Saying yes to progressive wins

Resistance means saying “no” a lot. But, as people who value social, racial, economic, and environmental justice, it feels more in character for us to say “yes”. There’s no better way to say yes to our values, and earn big wins for progressive causes, than by acting locally. California’s laws become models for the whole nation, so when you take action on state-level or even city-level issues, you’re not just helping your neighbors: you’re showing the whole country how it’s done. So today, we’re going to focus on local action.

I want to talk to you about a cause that’s dear to my heart: reforming our criminal justice system, which disproportionately targets and penalizes people of color and the poor. Today there’s local action we can take on the bail system, and it comes from the ACLU of Northern California.

The money bail system lets private corporations cash in on human suffering. Access to wealth is what currently determines who gets out of jail. People who can’t afford to pay bail stay locked up while they await trial; others desperately plead guilty or pay a bail bonds agency for pre-trial release. Costly bail bonds agreements put people on the hook for payments even if the district attorney dismisses the case or a court finds the defendant not guilty of the crime. Poor people have to sit idly in jail for weeks, months, and sometimes years while their cases move forward.

In May, our California lawmakers voted on legislation to overhaul our state’s money bail system. CA Senate Bill 10 and Assembly Bill 42 would make sure that California stops locking people up simply because they cannot afford to pay bail. Both bills prioritize services to help people make their court appearances and curb the state’s overreliance on money bail. The Senate approved SB 10 with bipartisan support, but AB 42 stalled in the Assembly. See below for your request to Assemblymembers.

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The July recess is winding up tomorrow, leaving only two more weeks for Republicans to pass TrumpCare before experts say it’ll be dead in the water. This fight is still not over, but the biggest battles will be waged in districts with Republican Senators who remain undecided or who plan to vote no. Paul has reached out to our friends at Indivisible Charleston, asking how we can support them during this last critical push. Meanwhile, if you want to be inspired, check out #SitInSaveLives on Twitter for photos, videos, and reports from the protests last week, many by seniors and people with disabilities.

Our next meeting — and happy hour!
Saturday, July 22
2:00pm – 4:00pm
Noe Valley Public Library, with drinks to follow at Phyllis’ house nearby
REGISTER NOW

This week’s Stand Up SF actions

  • Fix unfair bail laws: Call Assemblymembers David Chiu and Phil Ting and say: “Thank you for supporting bail reform, standing up for justice and California families, and voting YES on AB 42, the California Money Bail Reform Act of 2017. Please also vote YES on SB 10!”
  • Take action for campaign finance reform: AB 1089 sets limits on campaign contributions. Call Assemblymember Phil Ting and say: “Hi, I live in California and I am a constituent. I am calling to ask you to vote YES on AB 1089, to close loopholes in California’s campaign finance laws and protect us from unlimited special interest spending.” Then call Assemblymember Chiu and thank him for sponsoring the bill.
  • Ban toxic chemicals: This week, Scott Pruitt – the anti-science head of Environmental Protection Agency – has ignored his own agency’s recommendations and reversed the ban on chlorpyrifos, the toxic agricultural pesticide known to damage the nervous systems of infants and children. Call Governor Brown and tell him to ban the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos.

Actions with other groups

  • Tue 7/11: Join ACLU People Power at a phone bank to support CA SB54, the California Values Act, to protect immigrants from mass deportation. Sign up.
  • Tue 7/11, 6pm: Kick ICE out of Oakland! Join ACLU People Power at an action at Oakland’s City Hall. Raise your voice for immigrants. RSVP now.
  • Wed 7/12, 6-9pm: Cervezas for Civics fundraiser for Generation Citizen – an organization that empowers young people to become engaged and effective citizens. RSVP for drinks and lively conversation.

“Obamacare was the best thing to happen to me”

The July recess has been tough on Republican senators. CNN reports today: Recess isn’t helping McConnell’s hunt for 50 votes. It started with this reception at the airport as they left for recess:

In Pennsylvania, demonstrators gathered outside of Sen. Pat Toomey’s office, lying on the sidewalk holding signs in the shape of tombstones.

