Actions 10/16 and 10/17

Monday

Let’s go all out to pass the Massachusetts Senate’s criminal justice bill (S2170). Our criminal justice system is badly in need of reform, with a prison population four to five times larger than four decades ago, and incarceration rates that disproportionately affect black and Hispanic residents. We have the highest Hispanic-to-white disparity in the US and a higher than average disparity between blacks and whites. The Senate bill goes a long way toward addressing these issues, but the House appears to be considering a much more conservative bill.

Key provisions of the Senate bill:

  • Removal of mandatory minimums for offenders for nonviolent drug violations.
  • Expansion of diversion eligibility.
  • Elimination of some court fees, such as the indigent counsel fee and parole fees.
  • Complete overhaul of the bail system, ensuring bail will be more affordable to all defendants.
  • Protections for inmates in solitary confinement.
  • Raise of the age of criminal majority and criminal culpability.
  • Sealing of criminal records (CORIs) after 3 years for misdemeanors and 7 years after felonies; seals juvenile records after 1 year.
  • Lift of the felony theft threshold to $1,500 from $250.
  • Requirement for the court to make written findings before sentencing a primary caretaker.

This is our best chance for meaningful criminal justice reform in Massachusetts. We can’t allow the House to undercut it. Let’s act now by calling or writing our House representatives and telling them we strongly support the Senate’s bill and we want the House to enact its provisions in their version of the bill. For bonus points, tell your senator to do everything possible to ensure the criminal justice bill passes the Senate by a margin big enough to force the House to support similar reforms.

Update

The ACLU has pointed out some flaws in the Senate criminal justice bill. You'll find them outlined here.


Deadline reminder

Last chance to tell Homeland Security what we think of its plan to include “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results” in the immigration files of all immigrants, including permanent residents and naturalized citizens. You can comment on the plan at Regulations.gov through October 17. See our October 2 post for details.


Tuesday

It’s time to push to get the Mass Safe Communities Act out of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security and onto the floor for a vote. The bill’s hearing was all the way back in May, this summer's Lunn decision supported key provisions, the Trump administration’s been stepping up its targeting of immigrants in Massachusetts—and still the SCA sits in committee.

We need to tell our legislators to push for the bill. Progressive Massachusetts has info on each legislator’s stand as well as basic scripts tailored to those stands. Let’s add our own twist to the scripts by urging our legislators to pressure the committee chairs to report out the bill favorably so the legislature can finally vote.

Actions 10/11 and 10/12

Wednesday

We need to keep after Congress to pass the Dream Act (S.1615/H.R.3440). There’s been a lot of noise lately about many issues, but we can’t let our representatives forget that the country’s Dreamers are in crisis, their fates in the hands of Congress as the president makes his heartless demands. Last Wednesday, we asked you to call your Massachusetts representatives and urge them to fight for a clean Dream Act. It’s helpful to repeat those calls weekly. Here’s how.

Let’s also enlist our friends and family members in other states to talk to their representatives about the Dream Act. The Indivisible Team has supplied a calling script as well as information about the number of Dreamers in each state.


Thursday

Get Americans covered by the ACA. Health insurance open enrollment begins November 1, and it’s time to start spreading the word—the administration decided to shorten the enrollment window this year. Now there’s a group that can help. Two former officials who worked on the sign-up campaigns under Obama have launched an initiative, Get America Covered, to stand in for the administration's dramatically scaled-back efforts. They’ve got information on helping friends and family enroll and on starting an open enrollment street team, and their fliers, fact sheets, Facebook and Twitter graphics, and suggested posts make it easy to help people get the health coverage they're entitled to.

Actions 10/9 and 10/10

Lots of repeats, because lots of bills we support need an extra push—and at Indivisible Somerville, we don’t give up.

Monday

Passing the ACCESS (Advancing Contraceptive Coverage and Economic Security in our State) bill, H.536/S.499—which guarantees coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs, devices, and supplies, including sterilization, without a copay—is even more critical, now that the Trump administration has gutted the ACA requirement for employer health plans to pay for birth control. For more information on the bill, see this guide from NARAL.

