Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 09.13.19

Friday, September 13, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

The Grassroots Demands Democracy—Will Congress Listen?

Democracy Initiative Executive Director Wendy Fields' latest op-ed was published in The Hill on Monday, September 9, focusing on the growing grassroots demand for comprehensive democracy reform. She calls on politicians to listen to the voices of the unheard and act decisively ensure that all Americans have a seat at the table when government decisions are made.

“The organization I lead, the Democracy Initiative, works with grassroots advocates in states across the U.S. to pass democracy reforms. I know firsthand that, contrary to what the news reports, groups who don’t always agree with each other can work together (like environmentalists, the Chamber of Commerce and labor) when their common goal is a fair, functioning political system. Our coalitions cross racial, cultural and class lines. And regardless of who was at the top of the ticket in 2018 state races, voter reforms won majorities from both sides of the aisle—proving that when democracy is on the ballot, it wins.”

You can read the full piece here. Please share it on your social media channels with the hashtags #CongressMustListen and #WeDemandDemocracy.

BALTIMORE DEMOCRACY CHAMPIONS TRAINING & FAIR ELECTIONS HEARING

We are excited to announce that the Democracy Initiative will be partnering with Baltimore Fair Elections to hold a Democracy Champions Popular Education Training in Baltimore on September 28, 2019! Please spread the word and encourage your Baltimore staff and members to attend!

When: Saturday, September 28, 2019 from 9:30am – 2:00pm
Where: Function Coworking Community, 4709 Harford Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21214

RSVP to the Democracy Champions Training!

In Baltimore, the City Council has set a September 17 hearing date to discuss implementation for the fair elections bill sponsored by Councilmember Burnett. It is important that the public remains involved during this phase to ensure the program is equitably funded. As a follow up, for coalition members and the general public, the DI is partnering with the Baltimore Fair Elections Coalition to provide a Democracy Champions training.

The training is open to anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the importance of advancing reforms like this bill, as well as how to talk about democracy and power in Baltimore and across Maryland. The training will be held on September 28th from 10:00am to 2:00pm at Function Co-working Space. Any questions should be directed to our Training and Movement Building Coordinator, Brittny Baxter at bbaxter@democracyinitiative.org.

DI BOARD MEMBERS ON THE MOVE

NAACP PRESIDENT & CEO DERRICK JOHNSON TESTIFIES BEFORE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

On Tuesday, September 10, DI Board Member and NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson, alongside several coalition allies including the ACLU and Leadership Conference, testified on the urgent need for revitalization of voting rights in the country and stamp out voter suppression.

In his statement, Johnson advocated for Congress to pass into law the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which will put an end to discriminatory voter suppression efforts around the country; the For The People Act (H.R. 1/S. 949), the landmark democracy reform package and new standard for nationwide reform; and the Securing America's Federal Elections Act, which will protect our elections from foreign interference.

"Trump’s Justice Department is missing in action on any voting rights enforcement and the NAACP is fighting back wherever and whenever we can. But this is not sustainable. Congress must step up to combat this national epidemic afflicting our democracy." —Derrick Johnson

You can watch the full testimony here.

SAVE THE DATE: DI 2019 ANNUAL MEETING

PARTNER CORNER

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS LAUNCHES NATIONWIDE CAMPAIGN FOR REDISTRICTING REFORM

Last week, DI partner League of Women Voters launched their People Powered Fair Maps campaign, a half-million-dollar effort in all 50 states and DC. The campaign will focus on advocacy, education, organizing and mobilization, partnerships, litigation, and protection around redistricting processes, according to a statement released Thursday, September 5.

The League of Women Voters is one of the leading organizations on redistricting in the country, and with over 750 chapters across the country, they intend to build on previous successes such as their redistricting victories in Pennsylvania and the recent Common Cause redistricting victory in North Carolina, both of which show the path forward to challenging partisan gerrymandering at the state level.

Learn more about the campaign here.

COLLECTIVE ACTION FOR OUR FUTURE: JOIN THE CLIMATE STRIKE

On September 20, people across the world are striking for the climate. A movement started by now-16-year-old Greta Thunberg and students in Sweden skipping school to protest the lack of climate action. The movement has since grown worldwide, and now, the students have encouraged anyone and everyone to join their demands for a Green New Deal, respect for indigenous land and sovereignty, environmental justice, protection for biodiversity, and sustainable agriculture. DI partners 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and others have already voiced their support for the mobilization.

It’s important to recognize the power of collective, direct action in a time when our government’s inaction and gridlock has stifled meaningful action—action demanded by the people most impacted. When Congress fails to act, the people must make their voices heard, and the solidarity, popular power, and momentum generated by collective action can and often does translate into real change.

To find and RSVP to strikes happening near you, visit https://globalclimatestrike.net/. You can download the Climate Strike Toolkit for Workers from the Labor Network for Sustainability here.

TAKE ACTION: #SHOWUP4DC H.R. 51—STATEHOOD HEARING

Join us and #ShowUp4DC by attending the September 19 hearing on DC Statehood!

At the core of our democracy is the simple principle: one person, one vote. Over 700,000 DC residents, in our nation’s Capital, are denied their voice by lacking representation in Congress. On September 19, the House Oversight and Reform Committee will hear testimony on H.R. 51, the Washington DC Admission Act.

We’re asking our partner organizations to #ShowUp4DC, by standing in solidarity with DC residents as they fight for full representation and equality and taking action with our partners at DC Vote.

  • Commit volunteers to join DC Vote’s “Welcoming and Way Finding” team at Capitol South on the day of the hearing! Email bhelmick@dcvote.org to coordinate.
  • Show up to the September 19 hearing: the hearing on DC Statehood is at Rayburn House Office Building, room 2154, at 10:00am. You can text HEARING to 52886 to receive updates to your phone. Encourage your DC members to attend as well!

DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS

CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS UNDER ATTACK AS FEC SHRINKS

Less than two weeks after Republican appointee to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) Matthew Petersen resigned, leaving the agency without quorum to take effective action, the Trump Administration has pushed rule proposals through the Treasury Department to reduce disclosure requirements. Under the proposed rules, given last Friday, September 6, certain tax-exempt groups (certain nonprofits, business leagues, labor unions) would no longer be required to present donor names or addresses on their tax forms.

The IRS and Treasury skirted accountability by claiming that their agencies are not tasked with enforcing campaign finance laws, conveniently glossing over the fact that the agency responsible has just been defanged and will be kept that way by Mitch McConnell.

Read more here.

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