History of UUANI Initiatives
The environment: We continue to work with our partners to craft legislation protecting the environment, monitoring the implementation of the Future Energy Jobs Act.
Race relations/prison ministry/ Black Lives Matter movement: This initiative figured hugely in our campaigns this year, as we partnered with Community Renewal Society of greater Chicago to effect change for people of color caught in the prison system. We successfully lobbied for initiatives easing the way for ex-offenders to return productively to society: expanding eligibility for sealing records, sealing records for non-violent youthful offenders, reducing cash bail for non-violent offenses to can-pay status, promoting "ban the box" in several venues controlling access to employment and higher education. We worked with our Chicago partners to design a process for independent oversight of police to prevent racial profiling and violence, a program reflected in state legislation as well.
Economic justice/income equality: We worked year-long with the Illinois Responsible Budget Coalition to urge Springfield to pass a budget, preventing the shut-down of vital services for our most vulnerable citizens. We finally got a budget, although funding for agencies supporting social justice was significantly curtailed. Fight for $15 minimum wage passed both houses, but was vetoed by the governor. We've been working on this since 2015. Work still to be done!
The Environment: We continued to work closely with Clean Jobs Illinois to support the crafting of responsible Clean Power legislation. And at the end of the 99th Assembly, the Future Energy Jobs Act was passed and signed. A BIG WIN for UUANI and Illinois!
Economic justice/income inequality
We are supporting the Fair Tax, which was to be a referendum on the fall ballot calling for an emendation to the state constitution to mandate a graduated income tax. This did not happen, but will be part of the UUANI campaign for 2018, when the fall ballot is open again.
Race relations/prison ministry/Black Lives Matter movement
We supported clear legislation easing race relations involving people caught in the criminal justice system, including police profiling. Other issues concerned the abolition or transformation of the prison system
The minimum wage referendum passed! But the legislature failed to enact it — however, we worked with a more successful campaign in Chicago to raise the minimum wage to $15 and that passed and was implemented. We began work on the third arm of our congregational mandate, to advocate for a cleaner environment and a responsible stewardship of the earth. We joined with Clean Jobs Illinois to support a bill developing the clean energy resources of air, wind, and water, aligned with a mandate to create jobs in the clean power sector and provide training. That bill languishes as the Illinois legislature fought most of the year about how to fund an increasingly deficit budget without raising taxes. We continue supporting a Fair Tax bill, spearheaded by Sen Don Harmon. We have aligned with Community Renewal Society, a faith-based organization working effectively for racial and economic justice by direct legislative advocacy.
Congregations were canvassed to help UUANI identify issues to focus on, and that of economic injustice was chosen for 2014. We joined forces with Raise Illinois and its affiliates to campaign to raise the minimum wage in Illinois. Talking to legislators through the winter and converging on Springfield in the spring, we won the campaign on May 27 to put areferendum to raise the minimum wage on the Illinois ballot November 4, 2014.
Our first effort was to add our voices to the campaign for marriage equality in Illinois, mobilizing over 300 UUs from 23 congregations for the March on Springfield for marriage Equality in October 2013. Our “Standing on the Side of Love” banners were visible throughout the crowd of thousands. Marriage Equality was won for Illinois on November 5, 2013.