(many thanks to Kristina Trew for designing the new masthead for The Shake-Up!)
Here are the top progressive issues and concerns on all governmental levels for the coming week, as we here at ATTB see them:
• SB 646: Weapons and Firearms is on the Senate Judiciary Committee agenda for its meeting on Tuesday, March 28th at 3 pm. We are OPPOSED to this bill. It decriminalizes open carry from a misdemeanor to a simple non-criminal $25 fine. Complete details about SB 646 can be found here on the Florida Senate website.
Senator Anitere Flores (R-District 39) has said she will not support this bill in its current form. However, Senator Greg Steube (R-District 23), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and sponsor of SB 646 is working to gain support.
Please call Senator Flores MONDAY, MARCH 27th to thank her for standing strong against this dangerous bill! You can email as well but we definitely want calls driven to her office as first priority!
Senator Anitere Flores
Capitol Office: (850) 487-5039
District Office: (305) 222-4117
What SB 646 is proposing:
It is currently against the law to flash your weapon in public when you're arguing with someone; that is called "brandishing." Brandishing is commonly seen as a form of intimidation and assault. Picture this scenario, taking into consideration this law: someone threatens you at a bar or in a road rage situation; they raise their arms and say "what are you going to do?" and then their jacket flashes open and you see their weapon. The police are called.
Under the current law, that person is IN TROUBLE. Under the proposed SB 646, that person tells the police officer: "I didn't mean to show my concealed weapon, I was just raising my arms in disbelief and gesturing; it was an accident." Worst case under the proposed law: a $25 fine.
• HB 83: Offenses by Aliens Unlawfully Present in the United States is on the agenda of the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meeting, Monday, March 27th at 12:30 pm.
We are OPPOSED to this bill. HB 83 would require specified offenses to be reclassified if committed by such aliens; specifies reclassification of these offenses; specifies enhancement of level of ranking for purposes of sentencing & gain-time eligibility.
In a nutshell, this bill literally requires an escalation of charge if the person committing the crime is an illegal alien, with a possible violation of the equal protections clause. It is a bullying tactic.
Please call the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee to express your opposition to HB 83. If you are a constituent of Rep. Ross Spano, who sits on the committee, please call his office directly.
Justice Appropriations Subcommittee/(850) 717-4810
Local Rep on committee: Rep. Ross Spano (R-District 59)/(850) 717-5059
• The majority members of the House Intelligence Committee canceled the open hearing on RussiaGate originally scheduled for early this week.
Congressman Adam Schiff, ranking minority/Democratic member of the Intelligence Committee has asked for citizens to call/contact majority members of the Committee and protest the cancellation of this hearing, which is vital for the public understanding on new developments on this volatile and developing situation. Additionally, Committee Chair Congressman Devin Nunes has acted like a “lapdog in a watchdog” role, in regards to sharing information with the current administration without also doing his due diligence and sharing with Congressman Schiff.
The House Intelligence Committee Majority Staff
Phone (202) 225-4121; Fax (202) 225-1991
• The confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch have concluded, with no new news or revelations about the conservative jurist, save for being professionally embarrassed when the Supreme Court unanimously reversed one of his rulings. Philosophically, it's important to continue to voice opposition to this appointment. Gorsuch holds very negative views on women in the workplace and maternity leave - meaning his opinions will likely try to gut provisions like the FMLA, Title VII, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and Equal Pay Act Claims.
This article from NPR's Nina Totenberg provides a good synopsis of the hearings and the next steps the Democrats are considering: Gorsuch Confirmation Hearings End And The Political Games Begin
The Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, better known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), was scrapped Friday, March 24, after House leaders and the current administration realized they did not have enough votes to pass the bill.
How much of a victory is the failure of Congress to even advance a bill to the Senate repealing the Affordable Care Act, and what comes next? ATTB Political Advocacy Task Force Officers Chelsea Bunch and Marcus Klebe break it down for us.
