LEGISLATIVE ACTION - WEEK BEGINNING April 24th:
You have 6 main representatives - 2 US senators, 1 US congressperson, 1 State senator, 1 State Congressperson and Governor Dayton. To find out their names and contact details, click on this link and put in your address - http://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/ The link to Governor Dayton’s office is - https://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/
Below are the bills and issues, state and national level, that your representatives need to hear about from you this week. Choose the ones you care about and e-mail, call, write, or tweet your representatives with your thoughts. If possible, add a personal story about how this bill or issue will affect you or someone close to you.
STATE LEVEL - We are into the final month of this legislative session. Bills are being voted on in the House and Senate every day. Some have already passed and are headed to Governor Dayton for possible veto. (For more information on the bills see this website and enter the bill number - http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/)
1. "No" to attack on women's Reproductive Rights.
There are a number of different bills that aim to reduce women's access to safe and legal reproductive care in Minnesota.
a) HF809 eliminates access to abortions for low-income women. Women on low-income health plans, who also receive medical assistance, would no longer be covered for this type of procedure.
HF812 singles out women’s healthcare facilities to adhere to onerous licensure requirements, beyond what is necessary for patient health and safety. This will result in clinic closures.
The two following bills passed in the House on 04/24.
Contact Governor Mark Dayton and Lt Governor Tina Smith and tell why it is so important for ALL Minnesotan women to be able to make the reproductive healthcare choices that are right for them and their families, no matter what their financial and insurance situations are.
b) SF704 also singles out women’s healthcare facilities to adhere to onerous licensure requirements, beyond what is necessary for patient health and safety. This will result in clinic closures. This bill will go to the floor on Wednesday 26th April. Please contact your state senators and tell them why it is so important for Minnesotan women to have access to safe and legal abortions.
2. "No" to attack on local control, repeal of Minneapolis minimum wage increase and Twin Cities' paid sick leave.
Anti-worker pre-emption bill (SF580 - used to be HF600) passed in the Senate last week despite huge public opposition. (It was close: 35 - 31). This bill strips local governments of the power to set standards for wages and working conditions that are higher than the state’s. It silences the voices of community organizers within their own local governments, and disproportionately effects workers of color.
Examples of what this will mean in real terms - it will repeal the minimum wage increase recently secured in Minneapolis, and take away paid sick leave from 150,000 people in the Twin Cities. It will also block the DNR from ever totally banning lead shot, and cities from ever banning plastic bags.
For more about the bill see: https://www.minnpost.com/community-voices/2017/02/statewide-preemption-most-dangerous-bill-you-ve-never-heard
Last heard was that Governor Dayton has not made up his mind on whether to veto this bill or not. Please contact the Governor and Lt Governor Tina Smith and let them know your thoughts on this bill.
3. "No" to Public Transport cuts and Fare Hikes.
A concerted effort by MN GOP to stifle, defund and rollback Metro Transit, particularly light rail, is underway. This will impact families and workers who rely on transit every day. This will affect the inner city, the city in general as well as the suburbs, and particularly hurt the elderly and the disabled.
a) These bills will come to the floor very soon: HF 1480 raises fares; HF2058 makes it more expensive to build light-rail systems by removing eminent domain exceptions just for light-rail (not for any other types of transportation); SF1490 prevents the council from undertaking light rail projects (and only light rail) without the legislature approving it.
Contact your representative and senator to tell them to oppose these bills when they come to the floor.
b) This bill has been voted on and passed and goes into conference committee on Tuesday 25th 3pm: HF861 – Transportation Finance Omnibus. It cuts public transportation funds in the Twin Cities by 40%, eliminates the southwest light rail project and cuts all state funding for light-rail projects. Basically, it’s extremely hostile to public transportation. We need a good and well-funded transit system in the city to accommodate growth and mobility for people who cannot afford cars. Additionally, light rail has a lower per person subsidy than buses so it does not make financial sense to cut rail.
If any of these reps and senators are yours, contact them asap and tell them why you want them to oppose this bill: Senator Scott Newman, Sen. Jasinski, Sen. Kiffmeyer, Sen. Osmek, Sen. Sparks and Representative Paul Torkelson, Rep. Petersburg, Rep. Howe, Rep. Runbeck, and Rep. Koznick
Otherwise, contact the Governor and tell him to oppose these bills and stand strong on supporting transit riders and affordable, equitable, and clean transportation options in the metro. A healthy public transport system is an essential part of vibrant city life.
