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The 2020 Democratic Pledge

In the end, we have to pull together. Or we will be pulled apart. As the 2020 elections begin to take shape, the following set of guidelines, contributed by Tobin Fraley, are useful to insure the majority of Americans pull together to get us over the finish line so we may begin to repair the carnage that is now our American democracy.

You are encourage to download and share this 2020 Democratic Pledge with others.

Democracy Summer Camp July Meeting Summary

NSI 2019.7.18 General Meeting 7:00PM @ Deerfield Public Library

We had a nice turnout at this meeting with many active regulars as well as some new friends who are ready to get involved. Themed “Democracy Summer Camp,” we enjoyed our discussion around a “campfire.”

People shared their motivations and favorite actions: Showing up for rallies & marches; calling and writing to elected officials about their opinions on upcoming legislation; filling out online witness slips; writing Get-Out-The-Vote postcards; making GOTV calls (some to their neighbors, some even to help with out-of-state campaigns); door-to-door canvassing–some for specific candidates, others to encourage people to get out and vote. One attendee marched in a couple of parades in support of US Representatives Sean Casten & Lauren Underwood, and emphasized the importance that has in showing the public the support our candidates have.   All agreed that it’s important that we each get involved and take actions that are productive and that inspire us.

Sonny Cohen reviewed some of the ideas that were raised in the last meeting that were brought to life since then, such as the Lights for Liberty vigil on July 12 in Highland Park, and more voter registrar training opportunities sponsored by Tenth Dems.

Some ideas for future activity were also brought up, including: GOTV and voter registration drives on local college & university campuses; getting the message to college students who are home for the summer to register for absentee voting; supporting out-of area campaigns in important races, such as Amy McGrath, running in KY to “Ditch Mitch [McConnell]”. We also learned that there are many volunteer opportunities with Tenth Dems which is based in Highland Park.

And don’t forget to watch the upcoming Democratic Presidential Debates July 30 & 31!

Sonny  also reviewed upcoming events that are featured on the North Shore Indivisible Calendar.

Some of those upcoming events include…

July 21 – Voter Registrar Training in Waukegan

July 23 – Moraine Township Democrats Dinner Meeting

July 24 – Mueller Book Club – Live Testimony Watch Party & Post-Testimony Analysis @ Online

July 29 – Rep. Sean Casten (IL-6) will be holding a Meet & Greet in Highland Park

Aug. 6 – Voter Registrar Training in Libertyville

Aug. 20 – Voter Registrar Training in Waukegan

Aug. 27 – North Shore Indivisible Meeting @ Deerfield Public Library: Focus on Election Security featuring Rose Colacino from Illinois Indivisible’s Election Security & Integrity Voting Rights Team.

Read all the details on the North Shore Indivisible Calendar.

Also, please utilize these resources for finding important actions to take: Americans of Conscience Checklist; 5 Calls; Small Deeds Done.

Action Therapy – Places to Go to Find Things to Do

The familiar refrain is often, “What can I do?” often accompanied by some hand wringing about the state of our democracy. For starters, here are some remarkable resources.

Just remember: You can’t do everything. But you can do something. Put a stake in the ground and get to work:

Americans of Conscience Checklist

The AoC Checklist features clear, well-researched actions for Americans who value democracy, equality, voting, and respect. To stay engaged through challenging times, we practice gratitude, self-care, and celebration.

5 Calls

5 Calls is the easiest and most effective way for citizens to make an impact in national and local politics

Small Deeds Done (are better than great deeds planned)

So let’s break the work down! Let’s make it manageable. Small actions are not insignificant. A grand master plan means nothing unless someone (like you) takes the small steps that need to happen to make it a reality.

And that’s what Small Deeds is all about. It’s about each of us taking regular, small steps – that together lead to massive, crushing, world-bending change.

Trump Regime – Fiscal & Economic Issues

It’s still the economy, stupid!

In a world where facts matter (they do), the Fiscal & Economic Issues group of NWSOFA Indivisible* produces an objective analysis of our state and Federal economic status. There is a lot to digest. Here is a summary. First the chart. Then the talking points:

1.Job creation was faster in Obama’s last 29 months (6.4 million) than Trump’s first 29 (5.6 million)

2.The total number of persons with jobs (151 million) has been setting records since May 2014

3.The unemployment rate has been improving for all ethnic groups since peaking at 10% in October 2009. It regained the pre-crisis (Dec 2007) level of 5.0% in September 2015 and was 3.7% in June ‘19

4.The 2018 budget deficit of about $800 billion was $300 billion higher (60%) than the $500 billion forecast when Trump was inaugurated, due to Trump’s tax cuts and additional spending. Revenue was nearly $300 billion below forecast.

5.The 2018-2027 debt addition forecast (sum of annual deficits) increased from $9.4 trillion assuming the continuation of Obama policy to $13.0 trillion under Trump, +$3.6 trillion or 38%

6.The number of persons without health insurance increased by 1.9 million or 7% from Dec 2016 to Dec 2018. The first increase in the number of uninsured since 2010 happened in 2017, due significantly to Trump’s ACA sabotage efforts.

7.Real GDP growth of 2.9% for the full year 2018 was the same level as 2015

8.Quarterly GDP growth was 3.1% in Q1 2019. Quarterly real GDP growth has been 3% or greater in 16 quarters since Q1 2009; 12 times under Obama and 4 times under Trump

9.The trade deficit has increased from 2.7% GDP in 2016 to 3.0% GDP in 2018. Studies indicate the tariffs have increased the price of imports and thus are paid by consumers, like a tax

10.Real median household income set an all-time record in 2016 at about $60,000 and continued to increase in 2017 to about $61,000; the 2018 data is pending.

11.Real wage growth was faster in 2015-2016 under Obama than 2017-2018 under Trump

12.Inflation was lower in 2015-2016 under Obama than 2017-2018 under Trump

13.Mortgage rates were lower in 2015-2016 under Obama than 2017-2018 under Trump

14.The number of persons on food stamps (SNAP program) peaked in 2013 at 47.6 million and has fallen each year since, to 40.3 million in 2018

View the entire powerpoint report here.

*Thanks to North West Suburban – Obama for America  (NWSOFA) Indivisible and Karl Faulstich for assembling this analysis EVERY MONTH.

 

“How to Beat Trump” – An Action Step

Indivisible member Linda Chiles recommends reaching out to Democratic presidential candidates with this action step. All necessary resources are provided in this post. You just have to make the effort.  In her words:

“I just finished my little project of writing to the DNC (Nancy Pelosi, Seema Nanda-CEO, Chuck Schumer, Tom Perez) and all the candidates about this article I had read that I really agree with.  See the attachments.
I thought your group might be interested in doing this, too, provided, of course, they agree with this Republican author.  I’m sending it to my contacts and encouraging them to write to these folks as well.  I don’t know if it does any good but it sure makes me feel better.
☺
Download the following:

Democratic Presidential Candidate Watch Party Workbook

“You can’t tell the players without a scorecard.”

Down load this Indivisible Debate Watch Guide

As we head into 2020, we have a historically strong and diverse Democratic field. We have candidates who are unafraid to take bold positions on unrigging our democracy, creating a people-first immigration policy, and leaning into ambitious plans to address climate change. And we have candidates from a wide range of backgrounds: current US Senators, mayors of large and small cities, and two former members of the Obama administration. For the first time in our country’s history, we have a field that includes Latino, Black, white and AAPI candidates; gay and straight candidates; and working class candidates who are rejecting corporate PAC money.

We know the stakes are high. But we think concerns about “electability” are a self-fulfilling prophecy. So we’re focused on engaging with 2020 candidates on their own merits: finding candidates who have a good plan on the issues that matter to us, and are able to tell a compelling story about their candidacy and motivate the broad multiracial coalition we need to build to win in 2020.

If you’re hosting a debate watch party, print one or two copies of the Candidates section for the whole party. This section is a reference, if you find yourself wondering who some of the candidates on the stage are.

Print individual copies of the workbook section for everyone at your party to fill out. Print double-sided if you can!

Ask Congressman Schneider About His Impeachment Position

Please read the following draft letter. If you agree with the content and wish to be a co-signer, send an email to Joan Reed (joni.reed@comcast.net) by noon 6/18/19:


Dear Representative Schneider,

We are concerned citizens in your district who want to have a more complete understanding of your decision to support congressional investigation rather than press for investigation under the auspices of impeachment proceedings.

We are proceeding on the assumption that you agree with the over 1,000 prosecutors who have signed onto a letter stating the Mueller’s report sets out a sufficient basis to proceed with impeachment.

We also understand further investigation may likely uncover other crimes, in addition to those set forth by Michael Cohen. As history has shown us, additional evidence and witness testimony that becomes unearthed may very well change the Senate’s current intransigent stance.

In terms of the distinction between committee investigations and impeachment proceedings, we would like your take on why you prefer the former. What advantages do non-impeachment hearings provide? From legal experts, we have been made aware that impeachment, as a judicial proceeding, will likely result in faster, more comprehensive investigations. Impeachment proceedings may also give the judiciary committee a stronger case for obtaining certain materials protected from disclosure by statute, like the grand jury materials from Mueller’s investigation. Under impeachment, the House would be in a stronger position to demand contempt penalties. With impeachment also comes the power to gather information in foreign countries, These are just four reasons why we understand impeachment to be preferable.

