A Fair Tax for Illinois -- A compassionate response to budget shortfall

Send a valentine to your legislators — urge them to “have a heart” and pass a Fair Tax for Illinois to support a fully funded budget.  Our “flat tax” state income tax structure, one of the last of its kind in our nation, unnecessarily limits the resources our legislators need to fund so many aspects of our state programs serving our most vulnerable citizens.  A Fair graduated Tax asking our more wealthy citizens of Illinois to pay a bit more to allow Illinois to fully fund its budget is only fair!

Our UUs are rallying in Springfield to respond to Governor Rauner’s budget address.  Our Rev Scott Aaseng is among the faith leaders offering a public response.

Click HERE to ask your legislators to support a Fair Tax for Illinois now!

Reforming Juvenile Justice in Illinois: A matter of compassion in justice

Let’s interrupt the “preschool to prison” conduit of mass incarceration!  In Illinois, young people arrested for nonviolent alleged offenses face a difficult road:  As young as 10 years old, they will be jailed for up to 40 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) before an initial hearing, with the support of no mandated youth services.  In her charge to represent the needs of families, Rep Robyn Gabel has introduced a suite of bills aimed at changing that trajectory:  raising the minimum age of detention to 13 years (HB4336); limiting the time of detention to 24 hours including weekends and holidays (HB4473); and establishing services that allow detention to be a last resort, along with implementing youth support services to prevent deeper criminal involvement (HB4543).  

Click HERE to urge your state representative to support compassionate treatment of our youngest offenders to help them change the direction of their young lives.

Immigration Safe Zones for Illinois -- Love Resists!

As the fate of Dreamers continues to be held in balance nationally, we remember that their immigrant families are also on the line. If the nation can’t move, we can do the right thing in Illinois.  HB426 creates safe sanctuary for immigrants in Illinois through the Immigration Safe Zones Act. It  provides that schools, health care facilities and places of worship may bar access by law enforcement agents seeking to detain or arrest individuals for violation of federal immigration law without a warrant.  It also prohibits employees of public schools and institutions of higher education from asking about the immigration status of the student or their family.
It is time for Illinois to stand with the movement to develop sanctuary for immigrants on the state level.  Cities around the state are crafting welcoming platforms as sanctuary cities. Let’s send a strong message to our Illinois legislators to stand with this grassroots initiative.
Click HERE to urge your legislator to support HB 426

ACTION OF THE WEEK: Compassion for Dreamers

The Dream Act (S1615/H.R.3340) is on the ropes and needs your URGENT action.  Congress proposes to vote on the Dream Act this Friday.  Please urge your congressperson to support a clean Dream Act.  

DACA recipients are still without a road to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status or U.S. citizenship. Meanwhile, on September 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced that it is ending the program, then were forced to stay that action through court injunction. This has left people who either still have DACA or whose DACA has expired in limbo with respect to their future in the only country they’ve known as home since they were children. The Dream Act of 2017 is a strong bill that includes a path to U.S. citizenship. In its various iterations, the Dream Act has long enjoyed bipartisan support in the congress and the overwhelming support of the American people.  However, congress now proposes adding elements to the bill that fund increased interior enforcement, detention centers, and a mandatory E-verify system.  This compromised Dream Act will protect our Dreamers while endangering the wider immigrant community.  We need a clean DREAM ACT.

Click HERE to urge your congress people to support a clean Dream Act NOW.

Renew CHIP Funding without gutting ACA: A matter of justice, equity, and compassion

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) brings health insurance to children whose working families make too much to qualify for medicaid but too little to cover their kids through employee plans.  Your Congresspeople have passed HR 3922 to renew CHIP funding.   HOWEVER, the bill calls for funding CHIP by cutting 75% of funding for the ACA's Prevention and Public Health Fun and by reducing access to health insurance for many others.  It is unacceptable to use CHIP funding as a bargaining tool to undermine popular aspects of the ACA.  Right now, the bill has been recalled for reconsideration.  

Click HERE to urge your congresspeople to renew funding of CHIP without drawing funds from other vital sources of health insurance for our most vulnerable families.

Congress needs to know we are watching!

Stopping Bail Profiteering: A Matter of Worth, Dignity and Justice

The $2 billion bail industry makes an enormous profit from people’s inability to come up with cash. For-profit bail takes the already exploitative bail system and charges a 10% non-refundable fee as well as outrageous interest rates. Even if all charges are dropped, no one gets their money back.

Click here to tell big insurance companies to get out of the business of making profit off of bail.

Protecting Lives: A Matter of Worth and Dignity

Background checks for gun purchases can save lives, but a background check is only as good as the records in the database. The current National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database is incomplete because many states have not provided records about people prohibited from owning a firearm under current law.

There is rare bipartisan support for a bill to fix NICS to ensure more accurate and complete background checks – but it needs to be considered separately from a bill that would force states with strong concealed carry laws to honor permits from states with weak or non-existent concealed carry laws. While the House is likely to pass the two bills together as early as today, there is strong bipartisan support in the Senate for separating them.

Click here to urge your Members of Congress to support the bill (HB4477/S.2135) to fix the National Instant Criminal Background Check System separately from concealed carry legislation.

Welcoming Dreamers: A Matter of Compassion

Hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children are in danger of deportation from the only country most of them have ever called home. Illinois is home to nearly 42,400 Dreamers, over 36,000 of whom are in our workforce and contribute over $100 million annually in state and local taxes.

Click here to urge Congress to pass the Dream Act as a first step towards an immigration system that keeps people safe and keeps families together.

No Bailouts for Coal and Nuclear: Protecting the Interdependent Web

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is proposing to bail out coal and nuclear plants, even where they are too expensive to compete with cheaper alternatives like wind and solar. The Department of Energy’s own recent study of electricity markets clearly demonstrated that this proposal is not justified.

Click here to submit a public comment on Sec Perry’s proposal to prop up aging and polluting power plants.


Tax Reform: A Matter of Justice and Interdependence

A moral tax code unites each person and business in a shared commitment to the common good, with those who have received much expected to contribute the most. Such a plan would meet society’s needs while securing a healthy economy that works for everyone.

The tax reform proposal currently before Congress would do neither. Whether it's by cutting programs that millions of Americans rely on or by directly increasing their taxes, Congress is considering a massive giveaway to the wealthy and asking the rest of us to pay for it. Eighty percent of the $1.5 trillion in proposed tax cuts will benefit the top 1%, paid for through trillions in cuts to programs that help everyone else. Meanwhile, there’s little evidence that the tax rate hurts U.S. competitiveness or that cutting corporate taxes results in higher wages for workers.

Click here to urge your Member of Congress to oppose the tax reform proposal being considered by Congress.