performance with the parade’s first-ever same-sex kiss. AND IN OTHER COUNTRIES Scotland will become the first country to embed the teaching of LGBTQ rights in the school curriculum after education ministers voted to require state schools teach about the history and identities of LGBTQ equalities and movements, as well as tackling homophobia and transphobia. Costa Rica’s constitutional court struck down the nation’s ban on same-sex marriage.
👩#MeToo And WOMEN’S RIGHTS Denton County in Texas will pay $115,000 to a county doctor after a federal court ruled it paid her less than a male colleague in the same position and failed to take remedial action when the complaint was filed. Google and Facebook eliminated their policy forcing workers to settle sexual harassment claims through private arbitration. A federal judge permanently blocked Mississippi’s abortion ban after 15 weeks of gestation, one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.
💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE A Leavenworth Kansas county commissioner who made a “master race” comment to a black city planner resigned amid swift backlash. A judge ruled the publisher of the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer accused of coordinating a “terror campaign” of online harassment against a Jewish real estate agent cannot hide behind First Amendment grounds as real estate agent was a private citizen, not a public figure, and that the publisher, incited his followers to harass her as part of a personal campaign. A white man in Michigan was sentenced to four to 10 years in prison after he was found guilty of firing a gun at a black teenager asking for directions to get to school. A college lecturer was suspended after calling cops on a black student who had put her feet up during a previous biology lecture without any warning. Only two of the 22 charities that deserted the Mar-a-Lago Club for their high-dollar fundraising events after the raker-in-chief called violent white-nationalist protesters in Charlottesville “very fine people” are returning this year.
👩🔬BREAKING BARRIERS This year’s list of Rhodes Scholars recipients are two-thirds women, nearly half are first-generation Americans or immigrants, and one is the first ever DACA recipient. Harvard Crimson, the University’s school newspaper and oldest continuing daily newspaper in the country, elected its first Black female president.
🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT The U.S. Coast Guard ordered Taylor Energy Co. to “institute a…system to capture, contain, and remove oil” from the site of its oil platform which has been leaking thousands of gallons into the Gulf of Mexico since 2004 or face a $40,000 per day fine for failing to comply. A Chicago construction company was sued by the state for illegal dumping in the Chicago river after a resident posted a video online of them dumping in full view of commuters. The EPA announced plans to reduce pollution from heavy-duty trucks, launching a Cleaner Trucks Initiative. A federal Judge blocked construction on the Keystone pipeline finding the government failed to provide a fact-based analysis justifying its actions. The US Army Corps of Engineers suspended authorization for work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. ISO New England cancelled a contract to buy fracked gas.
👨🏿⚖️SEEKING RACIAL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE The former Biscayne Park police chief who directed his officers to frame innocent black men for a series of unsolved burglaries was sentenced to three years in prison. The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights group, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, posted $1.2 million in bail to free 105 people from New York City jails.
🇷🇺RUSSIA INVESTIGATION UPDATE A federal judge refused to dismiss criminal charges against a Russian company accused by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of funding a propaganda operation to sway the 2016 presidential election. A federal judge rejected George Papadopoulos’s effort to delay his prison term for lying to the FBI and started serving his 14 day sentence.
RESIGNATIONS While Scott Lloyd is not leaving HHS he will no longer be in charge of refugee children, which is a very good thing since he was instrumental if preventing refugees who needed an abortion from getting them.
🕫🗳️FAIR VOTING requires an accurate POPULATION COUNT A federal appeals court denied the administration’s emergency request to delay a trial currently underway over adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Fair Maps A federal court ruled that Maryland unconstitutionally drew the boundary lines for the 6th Congressional District to benefit Democrats, and banned the map from being used in future elections. I will say that any decision that finds that a map must be fair and balanced is good news overall. and Equal Access at the Ballot Box A Superior Court judge ruled that Santa Monica (CA) violated the voting rights of Latinx plaintiffs by refusing to implement district instead of city-wide elections.