First, what it was: The decision by the Trump and Ryan to pull the ACHA was a significant victory because it prevented the dismantling of important financial help that the ACA provides for poor and middle class Americans that allows them to get health insurance and use health care. However, there are clear flaws in the ACA--it simply didn't go far enough, particularly with the failure of the Medicaid expansion, and what we believe are too-low thresholds for both cost-share reductions and health insurance subsidies. And most progressives believe everyday Americans lost out on an important opportunity for additional cost controls and competition when a public option, or "Medicare for all" wasn't included in the bill.
What it wasn't: This is by no means the end to the ideological fight over the government's role in healthcare. Likely soon to come will be regulatory attacks on essential minimum coverage, rollbacks and work requirements for Medicaid expansion, and continued uncertainty over the status of the individual mandate following the Executive Order from February. For now, the CBO says the individual markets are stable, and the subsidies, Medicaid expansion, and cost-share reductions are here to stay. And guys, remember that's because of YOU!
Let’s talk about the Ryan AHCA trainwreck, which is still smoldering as I write this. Here’s a confession: Although I have been a political junkie since high school, even before I majored in Political Science in college and then attended law school, and pride myself on gaming out scenarios… I never imagined that last week would play out the way it did.
The House of Representatives is not the Senate; by design, it works on the basis of a simple majority without a filibuster. The Republican majority isn’t some razor thin margin, either – Ryan could afford to lose 22 (!) votes and still pass the bill. TWENTY TWO VOTES was his margin for error (let that sink in). All we had heard from the GOP for seven long years was OBAMACARE MUST GO, FIRST THING… and, yet, in an 18 day sequence that would have been rejected in a Hollywood script as ‘too implausible,’ Ryan had lost as many as 50 Republican votes according to some leaked whip counts.
In the end, what cost Ryan was an irreconcilable paradox: any concession he made to either wing of the Republican party to win a vote was canceled out by a lost vote on the other side of the equation. Moderate Republicans in swing districts feared that it a vote for the AHCA was going to cost them their seat in 2018, while Freedom Caucus Republicans believed, falsely, that their roughly 3 dozen member group was so essential to the political game that the rest of the House majority would make any deal that the Freedom Caucus could secure just by dragging their heels.
Looking at the final, last-minute changes that the White House offered up, the most striking was the elimination of Essential Health Benefits (see https://www.healthcare.gov/coverage/what-marketplace-plans-cover). Not only do EHB ensure that all plans do what health insurance is actually INTENDED to do, but also they provide a basis to compare apples to apples, to prevent people from buying a “skinny” plan that ends up being worth less than the paper it’s printed on. What Trumpcare would have done, essentially, is allow you to buy insurance that covers aromatherapy and not chemotherapy; it would have told you that that kind of “choice” was somehow a valid and moral one for you and your fellow citizens. Yes, it was truly THAT BAD, which is why it was the most universally reviled bill that any political observer can ever remember.
However, the implosion of the AHCA as a viable vehicle for repealing Obamacare does NOT mean the ACA is out of the woods. To help you understand why we must remain vigilant, what more mischief this administration can do even without Congressional help, please read the excerpt from Friday’s New York Times below.
If 45 is going to try to undermine the ACA in practical terms, it is up to all of us to call him out on those efforts immediately, publicly, with concise and withering messaging. Keep up the resistance, ATTB – our pebbles are getting into the gears of the machine now, and our opponents know it.
In fact, Obamacare is not on the verge of “explosion.” Enrollment in its insurance marketplaces is steady, and several independent analyses suggest that insurance prices have stabilized after a sharp market correction this year. But the structures it set up to provide health insurance to middle-income Americans are vulnerable. Insurance companies have struggled to make money in the early years of the new markets, and many have backed out. Others remain tentatively committed and skittish.
Mr. Trump will need to decide, quickly, whether his goal is to knock over the still-functioning markets, or help prop them up. If he decides to topple them, next year could be very messy.
