Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 01.25.19

Thursday, January 24, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

HR 1 SUPPORT SHOWS GROWING DEMAND FOR REFORM

Updates from D.C.—Congress moves forward on HR 1, “For the People Act.”
One of the first items for the new congress was the introduction of HR 1, the “For the People Act,” a bold, comprehensive package of democracy reforms touching on voting rights, gerrymandering, money in politics, and ethics. The legislation enjoys strong support from the House Democrats, with 220+ co-sponsors as of this week.

Looking ahead, the Congress is expected to begin hearings on the bill, beginning the week of January 28. The DI is working closely with our partners at the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD) Coalition to organize events in-district in three weeks at Member offices and town halls during the the President's Day recess on February 18.

Here are a few ways that DI partners can plug in to the HR 1 effort:

  1. Join the Declaration for American Democracy coalition; email Pedro Morillas to be added to the lists: pmorillas@citizen.org.
  2. Share Common Cause’s petition in support of HR 1.
    1. Email Izzy Bronstein at Common Cause if you want to participate in their list swap through the end of this month that’s gathered 160k signatures so far.
  3. Recruit hosts for in-district actions for President’s Day Recess (Week of Feb 18).
    1. With more than a month to plan our next week of in-district action—we hope more groups can get on board with both recruiting hosts and attendees. Email afreechild@citizen.org or rtazewell@pfaw.org to get plugged in.
    2. Host sign-up form and map (updated), process remains the same.
    3. If you recruited event hosts for the January week of action, please make sure to notify Nathan Williams at Town Hall Project right away if events need to come down from the map or be updated.

MOBILIZATION & COLLABORATION

AGENDA FOR JAN 30 MOBILIZING MEETING

Wednesday, January 30, 3PM EST / NOON PST

Join us on the next DI Mobilizing call on Wednesday, January 30 at 3pm EST to hear from Dan Furmansky, Consultant at the Piper Fund, and Sue Udry, Executive Director of Defending Rights & Dissent, who is leading the organization’s advocacy and public education efforts to protect and strengthen civil society and challenge government abuse of First and Fourth Amendment rights.

Dan and Sue will provide a overview of the anti-protest laws introduced across the country and the network of organizations helping organize the national field in response to the challenge.

LABOR UNIONS AND ALLIES OCCUPY SENATE BUILDING

DI partners AFL-CIO, AFT, Center for Popular Democracy, CWA, and SEIU joined AFGE, NFFE, and other labor allies for a silent protest, lasting 33 minutes: one minute for each day the government has been shut down and federal workers have gone without their due pay.

After the rally, union leaders led a handful of federal employees to McConnell’s office in another Senate building. Workers and journalists crowded outside the doorway as labor leaders demanded a meeting. They were told McConnell wasn’t available and that they would have to make an appointment. The group, which included the president of the Union Veterans Council and the National Federation of Federal Employees, refused to leave. They sat down in the hallway instead.

“Folks are hurting!” they shouted. “End the shutdown!”

Capitol Police officers then arrested them, lined them up outside the building, and put them in the back of a van. Read the full story here.

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Every day that goes by without our Members of Congress hearing our outrage is another day we allow our federal workers to be political pawns in a game of Washington tug-of war. We must act now and demand McConnell and the Senate reopen the government.

TAKE ACTION

  • Bird dogging Senators: every day until this shutdown is over, AFGE, their supporters, and partners are going to be "bird-dogging" Senators. Volunteers will stand outside of Senate offices in shifts. As people go in and out of these offices, volunteers will tell them to tell that Senator to end the shutdown immediately. Anytime a Senator comes out, volunteers will follow them, film them on their phone, and push them to promise to end the shutdown. This is a non-arrestable action; volunteers will receive a brief training before joining the action. For more information and to sign up, email Julie Tippens at julie.tippens@afge.org.
  • Sign DI partner NAACP's petition to end the government shutdown today. Petition here.
  • USE THE #STOPTHESHUTDOWN TOOLKIT, COURTESY OF THE AFL-CIO, ACCESSIBLE HERE.

di board members on the move

DERRICK JOHNSON ON TRUMP PACKING THE COURTS

DI Board Member and NAACP President Derrick Johnson's latest column on the Trump administration's strategic creation of a white judiciary:

"Fifty-three years ago, at King’s urging, the first African American woman was appointed to the federal bench. Since then, one might have expected to see remarkable progress to increase representation of all communities on the nation’s courts. But judicial diversity is endangered under the Trump presidency. The administration must do better, much better, to preserve the judicial system’s fairness and integrity. As King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”


Read the full column here.

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KAREN HOBERT FLYNN ON FIXING VOTING PROBLEMS IN 2019

DI Board Co-Chair and Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn's latest column on a few of the priorities for voting reform facing the country as we head into 2019 and 2020:

"I saw this firsthand during my time at the Election Protection command center in Washington, D.C., where nonpartisan attorneys and trained volunteers took tens of thousands of calls from citizens across the country. Many of the problems reported were things we could—and did—predict were going to happen. Indeed, most of the problems voters reported can be solved with simple, commonsense reforms."

Read the full column here.

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CHRIS SHELTON & CWA ENDORSE HR 1 DEMOCRACY REFORM

DI Board Member and CWA President Chris Shelton on the need for the bold package of democracy reforms proposed in HR 1, the "For the People Act":
"Corporate CEOs and the wealthiest 1% have spent decades rigging the political process to reduce the power of working people. By making it harder for working people to vote, stacking the courts with activist judges who have allowed our elections to be flooded with massive amounts of unreported corporate money, and weakening ethics rules, they have advanced an agenda that has devastated communities across America. The 'For the People Act' is a bold step toward bringing balance to our democracy."

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