In Maine, Sen. Susan Collins said healthcare was THE issue at her 4th of July parade. “I heard, over and over again, encouragement for my stand against the current version of the Senate and House healthcare bills. People were thanking me, over and over again. ‘Thank you, Susan!’ ‘Stay strong, Susan!’ ”

At a town hall meeting in Louisiana, Sen. Bill Cassidy had his planned topic derailed by people voicing their angst over healthcare. Several people described the GOP proposal as an effort to give large tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of poor people’s coverage.

On their Facebook page, the Indiana Republican party asked for Obamacare “horror stories,” such as “losing a doctor that you liked” or “having your premiums increased.” (Losing a doctor that you liked is a “horror story” compared to having your health insurance ripped away? Really? And it was Obamacare that caused premiums to increase? Really?) At any rate, over 10,000 people have given input so far, a massive number of them stories like these:

While this news is encouraging, we’ve heard stories of backroom deals to appease holdout GOP Senators on selective issues like opioid addiction, and that a new CBO report has been ordered. We will continue to keep a watchful eye on healthcare and do everything we can to protect it.

In the meantime, while we wait for more news on the GOP “Take Away Our Healthcare” bill, we’re proposing some actions (below) on other important issues.

Stand Up SF actions:

Following Trump’s executive order to open the Atlantic to offshore drilling, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is set to permit oil companies to begin seismic airgun blasting to find new oil wells. This involves deafening blasts every 10-12 seconds for months on end, and devastates marine life. Department of the Interior environmental studies estimate that seismic proposals now under review would cause more than 31 million instances of harm to marine mammals in the Gulf and 13.5 million harmful interactions with marine mammals in the Atlantic, killing or injuring 138,000 dolphins and whales. Call and ask Congresswoman Pelosi to 1. Join the 103 House reps who sent Interior Secretary Zinke a letter asking him to halt the blasting, and 2. To support the Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection Act in the House.

Call and ask Senators Feinstein and Harris to support the same bill in the Senate.

Make a public comment on it by July 21, telling the National Marine Fisheries Service that our oceans are already showing the stress of climate change, and it doesn’t make sense to harm whales, dolphins and other ocean wildlife in order to drill for more oil we can’t afford to burn. Deny any new seismic permits.

Actions with other groups:

Mon July 10, 6:30-8:30 in the Mission: SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) General Meeting. SURJ works to dismantle racism within ourselves, in our communities, and in our city. Sign up here.

Thanks for all you do.

The GOP doesn’t believe in democracy

While we fight to preserve our health care, other critical battles are being waged in the House and Senate. This week, the Trump administration laid the groundwork for an unprecedented attack on voting rights, defunding the Election Assistance Committee (which helps prevent hacked voting machines), demanding personally identifying voter information from all 50 states, and signaling an intent to sue states to force them to trim their voting rolls.

I felt positively queasy when I read this news, and then I got angry. This administration, and the Republicans in Congress who allow it to flourish, don’t care about democracy. They only care about consolidating and retaining power. They’ve figured out that they will lose elections unless they rig the system to prevent millions from exercising their right as citizens to cast a vote. So they increase gerrymandering, gut the Voting Rights Act, reduce early voting, and do everything they can to prevent fair elections.

There is some good news: California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has already rejected 45’s request for voter information, and as of Friday, at least 9 other states have done the same. Another 10 states have signaled resistance to the request, and voter advocacy groups like the ACLU have also come out against it, and are working diligently to promote access to the ballot and to sue the Trump administration for its many violations of our laws.

Senator Harris, who endorsed the Indivisible process to protect health care in her email blast this week, took to Facebook to oppose these disturbing attempts to curtail our freedom to vote, while Senator Feinstein was more circumspect. This week, we’ll be asking you to thank them both for their critiques, but also to pressure Senator Feinstein to make a stronger public statement.

Next week, you’ll have the chance to ask Congresswoman Pelosi to speak out against this attack on our voting rights, and to ask her staff what she — and we — can do to protect Americans from disenfranchisement.

