Thanks to everyone who attended our group meeting yesterday and shared inspiring stories and excellent questions. We had a visit from surprise guest Maryland State Senator Rich Madaleno, who graciously shared some updates on state legislative issues from Annapolis and offered some guidance for how groups like ours can advocate effectively at the state level. We also heard from our issue groups, who have all been BUSY fighting for progressive values and holding our elected officials accountable! Kudos all around to everyone for lots of progress since our last gathering. Notes from the meeting are available via Google Doc (for those who missed it, feel free to ask me or someone else who attended about the “bee story” next time!).
Here is your weekly action plan:
- Our group will soon have a website that will house information about what our issue groups are working on, a calendar of events, and resources to support our advocacy efforts! Watch for an email with a link soon…
- We now have a group email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to share it with anyone interested in contacting us.
- We will set a date for our next meeting and ask folks to RSVP in advance to ensure we book the right size space.
ISSUE GROUP UPDATES
- Call to Action: Support Maryland Health Insurance Protection Act (SB 571 and HB 909) in the Maryland General Assembly which would assess the impact of potential federal changes to healthcare programs and make recommendations for State and local action to protect access of Maryland residents to affordable health coverage. Call your local delegates and senator and, probably more importantly, contact Governor Hogan during regular business hours at 410-974-3901. Ask him to speak out against slashing health coverage for thousands of Maryland residents. Ask that he support the Health Commission Bills.
- Alert: Federal H.R. 1313 (“Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act”). This bill is separate from the AHCA, and is moving through Congress. It would allow employers to require workers to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars. Under the guise of “employee wellness,” it would threaten health privacy and lay the foundation for discrimination based on genetics. And, it would set employees up to marketed to by a whole host of companies trying to sell services based on genetic pre-disposition. Click here for draft language you can use when writing (or calling) elected officials to oppose the bill.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
- Call to Action: Demand the USDA restore animal welfare records: APHIS (Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture) scrubbed thousands of online records relating to the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act. These records have allowed for transparency in the treatment of animals by research labs, breeders, circuses, zoos, etc. Without this online database there will be little to no accountability, and even the most horrific cases of abuse may never be exposed, let alone prosecuted. Write a letter/postcard to the Administrator of APHIS (address below) and tell him this is not acceptable and that all records removed must be restored immediately:
Administrator Kevin Shea
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
US Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
- What we’re working on: Monitoring bills under consideration in state legislatures around the country that would criminalize group protests, imposing penalties ranging from fines to seizure of assets and even prison time. Bills are currently under consideration in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington. We’ll have more information in next week’s action plan on how you can support those who are defending the right to protest.
- Call to Action: Sign up to phone bank for Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff, running in a special election for a U.S. House seat in Georgia’s 6th District, formerly held by Trump appointee Tom Price. The phone banking will happen Wednesday, March 22 from 6-8pm. Contact Nancy Schoenfeld for more details and to RSVP. Latest polls show Jon with a narrow lead over Republican competitors. The seat has been held by Republicans for 37 years – it would be a HUGE upset and victory if Jon succeeds. You’ll be provided with a script and everything you need to help with the phone banking.
- You can also contact Barbara Carley to sign up to help canvass for Democratic State Rep. Kathleen Murphy in Virginia on April 1.
- Important Read: Meet Montana’s singing cowboy Rob Quist, recently selected as the Democratic nominee to replace another Trump nominee, Ryan Zinke, for Montana’s seat in the U.S House. Who doesn’t love singing cowboys?!?! We’ll be watching this guy and helping generate support for his candidacy for his special election in late May.
ETHICS AND CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
- Call to Action: Mail a postcard to President (for now…) Trump this Wednesday 3/15 as part of the Ides of Trump Campaign!
- What We’re Working On: A Dialogue America campaign to reach out to and communicate with Trump voters/supporters to build unity and common cause, including a training to roll out to anyone interested in reaching across the divide. An Ethics Forum to host speakers on ethics topics.
POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE – Support and inspiration to get you through another week 🙂
- Do you find yourself suffering from symptoms of T.I.A.D (Trump-Induced Anxiety Disorder)? Now there may be a cure (NSFW!)
- Here’s a tip for avoiding News fatigue from member Ralph Avery: “Here’s a mental health trick I’ve been using to some advantage: I glance at a headline and maybe a couple of lines of text and ask myself ‘Is this actionable?’ By that I mean, something I can take action on, pass to others who might, will support directly something we are doing, etc. If not, I pass. After I’ve attended to most of the ‘actionable’ items, if I feel like getting more information or context, I might read the ‘non-actionable’ items; or maybe leave them for a little downtime or a break from work. I do this for everything — e-mails, tweets, facebook, news, etc.”
- Finally, a reminder to keep casting those stones (in a good way) in some wise words and inspiration from a real saint who DID change the world: