We are poised to join these campaigns for 2018:
Fair Tax Illinois
The Illinois Fair Tax is a proposed amendment to the Illinois state constitution that would change the state income tax system from a flat tax to a graduated income tax. This campaign began in 2012 -- though defeated each election year, it has gained strength and we believe it will pass this year. We join the Responsible Budget Coalition of Illinois. Rally in Springfield February 14, before Governor Rauner's budget address, then add your energy, voice and witness March 15 to May 10 when legislators will be lining up in support of the working classes of Illinois -- or not.
The Love Resists Campaign of the UUA
The Love Resists campaign gathers the energy of Unitarian Universalists to support the efforts of marginalized people to raise power for equality: Dreamers, people of color caught in the criminal justice web, people facing discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, people facing religious discrimination.
Environmental Justice campaign of the Illinois Climate Table
We join forces with the Illinois Climate Table to monitor the implementation of the Future Energy Jobs Act of Illinois, passed at the end of 2016. We will support legislation designed to enact recommendations of the FEJA.
The Poor People's Campaign
Challenging a cultural dynamic that supports systemic racism, poverty, and environmental injustice, working for better jobs, better homes, better education, a better day for people disenfranchised by our American world of today. PPC has identified these targets for action this spring:
= Voter Suppression, especially as we conduct all-important mid-term elections this year, includes banning requirement of difficult-to-acquire IDs, the disenfranchisement of people with records
= Ecological Destruction, leading to water contamination, toxic neighborhoods near landfill, lead poisoning and asthma in poor communities
= Economic practices that undergird poverty, including poor wages, mass incarceration which disenfranchises a population, and inequality of taxation -- PPC will continue the Fight for 15 Movement for fair wages and the Fair Tax Campaign
=Militarism, especially the militarism of police actions and the proliferation of poorly-regulated gun ownership.
Newsletter FALL 2018
Over 170 of you from 20 UU congregations participated in UUANI gatherings around the state this year – in Palatine, Springfield, and Mt Vernon. We followed up with a number of you, and heard that many of you would like to gather more often: to get to know each other better, to learn from each other, and to explore ways of collaborating. So we are organizing cluster gatherings in the Rockford and Chicago areas early next year, and a statewide gathering in Alton on April 5 (before the start of Regional Assembly in St Louis). Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in helping plan these or other events.
Another thing we heard is that our Actions of the Week are helpful, and that you appreciate hearing what results they’re producing. Over the past two years, nearly 1000 UUs across the state have sent messages to our elected officials to advocate for our UU values. For one of our recent actions, we joined the UUA, UUSC and UUs around the country in opposing increases to the federal budget for immigrant detention and deportation. In Illinois we sent 249 messages to 19 members of Congress (almost the entire IL delegation), and at least one of our congregations made calls as well. UUSC reported back to us:
“This advocacy is having an impact. Because people are speaking out against the proposed budget increase for detention and deportation, the DHS appropriations bill as drafted was not approved. Instead, DHS is currently among the agencies being funded on a temporary Continuing Resolution through December 7. When the full DHS appropriations bill comes back up for approval in early December, we will need to continue to demand no new funding for detention and deportation.”
In Illinois this year, you helped pass two criminal justice reform bills, a prohibition against registries of immigrants and Muslims, and state ratification of the ERA.
On the other hand, several other bills were either vetoed by the Governor or stalled in the legislature, and we all know the difficulties we face generally in Congress. So we are continuing to focus on the upcoming elections. UUs from 23 congregations have publicly pledged to vote our values, and at least ten congregations are doing some form of a Voting Our Values campaign. We heard this from the Unitarian Church of Hinsdale:
“We were surprisingly busy. We had several questions about voting locations, two people changed their addresses, and one young adult registered to vote for the first time!”
If you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s a voter guide from the League of Women Voters.
Meanwhile, several congregations are participating in the “Listen, Lead, Share” environmental listening campaign of the Illinois Climate Table, of which UUANI is a member. These community conversations, in each legislative district in the state, are gathering local input into how we can create green jobs and foster economic development as we transition to a 100% renewable energy economy in Illinois. We expect this to lead to a major legislative advocacy campaign starting next year.