Something to look forward to
Party with Stand Up SF members! A member is graciously opening her home to us for an afternoon of Mexican food and margaritas, coming up on July 29th. You’ll get an invitation soon. We look forward to seeing you there.

This week’s Stand Up SF actions:

  • Call Senator Harris and thank her for standing up for voting rights. You can say, “My name is _____ and I’m calling to thank the senator for her strong public statement in opposition to Trump’s request for personal voting information and her dedication to protecting our voting rights. I appreciate the senator using her public platform to raise awareness of this attempt at disenfranchisement.”
  • Call Senator Feinstein and thank her for voicing her concerns about Trump’s request for voter information, but prompt her to do more. You can say, “My name is _____ and I’m calling to thank the senator for voicing her concerns about Trump’s request for personal voting information. I’d like the senator to go further and make a strong statement condemning this transparent attempt at racial profiling and disenfranchisement of American citizens.”
  • Shore up our senators for the battle ahead: Call to thank Senator Harris and Senator Feinstein for their unwavering public opposition to TrumpCare. Remind them that they must withhold consent on all Senate business until the bill receives public review. Tell them not to vote for any amendments that will help Republicans pass TrumpCare. If you reach a human on the phone, take the opportunity to share a little bit about why this issue is important to you. (script)
  • Take local action on campaign finance reform: The California Disclose Act, AB 249, is going to move to the state Senate for a vote soon. AB 249 will strike a major blow against dark money in elections by requiring ballot measure ads to clearly and prominently show their true funders on the ads themselves – the first bill in the nation to do so. Call CA Assemblymembers and say “I believe that voters deserve to know who is paying for political ads. I therefore ask Assemblymember ______ to endorse, publicly support, and vote for AB 249, the California DISCLOSE Act.”

Actions with other groups

Thanks for all you do.

Losing our healthcare: It’s not over

On Sunday we got the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the Senate “Take Away Our Healthcare” bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, and it shows how cruel and immoral the bill is (details below). There is nothing in the bill that gives better care.

The Senate then delayed its vote. Our pressure is working. But it’s not over til it’s over. We saw the House bill die only to be resurrected and pass. So we’ve seen this movie before.

Quotes from Senator Feinstein on Senate Health Care Bill: 'the most indefensible bill I've actually seen in 24 years in the Senate...No amount of tinkering will change the fact that this bill would devastate health care in America, and we can't let that happen.'

On Tuesday, 10 members of Stand Up SF discussed what can be done to block the Senate bill with Sean Elsbernd, Senator Feinstein’s State Director. Some of the suggestions below come from this meeting. Read the Action Report to learn all that was discussed.

While the Republican Senators are facing their constituents back home next week, what else can we do to ensure this bill dies a full death?

#1. Keep telling your ACA stories. How did the ACA help you? How will the current Senate bill hurt you or those you love?

Email your personal stories to Congresswoman Pelosi’s senior congressional aide: Alex.Lazar@mail.house.gov.

Submit your story to Senator Feinstein.

Submit your story to Senator Harris.

Keep submitting your personal stories to be read and voted on as bill amendments on the Senate floor.

Search Twitter for #HowTheACASavedMyLife to see how it helped others. Tweet your own 140-character story using the hashtag.

#2. Make sure your friends, family and colleagues know how the bill will affect them.

#3. Educate connections in other states, not only on the bill but on the need to call their Senators. Remember that polls showed a high % of the people with negative views of Obamacare had positive views of the Affordable Care Act. Eight years of misinformation campaigns have left people confused. Let’s educate them wherever we can. (hint: call it The Affordable Care Act)

#4. If you know any hospital representatives, encourage them to speak out on behalf of their hospital. Hospitals would face billions more in uncompensated care next year alone. Some would not survive.

#5. Consider phone banking into a red district, educating residents and encouraging them to take action (with Democracy Action).

#6. Consider a quick donation to one of the organizations running ads against the Senate bill in red states.

