AND THE WINNER FOR BEST INSPIRING ACCOMPLISHMENT THIS WEEK GOES TO…..

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.

⚖️ECONOMIC JUSTICE  

  • 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.

🏫🕮 EDUCATION  

👨🏿‍⚖️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 REFORM   

  • 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.

👮POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY

🧑🏿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   

🗽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.

🏳️‍🌈LGBTQ

🕫🗳️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…

☑️ 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.

THOUSANDS GEARING UP TO PROTEST THE PRESIDENT’S FAKE EMERGENCY ON PRESIDENT’S DAY!

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

STACEY ABRAMS INSPIRED WITH HER SOTU RESPONSE!

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.fair fight.JPG

🧕 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
Continue reading

The Super Bowl Sunday Roundup of Super Inspiring News!

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

NO STONE UNTURNED AND NO WALL BUILT!

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.

☮️ 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.

🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT was a new stated goal for Illinois and two other countries grew their renewable energy.

👩#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.

👩‍🎓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.

THE GOOD NEWS ROUNDUP IS BACK!

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 ofAu 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 MATTERREMOVING 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 PROGRESSTRANSGENDER 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.

COURTS CONTINUE TO PROTECT IMMIGRANTS!

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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.