🚶🚶🏿🚶🏼ELECTION PARTICIPATION An estimated 49 percent of the voting-eligible population (about 116 million people) voted in the midterms, significantly higher than the average 40 percent who have historically voted in midterm elections between 1982-2014. Twenty-three states had double-digit percentage increases in voter turnout. Georgia saw about 55 percent of eligible voters go to the polls, which is about 21 points higher than the state’s 1982-2014 average giving it the biggest change of any state. Minnesota had the highest with sixty-four percent turnout.
MORE ELECTION RECAP AND ANALYSIS
AFRICAN-AMERICAN GAINS Fifty-two African-Americans were elected to the U.S. House. Also impressive is that eight of the nine newly elected African-Americans won in districts with white non-Hispanic majorities, in Texas, New York, Connecticut, Nevada, Georgia, Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, and in Massachusetts with a near majority. Wisconsin elected the first black lieutenant governor. Guilford elected its first black sheriff, as did Forsyth County, Wake County and four other large counties; Buncombe, Cumberland, Durham and Mecklenburg, and Pitt County in North Carolina. The Anoka County Board elected its first person of color and the Hennepin County elected its first two commissioners of color in Minnesota. The first black woman was elected to the Portland City Council in Oregon. Melody Stewart become the first African-American woman elected to the Ohio Supreme Court. Jefferson County Alabama elected their first black District Attorney and Sheriff. New Hampshire elected their first black state senator. A group of 19 black women made history by all winning elections to become judges in Harris County Texas #BlackGirlMagic. Voter participation by African-Americans increased 157 percent over 2014.
LATINX Texas elected their first two Latinas in Congress, New Mexico’s entire House delegation is now filled by racial and ethnic minorities and the state elected its first Latina Democratic governor. Kate Marshall, who was elected Nevada’s lieutenant governor, has family roots in Mexico. Colorado elected 14 (with one race still being counted) Latinx to serve in Colorado’s state legislature, which is a a record number of Latinx to the state legislature. Imperial Beach (CA) elected the first Latina member to the City Council. The first Latino was elected to the Tulare County Board of Supervisors. Richfield (MN) elected the state’s first Latina mayor. Harris County Texas elected its first Latina and the first woman county judge (which includes Houston) a county judge in Texas is the chief executive for county government. Latinx participation surged 174 percent in 2018, compared to the 2014 midterms, according to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
LGBTQ There is now a record 10 openly LGBTQ members elected to serve in the 116th Congress. Following the midterm election, there will be 129 openly gay and transgender people serving as state legislators, the prior record was 119. Doña Ana County elected its first openly gay sheriff in New Mexico, and the first woman sheriff in Doña Ana County. Democrats Brandon Woodard and Susan Ruiz became the first openly LGBTQ members of the Kansas House of Representatives. Teri Johnston made Florida history as the first openly gay woman elected mayor in a major Florida city when she won in Key West. Kevin Hutchinson was elected Hennepin County Sheriff, making him the first openly-gay sheriff in the Midwest, and he ran on a campaign of reform including ending some cooperation with I.C.E. New Hampshire voters elected their first transgender state representatives.
DEMOCRATIC WINS Democrats won Secretary of State elections in Arizona, Colorado, and Michigan. Remember these are the people that oversee the election process. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D) defeated incumbent GOP Rep. Mia Love by fewer than 700 votes for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, turning the district blue for the first time in six years Kyrsten Sinema (D) won her race for a Senate seat in Arizona, giving Democrats their first elected senator in Arizona in 30 years and Sinema will be the first woman to represent Arizona in the Senate. Democrats have now won a super-majority of both houses of the CALIFORNIA state legislature, with the additional seats they won in the State Senate. Kyrsten Sinema (D) won the Arizona Senate race against Martha McSally
STATE AND LOCAL DEMOCRATIC WINS Six out of the seven major Maryland suburban counties, where the bulk of Marylanders live, elected new democratic county executives. Republicans lost a State Senate seat in Howard County long held by Republicans and Heather Bagnall (D) won for Maryland State House seat for District 33, beating the republican incumbent in a heavy republican district, the first democrat to do so in 20 years. Republicans also failed to pick up a veto-proof minority in the Maryland legislature, with a republican governor. Jim Glen (D) won his Kentucky state House race by one vote. With the help of court-ordered redistricting, after decades of gerrymandering, Native Americans in San Juan County Utah won the majority of seats on the county commission, which also includes parts of Bears Ears National Monument and thus a larger say in the administration’s decision to reduce the monument, among other things.
