Tell Newsom to sign SB-660 and stop the scourge of pay-per-signature gatherers in CA!

SB-660, Prohibiting Pay-Per-Signature Incentives, would “eliminate the corrosive practice of paying per-signature bounties to professional signature gatherers who work for partisan organizations,” an industry whose employees have been repeatedly accused of making false claims to prospective voters. The bill would not prohibit paying signature-gatherers an hourly wage or salary, as long as it’s not based on the number of signatures obtained. This reform might also slow down the relentless and expensive tide of recall elections.

(Note: For those of who wonder why we can’t just ban all types of paid signature gatherers outright, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Colorado’s ban on them in the Meyer vs. Grant, 486 U.S. 414 (1988) decision.)

This bill has passed both chambers of the CA legislature and is now sitting on Newsom’s desk.

However, he is NOT a lock on signing it. In fact “every recent governor has vetoed at least one version of the proposal. When he vetoed a 2019 ban on per-signature payments, Newsom said,While I appreciate the intent of this legislation to incentivize grassroots support for the initiative process, I believe this measure could make the qualification of many initiatives cost-prohibitive, thereby having the opposite effect.

However, we disagree. Sen. Henry Stern argued that in a similar 2018 bill, per-signature payments incentivize gatherers to use misleading or underhanded tactics to get pen on paper. “This practice degrades the integrity of our direct democracy and our initiative process, because the behavior is based on the bounty hunter’s bottom-line.” Seven states already manage to survive without them. Why not us?

And now that he’s survived a recall attempt, Governor Newsom may be having second thoughts. Let’s ask.

Minimum call/email script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Governor Newsom to make CA the eighth state to ban pay-per-signature gatherers by signing SB 660 into law. Signature-gathering firms paying a bounty for each signature create an incentive to both illegally misinform voters and to forge names. Their presence creates distrust and confusion in the initiative process and should no longer be allowed.

Contact:

Governor Gavin Newsom: email, (916) 445-2841 

[You can add on more information about pay-per-signature scandals from your own county. Here’s a sampling of ones that made the news.]

VENTURA RESIDENTS: This issue hits close to home for us Ventura County residents. Paid–signature gatherers on the payroll of oil companies helped to stop, at least temporarily, new operating rules that would protect local front line communities and our land and water from older and more hazardous industry practices. Four local environmental organizations alleged that these signature gatherers provided false and misleading information to prospective petition signers. Now county voters will have to pay for an election to enforce the very sensible ruling of our Board of Supervisors, an elected body that already represents our interests.

Continue reading “Tell Newsom to sign SB-660 and stop the scourge of pay-per-signature gatherers in CA!”

Shut down the billionaire estate tax boondoggle hiding behind a flimflam farmer fable!

The GOP’s fiction about small family farms sold to pay off a “death tax” are more convincing than actual facts about the stepped-up basis tax loophole for the rich.

Proof? “House Democrats revealed a package of tax hikes on corporations and the rich WITHOUT President Joseph Biden’s proposed levy on inherited property at death.

Seriously?! You know what small farmers want MORE than being used as a beard for the mega-wealthy’s “Buy-Borrow-Die” tax-free lifestyle? Debt relief! Affordable health care! Affordable childcare! Reasonable drug prices!( also in danger from DEMS!) What most non-1% Americans want.

How did we get here? By letting our eyes glaze over on “tax” issues, leaving it up to our heavily-lobbied legislators. But we’re starting to catch on to the con game in which mega-corporations and ultra-rich individuals pay little or nothing in federal income tax, using a fiction about farms that hasn’t been true for decades.

ProPublica said the data showed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos realizes billions each year in asset appreciation (such as rising stock prices) and yet can keep his taxable income so low that one year he qualified for the child tax credit (which he took).”

Polling this summer has generally found the public supportive of higher taxes on “corporations and the wealthy.” The billionaires’ tax avoidance schemes are actually easy to understand. We just need to start holding our legislators to account and close up this “step-up” loophole.

Tell your legislators to cut off the step-up loophole scam! CALL/EMAIL

Continue reading “Shut down the billionaire estate tax boondoggle hiding behind a flimflam farmer fable!”

Tell your senators to vote “YES” on the Freedom to Vote Act.

