Actions for 11/1 and 11/2

Wednesday

Keep up the momentum for criminal justice reform in Massachusetts. Last week the Senate passed a historic progressive bill, and that’s a big win for a fairer Mass justice system and for those of us who worked for the bill. Now we need to set our sights, and our energy, on the more conservative House, which could take up its own version of criminal justice reform bil soon. Let’s call our representatives and tell them to pass a progressive bill.

SCRIPT: This is [NAME]. I’m calling from [CITY] to urge the representative to work for a strong criminal justice reform bill. Specifically, I want to see the House repeal unjust mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses; protect young people from becoming entangled in the criminal legal system; divert people away from prison who would be better served by drug treatment or other alternatives; and improve opportunities and incentives for incarcerated people.

I also urge you and your colleagues to keep any criminal justice reform bill focused on reducing incarceration and other harmful effects of the criminal legal system. The House must not use criminal justice reform legislation as an opportunity to increase criminal penalties or prosecutorial powers. I'll be watching closely to see how the House handles this critical bill.

Pressed for time? Customize and send the Massachusetts ACLU email.


Thursday

Defeat Trump’s tax scam. The Republicans are expected to unveil the text of the plan Thursday, but we already know what they’ve got in mind for the country. They’re going to eliminate taxes that only affect the wealthiest individuals and let corporations pay even less than they already do. The vast majority of the benefits will go to the top 1%, as usual. Also as usual, their plan will greatly increase the deficit, and they’ll use that as an excuse to demand cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and programs that benefit the poor and the powerless.

There’s already opposition within Republican ranks. We need to send a strong message by rallying against the tax scam like we rallied against Trumpcare. As the Indivisible team puts it, if we demonstrate widespread opposition to their bill from the beginning—if we show up, if we make calls, if we write letters to the editor, if we out organize them—we can control the narrative. We can, and we will, win.

Indivisible's kicking things off with a National Call-In Day this Thursday, November 2. We need to light up those phone lines. Let's call Senators Markey (202-224-2742) and Warren (202-224-4543) and our representatives and voice opposition to their bill. Indivisible’s call script for Democrats is a great place to start.

Actions 10/30 and 10/31

Monday

Let’s push the Mass legislature to move Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) forward. AVR would register eligible citizens to vote when they interact with government agencies and enable agencies to transfer voter registration information electronically to election officials. Rhode Island, Vermont, and eight other states have already enacted AVR. Oregon was the first, and in the year and a half since ATR went into effect, they’ve added 375,000 voters to the state’s rolls. Meanwhile, the Mass bill’s still sitting in the Joint Committee on Election Laws awaiting action.

Three ways you can lobby for the bill:

  • Participate in the Election Modernization Coalition’s AVR Twitterstorm today, Monday, from 1:00 to 2:00 (or later, if that time doesn’t work for you). You’ll find lots of suggested tweets here.
  • Tell your legislators that you strongly support Automatic Voter Registration and you’d like them to pressure the chairs of the Joint Committee on Election Laws to report the bill out favorably so it can get to the floor for a vote. Pat Jehlen is a member of the committee.
  • Write a letter to the editor urging others to support the bill. The League of Women Voters provides a link to a letter template at the bottom of their AVR page.

Tuesday

Open enrollment for the ACA starts tomorrow, November 1, and the Trump administration is going all out to keep people in the dark. It’s up to the rest of us to make sure everyone who will benefit from the ACA knows how to sign up. Indivisible.org has put together a Mass toolkit that you can access by clicking on Massachusetts in the state map on their Open Enrollment page. It includes a canvassing toolkit, fliers to distribute and to use to start conversations, and a script. Because Massachusetts runs a separate exchange, we use our own website and, fortunately, we got to set our own deadline, January 23, instead of the administration’s unconscionable December 15 deadline. To publicize to Massachusetts Twitter followers, use this graphic.

If you have out-of-state Facebook or Twitter connections, you can take advantage of Get America Covered’s social media resources.

Actions 10/25 and 10/26

Wednesday

Let’s keep after Congress to pass the DREAM Act. Every day it’s not enacted, hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth continue to live at great risk. The DREAM Act has bipartisan support in the Senate and House and massive support from the American public. Although we and our Democratic members of Congress don’t set Congress’s agenda, we’ll have leverage in December if we can persuade our reps to play hardball.

Urge your MOC to take the Dreamer pledge. Ask them to pledge that, if Congress hasn’t passed the DREAM Act when funding for the government expires on December 8, they’ll vote against the continuing budget resolution unless it contains a clean DREAM Act. We can use the Indivisible Team’s script to call Senators Markey (202-224-2742) and Warren (202-224-4543) and our representative and tell them we want them to make the DREAM Act law.


Fight the attack on the Senate Criminal Justice Reform bill. With the bill scheduled for a vote this Thursday, 9 of Mass's 11 district attorneys mounted a last-minute attack against it. They're also advocating for amendments to make it easier for government to use all forms of wiretapping, including digital modes, as a means of surveillance. Let’s fight back by calling or email our senators to show our support for the bill and to urge them to vote against amendments 24 and 87. Mass ACLU provides details and an email script you can send directly or you can modify it for a phone call or email to your senator.


Thursday

Open enrollment for the ACA starts in one week, on November 1. The Trump administration has gutted the advertising budget and cut the sign-up period in half. Let’s use Get America Covered’s social media graphics today to get word out about open enrollment.

Actions 10/23 and 10/24

Monday

Let’s speak out for the Mass Senate’s Criminal Justice Reform bill as it comes to the floor for a vote this Thursday, October 26. See last Monday’s Action post for detail on the bill, which encompasses a wide range of long-overdue progressive changes to the state’s justice system. The House seems likely to consider a much more conservative bill.

We can send the House a message by flooding our senators with calls expressing our strong support for the reforms. We want the House leadership to see that the public is behind this bill, and we want the Senate to pass by a margin so large it’s impossible to ignore.


Tuesday

Tell the Department of Health and Human Services what you think of their shockingly conservative, fundamentalist-leaning 4-year strategic plan. The plan mentions religion 46 times and says that life begins at conception, a statement that could lead to denying women necessary health services. We have until this Friday, October 27, to comment on the plan. We can either leave comments on individual pages of the draft (life begins at conception appears in the Introduction) or email our thoughts to HHSPlan@hhs.gov.

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.