As a 17-year-old girl scout, Cassandra Levesque led a campaign to end child marriage in New Hampshire, and was brushed aside by a state legislator, who said he saw no need to change a 100 years old law, “on the basis of a request from a minor doing a Girl Scout project.” Her first effort to raise the age of marriage failed, so she decided to take her crusade a step further and run for the State Legislature herself, and won. Zach Wahls, who as a teenager gave a speech that went viral before the Utah State House of Representatives about growing up with two lesbian mothers, was elected at age 27 to the State Senate.
In North Carolina, Democrat and civil rights lawyer Anita Earls unseated a republican incumbent judge to join the North Carolina Supreme Court, giving democrats five of the seven seats on the state’s highest court. In addition, North Carolina rejected a constitutional amendment to give state lawmakers more power over the makeup of a state board that decides election and ethics disputes and limiting power to appoint judicial vacancies.
WOMEN WIN BIG LOCALLY TOO Demarest (NJ) elected its first woman mayor. Patricia Chisolm-Miller became the first woman elected to the McLennan County Commissioner’s Court (TX). Costa Mesa City Council (CA) will have a first ever female majority council. In Massachusetts Tram Nguyen (D) and Becca Rausch (D) defeated male Republican incumbents to win state House seats and Rachael Rollins, won election to become Boston’s first female district attorney and the first woman of color to hold such a job.
🌿 MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION Five out of six Ohio cities with local marijuana decriminalization measures on the ballot passed the initiatives, including Dayton, Fremont, Norwood, Oregon and Windham.
ABORTION RIGHTS In the November 6th election, Oregon voters rejected measures that would have barred taxpayer dollars from being spent on elective abortions and one that would have repealed the state law that bars local law enforcement agencies from spending state and local resources on enforcing federal immigration laws.
MEDICAID EXPANSION Idaho, Utah, and Nebraska passed Medicaid expansion initiatives.
I see a beautiful blue wave that crashed ashore this election. What made this happen is a mobilized army of thousands of Indivisible, Sister District, Flippable, Moms Demand Action, ACLU People Power, Fight For 15, Black Lives Matter, and countless other small and large social and political groups. These groups are unmatched in motivation, dedication, energy, skills, and fundraising ability the likes of which the democrats have not seen in a long time. They are filled with intelligent and hard-working people with an abundance of new voter lists and information from phone-banking, text-banking, canvassing, (not to mention markers, art supplies, stamps and postcards) to use as well as new and improved skills. The data and lessons learned from all our new initiatives and groups over the past two years will only serve to make us better, stronger, faster. We will regroup and improve and expand on what worked during this election and keep marching forward, brining with us all the newly registered and engaged voters. Republicans spent more than 10 years working smartly to gerrymander, suppress, and lie to voters to win state houses, Congress, and the presidency and it will not be undone in one election cycle.
We have hundreds of new progressive, of women, people of color, and diverse backgrounds and religions, in local, state, and national offices, moving the dialogue in positive directions and ready to learn and grow and become engaging new leaders like Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, and Beto O’Rourke. We have more states where gerrymandering has been stopped by the courts or mandated by new ballot initiatives giving us a better chance of fair elections. Most importantly, we have a check on the corrupt, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, America First President, that our U.S. Congress controlled by the republicans was not willing to be, without which the next two years would have been worse than our nightmares could conjure up.
There was so much good news in the election this week that to cover it in just one post would do it injustice and drown out some of the smaller accomplishments. So for this post, I am focusing mostly on the election of state and federal candidates. The next post to come out shortly will focus on ballot initiatives and other local issues and important issue, along with some local elections of interest as well as more election results as they are finalized.