The Freedom to Vote Act (S.2747) has replaced the “For the People Act” in the Senate. This bill, which is backed by Stacey Abrams of Fair Fight, makes Election Day a holiday, ends gerrymandering, combats the anti-voting laws working their way through state legislatures, requires states to allow 15 days of early voting (including 2 weekends), massively expands voting access through automatic voter registration and Election Day registration, increase election security by creating a national standard for voter verified paper ballots, implement a national voter ID standard with reasonable alternatives like utility bills or bank statements, requires voting machines be made in the United States, protect nonpartisan election officials from partisan interference, shines a light on dark money, and makes it harder for billionaires and special interests to buy elections. It’s a good start and and Manchin’s reputation, and the future of the filibuster, is also on the line.

Action #1: Call.

Minimal script for SEN. FEINSTEIN (not a cosponsor): I’m calling from [zip code] to ask Sen. [___] to support S.2747 – the “Freedom to Vote Act.” It’s imperative that we set a nationwide standard to protect the rights of voters and to strengthen our democracy. We also expect [her] to step-up and support a carve-out in the filibuster to support this bill

Minimal script for SEN. PADILLA (cosponsor): I’m calling from [zip code] to thank Sen. [___] for supporting S.2747 – the “Freedom to Vote Act.” It’s imperative that we set a nationwide standard to protect the rights of voters and to strengthen our democracy. We also expect [him] to step-up and support a carve-out in the filibuster to support this bill.

Cosponsor update (9/20/21): Check here.

Contact:

  • Senator Feinsteinemail, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
  • and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
  • Who is my senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Action #2: Text.

Text SIGN PMYIQN to 50409 to send a message to your Senators telling them that you EXPECT them to vote Yes on the #FreedomToVoteAct. It takes 1 minute.  

Information on the Freedom to Vote Act.

Continue reading “Tell your senators to vote “YES” on the Freedom to Vote Act.”

The California recall is broken.

Hindsight experts can say that our recall election’s outcome was a foregone conclusion – that the GOP’s top candidate, Larry Elder, was a polarizing demagogue and that Democrats have an overwhelming majority. However, “...a few weeks ago the polls were tied. Then we seriously mobilized, and we pushed Newsom ahead by 15 points. That’s a huge shift in a short time. We have real power when we stand up and fight.

That said, all our phonebanking, textbanking and canvassing couldn’t stop the WASTE OF OVER A QUARTER OF A BILLION OF OUR TAXPAYER DOLLARS (now estimated at +$300 million) on a GOP temper tantrum when we have sick people to treat, homeless people to house, school children to help after a year of COVID restrictions, and fire victims who are starting from scratch.

We need to update our recall laws immediately. CA’s recall madness, where this recent election day was also the deadline for a failed recall attempt against a county supervisor, doesn’t happen across the nation. For example, no matter how many signatures a petition to recall Ron DeSantis collects – his state doesn’t allow recalls. In fact, only 20 states do, and of those, eight require a serious act of malfeasance or a violation of their oath of office. We don’t. What we do have is a very low signature requirement, and a “simultaneous”-style recall,” where the lieutenant governor is ignored, and an outside candidate can take over the state with a minority of voters. These conditions make recalls the easiest pathway for the GOP, whose policies and values are completely at odds with most California voters, to “rig the system and create a low turnout election where they have a better chance” to grab the governor’s office. Thanks to the best intentions of former Gov. Hiram Johnson in 1911 – every governor since 1960 has faced at least one recall attempt.

But change is coming, if we fight for it. Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber stated: “This system is over 100 years old. We haven’t revised it in 100 years.SB-660, a bill that bans paying petition circulators for each signature they obtain for recall efforts, state and local initiatives, just passed and is waiting for Newsom’s signature. This will eliminate at least one incentive to deceive voters to collect more signatures. 

Reform of the recall process is popular. UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies published a poll this week that found three out of four voters support recall elections but agree significant reform is needed. Let’s make this happen!

Tell your state legislators that we want recall election reforms!

Continue reading “The California recall is broken.”

Invest in the rest of us! It’s time to pass our budget reconciliation priorities!

The House has until Sept. 27 to get the budget reconciliation package passed, the legislative vehicle for passing an inclusive recovery package. This means we’re in a key moment for advocacy as we fight to win the most progressive reconciliation bill possible. The House is moving on the bill first – that means you need to call your Representative and make sure they’re supporting these essential policies. 