Insurers are making their decisions right now about whether to enter the markets for next year and about how much to charge their customers. Signals from the administration in the next few weeks about whether he will help or hurt them will almost certainly guide insurers’ choices.
Fight a court case on subsidies?
The biggest immediate decision concerns a court dispute between the House and the administration over subsidies to help low-income insurance buyers pay their deductibles and co-payments. The House has argued that the money for those subsidies was not properly authorized. The Obama White House fought the case. It is not clear whether Mr. Trump’s lawyers will do the same. The availability of those subsidies, used by a majority of Obamacare customers, is critical for insurers in the markets.
Without the subsidies, all the insurers will lose some money, and many smaller carriers will face bankruptcy. If Mr. Trump does not fight the court case, the Obamacare markets in most states will unravel quickly, leaving millions without insurance options on his watch. Many of the beneficiaries are Trump voters.
Encourage insurance companies in wobbly markets?
There are smaller decisions ahead, too, about how to administer programs, whether to enforce the law’s individual mandate, and whether to recruit insurers to participate in markets where competition is thin.
So far, Mr. Trump’s secretary for health and human services, Tom Price, has taken every opportunity to gloat about the health law’s setbacks, even as he is administering its programs.
Mr. Price, perhaps more than Mr. Trump, has long been committed to the Affordable Care Act’s demise. But now he will have to manage the law’s many programs. Obama administration officials called insurers, cajoling and reassuring them. If Mr. Trump wants the markets to be vigorous, he could use his self-described deal-making skills to woo insurance companies into the stabilizing markets.
Make the system more conservative?
If Mr. Trump and Mr. Price can make peace with the health law, there are opportunities to steer it in a more conservative direction. The law gives broad authority to the executive branch to shape health care policy. So far, the health law has been driven by Obama administration priorities, but that could change.
A few early regulatory changes have begun that process. The Trump administration plans to make it harder for people to sign up for plans midyear. It has given insurers more wiggle room to raise their deductibles. It may be able to make alterations that loosen up benefit requirements — though it won’t be able to completely eliminate them, as Republicans sought to do at the last minute in the failed bill.
Offer states maximum flexibility?
The administration will also have enormous power to allow states to reshape their Medicaid programs — and even their local insurance markets — through waivers to existing law. Seema Verma, the just-confirmed administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was a consultant who helped states write pathbreaking conservative proposals for their Medicaid programs. She is ideally positioned to approve many more such waivers from Republican-led states, allowing them to impose premiums, cost-sharing and even work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries.
A new Obamacare waiver program has just gone into effect: It would allow states to overhaul their entire health insurance markets if they can show that their revised plans would cover as many people. That process could allow Ms. Verma and Mr. Price to approve state plans that hew more closely to the Republican vision for health care.
Change Medicare policy?
New powers granted under the Affordable Care Act allow the Department of Health and Human Services to make major changes to the Medicare program, through demonstration projects meant to lower costs and improve patient care. The Obama administration set a precedent of imposing “mandatory” projects on large portions of the country to test policy ideas. So far, Mr. Price has looked askance at such efforts. But the provision could give him power to reshape what Medicare pays for and how seniors receive their care.
Nicholas Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan, has criticized the Obama administration for stretching its legal authority with some of its Obamacare choices. But those choices have created a precedent for the Trump administration to stretch the health law in its own direction. “If you think Congress is done, and you don’t want to provoke a reaction anymore, then you own this,” he said. “You will be judged as an executive on the performance of Obamacare.”
For years, opposing Obamacare has been a rallying cry for Republicans. But if Republicans can’t repeal Obamacare, they could instead co-opt it. There are opportunities for Trumpcare yet.
Any and all political advocacy related issues: email us at ATTBPoliticalAdvocacy@gmail.com
For all ATTB events, please RSVP on the Events tab located on the ATTB FB Group page.
