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ACTION: Oppose the wiretap amendments

Find your state rep's phone here.

The MA house is voting today on a huge criminal justice bill, and we need to call NOW and oppose several amendments to it that would increase wiretapping and surveillance of MA residents.

From the ACLU:

The wiretap amendments (53, 105, 115 & 174) would hugely expand invasive government surveillance of residents’ phone and online communication. The worst among them target people with substance use disorders, allowing prosecutors to listen in on the private conversations of not just alleged drug sellers, but also users—who themselves often “distribute” drugs among friends. And they would undermine the Massachusetts high tech industry by expanding law enforcement’s reach into the Massachusetts tech and digital security sectors, threatening customer trust and adoption of new technologies that are the lifeblood of the tech sector – without even bringing tech leaders into the public conversation.

Please use this script (also courtesy of our friends at the ACLU):

SCRIPT: Hi my name is _____________ and I am a constituent of Representative _____________. I am calling today to urge the Representative to oppose all amendments to the criminal justice reform bill that would expand our wiretap statute. [If asked, the amendments are #53, #105, #115 and #174]

Wiretapping is a complex and complicated issue. Changes to our wiretap statute should be carefully considered and crafted, not added as an afterthought to a major criminal justice bill. These amendments would have serious unintended consequences for Massachusetts, from harming the high tech companies doing business in Massachusetts to allowing prosecutors to conduct invasive surveillance of drug users with substance use disorders. Again, I urge Representative _____________ to oppose the wiretap amendments. Thank you for your time.

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The Puzzling Popularity of Charlie Baker

According to a recent Morning Consult poll surveying 2,500 Massachusetts voters, Charlie Baker ranks as the most popular governor in the nation with an astonishing 75% approval rating. Governor Baker has cleverly and deceitfully marketed himself as the palatable Republican choice for Democrats in the state of Massachusetts. The Boston Globe, with twenty years since its last Republican endorsement, endorsed Baker during his 2014 election bid, stating, "at this time, [Baker] would provide the best counterpoint to the instincts of an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature.”

Baker’s political leanings are often touted as socially liberal and fiscally conservative. His supporters routinely praise his liberal stances on LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and gun control. His voting base lauds him for several decisions made during his governorship, like the transgender accommodations bill he signed into law in 2016. But when you look beyond that final act, Baker only supported the bill after receiving public pressure from Congressman Joe Kennedy III. In his failed 2010 campaign for governor, Baker vowed to veto a proposal for even more basic protections, derisively referring to the measure as 'the bathroom bill.' He had only slightly warmed to the idea of protection against discrimination for transgender people during his 2014 campaign. Had Congressman Joe Kennedy III not made Baker's opposition to the law politically disadvantageous, Baker likely would never have signed the bill for which he receives such credit.

Like the transgender protections bill, so many of Baker's social liberal gold stars fade under similar scrutiny, exposing their truth as simple political posturing. Baker speaks often about his supposed left-leaning ideologies, but when it comes to carrying out actual legislation in support of them, he fails. Last November, Governor Baker vehemently opposed Massachusetts’ legalization of marijuana using erroneous 'gateway drug' logic. He threw his clout behind Question 2, a ballot initiative roundly rejected by Massachusetts voters, which would have funded charter schools at the expense of public schools. Presently, he stands in opposition to the so-called Millionaire’s Tax that will be an initiative on the 2018 ballot.

Governor Baker’s hostility towards the Safe Communities Act (SCA) is arguably his most egregious attack on progressive values. Since its introduction on Beacon Hill, immediately following Trump's first immigration ban, Baker has opposed the SCA, a stark contrast to the many other leaders around the state who publicly and quickly stood up in support. The governor justifies his position with the slanderous, inflammatory, and unsupported claim that the bill would allow violent criminals to stay in our communities. Not only is his justification factually incorrect, anyone familiar with Republican ideology can see it's straight from the GOP play book - evoke fear to justify xenophobia, racism, and the denial of basic civil rights.

In these times, we need a governor who works with us and represents our values, not one endorsed for the arbitrary reason of preventing our government from getting too blue. Let's hold Baker to the challenge of representing his electorate. And if he won't stand to the challenge, let's elect someone who will.

#town-hall collaborated with #writing to create this post.

Senator Markey: On the Issues

Senator Ed Markey is holding a town hall this evening from 6:30 to 8:00PM at the Paramount Theatre in Boston. Please come join us, and make your voice heard! Here is a summary of where he stands on several key issues, as well as his recent voting record.

Markey's stance on key issues:

Healthcare

On the House-passed American Health Care Act, which would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act: “Today’s CBO [Congressional Budget Office] analysis confirms that Trumpcare is really about destroying health and concentrating wealth. This cruel legislation would line the pockets of the wealthiest individuals and corporations through tax breaks of more than $600 billion, all while ripping away health coverage from 23 million Americans. Americans should not accept this proposal for the future of our health care system – we deserve better and this score proves it.”

Energy and Environment

  • Markey is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and Chair of the Senate Climate Clearinghouse.
  • In March, Markey joined 29 other senators in introducing legislation that would rescind Trump’s executive order that attacked initiatives aimed at combatting climate change. Markey called this executive order a, “declaration of war on American leadership on climate change and our clean energy future.”
  • This past week, Markey, Bernie Sanders, and Kirsten Gillibrand reintroduced legislation that would improve nuclear waste storage nationwide.

Trump’s Ties to Russia

On the firing of James Comey: “This latest news reaffirms that James Comey’s firing was an obstruction of justice masquerading as a personnel decision… These seismic revelations only underscore the need to provide Special Counsel Robert Mueller with the resources and unfettered independence necessary to conduct a serious and thorough investigation, and bring charges if warranted. With the news report that this investigation has reached the highest levels of our government, we have moved ever closer to a Constitutional crisis, and the American people deserve answers to the questions of what the President knew and when he knew it.”

