CSfC January 18 2017 Organizing Meeting Issue Breakout Next Steps


Economic Fairness
Climate Change
Health Care
Criminal Justice Reform 

(more after the jump)

Economic Fairness
Issue: Reduce income inequality

Raise Up MA is a statewide coalition of labor, community and faith groups fighting income inequality through state legislative measures that increase economic justice.  RUM’s current campaigns include:
  • Fight for $15 (FFF): Legislation will be filed this month to raise the state’s minimum wage by $1 each year over four years until it is $15 an hour in 2021. The minimum wage would then be adjusted each year to rise along with increases in the cost of living. It would also increase the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers, currently $3.75 an hour, over 8 years until it is equal to the regular minimum wage.
  • The Fair Share Amendment (FSA) would amend the MA Constitution to create an additional 4% tax on annual income above one million dollars. The new revenue generated could only be spent on transportation and education.  The law must get the support of ¼ of the legislature in successive constitutional conventions, then pass at the ballot.  It passed the first “con-con” last year, a second is expected this year, then it will be on the ballot in 2018.  
  • Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML): Legislation would make employees eligible for job-protected paid leave to recover from a serious illness or injury, to care for a seriously ill family member, or to care for a new child.  Maximum weekly benefits would be either $650 or $1,000, leave would last up to either 12 or 16 weeks to care for a family member or new child, and up to 26 weeks for an employee’s own serious illness or injury.  Benefits would be funded through employer contributions and employers could require employees to contribute up to 50% of the cost of premiums.

Possible Actions:
From now until February 2 (the deadline for legislators to co-sponsor bills) RUM will focus on getting legislators to co-sponsor FFF and PFML, and commit to vote to put FSA on the ballot.  Actions that RUM is asking member groups to take on, and which CSfC could claim, include:

  1. Taking responsibility for getting commitments from our local legislators;
  2. Hosting a Hubdialer (high efficiency predictive dialer) shift on January 24, 25 or February 1, from 11am-3pm, to ask voters to call their legislators;
  3. Sending a group to join others at the State House on Jan. 24 to lobby legislators;
  4. Sending blast emails and share digital content with our members about the bills.  

All CSfC members are also invited to the next meeting of the RUM Grassroots Committee, Jan. 26, 12pm, SEIU 32BJ, 26 West St., Boston, 2nd floor.

Climate Change

Issue: Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
There are two pieces of legislation, priorities of The Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM), that will be on the docket this session.  We can expect additional relevant bills to be proposed.
  1. An Act Combating Climate Change addresses the need to reduce our use of fossil fuels by imposing a fee on carbon.
  2. An Act relative to Recycling seeks to reduce solid waste and increase recycling.

Possible actions
  1. Have constituents meet with their legislators to let them know what environmental issues are important to them. Make sure to bring up relevant bills that are on the docket.  
  2. Write letters to the editor and submit them to newspapers that serve communities with legislators whose records suggest they may not support legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Contact people you know in these communities and ask them to contact their legislators about support for specific legislation..
  4. Work to defeat Governor Baker, initially by supporting strong Democratic candidates during the primary season.
  5. Get environmental-interested voters to actually vote.

Health Care
Affordable Care Act
The Congressional strategy around Obamacare is changing. The GOP promised to repeal the ACA but have disagreements within the party about what that looks like, what they will replace it with, and when any of that will occur. Unfortunately, we don’t know what the future holds for the Affordable Care Act at this time. As concerned citizens living in a blue state, the best thing we can do is to share our stories by writing to newspapers, blogs, and to our communities and to contact our legislators to remind people of the importance of universal access to health care. January 15th was a day of action and local groups are using the networks created by that day to hold further rallies. With ACA Repeal, Top 400 Households Get Tax Cuts Worth More than Premium Tax Credits for 800,000 People in 20 States and D.C.
Medicare and Medicaid changes
In addition to the changes in the Affordable Care Act, Paul Ryan and Congressional Republicans are pushing to make cuts and changes to Medicare and Medicaid programs to reduce government expenses. Ryan’s plan would encourage private plan participation in Medicare and would begin to dismantle the universal nature of the Medicare program. Republicans have been pushing to use block grants for the Medicaid program. This would mean states are given a lump sum rather than paid for services used for health care for low-income residents. This reduced Medicaid funding would mean cutbacks in services and reductions to who could be covered by these plans. Medicaid insurance coverage is especially critical during public health epidemics such as the opioid crisis or in times of economic recession.
Planned Parenthood
Congress is planning to stop all Medicaid reimbursement and funding for services provided by Planned Parenthood. Republican Senators Murkowski of Alaska and Collins of Maine oppose this restriction. Contact family and friends from Alaska and Maine to ask them to write or call their senators to thank them for their support for Planned Parenthood and to ask them to encourage other senators to join them in opposing these cuts. Share your stories of support of Planned Parenthood in letters to the editor and in other outlets.
Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts- Governor Baker- Massachusetts is in a waiting game to see what happens at the national level. Governor Baker has been invited to speak at various governors’ conferences on health care but has said little to indicate his position. He needs to hear from constituents in support of the ACA and “Romneycare” continuing in Massachusetts. Representatives – Difficult decisions around spending will be seen in Massachusetts if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. Massachusetts depends heavily on federal IT and money from CMS for IT systems.
Contraception Coverage Background - No copayments on contraception coverage is a national policy that can be overturned without Congressional approval. Massachusetts can require no copayments for contraceptive coverage for individual market/Medicaid/small insurance. What can I do? Write or call your local representatives!
Proposed cuts to disability services Background-Disabled people over 65 are going to see limits on coverage. While this is a federal requirement. The state has done little to increase spending and services for elderly/disabled residents in recent years. What can I do? Write or call your local representatives!
Issue: Expand Sanctuary City Protections to the Entire State - the Trust Act

Details: State Senator Jamie Eldridge of Acton has introduced "An Act to restore community trust in Massachusetts law enforcement" several times, in previous legislative sessions.