DEMOCRATS GAINED 8 GOVERNORS including Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada, and let’s not forget Guam (a U.S. territory with U.S. citizens. Maine and South Dakota will have their first female Governors. FOUR off those new democratic governors are WOMEN and one is the first openly GAY Governor. Democrats also held on to governorships in Rhode Island. Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Colorado, Oregon, and California. COLORADO also elected the first openly gay man as governor.
Overall, RED TO BLUE, Democrats flipped 333 State House seats. Democrats gained the ever important STATE TRIFECTA, when one party controls both legislative bodies and the governorship of a state. Democrats picked up SIX TRIFECTAS, up from the 8 they had going into the 2018 election, in COLORADO, ILLINOIS, MAINE, NEW MEXICO, NEW YORK., NEVADA. They accomplished the now 14 state trifectas by winning control of the state senate and governorship In Colorado, taking back control of the state senate in New York, taking the state senate and governor’s office in Maine, the governor’s office in Illinois, the governorship in New Mexico, and the governorship in Nevada.
A total of Six STATE HOUSES changed from Republican to democratic control when the democrats captured the Colorado State Senate, Maine State Senate, Minnesota House of Representatives, New Hampshire House of Representatives, New Hampshire State Senate, and the New York State Senate.
There were some STATE HOUSES that the democrats did not win, but were able to BREAK UP REPUBLICAN SUPER-MAJORITIES In North Carolina and Pennsylvania, states with Democratic governors. Democrat Christy Clark in NC, a first-time candidate for a state house seat and gun reform advocate, beat the incumbent Republican, helping the democrats end the Republican super-majority in the state with a Democratic Gov. DEMOCRATS also BROKE UP REPUBLICAN TRIFECTAS in Kansas, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Wisconsin.
DIVERSITY at the STATE HOUSES where An Afghani woman, and former refugee, who escaped persecution from the Taliban won a seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Overall 42 LGBTQ Victory Fund candidates who were challengers or running for open State legislative seats won their seats in 27 States in, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
Democrats gained three STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL offices that were formerly held by republicans, including Colorado, Michigan, and Nevada and may have won Wisconsin since Josh Kaul is in the lead but is still too close to be called.
In two state democrats flipped the STATE SECRETARY OF STATE from Republican to Democrat in Michigan Colorado (the first time Democrats have won the office in six decades there).
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE
Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives with a total seat win of 227 which was a gain of 32 seats (with 10 races still being counted).
WOMEN did really well in races for the U.S. House, with 34 women elected, the biggest jump in the number of new women voted into the House, since the 24 elected in 1992’s so-called Year of the Woman and 26 of those women replaced men. 33 of the were democrats. They will join the 66 Women who were re-elected to the House. That makes the 100 women the highest number ever in the House. (some elections are still not called so these could increase). PA will now have 4 women in their U.S. House Delegation, up from ZERO.
DIVERSITY IN THE HOUSE The first two Native Americans, the first two female Muslims, and the first two Hispanic women from Texas, the first African-Americans from Massachusetts and Connecticut. Sharice Davids (D) defeated the republican incumbent to be the first openly LGBTQ person to represent KANSAS and Chris Pappas (D) became the first LGBTQ person to represent NEW HAMPSHIRE in Congress. Overall, EIGHT LGBTQ Victory Fund supported candidates won election to the U.S. House and ONE to the U.S. Senate,
BLUE WAVE There was a blue shift where 317 districts swung to the left with larger wins and 30 of those districts actually flipped from Republican to Democratic with far fewer districts that shifted to the right. Now we await election decisions from Florida and, Georgia.
IN OTHER NON-ELECTION NEWS OF INTEREST
HEALTHCARE A jury awarded $25.5 million to the family of a cancer patient denied coverage by Aetna, with jurors saying that the insurer acted “recklessly” and that the verdict was meant as a message for Aetna to change its ways.
