We Have a Busy Month, But There's Always Time to Celebrate

Summer is a season of action and a season of joy. So as the summer approaches, we need to double down on the work of passing our bold policy agenda, as well as celebrate the successes we’ve had.

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Alphabet Soup Activism: FBRC, ERPO, SCA, and AVR

TL;DR:

  1. Call your state rep about fully funding our schools.
  2. Call your state senator about common sense gun regulations.
  3. Let your state senator and state rep know that it’s time to act on the Safe Communities Act.
  4. Email your state rep in support of voting rights.

Saturday’s convention was exciting, as we saw all three of our endorsed candidates--Jay Gonzalez, Quentin Palfrey, and Josh Zakim--win the party’s endorsement.

But the convention also reminded us of all the work we still have cut out for ourselves this legislative session. The speakers highlighted how Massachusetts needs to do more to set a good example for other states and to fight back against Trump.

And that can’t wait.

Here are a few things that you can do this week.

 

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MA House Takes Action on Gun Safety...on to the Senate

Two weeks ago, the House passed the Extreme Risk Protection Order (“ERPO”) bill, also called the "red flag" bill, by an overwhelming 139-14 (Two Democrats--Colleen Garry and Jonathan Zlotnik--and 12 Republicans voted against it). Groups like Moms Demand Action and the Mass Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence and the bill's lead sponsor Rep. Marjorie Decker put in a lot of work to make that happen.

What does the bill do? It creates a kind of court order that family members and law enforcement can request to temporarily restrict a person's access to guns because they pose a significant danger to themselves or others. When family members are empowered to act, they can prevent warning signs from turning into a mass shooting or gun suicide. Research has demonstrated that Connecticut’s Extreme Risk law has saved between 38 and 76 suicides.

Before the final vote, Democrats beat back a number of amendments that sought to deflect from the issue at hand (Republicans would like to talk about anything other than guns) or set higher standards than exist elsewhere in the judicial system.

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Take Action: Call Your Senator in Support of These Key Budget Amendments

The State Senate will be voting on amendments to its FY 2019 budget next week. The budget makes some modest improvements to education and transit funding, but without new revenue sources, it remains in the same paradigm of underinvestment that has dominated for the past decade and a half (Take it away, MassBudget). 

Passing the Fair Share amendment on the ballot this fall will be a first step toward changing that.

But back to the budget…..

If you have only five minutes this week:

Call your state senator, as well as Senate President Harriette Chandler (617-722-1500) and Senate Ways & Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka (617-722-1640), in support of Amendment 1147 (Eldridge): Civil Rights and Safety.

The Legislature has so far punted and stalled when it comes to their responsibility to protect MA’s immigrant families from Trump’s xenophobic mass deportation agenda. The Safe Communities Act, which Progressive Mass and allies around the state have been fighting for over the past year, has remained stuck in committee.

This amendment contains key provisions of the Safe Communities Act:

  1. No Police Inquiries about Immigration Status
  2. Stop Collaborating with ICE
  3. Provide Basic Due Process Protections

Let your senator know that you support taking action now in support of MA's immigrant families.

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The Legislature Can Take Action to Prevent Sexual Harassment and Assault. Here's How

The #MeToo movement underscored the myriad ways that power imbalances and a toxic culture increase the likelihood of sexual harassment and assault, across industries and across states. According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey data for Massachusetts, nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men in Massachusetts have ever experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape. Nearly 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men in MA have experienced rape, and more than 1 in 7 women have experienced rape.

The Massachusetts Legislature has the opportunity to take action this session by promoting healthy relationships and protecting the rights of those who seek to speak out. But time is short.

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And the Winners Are....!

This year, Massachusetts voters will have the opportunity to make sure that strong progressive candidates get elected up and down the ballot. And that requires important decisions.

At Progressive Massachusetts, we are committed to a vision of shared prosperity, racial and social justice, good governance and strong democracy, and sustainable infrastructure and environmental protection. And we translate that vision into a Legislative Agenda each session. We need allies in elected office who will help us fight for that vision.

Three statewide races will be voted on at the Massachusetts Democratic Party convention on Saturday, June 2nd (one month from today). Earlier this year, we asked candidates to fill out our comprehensive policy questionnaire, and our chapters around the state held forums to get to know the candidates better. Over the past two weeks, we asked our members for their recommendation in each of the three races, and we set a high threshold of 60% to make sure that we have a strong consensus before getting involved in a race.

The results are in……

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Why Does Our Democratic Legislature Largely Adopt Our Governor's Budget?

Last Thursday, the MA House passed its FY2019 budget 150-4. The dissenting votes came from the most conservative quarters of the Republican caucus.

This degree of unanimity seems like the polar opposite of what we see at the national level. Why is that? How do we have such broad bipartisan consensus around the budget year after year?

Let's turn to the recent analysis of the House Ways & Means budget from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. It begins, "The House Ways and Means (HWM) Committee’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget proposal largely aligns with the Governor’s proposal."

In other words, this consensus is achieved by Democrats largely agreeing to the Republican governor's budget. Oh.

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Take Action: A Budget is a Statement of Values (FY2019 House Budget)

As the saying goes, a budget is a statement of values. The FY2019 budget from the MA House, released last week, makes some modest steps forward, but in others, is just standing still (which, as we all know, is another way of moving backwards). Over the past few years, our Democratic Legislature has too often taken its cues for the budget from our Republican governor rather than from the needs of communities around the state.

In other words, we can do better.

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Legislators last week filed a litany of amendments to the budget, and we've highlighted the ones we found most important to advancing our progressive agenda for Massachusetts.

Can you email your State Representative TODAY about these amendments?

(Need to look up his/her info? Find it here.)

 

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Stand Against Discrimination of Transgender People in MA!

As the mother of 2 transgender children, I have had many reasons to be glad that we live in Massachusetts. Our community has been very supportive since my daughters transitioned about 3 years ago, and Massachusetts is one of only 18 states in which my children can enjoy full protection under the law. As you may know, this came about in 2018 when the Legislature passed transgender anti-discrimination legislation, protecting the rights of transgender individuals in all public spaces.  What you may not know, however, is that this legislation is in jeopardy. Very soon after Governor Baker signed this law, opponents collected enough signatures to challenge it on the ballot via a so-called citizen's veto referendum. This November, the rights of my daughters and all other transgender people in Massachusetts will be at stake.

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Criminal Justice Reform Is One Step Closer to a Reality

HRC_(3).pngPDF VERSION - Hard work and advocacy paid off with the release of the criminal justice conference committee’s new CJR bill. This comprehensive bill addresses almost every issue affecting our criminal justice system. When we began this process in 2016, we could not have imagined the setbacks and the hard work that lay ahead. But through the near destruction of the bill when the Council on State Governments process collapsed, the bill--like a phoenix from the ashes--was revitalized, and the legislation emerged even stronger and more sweeping than advocates expected.

Below is a synopsis of the proposed bill. I included the main ask from advocates for reform and what was in the final bill.

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