Some “moderate” Democrats are pulling back on the optics of the $3.5 trillion cost of the Biden’s Build Back Better plan. We know that corporate lobbyists and wealthy donors are whispering in their ears. But this is 2021, and we’re keeping tabs on where our money has gone…

Action #1 – Call/email your legislators now! Pick your script length here!

Continue reading “Invest in the rest of us! It’s time to pass our budget reconciliation priorities!”

Friday 9/10: VISION Act and LIFT THE BAR Act.

Action #1: State Action – CALL your state senator to pass the VISION Act. (LAST DAY!)

bit.ly/VISIONpoll

The trauma of familial separations is not just happening in war zones. It’s happening right here under the cloak of “ICE transfers”, and we can stop it.

Human Rights Watch wrote a great letter in favor of this legislation here.

We are here in the process through the labyrinth of the CA legislature….

The VISION Act (AB 937) has survived the gauntlet of the Appropriations Committee and is now heading back to the Senate floor for a final vote. Make sure your state senator knows you support this important bill that promotes human dignity, equal justice, and reunification of immigrant families to the Governor’s desk! (Read more about this bill here.)

Minimal script:   I’m calling from [zip code] to urge Sen. [___] to support the VISION Act (AB 937). This would stop ICE transfers of immigrant community members who have already served their time in local jails or state prisons. California must end double punishment and stop assisting ICE who routinely targets, detains, and deports Black, Latinx, & AAPI immigrants. I urge the Senator to vote yes on the bill, and keep our immigrant families and communities whole.

Contact:

  • State Senator Monique Limón (SD-19): email, SAC (916) 651-4019, SB (805) 965-0862, OX (805)988-1940 
  • EMERGENCY – CALL THIS GUY! State Senator Henry Stern (SD-27): email, SAC (916) 651-2027, Calabasas (818) 876-3352
  • Not your people? Who is my state senator?: findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov.

Action #2: Call your representative to pass the “Lift the Bar Act” to remove 25 years of institutionalized racism against our immigrant families.

Continue reading “Friday 9/10: VISION Act and LIFT THE BAR Act.”

Emergency Brady CA Action! “YES” on AB/SB 173

Brady United Against Gun Violence CA has sent out an urgent notice! These crucial bills — AB/SB 173 Public Safety— would ensure this critical research and data are once again shared so that the research center can study the impacts of gun violence and help save lives. But time is running out: We only have until tomorrow to urge lawmakers to support this vital bill. Please, send your lawmakers an email right now in support of AB/SB 173!

The NRA just sent out their own alert, asking their people to call against this bill, using unfounded excuses. Don’t let their voices be the only ones your legislators hear!

Minimal script : I’m calling from [zip code]and I want Assemblymember/Senator [___] to vote “YES” on [Assm: SB 173/ Sen: AB 173] Public Safety. There was no verifiable reason that the DOJ stopped sharing the vital research and data needed by our highly respected Firearm Violence Research Center, work vital to preventing gun violence, for the use of advocates, law enforcement, public health experts, lawmakers, and more. If we want to create successful, evidence-based policy outcomes, prevent gun violence, and save lives, we need this vital research. Please vote “YES” today.

Continue reading “Emergency Brady CA Action! “YES” on AB/SB 173″

How much do we value our country’s future?

It was entirely possible in the 1980s to pay your way through a typical public university with a part-time minimum-wage job. But trends in both tuition and wages have put that strategy out of reach for most today. The average in-state cost for tuition, fees, room and board at a public four-year university last year was $21,370, according to the College Board. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. To pay for college on that wage, a student would have to work 56 hours a week, every week of the year. No wonder about 2 in 3 graduates of public and private nonprofit colleges borrow, a proportion that’s held steady for a decade.

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep. [___] to co-sponsor Rep: H.Res.100, which calls on President Joe Biden to eliminate up to $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower.

I also want [him/her] to support H.R. 2498 – the Private Loan Disability Discharge Act, which requires private student loan lenders to discharge loan balances for both the student loan borrower and any co-signer if the borrower becomes totally and permanently disabled, matching the federal Total and Permanent Disability(TPD) discharge program.

Continue reading “How much do we value our country’s future?”