Let’s urge our our legislators to pressure the chairs of the Joint Committee on Financial Services, where the bill is under consideration, to report ACCESS out favorably as soon as possible so that it can go to the floor for a vote. Three Somerville/Cambridge legislators are members of the committee—Senator Sal N. DiDomenico and Representatives Marjorie C. Decker and Christine P. Barber.


Tell Congress to lift the Jones Act for Puerto Rico. The 3.5 million Americans there needs help, and the Jones Act is a major obstacle to their receiving aid in a timely, cost-effective way. It levies tariffs, fees, and taxes on foreign registry vessels, and the extra costs get passed on to the Puerto Rican consumer. Trump’s 10-day exemption has already expired, so let’s use this tool from Our Revolution, complete with talking points and phone numbers, to tell our congressional representatives to remove this impediment to Puerto Rican recovery.


Tuesday

Thanks to public pressure, several major environment bills—including increasing the Massachusetts renewable energy mix (H.2700, S.1880), carbon pricing (H.1726, S.1821), and removing the solar net metering cap (H.2706)—had positive hearings, with an outpouring of support from citizens and members of the legislature. They’re all sitting in the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy now, waiting to be reported out.

It’s time to contact our legislators and ask them to pressure the committee chairs to report the bills out favorably and bring them to the floor for a vote.

SCRIPT: Hello my name is [NAME], and I’m calling from [CITY] to ask the [senator/representative] to pressure the chairs of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy to report out favorably several environment bills whose hearings showed overwhelming support. The bills I’m concerned with are H.2700, S.1880, S.1821, H1726, and H.2706. I appreciate your support in moving along these important protections for our environment.

For extra credit, you might call the committee chairs themselves, Senator Michael J. Barrett (617-722-1572) and Representative Thomas A. Golden (617-722-2263).


Let’s ask our friends and family members in other states to tell their legislators to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a successful program with wide congressional and popular support, which Congress nevertheless allowed to expire on September 30. CHIP provides health insurance, and thus health care, to nearly 9 million children nationwide through federally funded, state-administered block grants, and some states have already begun to run short of funds. Direct your friends to the Indivisible Team’s CHIP page, where they’ll find information about when their states’ funds will run out, as well as a script for calling Congress.

Actions 10/4 and 10/5

Wednesday

Our members of Congress have spoken out for the country’s 800,000 Dreamers (9,030 in Massachusetts). Now we need them to push for the DREAM Act (S.1615 / H.R.3440), which would give DACA recipients and others who arrived in the United States as children a path to permanent lawful status and eventual citizenship. As Republicans try to change the subject to taxes and confuse things with their watered-down alternative to the DREAM Act (the SUCCEED Act), we’ve got to keep Congressional phones ringing with support for the DREAM Act. Let’s call Senators Markey (202-224-2742) and Warren (202-224-4543) and our representatives and urge them to include a clean DREAM Act in any must-pass legislation. The script below is derived from the Indivisible Guide. You can find their full suggested dialogue here.

SCRIPT: Hello, My name is [NAME] and I’m calling from [ZIPCODE]. I’m extremely concerned about President Trump’s decision to terminate DACA protection for 800,000 Dreamers who came to the United States as children. I appreciate the [Senator's/Representative's] support for DACA, and I want to urge him/her to push to include the DREAM Act in any must-pass bill scheduled for a vote this month. Thank you.

Thursday

Spread the word that ACA health insurance open enrollment starts in one month. Since the president cut advertising budget by 90%, it’s up to us.

Many thanks to Jen Hoffman for this one.

Actions 10/2

Oppose DHS’s proposed social media monitoring of immigrants and citizens. We have until October 18 to comment about the proposal on Regulations.gov. Without a big public outcry, the change will go into effect October 18. This policy will allow DHS to collect information from a broad, vaguely defined array of sources, including traditional social media, search results, and just about any other digital means. They’ll be checking on immigrants, their legal guardians, green-card holders, and naturalized citizens, and they plan to retain this information for an indefinite period of time. The monitoring could easily pull in information on American citizens as well who communicate via digital means with immigrants.

Please comment as soon as possible! Be sure to include any personal stories or expertise on the subject. For more details, see these stories in Buzzfeed and the New York Times.