SCA: When Lawmakers Won't Make Laws

 

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APRIL 1 - PRINTER FRIEINDLY - Here's more on the policies we'll be pushing via the budget process: 

These 3 provisions have broad public support, and extend critical protections to all immigrants.

ALL are from the Safe Communities Act–and are endorsed by the two MA police chief associations.

ALL comply with federal law. Federal law prohibits limiting communications between local and federal agencies about immigration status. It does not require local law enforcement to collect this information.

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Safe Communities Act - A Brief History of Legislative Inaction

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Take Action on Gun Violence -- and Join Us on March 24th

Students from across Massachusetts walked out of class (or, if they had a snow day, out of their homes) to march to the State House to demand action on gun violence.

According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Massachusetts has some of the strongest gun laws in the country and, correspondingly, one of the lowest gun death rates. And we should be proud of that. But the question isn’t whether we’re doing better than other states -- it’s whether we’re doing as best as we can. And there, the answer is a clear no.

The Massachusetts Legislature, however, has the opportunity to strengthen our gun laws this session, although time is short.

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4 Ways to Resist Trump’s Agenda Here in Massachusetts


We’re running out of time in the legislature. We’ve got 4 action items for Pres Day!:

  1. Register for Lobby Day (read more below!)
  2. Make calls this week for Safe Communities (read more!)
  3. Push to increase voter participation (read more!)
  4. Upgrade the Legislature with a progressive legislator (read more!)
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Special Elections have Special Powers

Support Progressive Candidates on the State and Local Level

Finally getting Massachusetts back on track as the progressive leader we once were is a project with many fronts—grassroots organizing, legislative pressure, and electoral change … We need to build a better, more progressive Beacon Hill. Not just in name, but in actual policy-making and priority-setting.

To win on our issues: we need more legislators willing to stand up to the forces in the system that have pulled our policy too far to the right.

 

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2017 in the House: Miderm Review

A guide to the Mid-session Scorecard (View Spreadsheet here, website here) -- All numbers refer to the spreadsheet.

The 190th legislative did not have a very auspicious start.

Both House and Senate fast-tracked a bill to give pay increases to the Senate President, Speaker of the House, judges, the governor, and other constitutional officers; raise stipends to appointed committee chairs and select other legislative leaders; and increase the number of legislators eligible for stipends (1h).

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2017 in the Senate: Midterm Review

A guide to the Mid-session Scorecard (View Spreadsheet here, website here) -- All numbers refer to the spreadsheet.

The 190th legislative did not have a very auspicious start. Both House and Senate fast-tracked a bill to give pay increases to the Senate President, Speaker of the House, judges, the governor, and other constitutional officers; raise stipends to appointed committee chairs and select other legislative leaders; and increase the number of legislators eligible for stipends (1s). Here at Progressive Mass, we understand that it is important that elected officials be paid well for the work that they do (especially so that they don’t seek more lucrative work that leads to a host of conflicts of interest), but the bill reflected the endemic problems of Beacon Hill. It lacked any semblance of deliberative, democratic process, and its ultimate effect was to centralize power further in Leadership, creating a more hierarchical and less democratic Legislature. It also left out woefully underpaid staffers from the pay increase---and the countless workers across the Commonwealth facing stagnant and sub-livable wages. In short, we deserve better from our Legislature.

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Progressive Needham Sends Delegates to Convention

After a packed general chapter meeting on Friday night at the Kirks' home, many Progressive Needham members got up early the next morning to Caucus with the Needham Dems. 

It was a mini-reunion the next day, with many first-timers, as well as many people who had caucused before, but not in many years. 

 

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CAUCUSES: a chance to lean on the system

From our friends in the Progressive Needham chapter, a useful graphic on caucuses--and, below, some suggestions about how one might organize/engage to affect the electoral landscape

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From February 3 to March 4, local Democratic town and ward committees across the state will be holding caucuses to elect delegates to the 6/2 Mass Dems Convention

Find your caucus location here: massdems.org/convention/2018-caucus-dates

Caucuses are one of the opportunities activists, organizers, and regular ol' concerned citizens have to exert some pressure on a "machine" (the electoral and Political Party apparatus).

By attending your caucus, you can vote for progressive delegates, and/or run as one yourself.

Bring the Progressive Mass Endorsement Questionnaires for Governor to your caucus (and, as they come in, those for for other statewide candidates). "Who are you supporting for Governor?" is going to be a popular topic of discussion! It's a great resources to share, browse during the boring bits, and give you material to ask follow-up questions. 

Check in with your Progressive Mass chapter and fellow members to ask if the group wants to organize for your Caucus. (There may already be a plan. If there isn't, offer to help get one started! Turn great ideas into action!). 

Below are some broad suggestions to get started on electoral work, in addition to Caucusing, whether on your own or with a group.

OTHER GRASSROOTS OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENGAGEMENT/SHAPING THE
ELECTION

ongoing! - AMPLIFY/ADVOCATE:Use our materials materials (questionnaire, platform, agenda) to frame discussions and debates. Ask candidates follow-up questions. Raise issues you’re not hearing enough about. Remember, before you give your support,a candidate has a great incentive (trying to earn it!) to hear out your questions and concerns!  

ongoing! - ORGANIZE/EDUCATE your Community on progressive issues (including,sharing materials like questionnaire, platform, agenda). Work with your PM Chapter to host candidate andissue forums (volunteer to be organizational lead! great ideas need people to turn into action!).

soon - PM ENDORSEMENT: By joining together in endorsements as an organization, our members increase all of our voices/power, individually,locally, and as a progressive movement. Our endorsement is comprised of individuals’votes. Weigh your vote thoughtfully. Organize other members for the candidate you believe is the best candidate (or for non-endorsement, should that be your conclusion).

feb. 3-mar.4—DELEGATES & CAUCUSES: Run for delegate. Support delegates who caucus for progressiveplatform/issues, organize caucuses for candidates/issues you value as progressive. Once delegates are elected, reach out to yours: work to persuade them to vote for PM-endorsed candidates at convention.

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Achieving Liberty and Justice for All

The following letter was drafted by Caroline Bays and Jonathan Cohn from the PM Issues Committee and transmitted to the CJR conferees: 

House Chairwoman Claire Cronin, Joint Committee on the Judiciary

Senate Chairman William Brownsberger, Joint Committee on the Judiciary

Majority Leader Ronald Mariano

Chairwoman Cynthia Creem, Senate Committee on Bills in Third Reading

Ranking House Minority Member Sheila Harrington, Joint Committee on the Judiciary

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr

 

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January 17, 2018

 

Dear Members of the House-Senate Conference Committee:

The Massachusetts incarceration rate, while low compared to other states, is three to four times higher than that of European countries. In fact, there are only seven countries with a higher incarceration rate than Massachusetts.

There has been a growing consensus that the policies of the “tough on crime” era were misguided. They did not make us safer, but instead entrenched lasting racial and economic inequities. Studies have shown that high levels of incarceration have devastating consequences for minority communities, including an increase in crime, poverty, and homelessness. They prevent individuals and communities from thriving and living up to their full potential and make cherished rhetoric of “liberty and justice for all” ring hollow.

We are grateful to the House and the Senate for their exhaustive work on Criminal Justice legislation. Both the House and Senate bills have many excellent provisions, and in the following letter, we identify (a) essential provisions in both bills that should be included in a final Conference report, (b) places where one bill or the other was superior and whose provisions merit inclusion, and (c) a few places where the bills stray from their intent. The subsequent recommendations will best help to achieve our mutual goal of ending mass incarceration in Massachusetts.

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