VOTING An election supervisor and judge in Texas stepped down after she was captured on video screaming at a black voter who was reportedly confused about where to vote.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENT The Lakeland City Commission (FL) voted to fund the move of a confederate monument from a downtown park to a local park dedicated to veterans.
GUN REFORM New Jersey Governor signed a bill banning untraceable firearms, including those manufactured on three-dimensional printers.
PRISON REFORM A new report shows that the number of people sent to Arkansas’ prisons for violating probation or parole fell more than 41 percent in 2017 after a new law went into effect that was aimed at reducing the prison population.
Standing up for Immigrants Motel 6 will pay up to $7.6 million for regularly providing guest lists to I.C.E. A federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s temporary order preventing the administration from ending DACA.
Civil Rights The US Supreme Court ruled that the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act applies to both state and local government.
Stayed tuned this week for more posts to cover all the good news.
Last week shootings at a Jewish House of Worship and in a Kentucky grocery store, along with the string of attempted mail bombs, and the failed attempt at a black church was particularly hard on me and I have to admit I did not have it in me to spread good news. After a week of reflecting and channeling my overwhelmed emotions into get out the vote, I have re-centered and decided to focus on the positive again. I realized that I could not allow the hate to win over my efforts to remind others for just one small moment out of their week, that all hope is not lost. Seeing the vigils and support all over the country was heartwarming. Seeing the reports of voter participation and lines of voters was even more inspiring. My social media feeds were filled with pictures of people working to get out the vote all over the country. Don’t forget to phone-bank, canvas, text-bank, and remind friends and family to get to the polls in the few hours we have remaining until now and Tuesday night.
This upcoming week I anticipate doing an early special edition with election results after counts are in. For now here is an abridged list of the good news from the past couple of weeks.
🚶🚶🏿🚶🏼ELECTION PARTICIPATION More than 30.6 million ballots have been cast already, with several states still collecting absentee ballots and welcoming in-person early voters, surpassing the total early vote in 2014 of 28.3 million. Turnout among 18-29 year olds, compared to 2014 early voting: AZ +217%, FL +131%, GA +415%, MI +128%, NV +364%, TN +767%, and TX +448%. Not to mention women – Early vote share by gender: AZ, 52.5% women, 46.5% men (rest unclear), FL, 54.5 (W), 45.5 (M), GA, 56.4 (W), 43.6 (M), MI, 56.5 (W), 43.5 (M), NC, 55.1 (W), 44.7 (M), OH, 54.3 (W), 43.5 (M), TN, 54.4 (W), 45.5 (M), TX, 53.8 (W), 45.5 (M).
💵 ELECTION FUNDRAISING The Hill is reporting that Hollywood is donating large sums to democrats. Small-dollar donors made ActBlue’s third quarter 2018 fundraising the biggest quarter in dollars raised in ActBlue’s history, raising $385,176,557 for 9,335 Democratic campaigns, progressive organizations, and nonprofits, more than double the amount raised in Q3 2016. The three biggest dollar days ever for ActBlue were September 28th-30th, the days after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testimony. Small-dollar donors raised over $11 million (crossing the $10 million threshold for the first time ever) on September 28th, a staggering $16,853,013 on September 30th and more individual donations in a single day than ever before on the 30th (307,320 contributions). September was the biggest dollar month in ActBlue’s history, with $184,841,230 raised. Democrats are spending $143 million on television advertising in House races, compared with $86 million for Republicans and Democratic super PACs and other outside groups are poised to outspend their Republican counterparts by a wide margin.
🕫🗳️FAIR AND ETHICAL VOTING starts with ACCESS TO THE BALLOT BOX A federal judge ordered election officials in Georgia to stop throwing out absentee ballots solely because of a suspected signature mismatch, and ordered election officials to give affected voters up to three days after the 6 November election to prove their eligibility. Georgia was also blocked by a federal judge from using an “exact match” rule to prevent voters from registering to vote. A federal court clarified a prior decision and ruled that Missouri voters who do not have a photo ID when they arrive at the polls will no longer have to sign a sworn statement to cast a ballot. North Carolina issued an emergency order to make voting easier for those affected by the Hurricane which allows more time for absentee ballots to be received by county election offices and allows voters to return completed absentee ballots at more locations, including those outside their county. A federal appeals court ordered Ohio to count provisional election ballots for the 2018 midterm elections that are cast by certain people previously purged from the state’s voter rolls for not voting. Days after students at Prairie View A&M University sued Waller County in Texas over allegations that the county is suppressing the voting rights of black residents, the rural county is expanding early voting opportunities for students at the historically black university.