Finally, UUANI is launching a program to create a Social Justice Leadership Corps, with teams from congregations around the state participating in a six-month program to develop our capacity for spiritually grounded and strategically effective action. Please contact us at email@example.com if you are interested or would like to nominate someone.
CALENDAR for upcoming events
August-November: Volunteer with registration and voting at Cook County Jail.
Tuesday Oct 23, 7:00pm: Listen, Lead, Share: A Conversation on Clean Energy at Countryside Church UU (1025 N Smith St, Palatine).
Monday Oct 29, 6:00pm: Listen, Lead, Share: “Get the Lead Out and Let the Sun Shine In” Community Wellness Forum at Loretto Hospital (645 S Central, Chicago).
Tuesday Nov 6: Election Day.
Wednesday Nov 7, 6:00pm: After the Election: What's Next? A town hall on the 2019 agenda for Illinois with Representative-elect Maurice West, Jr, at the UU Church, Rockford (4848 Turner St, Rockford).
Saturday Nov 10, 9:30am: “Building Religious Communities to Save Democracy” Chicago Area UU Council conference in partnership with Meadville Lombard Theological School at Countryside Church UU (1025 N Smith St, Palatine).
Thursday Nov 15 at 6:00pm: Listen, Lead, Share at McHenry County College (8900 US Highway 14, Liebman Science Center, Room F208, Crystal Lake).
Friday-Saturday Nov 16-17: Beloved Conversations retreat with six Chicago area congregations.
Tuesday Nov 20, 6pm: Peoria Transgender Day of Remembrance at the UU Church of Peoria (3000 Richwoods Blvd, Peoria).
Thank you for all your work for justice. Together we have power!
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UUANI 2018 Springfield Scorecard
Our UUANI campaigns of Spring 2018 yielded some sweet victories and some disappointment.
We joined our efforts with UU Prison Ministry of Illinois and Community Renewal Society of Chicago to support legislation that promoted restorative justice. Two bills passed both houses and were signed into law by Governor Rauner:
• SB3388 Adult Redeploy Act expands the availability to probation-eligible people of support services such as counseling, life coaching, problem-solving courts, and other restorative justice processes.
• HB5341 "Fair Access to Employment (F.A.T.E.)" provides that outstanding fees, fines, and court costs cannot stand in the way of determining whether someone can have their criminal record sealed.
And one bill was passed by both houses, but vetoed (amendatory) by Governor Rauner:
• HB4469 "Know your rights" affirms access to voting rights for pre-trial and post-incarceration people. The Governor objected to being the first state to install voting booths in jails.
We joined our efforts with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to support legislation promoting the safety and welfare of undocumented people.
• SB3488 Anti-registry Act -- Provides that agencies may not create registry lists based on discriminatory characteristics such as national origin, religion, disability, race, color, gender identity, immigration status.
• SB3109 Professional licensing may be awarded regardless of immigrant or citizenship status
• SB35: Immigration Safe Zones -- Provides that public buildings and agencies funded by state taxes be declared areas safe for all people regardless of immigration status.
• SB34 Voices Act -- Requires law enforcement to provide visas to qualifying individuals who are survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking or other criminal activity without requiring them to jeopardize their safety as undocumented people.
• SB3103 Immigrant tenant protection. Tenants rights for undocumented people.
In these bills, Governor Rauner felt that the legislation violated federal law by attempting to supersede it.
One victory, and one on hold.
• HB2354 "Red flag" Firearms Restraining Order -- Allows a citizen to register a lethal restraining order mandating that a citizen demonstrating real and present danger to a community be denied purchase or ownership of firearms.
• SB337 Gun Dealer Licensing, now Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking, Passed both houses, but is being held away from the Governor's desk.
We got no traction for environment protection bills, but the chances may change with the results of the November elections.
Next step -- change the dynamic in Springfield with your VOTE!
UUANI is supported by contributions from Unitarian Universalist individuals and congregations in Illinois, and by grants from the Fund for Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, the Chicago Area Unitarian Universalist Council, and the Illinois Environmental Council.
We are grateful for each of these forms of support!