News you actually want to know, and what you can do to make a difference.
Welcome to your weekly roundup of good news about good people, how you can help make a difference — and a picture of President Obama to lift your spirits.
Frustrated with inaction by their elected officials, high school students in Southern California decided to do the work that lawmakers won’t.
A group of teens at Alhambra High School wrote their own gun reform legislation in the wake of the Parkland shooting. The resolution would call for raising the minimum age to purchase a gun, as well as improving background checks and closing the gun show loophole.
And these kids didn’t just write this legislation as a government class project.
“The students are making plans to present it to their student government, the school district board, the teachers; union and the City Council for approval in the next three weeks,” the Pasadena Star-News reports.
And 18-year-old Alejandro Salazar made it clear where he and his fellow students are coming from.
“We can’t just satisfy one side, like politicians who oppose gun control and take big campaign donations from the National Rifle Association,” Salazar said.
Saturday brought yet another heartbreaking and infuriating episode of gun violence, this time at a high school in Sante Fe, Texas.
So it time — long past time — to say #NeverAgain to these wholly preventable tragedies. Indivisible has your complete guide to taking action on gun safety, from demanding that Congress reject the NRA’s demands to advocating for common sense laws in your own state.
Democratic women have been winning big in primaries around the country. And their remarkable success will only give more women the courage to get off the sidelines and onto the campaign trail.
In the primary elections on May 8, 71 percent of Democratic women candidates won their bids. And in Pennsylvania the following Tuesday, another eight women moved on to the general election.
These victories are the natural outcome of the massive upsurge in women’s interest in running for office. CNN notes that, to date, 36,000 women have contacted EMILY’s List seeking information and assistance with mounting a campaign. And it means even more may decide to take the plunge themselves.
Former Air Force engineer Chrissy Houlahan, who won her bid in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, noted that the Women’s Marches and the subsequent increase in women’s presence in politics gave her the impetus to run.
“In a million years I didn’t think I would be running for any office,” she said. Now she’s looking ahead to November.
Now, Iowa Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller has said he will not defend the restrictive law in court.
A letter from Miller’s office made his reasoning clear.
Miller “could not zealously assert the state’s position because of his core belief that the statute, if upheld, would undermine rights and protections for women.”
The so-called “heartbeat bill” would ban abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat could be detected, which can sometimes be before the person even knows they’re pregnant. Restrictions like this only serve to put lives at risk, as pregnant people will seek out dangerous alternatives to safe and legal abortion. And state level laws like Iowa’s are part of a push to all but ban abortion nationwide.
Miller’s refusal to defend this draconian law is a step in the right direction in the fight for reproductive freedom.
“Bump stocks,” firearm accessories which can turn a semi-automatic weapon into a machine gun and allow a shooter to slaughter even more people in moments, have no place in our society.
Join Giffords in submitting a comment to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to demand that these dangerous, unregulated tools be banned once and for all.
Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley plans to introduce legislation to fully restore the constitutional war authorization powers to Congress.
The two existing AUMFs (Authorization for Use of Military Force) were passed in the early 2000s, one immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and one 13 months later prior to the invasion of Iraq.
DailyKos notes that Merkley objects to how the current and previous administrations “have interpreted these two resolutions in a manner that has delivered more power to the executive branch and weakened the war-making authority assigned to Congress by the Constitution and clarified in the War Powers Act of 1973.”
“The framers of our Constitution did not intend for the president to have unchecked powers to wage war,” Merkley notes. “They gave the power to declare war to Congress, because Congress most directly represents the American families who send their sons and daughters into harm’s way when our nation makes the solemn decision to go to war.”
Giving that power back to Congress would “restore the vision of the Constitution and make sure that Congress, not the President, has the ultimate say in the decision to send our troops into harm’s way.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has directed the New York Police Department to change the way it handles marijuana-related offenses.
“The NYPD will will overhaul its marijuana enforcement policies in the next 30 days,” he tweeted. “We must end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement.”