STOPPING GERRYMANDERING The U.S. Supreme court refused to hear an appeal of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that struck down congressional district maps the state found unlawfully biased in favor of Republicans. A state court ruled that four N.C. House seats in North Carolina must be redrawn before the 2020 elections finding that it has been racially gerrymandered.
VOTER REGISTRATION Groups like Four Directions have raised significant donations are working really hard and quickly to get every ND tribal member an ID with an address in time for the election. Voto Latino registered more than 200,000 voters in 11 states. Chicago votes has now registered over 3,000 people in jail awaiting trial in Chicago. 🚗AND GETTING TO THE POLLS Los Angeles County’ will offer free fares on its bus and rail system on election day. The Postal Service said that “We will not deny a voter their right to vote by delaying a time-sensitive ballot because of insufficient postage” and will deliver absentee ballots with insufficient postage and charge the local elections agency instead (although some voters reported that their ballots with missing postage were returned so is sending it in, don’t forget the postage). Bloomberg news is reporting that a record 44 percent of U.S. firms will give workers paid time off to vote, up from 37 percent in 2016. The Washington Post did an article on the growing postcard writing movement with Postcards for America now having more than 9,700 members and 16 state chapters and Postcards to Voters has more than 25,000 volunteers who have sent roughly 3 million handwritten postcards to voters to get out the vote.
💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE Communities all around the country have been coming together in vigils held for the victims of last week’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Muslim organizations have raised $200,000 to help those affected by the shooting in Pittsburgh. A Youth Commission and Republican Town Committee member in Bethel resigned after it became public that he had been affiliated with an extreme alt-right group. The Boston Mayor and many other community members and children from neighboring schools showed up to support for staff and students at a school hit with racist graffiti. The press secretary for the Republican candidate for governor of Rhode Island resigned after racist and sexist tweets he made in the past were publicized. The far-right Proud Boys and their founder, Gavin McInnes, were banned from Facebook and Instagram because of policies against hate groups. Paypal has banned Gab, a hate-site platform. The white woman who harassed two African-American women in their own parking lot was fired from her high paying job that she boasted about in her racist tirade.
🧕🏻STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS HELPING ONE PERSON AT A TIME A AND NOT BACKING DOWN FROM I.C.E. Cristaudos Café in Illinois is selling cookies with a “Hate has no home here” message labeled in frosting on each cookie and are donating 50 cents of for every cookie to the Southern IL Immigration Rights Program. A U.S. citizen who was wrongfully detained by ICE won a $55,000 settlement against I.C.E. and the San Bernardino County (CA). A federal court ruled the Dept. of Justice cannot withhold federal grant funding from Seattle and Portland for being “sanctuary cities.” The Supreme Court declined to postpone the start of a trial challenging the administration’s decision to add a citizenship question on the census.
⚖️ECONOMIC JUSTICE Starting with WAGES AND BENEFITS The Chicago City Council approved the creation of an office dedicated to enforcing the city’s minimum wage, paid sick time and anti-wage theft laws. EDUCATION A U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Rhode Island must provide free public education to students with disabilities until they reach age 22. The Arizona State Board of Education voted to re-integrate accurate climate & evolutionary science into the state’s K-12 science standards. HOUSING A real estate investment firm in L.A. agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that it pressured Latino and mentally disabled tenants to leave its rent-controlled Koreatown buildings so it could raise the rents. The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission made it easier for those who have been disconnected from gas and electric due to nonpayment to get reconnected, allowing them to pay only a portion of their arrears and enter a payment plan to get reconnected. HEALTH A new federal law expands medicaid coverage for treatment of opioid addiction, cracks down on mailed shipments of illicit drugs such as fentanyl, and provides a host of new federal grants to address the crisis. A Las Vegas jury awarded $250,000 to each participant in a class-action brought on behalf of mentally ill people who were inappropriately discharged out of a Nevada psychiatric hospital and bused across the country without proper care or planning, and they were ordered to revise its discharge policies to ensure that patients are safely transferred in the future. HUNGER Every school in New York has now adopted plans that end “meal shaming” of students who do not have money for lunch. CONSUMER PROTECTION Payday lender Cash Express will pay $32,000 in restitution and $200,000 in penalties for violating the Consumer Financial Protection Act.