Here’s what CBS Minnesota has to say on the cuts to Metro Transit:
4. "No" to anti-protest bills.
SF 803 (Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance bill) contains two anti-protest provisions: one increases the charges for obstructing a highway or near an airport to a gross misdemeanor; the other makes it a crime to block transit. The punishment for both will be up to a year in prison and $3000 in charges. These actions are already illegal, and the new provisions are excessive and unnecessarily penalize protestors, and appear to be aimed at silencing the voices of groups like Black Lives Matter.
The bill also contains a provision that allows the state to use for-profit, private prisons. Prisons should be focused on rehabilitation, not keeping beds full to maximize profits.
Contact the Governor and Lt Governor to let them know why you think these provisions are wrong and should be vetoed.
5. Other important issues and bills to choose from to contact Governor Dayton about. These have passed or are about to pass in the House and Senate and are headed to the Governor to consider for veto. It’s time to let Governor Dayton know how crucial it is to stay strong in support of progressive values. We will keep adding to this list.
• Oppose provisions that defund the Pre-K program. (HF890)
• Oppose underfunding our public schools. (Dayton’s budget plan calls for $900 million, the Republican plan $300 million. (HF890)
• Oppose tax credits for donations to private schools (aka “neo-vouchers). (HF4/SF2255)
• Oppose Republican plan to shift money earmarked for Public Education and Health (in the General Fund) to transportation infrastructure and claiming to deliver bridges and roads without raising taxes. (HF4)
• Oppose the defunding, delaying and gutting of existing environmental protections, including buffer laws, the Environmental Quality Board, and citizen control of environmental review boards. (All in HF888)
• Oppose the plastic bag pre-emption language that prevents cities from passing laws that minimize use of plastic bags. (HF2209 and HF4.)
• Oppose efforts to undermine or block public transport including light rail. (HF861/SF1060; HF4/SF2255)
• Oppose undermining Minnesota Care, as politicians move to get control of healthcare costs (HF5/SF720).
• Oppose Stand your Ground legislation (Stand-alone bill HF238).
• Oppose the House Real ID bill that doesn’t allow undocumented drivers to get a license (Stand-alone bill HF3).
NATIONAL LEVEL - Updated 4/17
1. Defend federal funding for "sanctuary cities"
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has threatened to withhold Justice Department grant funding from jurisdictions that refuse to disclose people's immigration status to the federal government. This policy targets the nation's approximately 60 "sanctuary cities," which include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, and Boston, that have refused to cooperate with federal ICE deportations of noncriminal undocumented immigrants. This proposal is at odds with the Tenth Amendment, though Sessions hopes to get around this problem by only cutting funding to local and state law enforcement In this way the Trump administration and Jeff Sessions are interfering with state and local policy, violating the Constitution and undermining local governments' ability to protect their people.
Contact the U.S. Department of Justice - who are driving legislation related to this issue - on tel: 202 353 1555, and let them know that you think this proposal is unconstitutional and will only to serve to endanger public safety.
2. Call for an Independent Investigation of Trump’s Ties to Russia
The FBI has said that Russia interfered in our elections and we need to know what Trump’s campaign knew about this. For this we need an independent investigation lead by an independent prosecutor. Instead, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, insists on holding hearings in secret, behind closed doors and is clearly protecting the Trump White House. Ranking Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, is demanding an independent commission to fully investigate Trumps ties to Russia and so should we.
Contact your US MoCs and tell them that this issue is too important to be hidden from the full view of the American people and to take the investigation out of the hands of partisan Members of Congress. Tell your US Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 356, the Protecting our Democracy Act, which would create a special commission to investigate Russian interference into our elections. Tell your US Senator to co-sponsor S. 27, which would similarly create an independent commission to investigate Russian interference in our democratic institutions.
3. “No” to Trump’s Budget Proposal
In order to pay for increased spending on Defense (54 billion), the Wall (2.6 billion) and De Vos’s School Voucher Program (1.4 billion), Trump’s draft budget cuts the EPA by 30%, the State Dept by 29%, Ag Dept. by 21%, and the list goes on - education, arts, housing & urban dev, health & human services. This is not okay. Let your US MoCs know what you feel about this budget. The real budget is due to come out on 1st May.
Dear Representative/Senator_________________, Please oppose Trump’s Budget attacks on federal government programs – it is cruel and ill-advised. We need to be investing in education, protecting the environment, looking after the sick, poor and elderly. This budget will impact the most vulnerable in our country and it will make our country poorer in so many ways.