Cambridge and Somerville are already "Sanctuary Cities"

3 UC-Irvine Law Professors in the Washington Post: Trump can’t force ‘sanctuary cities’ to enforce his deportation plans https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-cant-force-sanctuary-cities-to-enforce-his-deportation-plans/2016/12/22/421174d4-c7a4-11e6-85b5-76616a33048d_story.html?utm_term=.371121db3169

An MA Trust Act overview from the Hampshire Gazette, from December 2016:

Grunder said many voted against the Trust Act in previous legislative cycles because of a misunderstanding over what it prohibits.
She said the law would not restrict local law enforcement from sharing a person’s immigration status with federal officials, especially if the person is a dangerous or repeat offender.
The Trust Act would, however, give local law enforcement the power to withhold other information from federal authorities. The act would also allow local officials to decline requests to hold someone in custody longer than necessary because of immigration status.
“The incoming administration is echoing efforts by some members of Congress to suggest that sanctuary policies are illegal because they don’t apply with federal law,” she said. “I think it’s really important right now for this state … to stand up for its residents and to distinguish itself as a leader in the United States of America in response to the targeting of immigrant communities.”
Grunder applauded many Massachusetts towns and cities for making that stand over the last several years. But she remains concerned that a change in leadership could mean a change in policy within individual departments. The Trust Act would create a legally binding plan that would remain despite a change in leadership.
“The problem with informal and non-legislative solutions is all you need is a different police chief, and the policy will change,” she said.

Possible actions
  1. Ask legislators to co-sponsor Trust Act legislation in the state house and senate.
  2. Meet with legislators to express citizen support for protecting undocumented immigrants and the legislation that will extend these protections.
  3. Hold community meetings to educate friends and neighbors about the issues and legislative remedies.
  4. Have constituents meet with their legislators to let them know what immigration issues are important to them.
  5. Write letters to the editor and submit them to newspapers that serve communities with legislators whose records suggest they may not support legislation to protect undocumented immigrants.
  6. Contact people you know in these communities and ask them to contact their legislators about support for specific legislation.
  7. Work to defeat Governor Baker, initially by supporting strong Democratic candidates during the primary season.

Issue: Inconsistent adherence to Sanctuary City municipal laws

Details: Boston Police have been exploiting a loophole in Boston's sanctuary city laws, collaborating with ICE https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/01/01/despite-trust-act-boston-police-handed-over-immigrants-for-deportation/XYZyQbxytbN2z6WpnN8ArM/story.html

Possible Actions
  1. Request city councillors hold hearings on this problem.
  2. Ask Mayor Walsh to take a position on correcting this problem.
  3. Ask Cambridge and Somerville municipal officials to confirm that this is not a problem in our cities.
  4. Ask Cambridge and Somerville municipal officials to reaffirm their commitment to sanctuary city status.

Issue: Sheriff's’ Collaborating with ICE
  1. Massachusetts county Sheriffs are elected and may respond to political pressure.
    1. Mayors and state legislators are likely to be influential with sheriffs

Possible Actions
  1. Letters to the editor in local newspapers
  2. Meetings with sheriffs

Criminal Justice Reform

In August 2015, Gov. Baker, along with Senate President Rosenberg and Speaker DeLeo, asked the Council of State Governments to prepare a series of reports on criminal justice in Massachusetts and how it could be improved. The final report is due soon, and it will almost certainly kick off major efforts to reform criminal justice in our state, but many of those watching the process are worried that the final report will not go far enough. In particular, the interim reports have ignored both legislative issues, like mandatory minimum sentences and expanded parole, and actions within the power of the Governor, like improving reentry programs and reducing the use of solitary confinement.

This is an issue that will be directly in front of the Governor and the Legislature this year, and decisions that are made (or not made) now will have effects for years or decades to come. We have an opportunity to help shape this reform package.

Possible Actions:

Coordination with other groups working in this space. (Jobs Not Jail, Criminal Justice Policy Coalition, End Mass Incarceration Together and others).

Calls and letters to the offices of Gov. Baker, President Rosenberg, Speaker DeLeo and Chief Justice Gants, who are overseeing the report process.

Meetings with local representatives to ensure that they are aware of this effort and ready to make sure that it results in real, comprehensive reform.

Letters to the editor and other public visibility efforts.

Meetings with other groups that have an interest in criminal justice reform. (Local law enforcement? Municipal governments? Other ideas?)


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Cambridge-Somerville for Change is an all-volunteer community group dedicated to harnessing the grassroots energy and spirit of change inspired by the Obama campaign. Our organizing work includes electoral and issue-based campaigns at the local, state, and national level. Our members have chosen to work on promoting economic fairness, comprehensive health care reform, creating policies that conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide for fair and adequate access to public transportation, and promoting in-state tuition for immigrant youth.

This is an organization built by and for you, the community, and we look forward to your participation and feedback. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions about getting involved, please email
info@ cambridgesomervilleforchange.com
or call us at
(617) 302-7324.

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