That disparity has been stark: An investigation this month by The New York Times found that “black people were arrested on low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white people over the last three years, and that among neighborhoods where people called to complain about marijuana at the same rate, the police almost always made arrests at a significantly higher rate in the area with more black residents.”
De Blasio’s directive is a crucial step forward for racial justice, and is in keeping with movement across the nation.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is leading a coalition of 19 states seeking to block the Trump administration from cutting funding for family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood.
The White House wants to change funding requirements under Title X to provide money only to clinics that focus on “natural family planning methods and abstinence-only education.”
Becerra called that out for exactly what it is: an attack on constitutionally protected reproductive freedom.
“All women, regardless of their ZIP code or economic background, deserve access to basic health services,” he said in a statement. “Yet once again, the Trump-Pence administration is taking our country backwards by making it harder for women to access healthcare.”
His coalition filed an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit previously filed by Planned Parenthood asking for a preliminary injunction against the changes.
In yet another assault on reproductive freedom, the Trump administration is proposing a new “gag rule,” which is designed to make it impossible for patients to get health care at places that perform abortions, like Planned Parenthood. The rule would also prevent health care providers from referring patients to abortion providers.
This cannot be allowed. Join Planned Parenthood Action Fund in saying #NoGagRule and let Trump and Pence know that your body and your health care decisions are not theirs to control.
In what he deemed a “powerful message,” Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed into law a bill making all single-user public bathrooms in the state of Vermont gender-neutral.
He noted that the change is “especially important for kids in school who face anxiety and bullying over something as simple as using the restroom.”
Indeed, for transgender and non-binary individuals, something as simple and necessary as using the bathroom can become a frightening experience if their outward presentation doesn’t align with the gendered sign on the door. With this change, all single-user bathrooms are for everyone’s use, just as it should be.
And Democratic state House Speaker Mitzi Johnson made it clear that Vermont is trying to do right by those Washington is harming.
“In a time where LBGTQIA rights are being rolled back on the federal level, when the Trump administration isn’t protecting children, it is our duty to step in,” she declared.
Fighting back against the FCC’s repeal of crucial net neutrality regulations, all 49 Democratic Senators were joined by three Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — in passing a resolution to restore the protections.
The rules were set to officially expire on June 11. Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey, who led the effort, was clear about the urgency.
A “free and open internet” must be “free from corporate control,” he declared.
The resolution now moves to the House, where its future is unclear. But Republicans there who think to please their corporate cronies rather than their constituents may want to take a look at the calendar, and adjust their priorities accordingly.
The Louisiana Senate passed a measure that would restore voting rights to people on probation or parole after a felony conviction.
The bill implements a five-year waiting period before someone can vote again. But currently, those on probation and parole in the state are never allowed to vote again, even once their full sentences have been served. Over 69,000 people have been disenfranchised as a result.
The Louisiana House has already approved the bill, and will only need to reconcile the Senate’s with an amendment. The bill will then be sent to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who is expected to sign it.
“So much of the criminal justice system exists to deprive us of our humanity,” said Checo Yancy, an organizer with Voice of the Experienced, which lobbied for the bill. “This bill restores a little of that humanity.”
The Poor People’s Campaign is holding a National Call for Moral Revival, bringing together thousands of Americans to challenge and confront issues like systemic racism, poverty, and environmental devastation.
Join them and find an event in your state capital on Monday, May 21.
Anita Hill experienced #MeToo long before the invention of hashtags and the glare of social media. And she had some wise words to share with graduates of Rutgers University.
“What happens now? I would say we will never be the same after the MeToo movement, after such revelations of sexual violence. We can never, as a society, ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist,” Hill told the graduates.
“We can’t be the same as we were before, and we certainly can’t go backward when we know that so many people are hurting and suffering.”
And she encouraged the audience to keep up the fight to bring what has so long been hidden into the sunlight.
“Uncertainty prevails only if it can make cowards of us all, and we can defeat uncertainty if we boldly stand for justice and fairness.”