YDMA July Policy Newsletter: Time to Take Action

This is the second newsletter for the ‘18-’19 YDMA Policy Committee. We work to bring YDMA members together to discuss how we can help one another move the policy conversation in a productive direction.
Our newsletter will highlight:

  • Opportunities to persuade your state & federal officials on policy
  • Events you can participate in to learn more about state, local & federal policy
  • Tools & resources for making policy change
  • Opportunities to connect with fellow policy advocates

Congressional Action Alert

It takes phone calls from 5 people or emails from 8 people to convince a legislator an issue is important to constituents (and don’t worry — a voicemail counts just the same as a call).

Call your legislators to PRAISE them for good votes. Positive reinforcement lets them know they are voting how their constituents want them to.

Call your legislators to URGE them to take action. Remember, when the people are awake, politicians respond.

Make your life easier in the future by storing the numbers of Senators Elizabeth Warren (202-224-4543) and Ed Markey (202-224-2742), as well as your Congressperson, into your phone.

Don’t know who your Congressperson is? You can find out here.

CD1 Neal (202) 225-5601

CD2 McGovern (202) 225-6101
CD3 Tsongas (202) 225.3411
CD4 Kennedy (202) 225-5931
CD5 Clark (202) 225-2836

CD6 Moulton (202) 225-8020
CD7 Capuano (202) 225-5111
CD8 Lynch (202) 225-8273
CD9 Keating (202) 225-3111

Here are two YDMA-endorsed bills to call about now:

The College for All Act (H.R.1880/S.806) would establish a grant program to eliminate tuition and required fees (1) for all students at community colleges and two-year tribal colleges and universities, and (2) for working- and middle-class students at four-year public institutions of higher education (IHEs). Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Mike Capuano (MA-07) are both co-sponsors, but the rest of the MA delegation are not. Action: Thank Warren and Capuano, and urge the rest of the delegation to sign on.

The At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act of 2018 (H.R.1925/S.874) would require that state Medicaid programs not terminate a juvenile’s medical assistance eligibility because he/she is incarcerated. A state could suspend coverage while the juvenile is incarcerated, but must restore coverage upon release without requiring a new application. No member of the MA delegation has signed yet, but that’s where you come in.

Can you call your Senator Warren, Senator Markey, and YOUR Rep in support of these bills?

State House Update: Voting Rights, Reproductive Rights Bills Advance

Last week, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation to adopt Automatic Voter Registration, after passing overwhelmingly in the House two weeks prior. AVR, which YDMA voted to endorse last year, is a simple and important reform designed to increase political participation and strengthen voting rights by shifting our voter registration system from an opt-in to an opt-out one, making elections more free, fair, and accessible for all. Under AVR, every eligible citizen who interfaces with the RMV or MassHealth be automatically registered to vote, unless they say no. Currently, almost 700,000 eligible Massachusetts  citizens are unregistered.

In Oregon, the first state to adopt AVR, studies have shown great success at increasing youth registration and turnout rates. With the federal government and Republican-dominated states waging an assault on voting rights, it’s more important than ever to strengthen them here at home.

With the looming resignation of Justice Kennedy, the future of Roe vs. Wade and reproductive rights is at stake. If Roe vs. Wade were to be repealed, then various archaic restrictions on women’s reproductive rights that had been nullified by Roe become law. Back in January, the MA Senate voted to pass the NASTY Women Act, which would repeal these archaic laws — such as a ban on unmarried women’s use of contraception, the criminalization of the distribution of contraception, an abortion prohibition from the 1800s, and a requirement that abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy must be performed in a hospital. Earlier today, the House passed the bill as well by an overwhelming vote of 138 to 9.

State House Action Alert: Call Your State Representative on These Vital Bills

The Legislative session ends in less than two weeks, and the clock is ticking. Your State Rep needs to hear from you about these priorities.  

Ensure Medically Accurate, LGBTQ-Inclusive Sex Ed: Last year, the MA Senate passed the the Healthy Youth Act (H3704), which would ensure comprehensive, medically accurate, and LGBTQ-inclusive sex education is taught in schools that choose to offer sex education. Especially in light of the #MeToo movement, it’s important to teach young people about the importance of consent and provide them with the tools to build healthy relationships.

Preventing Wage Theft: In June, the Senate passed An Age to Prevent Wage Theft and Promote Employer Accountability (S2574), which would hold contractors liable for wage theft and empower the Attorney General’s office to take stronger action to prevent wage theft. Wage theft, which includes practices like not paying the minimum wage, not paying overtime, misclassifying employees, or not paying them at all, affects 350,000 workers in MA each year, with $700 million in stolen wages.

Protecting Immigrants’ Rights: In May, the Senate passed four key provisions of the Safe Communities Act (H3269/S1305) as part of the budget: (1) No police inquiries about immigration status, (2) Stop collaborating with ICE, (3) Provide basic due process protections, and (4) No registries based on religion or nationality. However, these provisions were left out of the Conference budget that both Houses passed today. As ICE terrorizes immigrant communities around MA and the country, it’s time for our electeds to stand in support of basic civil rights and finally pass the Safe Communities Act.

Can you call your state representative in support of these legislative priorities?

Policy Tools & Resources

The Appeal (@theappeal) is a new newsletter on the local politics of mass incarceration & criminal justice reform, with a focus on lower-profile local elections (DA, Sheriff, & more). If interested, you can subscribe to it here.
The Just Post is a newsletter about social justice events and actions in Massachusetts, with a focus on the Boston Metro area (especially Cambridge). You can subscribe here.

FoodTank is an established newsletter, covering equitable food system policy. You can subscribe here.

Demos is hosting a webinar on Monday at 7:30 PM on messaging about race, class, and bold policy solutions. You can sign up here.

Have suggestions for the August Policy newsletter? Send them to YDMA Policy Director Solomon Steen at sols@gwu.edu!