In terms of political repercussions, we would like to understand the risks of a 2020 Republican backlash to impeachment proceedings. Why is the risk of a Republican wave more likely than the risk of constituents voting out a Democratic representative who does not take a stand to impeach in favor of another Democratic contender? How does that outweigh a Representative’s constitutional duty to uphold the rule of law during their tenure?

Are there any other considerations, whether they be political, legal or otherwise, that you’re taking into account as you make your decision to stay the course rather than go through an impeachment proceeding?

Please contact either of the first two signatories to this letter. We would greatly appreciate an in person discussion when you are next in Illinois. We feel time is of the essence. Thank you for your consideration.

IF YOU AGREE WITH THIS LETTER AND WISH TO SIGN ON, YOU MUST SEND AN EMAIL TO JOAN REED (joni.reed@comcast.net) BY 6/18/19.

Defend Migrant Families from Trump’s Attacks

Defend migrant families from Trump’s attacks
Hi #Resisters,
June 30th marks one year from the day that #Resisters held over 800 rallies across the country to tell the Trump administration that #FamiliesBelongTogether. Still many families remain separated. #Resisters are coming together to commemorate this anniversary and to demand all families be reunited.
Here’s what #Resisters can do in their own communities:
2. Reach out to #Resist’s organizers to chat about what actions would make the most impact for your area
It’s unacceptable that one year later families are still being separated. #Resisters can make a difference by standing up to this administration and demanding families be reunited. Can you host a #FamiliesBelongTogether event?
Thank you for everything you do,
Anu

IRS Must Investigate NRA’s Tax-Exempt Status | Opinion

Brad Schneider’s op-ed in Newsweek on why he’s calling for the IRS to investigate the National Rifle Association.
By Brad Schneider, U.S Representative, IL-10

If you can believe it, when the National Rifle Association was founded as a not-for-profit organization almost 150 years ago, the stated goal of its founder was to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” While it may have adhered to that mission in the past, today’s NRA has strayed far from its founding principles.

The modern NRA advocates for reckless policies that can allow guns to fall into dangerous hands. Its spokespeople verbally attack student survivors of mass shootings. And, according to recent news reports, its executives appear to have improperly directed the donations from its rank-and-file members to line their own pockets.

For a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, such blatant self-dealing would constitute more than just bad press. It would be a violation of the state and federal laws that govern tax-exempt organizations. If the allegations are true, American taxpayers should not be forced to effectively subsidize the efforts of the NRA’s leadership to bilk their members to enrich themselves.

That is why I am calling for the IRS to investigate the NRA’s tax-exempt status.

The alleged pattern of self-dealing, deceptive billing and skirting of transparency reaches the highest levels of the NRA.

One glaring example: The NRA paid more than $40 million in 2017 to its longtime public relations firm Ackerman McQueen with scant documentation on how that money has been spent. There do, however, appear to be many close personal and financial links between Ackerman McQueen and top NRA executives. In addition, leaked internal documents suggest that hundreds of thousands of dollars were funneled from the firm to pay for NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s luxury clothing and lavish travel. LaPierre, already one of the highest-paid nonprofit executives in the nation, has also reportedly secured what amounts to a lifetime contract, assuring he is paid for consulting services and personal appearances after his employment.

Former NRA President Oliver North has also allegedly massively benefited from the NRA’s relationship with Ackerman McQueen. Days after accepting the uncompensated role of board president at the NRA, he reportedly signed a contract with the firm worth roughly $1 million a year.

Despite lavish spending at the leadership level, just one-10th of the NRA’s money is directed toward activities that many members would recognize as nonprofit activity, such as gun safety, training and education, according to The New Yorker.

These examples raise a sea of red flags. The former head of the tax-exempt enterprises division within the IRS, Marc Owens, told The New Yorker that the NRA’s records present “one of the broadest arrays of likely transgressions that I’ve ever seen” and suggested they could lead to the revocation of the NRA’s tax-exempt status.

Fortunately, elected officials are catching on to the NRA’s alleged problematic behavior. Earlier this month, three members of the Senate Committee on Finance—Democratic Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Robert Menendez of New Jersey—sent letters to LaPierre, North and Ackerman McQueen to turn over “letters, third-party audits, memos and other materials as they look into allegations of self-dealing and examine the NRA’s nonprofit status,” The Washington Post reported. The New York attorney general’s office has also begun an investigation into the NRA’s tax-exempt status and issued subpoenas.

When Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George came before the Ways and Means Committee, I posed the self-dealing allegations against the NRA to him as hypotheticals. He said the arrangements were “concerning” and “would raise questions,” and he agreed they would warrant further investigation. I also sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig requesting he investigate these allegations and determine whether the NRA’s tax-exempt status has been abused.

Fundamentally, we are a nation of laws, which must be as applicable to powerful organizations such as the NRA as they are to you, me or any other citizen. In the face of this overwhelming evidence, the IRS must fully and fairly investigate the NRA, and if it finds the organization has operated outside the bounds of a nonprofit charitable organization, it should revoke the group’s nonprofit status.

Illinois Environmental Community Legislative Successes

Illinois Environmental Council Advocates

The 2019 Illinois General Assembly legislative session is expected to end today. With the growing strength of our community and a legislature that increasingly prioritizes environmental issues, IEC is proud to announce that the environmental community had one of the most successful sessions ever.

We passed a broad and ambitious agenda, defeated damaging legislation, and secured important appropriations in the budget. This session has proved that elections matter. Our new governor, Gov. Pritzker, made a bold commitment to renewable energy and that momentum to tackle our biggest environmental challenges extended to the new legislature as well, where both chambers voted to position Illinois to begin regulating our carbon emissions for the first time.

This morning, we are still waiting to review any expected budget or capital plans. We’ll send a note about the results as we work to advance budgets that support clean energy, preserve natural resources, and protect our air and water. We hope to avoid reliance on fund sweeps or any cuts to agency staff and are actively fighting penalties to electric vehicles as a proposed revenue source.

Below is a list of our big environmental wins this session:

ENERGY

Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act — SB9 (Bennett- Ammons)
IEC, along with many of our partners, heavily negotiated this major legislation to protect clean water and public health. This bill creates a regulatory framework to ensure polluters, not taxpayers, pay for needed closure and cleanup, guarantees public participation and transparency, and provides Illinois EPA the funds it needs to properly oversee closure and cleanup. SB 9 pass 77-35-1 in the House and 39-9-7 in the Senate.

Dirty Industry Bill–HB1633 (Hoffman/Hastings)
This was an ALEC bill that protected new pollution projects from criticism and enhanced penalties on criminal actions already illegal in Illinois. Sen. Hastings heard the concerns and demonstrated the courage to stand up against the bill, stopping it from advancing. HB1633 passed 77-28-3 in the House but was tabled in the Senate.

Solar and EV Ready Construction — HB2652 (Halpin-Belt)
This legislation will allow expansion of building codes to include solar, electric vehicle and other supplemental codes. HB2652 passed 112-1 in the House and 54-0 in the Senate.

Solar Opportunities for Universities — SB211 (Bennett-Stuart)
This legislation addresses regulatory barriers to university procurement of solar and wind power.  An initiative of SIU, this will increase the length of time that a university can use to pay back wind and solar power purchases. SB211 passed 49-0 in the Senate and 108-8 in the House.

County Wind Development — HB2988 (Williams/Cunningham)
This bill clarifies current law by making it even more explicit that only counties and municipalities have zoning authority over wind farm development. This change will facilitate wind development to facilitate growth, as it has since 2007, under the regulatory oversight of the county and municipal governments in Illinois. HB2988 passed 43-7-1 in the Senate and 95-12-1 in the House.

Resource- Efficient Cannabis — HB1438 (Steans/Cassidy)
IEC worked with legislators to add new Illinois specific, nation-leading standards and administrative framework to this bill that help mitigate some of the negative impacts that would otherwise result from expanding the cannabis industry in Illinois. The inclusion of our proposal makes this the “greenest” cannabis bill in the nation. This bill passed just moments ago! Check out our latest blog post on it here. This bill passed 38-17-2 in the Senate and 66-47 in the House.

Taking Action on Climate Change — HB3481 (Gabel/Ellman)
By removing a provision in existing statute, this bill authorizes Illinois to take action on climate change by regulating greenhouse gases. This vote on this bill demonstrates a pro-climate action majority for the first time in both chambers. It is the first stand alone climate bill to receive a majority roll call and move to the governor. HB3481 passed 66-44-1 in the House and 36-17 in the Senate.

CONSERVATION

Wrongful Tree Cutting — HB3105 (Edly-Allen/Stadelman)
This legislation fairly compensates owners of protected lands who have suffered damages from illegal logging. HB3105 passed 113-0 in the House and 53-0 in the Senate.

