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 ELECTION EDITION 2018
The election results this week were certainly mixed nationally, but candidates reflecting our values did well in Illinois. Candidates more reflective of our UU values than their predecessors were elected in two Illinois Congressional districts, at least one state Senate district, at least five state House districts, and for Governor.
This should ease the way forward for a number of initiatives UUANI supports, including a progressive income tax, raising the minimum wage, clean jobs legislation with a goal of 100% renewable energy, and ending cash bail.
Meanwhile, at least one judge was removed from office. Matthew Coghlan had a history of being lenient in cases involving police officers and of being harsh in cases involving young black men, and is being sued by two men exonerated after 23 in custody in a case in which he was a prosecutor. Judges’ elections can be an important part of addressing our unjust system of mass incarceration.
In addition, local advisory referenda to curb illegal gun trafficking and raise the minimum wage passed overwhelmingly. UUANI plans to support passage of gun dealer licensing in the upcoming veto session.
At least nine Illinois UU congregations did some form of Voting Our Values campaign urging members to vote and to encourage others to vote. I know at least one UU who started knocking on doors a year and a half ago. When we work together to promote our values, we can make a difference!
Finally, I share a post-election poem from UU minister Elizabeth Stevens:
Oh, my dear ones.
I know you were hoping
For a once-and-done.
For an earthquake,
A tidal wave.
Hoping that if we gave it our all,
A single push would be enough.
That after this, we could
Back into complacency,
Back into the comfort of our privilege.
I confess, in the secret corners of my heart,
I wanted to believe it could be that easy
That justice would emerge as from an egg
Not with wet down and weak wings...
We are chipping away at a mountain,
Not a boulder.
Created to oppress,
2000 years of this stupid idea
That some are more worthy,
Some deserve power by virtue of who they are.
Erosion is slow work, sweethearts.
Celebrate the progress
Celebrate also the heartbreaking almosts.
Rest for a time.
Then get up and turn again toward kindness,
Toward your neighbor in need,
Toward those who are still trapped in the stone.
Tell them, "I won't give up."
Tell them, "I am with you."
Tell them, "For you, I will learn to eat rocks."
"For you, I will keep chewing, keep grinding,
Until the mountain crumbles to dust."
Peace and Power,
CALENDAR for upcoming events
Stay tuned for the new year!
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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.
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!