We’re calling out the money behind Texas’ SB8 and other ugly laws.

  • Action #1: Tell your senators that what happened in Texas proves we need the campaign finance reforms of S.1 – For the People Act.
  • Action #2: Remind the corporate enablers of Texas SB8 that we SEE them for what they are.
  • UPDATE Action #3: Write to CEO’s of Texas-based corporations and tell them to speak up!

(Great video! Action to get doctors qualified immunity already written here in Action #4.)

Corporate values…

Donor transparency sites have had a lot of traffic recently, as people try to find out who’s been funding the misogynistic and extremist legislators behind Texas’ Orwellian forced-birther bill SB8 (info here). The largest donor is a private organization – Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR), whose ironic mission is to fight “against new causes of action and new theories of liability.” They’ve donated over $2.3 million since 2018 to support a law that is completey opposite to that. Not much to do about them yet, so we’re moving on to corporations…

(thebrick.house) The “Texas Heartbeat Bill” has been around in the Texas legislature since February 2019, when Rep. Broscoe Cain and four co-authors first introduced it. The version signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott was introduced, SB 8, was introduced in March by Sen. Bryan Hughes with 17 Senate co-authors and five House co-authors.

Sludge reviewed the campaign contributions that the 22 Republican co-authors of the heartbeat bill have received and found that telecom and media giant AT&T has been by far the largest corporate donor to the group. AT&T’s Texas PAC has given more than $570,000 to the co-authors, including many donations that were made after the bill had been proposed. 

Rep. Briscoe Cain, the originator of the bill, has received $3,500 from AT&T’s PAC, $3,000 of which was received after he first proposed the bill. Sen. Hughes, the primary author of the version that became law, has received more than $50,000 from the company. 

What else have these guys been up to?

Continue reading “We’re calling out the money behind Texas’ SB8 and other ugly laws.”

It’s time for federal laws to protect women and to rebalance the Court.

  • Action #1: Tell your legislators to vote “YES” on H.R. 3755/S.1975 – The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021
  • Action #2: Expand and rebalance this lawless Court with H.R. 2584/S.1141 – Judiciary Act of 2021. It no longer represents the American public.
  • Action #3: Help fund non-profit organizations that help women access healthcare.
  • Action #4: Chat with Joe.

Action #1: Tell your legislators to vote “YES” on H.R. 3755/S.1975 – The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021

Minimal script for cosponsor: I’m calling from [zip code]. I want to thank Rep./Sen. [___] for cosponsoring [Rep. = H.R. 3755/Sen. = S.1975] – the “Women’s Health Protection Act.” I’m angry that the Supreme Court essentially overturned Roe v Wade by not ruling Texas’ SB8 – the “heartbeat” forced-birther law, blatantly unconstitutional. They shirked their job and now we need [him/her] to step up and push this bill onto the floor right away. It’s possible that [his/her] own constitutents could be sued by forced-birther vigilantes if they offer aid to women in Texas. I expect Rep./Sen. [___] to explore all options to overturning this miscarriage of settled law, including removing the filibuster to ensure the rights of women to make decisions for themselves and their families.

Minimal script for NON-cosponsor: I’m calling from [zip code]. I want Rep./Sen. [___] to know that I’m angry that the Supreme Court essentially overturned Roe v Wade by not ruling Texas’ SB8 – the “heartbeat” forced-birther law, blatantly unconstitutional. They shirked their job and now legislators have to step up, so I want to know why Rep./Sen. [___] hasn’t signed on as a cosponsor of [Rep. = H.R. 3755/Sen. = S.1975] – the “Women’s Health Protection Act.” It’s possible that [his/her] own constitutents could be sued by forced-birther vigilantes if they offer aid to women in Texas. What they’re doing to protect the rights of women to decide on matters of the health and welfare of themselve and their families?

  • Rep-check here: Reps. Brownley and Carbajal are cosponsors.
  • Senator-check here: Sens. Feinstein and Padilla are cosponsors.

Contact:

  • Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26): email, DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
  • or Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24): email. DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
  • Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
  • and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
  • Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Action #2: Expand and rebalance this lawless Court with H.R. 2584/S.1141 – Judiciary Act of 2021. It no longer represents the American public.

Continue reading “It’s time for federal laws to protect women and to rebalance the Court.”