North Korea

Markey to Trump: “As the United States conducts military exercises with our South Korean allies, President Trump’s lose talk about a ‘major, major conflict’ with North Korea fuels Kim Jong Un’s paranoia and increases the risk of an accidental conflict on the Peninsula. At the same time, Trump’s offer to personally meet with Kim reveals the administration’s incoherent approach to North Korea policy. President Trump needs a comprehensive strategy for preventing an accidental war through direct diplomatic contact and serious negotiation about denuclearization at an appropriate level, not offhanded remarks or a photo op. The threat from North Korea is too serious for incoherent bluster.”

Markey’s Recent Voting Record:

Markey voted NAY on House Bill H. Joint Res. 43

More info:

  • This resolution repealed a rule finalized during the last weeks of the Obama administration that prevented states from defunding organizations providing abortions. Under the Hyde Amendment, federal dollars are already prohibited from being used towards abortion services. However, tax dollars can still go towards providers who offer such services.
  • Senate passed via roll call on 3/30/17 (50 yea/ 50 nay)
  • President signed into law on 4/12/17

Markey voted NAY on Senate Bill S. Joint Res. 34

More info:

  • This resolution overturned a privacy rule that limited the access and collection of personal data by Internet service providers. The rule was passed by the Obama administration in October 2016, but was subsequently blocked by the FCC chairman.
  • Senate passed via roll call on 3/23/17 (50 yea, 48 nay)
  • President signed into law on 4/2/17

Markey voted NAY on House Bill H. Joint Res. 69

More info:

  • This resolution repealed a Department of the Interior regulation which prohibited hunting of predators, e.g., bears and wolves, on Alaskan National Wildlife Refuges. The original bill was finalized during the last months of the Obama administration.
  • Senate passed via roll call on 3/21/17 (52 yea, 47 nay)
  • President signed into law on 4/2/17

Markey voted NAY on House Bill H. Joint Res. 42

More info:

  • This resolution overturned a Department of Labor regulation which prohibited drug testing welfare recipients unless they were terminated from a job for reasons of drug use.
  • Senate passed via roll call on 3/14/17 (51 yea, 48 nay)
  • President signed into law on 3/30/17

Markey voted NAY on House Bill H. Joint Res. 37

More info:

  • This resolution overturned a regulation that required federal contractors to disclose labor law violations. This rule was enacted by President Obama via executive order in August 2016.
  • Senate passed via roll call on 3/6/17 (49 yea, 48 nay)
  • President signed into law on 3/26/17

Markey voted NAY on House Bill H. Joint Res. 40

More info:

  • This resolution repealed a rule enacted during the last weeks of the Obama administration that required the government to add individuals considered “mental defectives” to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The rule was aimed at prohibiting individuals with mental illnesses from purchasing firearms.
  • Senate passed via roll call on 2/15/17 (57 yea, 43 nay)
  • President signed into law on 2/27/17

Above information gathered from www.markey.senate.gov and from www.countable.us

Jay Gonzalez: A Primer

On January 30th, 2017, former Massachusetts State Budget Chief, Jay Gonzalez, announced that he would run against Governor Charlie Baker in 2018. To date, Gonzalez is the only confirmed candidate running against the Republican incumbent, although there are numerous murmurings of other 2018 gubernatorial hopefuls. Here is everything you need to know about the Democratic candidate, Jay Gonzalez:

Gonzalez first entered the political scene in 2007, serving as former Massachusetts’ Governor Deval Patrick’s Secretary of Administration and Finance. Calling himself a “fierce advocate for high quality early education for all children,” he served as the Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Early Education. He also served as the Chairmen of the Board of the Massachusetts Health Connector where he provided oversight for the implementation of health care reform throughout the state. Prior to announcing his candidacy for Governor of Massachusetts, Gonzalez was CEO of CeltiCare Health, a company providing health insurance to mostly low-income individuals.

Where he stands on the issues:

Gonzalez’s main political platform revolves around universal access to affordable and high-quality early childhood education. He calls early education and childcare “one of the most favorable of all public investments,” and cites economic research which states a 13% annual rate of return on birth-to-five early education programs resulting from decreased reliance on public assistance and increased tax payments. To tackle this issue, Gonzalez states that he will improve access to early childhood education by both increasing the number of families eligible for state assistance, and also increasing the workforce.

Aside from his focus on early education, Gonzalez is also committed to ensuring public access to government records, protecting the environment, encouraging local agriculture, safeguarding women’s reproductive health care, and supporting the Safe Communities Act in Massachusetts. He has publicly criticized Baker, calling him a “status quo, wait and see Governor.” Gonzalez has called into question Baker’s silence around several key issues regarding Trump’s presidency, including transgender rights legislation and Massachusetts state police working in tandem with ICE to arrest undocumented immigrants.

In a recent interview, Gonzalez told Boston Public Radio, “From the American Revolution to marriage equality, Massachusetts has always been at the forefront of our country's biggest issues. President Trump threatens our values and threatens to take us backward.  Now more than ever, we need a Governor who is going to stand up and fight for our values and fight to move us forward. I’ll be that Governor.  I’ll work with a sense of urgency to make sure that every working family has a fair shot for a better future.”

Come to The Democracy Center on Wednesday, April 19th at 7PM to hear Jay Gonzalez speak in his own words about his run for Governor, and have the chance to ask him your own questions about his platform and stance on key issues facing our state and country right now.

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