☮️ SOCIAL JUSTICE AND CIVIL RIGHTS An American illegally detained in Iraq by the U.S. military for more than a year was released after the ACLU sued to obtain his release. A Kentucky sheriff’s office will pay more than $337,000 for handcuffing two elementary school students of color with disabilities in a case brought by the ACLU.
👨🏿⚖️SEEKING RACIAL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE The Pennsylvania legislature approved a bill that will end the practice of suspending driver’s licenses for those convicted of certain non-driving offenses and the governor is expected to sign it. A federal judge ordered the Memphis police department to bolster its policies and training after finding the agency had violated a court order prohibiting officers from watching protesters and monitoring their social media accounts in a case brought decades ago by the ACLU. California will allow all non-violent prisoners under the Three Strikes Act to seek parole. The white Florida city commissioner who shot and killed an alleged non-white shoplifter at a store as he was fleeing resigned from his position after being criminally charged in the matter.
🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT Oregon Gov. issued an executive order blocking offshore drilling. SC Johnson signed on to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment which includes taking steps to reduce plastic packaging and making 100 percent of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. The Supreme Court declined for now to stop a lawsuit filed by young activists who say the government isn’t doing enough to prevent climate change. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by fisherman challenging a rule established to protect otters from Point Conception south to the border of Mexico. The Port Authority of NY & NJ has joined The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative and committed to electrifying its entire fleet of vehicles and airport shuttle buses by 2030. Indonesia’s second-largest city is allowing residents to exchange used plastic bottles for free bus rides.
👩#MeToo And WOMEN’S RIGHTS ESSENCE magazine announced Essence Girls United a mentoring initiative focused on helping girls 12 through 17 increase their academic potential, self-love and leadership skills. A non-profit opened a pet-friendly domestic violence shelter in Brooklyn. More than 20,000 Google employees participated in a mass global walkout to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against top executives
🗽BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND NAMES MATTER A Veterans Affairs official removes a painting of civil war general and first grand wizard of the KKK from his office after complaints from staff. The Make It Right Project put up a billboard in Seattle to remind residents that there is a Confederate memorial in their city that should be removed. Westchester County (NY) removed a Robert E. Lee plaque from a historical tree trail in one of its parks in Katonah.
🏳️🌈LGBTQ PROGRESS Albany and Westchester Counties (NY) banned “gay conversion therapy” on minors. The New Jersey and Sarasota Dept. of Eds released guidelines for schools to improve the rights of transgender students including access to bathrooms and locker rooms as well as standards for pronouns and chosen names. A Virginia school district superintendent apologized to a transgender student who was barred from using the boys’ or girls’ locker rooms during an active shooter drill. An Applebees in Hawthorne will pay $100,000 to a transgender employee who was subjected to a hostile work environment and fred when she complained in a case brought by the U.S.
🙂 LAWSUIT ROUNDUP A federal judge rules that the Washington D.C. and Maryland lawsuits against the con-man-in-chief for allegedly violating the constitution’s emoluments clause can proceed.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST A Montana republican official resigned after saying on a radio show that he would have shot the reporter who was assaulted by Congressman Greg Gianforte. A republican Haywood County Board of Elections member who contended on social media that Democrats plan to legalize pedophilia in violation of state law against members publicly endorsing one party or another resigned her post prior to the investigation.