Here is how the Senate Health Care bill will affect all of us:

  • If you are nearing retirement, you will likely see your premiums and out-of-pocket costs shoot up. In 2026, a 64-yr-old making $56,800 would see their premiums TRIPLE.
  • If you have a pre-existing condition, good luck. Your state can let insurers drop your pre-existing condition from the coverage they offer you.
  • If you get sick with an expensive condition, too bad. Annual and lifetime caps are back. Hit your lifetime cap and your insurance ends forever.
  • If you count on that out-of-pocket max, not so fast. It only applies to “essential health benefits,” which states can now let insurers define. Nearly half of all Americans could be affected by cutbacks in “essential benefits.”
  • Know someone with low income? They also get less insurance at a higher cost. Subsidies are substantially smaller. According to the CBO, in 2020 premiums and deductibles would be so onerous that “few low-income people would purchase any plan.”
  • The most vulnerable among us will be hurt by a $772M cut to Medicaid. 60% of long-stay nursing home residents are on Medicaid. 39% of US children are on Medicaid.
  • 15M more people would be uninsured next year, 22M more by 2026.

Local Stand Up SF action:

The State Assembly could vote on the future of climate action in California this week – and the vote is close. AB 378 would extend California’s landmark cap-and-trade law, which sets a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and requires companies to pay for their pollution. Call assemblymembers Phil Ting and David Chiu and tell them to vote YES on AB 378 to continue California’s climate leadership. (Background)

Actions with other groups:

A fun way to support a good cause:
July 4, 2pm Dolores Park (free): Come see SF Mime Troupe perform WALLS, which asks the question: How can a nation of immigrants declare war on immigration? The answer: FEAR!

Thanks for all you do.

All hands to save the ACA

This morning, after weeks of total secrecy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the Senate TrumpCare bill. And what a cruel, ugly bill it is.

It destroys Medicaid, it increases health costs for middle-class families, it cuts coverage for pre-existing conditions, it eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood…and it does this all in order to green-light a massive tax cut for millionaires and billionaires. And, according to IndivisibleGuide, it will likely get worse once it gets to the Senate floor. This is how they believe the TrumpCare fight will play out:

  • Tomorrow we’ll get a score (report) from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which will quantify exactly how many millions of Americans will be screwed by this bill and in what ways.
  • On Mon or Tues, Republicans will start debate on “the bill,” which is just a draft bill intended to make it look like they’re being transparent but in reality is a trick to hide their finished product which is worse.
  • Over the next couple days, Senators will submit amendments, most of which will fail and none of which would make this bill redeemable.
  • On Thurs, the Senate will plan to vote on the legislation, but first they will vote on all submitted amendments (known as “vote-a-rama”). We play a role here.
  • At the last possible minute, Republicans will replace the entire bill they just got finished “debating” with an alternative bill secretly crafted behind closed doors.
  • By the end of Thurs, there could be a final vote in the Senate.
  • The House may then pass the legislation and send it to Trump to sign. It is possible this could happen the same day.
  • Next weekend, one week of congressional recess begins. They’ll either have the bill done by then, or they’ll have to wait another week. Throughout this process there will be precisely zero public hearings in the Senate. This is a historically partisan, secretive, and undemocratic process for one of the most consequential pieces of legislation of our generation.

The press can’t cover the TrumpCare fight since it is taking place in private, so fewer people know about it.

That means there’s less public pressure on Congress, and it’s easier for Senate Republicans to move forward. If we drag this TrumpCare bill out into the light, it will raise alarms.

Here is an anti-TrumpCare ad that we hope will help with this.

Let’s keep up the fight! We need to call our Senators again. Don’t be sheepish! Many Indivisible groups are calling their Senators every day!

Stand Up SF actions:

Call both Senators and ask them to present hundreds or even thousands of amendments to the bill, and keep the amendments coming until there are adequate public hearings on the bill. (more info)

Call both Senators and ask them to withhold consent on all senate business until there are adequate public hearings on the bill. This will slow Senate business down to a crawl. This is the idea. (more info)

Submit an amendment. IndivisibleGuide is collecting amendments and submitting them directly to Senate staff. Tell your story about how the bill will hurt you. Ask that it be changed so it does not hurt you. This will be read on the Senate floor, and will make it more politically painful for Republicans to move forward.

Thanks for all you do.