Join farmworkers and Tampa Bay Fair Food for the grand Florida finale of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' Return to Human Rights Tour in Tampa on Wednesday, March 29! We will call on Wendy's and Publix Supermarkets to make a real, verifiable commitment to protecting the fundamental human rights of farmworkers in their supply chains by joining the CIW's Fair Food Program.
The march begins at 5PM at Publix GreenWise (2401 W Azeele St.) and concludes at Wendy's (1615 W Kennedy Blvd). Parking will be provided.
The 14-day, 12-city Return to Human Rights Tour (March 16-29, 2017) is the longest protest action in the last ten years of the Campaign for Fair Food, joining thousands of consumers in mobilizing for the national Wendy's Boycott. The boycott, launched by farmworkers last March, has garnered tremendous support from tens of thousands of students, faith leaders, human rights, activists, and consumers of conscience across the country. In spite of the growing pressure, the final fast food holdout has dug in its heels and defended its decision to shift purchases away from Florida's tomato industry — hailed in the New York Times as the “best working environment in American agriculture” — and towards a Mexican industry, riddled with inhumane working conditions.
This March, the Fair Food Nation will call on Wendy's to return to the fields of Florida and join the Fair Food Program, where "quality" is defined not simply by the guarantee of tasty fruit, but also by the guarantee of respect and dignity for the women and men that harvest the fruit.
Upon the tour's own return to Florida, farmworkers will come together with supporters from across Florida in the call for justice from both Wendy's and Publix Supermarkets, with a March and Vigil for Human Rights on March 29! For seven years, Publix has refused to engage farmworkers in dialogue or commit to respecting their fundamental human rights. As a Florida-based supermarket and a company allegedly committed to being a responsible member of its community, it is high time they join the Fair Food Program.
International Transgender Day Of Visibility Rally & March, Followed By Wall Of Love
TDOV is a day to show your support for the trans community. It aims to bring attention to the accomplishments of trans people around the globe while fighting cissexism and transphobia by spreading knowledge of the trans community. Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance, this is not a day for mourning: this is a day of empowerment and getting the recognition we deserve! ~ Trans Student Educational Resources
The rally will begin at 7 pm at Centennial Park in Ybor City. We will hear from several speakers in the local transgender community, aiming to especially center the voices of trans people of color.
We will then march to 7th Avenue by the Centro Ybor steps at 9 pm. The weekly Wall of Love, which forms to block hate preachers, will commence there.
In light of the assault on immigrant communities and the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes, we will gather to make cards (or write notes/letters) filled with messages of love and welcome for the Jewish and Refugee community. It has become incumbent upon us to exercise the principles of "Loving Thy Neighbor" in order to highlight our shared humanity and be a light of good in the darkness of hate. We hope to fill their mailboxes and hearts with messages of love and feelings of support. All cards/letters will be collected on site and distributed locally. The cards for the Jewish Community will be delivered for Passover.
•Everyone is welcome!
•Children encouraged to participate
•Lunch will be served.
•Event will be held in the Multi-Purpose Room.
•Card stock, scrapbook paper, note cards, and construction paper are being supplied along with markers, crayons, and colored pencils for the children to use, however, if you have any to share/donate, that would be great!
•Items needed: if you have scissors, glue sticks, embellishments, etc... that you'd like to share and/or donate, please indicate so in the comments and thank you in advance. :)
Not only is Hamilton genius entertainment (thank you as always, Lin-Manuel Miranda.) it's also strangely reflective of our times. This clip, taken from "Cabinet Battle 1," musically sums up what happened on Friday with the AHCA vote. Sadly, our current administration is nowhere near as talented nor interesting as these guys. The more things change, the more they really do stay the same. Enjoy! (just click on the image to go to the video!)
YOU DON'T HAVE THE VOTES!
YOU DON'T HAVE THE VOTES!
YOU'RE GOING TO NEED CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL AND YOU DON'T HAVE THE VOTES.