Not Having It: Rep. Calter claps back at Mass Fiscal

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Mass Fiscal is sending out postcards to voters designed to mislead and provoke a backlash against the Safe Communities Act. We were delighted to receive Rep. Calter's comprehensive and emailed response to his constituents.

Bravo and thank you Rep. Calter, for being a strong advocate for due process, keeping our communities SAFE, and rejecting xenophobic fear tactics. 

The email is quoted in full below: 

As you may be aware, Mass Fiscal Alliance sent out post cards to residents that misrepresents the substantive elements of House Bill 3269, The Safe Communities Act. Because Mass Fiscal Alliance has a total disregard for truths that do not support its radical political agenda, I now need to set the record straight.

The legislation I co-sponsored does not even address the issue of Sanctuary Cities. It is an act that ensures that our Massachusetts tax dollars are devoted to protecting our communities and not to the enforcement of Federal immigration laws that fall under the sole authority of ICE(Immigration and Customs Enforcement). 

To learn more about what The Safe Communities Act does and does not do, please read below:

On January 23, 2017, the Trump administration introduced an aggressive immigration enforcement agenda that relies on the conscription of state and local law enforcement and facilities to identify and detain immigrants. This agenda is already having far-reaching consequences in our communities, and raises major public safety, public health, economic and civil rights concerns. A federal court has already ruled that such coercion is unconstitutional because-among other things-it violates the 10th amendment prohibition on commandeering state resources for federal purposes. 

It is no coincidence that The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was the first in the nation to find that state laws don't allow us to hold a person on an ICE detainer; doing so violates Massachusetts statute.

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The House Can Strengthen Criminal Justice Reform

Mon, Tue, Wed of this week (Nov. 13-15), the Massachusetts House will start voting on a comprehensive criminal justice reform. The House bill, as expected, is not as comprehensive or as progressive as the Senate bill.

We must work to make it better before the vote on its final form: we must contact our State Representatives, NOW, loudly, and in as large numbers as we can. 

The House will be voting on amendments Monday through Wednesday. 

It's vitally important representatives hear that you want to see a stronger bill that delivers on the promise of comprehensive criminal justice reform. Mass incarceration has proven socially a socially and economically damaging phenomenon, and it's time for Massachusetts to move beyond it.

Email/call your Representative TODAY (a copy/paste email script is here: progma.us/cjr-house-2017nov) and tell them to support/oppose the amendments below (when you're done--take a sec and let us know you called/contacted your Rep: it helps us know where we need to target more!). We'll be tracking the progress on these measures in the spreadsheet below. 

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Senate "Report Card" on the Criminal Justice Reform Bill

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 Download our hypertext, navigable, annotated s2185 roll call PDF packet, here: progressivemass.com/cjr-sen-rollcallpacket.

In the wee hours of Oct. 27, the State Senate passed a historic Criminal Justice Reform bill 27 to 10 (See our "first take" analysis here).

Although four Democrats--Eileen Donoghue, Anne Gobi, Kathleen O’Conor Ives, and Mike Rush--joined the Senate’s six Republicans in voting NO, Senate Democrats still achieved the magic number of 27, the number necessary to override a veto from Governor Charlie Baker.

Progressives fought hard and were able to get a number of big wins. But DAs and police departments also fought hard against true reform (and won some things to). They will be fighting hard again as the House prepares to vote. So should we. 

CJR Roll Calls

The Senate considered 163 amendments to the underlying reform bill. Many were adopted or rejected by voice vote, or simply withdrawn. But those which were roll called offer a great window into whether legislators are fighting for progressive values or not. When the question “Whose side are you on?” gets asked, you can see how they respond.

As we have described before, roll call votes on amendments are the only record of an individual legislator’s vote. In taking the measure of your legislator, these are the tools before us, and the limitations are obvious: when not all votes are individually recorded (voice vote/not roll called), the picture will be skewed by what roll calls we DO have. The question as to why the Legislature does not routinely take roll calls is an important one, and it gets to issues of transparency and individual voters’ ability to hold legislators accountable to their votes. There were some terrible provisions that passed (or failed) only on voice vote. There were some good ones that passed (or failed) only on voice vote, too. We can’t tell you how your legislator voted on them because we don’t have the record. (But you could ask!).

Methodology

In the Report Card below, we scored 17 amendments and the vote on the final bill. We did not include amendments with unanimous or nearly unanimous votes without a real stand for progressive values or against misguided “tough on crime” fear-mongering.

Overview of Results

Five senators consistently voted to keep a strong bill intact and further improve it: Joe Boncore, Sonia Chang-Diaz, Cindy Creem, Jamie Eldridge, and Pat Jehlen have a perfect score on our CJR report card. If you live in their district, you should thank them. (If you don’t, tell your own Senator how much you appreciate their leadership!)

Following them were a dozen Democrats with (mostly) As or (some) Bs: Mike Barrett, Will Brownsberger, Majority Leader Harriette Chandler, Julian Cyr, Sal DiDomenico, Linda Dorcena Forry, Cindy Friedman, Adam Hinds, Jason Lewis, Tom McGee, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, and Ways & Means Chair Karen Spilka. They almost always held the line and should be thanked as well.

Like the Senate’s six Republicans, eleven Democrats worked hard for their F, voting for the progressive position less than half the time: Michael Brady, Eileen Donoghue, Anne Gobi, Joan Lovely, Michael Moore, Kathleen O’Connor Ives, Marc Pacheco, Michael Rodrigues, Mike Rush, Walter Timilty, and James Welch. That said, Brady, Lovely, Moore, Rodrigues, Timilty, and Welch still voted for the final bill (unlike Rush, Gobi, O’Connor Ives, and Donoghue--Pacheco was absent) and deserve your thanks for that.

And, though several Senators (many of whom have been backed by progressive forces in their elections and have cited their liberal cred when it’s easy and useful) were disappointing in their failure to stand up at critical junctures, ultimately, it is a testament to the Senate leadership as well as the work of advocates (like YOU) that efforts to roll back the progress in the bill were defeated

So what actually happened in all those amendments? Read a deep dive into what they were all about here, and find out how your senator voted below.

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