Conservation Easements — HB2601 (Morgan/Bush)
Makes changes to the law on conservation easement to encourage greater flexibility in protecting open space and conservation areas. HB2601 passed 56-0-1 in the Senate and 97-0 in the House.

Removing Endangered Species Protections — HB2425 (Chesney)
We were able to stop HB2425/SB1336, bill that jeopardize endangered species by eliminating certain requirements for permits, notice and public hearings. This bill would have left the protection of federal endangered species in the hands of the Trump administration, as they actively rolling back protection of endangered species. HB2425 was held with a vote of 60-47-3 in the House.

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

Promoting Soil Health — HB2737 (Halpin/Bennett)
The Soil Water and Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are an important resource for farmers in Illinois. This legislation adds soil health practices to the list of resources that SWCDs can provide for farmers. The bill passed the House 112-0 and 59-0 in the Senate.

Enhancing Local Food Opportunities — HB2505 (West/Fowler)
In redefining the definition of “local”, this bill will improve opportunities for the state to purchase local food. This bill passed unanimously out of both chambers. 112-0 in the House and 56-0 in the Senate

Supporting Nutrient Loss Reduction Goals — SR52 (Bennett)
This resolution calls for the state to support the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.

WATER

Microplastics —  SB1392 (Morrison/Batinick)
With the growing threat of plastics in our water and our food sources, IEC introduced legislation that requires a study of the threat of microplastics and opportunities for regulatory and legislative protections. The bill passed 118-0 in the House and 57-0 in the Senate.

Equitable Water Rates — SB1724 (Harris/Ford)
This legislation requires that the University of Illinois-Chicago study the setting of water rates in northeastern Illinois. Subject to appropriation, the study will take into consideration factors when setting rates, challenges for low-income communities and opportunities for greater collaboration and equity. This bill passed the House 108-8 and 49-0 in the Senate.

Creating Water Infrastructure Jobs — SB2146 (Villivalam/Slaughter)
This bill will create funding and resources for water jobs training programs and those from disadvantaged communities that are placed in them. As of writing, this bill has not yet passed the Senate, but is expected to do so today. The bill passed the House 103-11 and will have a concurrence vote in the Senate today.

Dirty Industry Bill–HB1633 (Hoffman/Hastings)
To ensure that state revolving funds for water infrastructure can be used broadly by communities, this bill will set forth a rulemaking by IEPA to clarify the use of SRF for ‘set-aside’ programs, such as consolidation. Passed the House 108-0 and the Senate 56-0.

WASTE

State Action on Waste — HB3068 (Costa-Howard/Ellman)
This bill will require the state to develop a comprehensive plan to address solid waste. This legislation also provides for the establishment of recycling programs at state agencies with specific goals around waste reduction. 104-6 in the House and 54-0 in the Senate.

Bulk Containers —  HB3440 (Guzzardi/Steans)
This legislation will cut down waste by ensuring that retailers may offer the use of personal containers for bulk foods. This clarifies uncertainties surrounding this issue and prevent municipalities from unnecessarily banning the use of personal containers in the future. 91-6 in the House and 54-0 in the Senate.

TOXICS

Ethylene Oxide — SB1852/SB1854 (Durkin/Curran, Mason/Bush)
IEC worked with Senators Curran and Bush, and Representatives Durkin, Mason, and Yingling to craft legislation that strengthens protections against ethylene oxide.  SB1852 regulates sterilization facilities such as Sterigenics and Medline, the two biggest emitters in the state. It provides a pathway to keep bad actors such as Sterigenics closed and lowers the emissions level of Medline to the lowest permitted emissions in the country. SB1854 is a step towards regulating Vantage, a manufacturing company that emits a large level of ethylene oxide, by requiring emissions monitoring, dispersion modeling, and giving the IEPA the ability to reopen and cap their emissions permit. SB1852 passed the House 108-0-1 and the Senate 53-0. SB1854 passed the House 90-17 and the Senate 55-1.

BPA Receipts — HB2076 (Villa/Gillespie)
BPA (bisphenol A) is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and has been found to be a threat to human health. Some retail establishments still use receipt paper that is made with BPA, presenting a risk to both the workers and customers. This bill prohibits the manufacture and distribution of paper with BPA for the purpose of banking and business records. Passed the Senate 51-0 and the House 114-0.

EJ Permit Notice — SB1847 (Munoz/Mah)
IEC supported legislation this session that requires enhanced notice and opportunities for public participation for air permits within environmental justice communities. SB1847 passed the Senate 47-0 and the House 101-11.

Let’s keep up the fight,

Colleen Smith
Legislative Director, IEC

Redistributed from the IEC newsletter, “That’s a wrap! Check out our huge enviro wins this session!” 5/31/19