Tag Archives: citizen involvement

Utah Citizens Organize “Clean Air” Rally

There will be a “Rally for Clean Air”  on the Steps on the South Side of the Utah State Capitol, Wednesday, March 10, 2010 from 3-4pm.  The rally will be an effort to get legislators to reconsider their positions on HJR 12 Climate Change Resolution and HJR 21 Joint Resolution on Energy Policy.  Organizer Drew Thompson sent out this announcement today:

The Legislature has had its say, now it’s our turn. Despite our phone calls, letters, emails, and testimonies HJR 12 passed resoundingly in both the House and Senate, and HJR 21 is well on its way to the same fate.

This complete disregard of both science and the economic and environmental future of our state demands our protest. Utilize your right to assemble and join all those who still reject scientific half-truths and scare tactics in favor of reason and justice.

We will be rallying on the steps of the Utah State Capitol on Wednesday, March 10 at 3:00 pm. Former SLC Mayor Rocky Anderson, BYU Geologist Barry Bickmore, Senate Minority Leader Pat Jones, and U of U Sociology Professor Andrew Jorgenson will be speaking at the event.

Bring picket signs, bring your friends, and ride your bike.

Check out the event “Clean Air Rally” at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=376479900791.

View previous posts on these two Resolutions here.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Immigration Reform – Repairing a Broken System

There are a number of immigration bills that have been signed into law in the past and new bills this year addressing immigration issues in Utah.

Mark Alvarez, Utah  Attorney, had a piece published in the Salt Lake Tribune in which he says,

In 2000, George W. Bush said, “Immigration is not a problem to be solved; it is the sign of a successful nation.” Candidate Bush said he wanted to make policy friendlier to immigrants. That effort froze on Sept. 11, 2001.

In 2008, Barack Obama said that America had nothing to fear from today’s immigrants: “Because we are all Americans. Todos somos Americanos. And in this country, we rise and fall together.”

Congressional debate will begin soon. Three main questions are: 1. Who should be able to come here? 2. How should border and internal enforcement be designed? 3. What should be done with undocumented immigrants?

Alvarez continues on by addressing 6 “points of contention”:

1. Family-based versus employment-based immigration.

2. Temporary workers versus permanent workers.

3. Skilled workers versus unskilled workers.

4. Genuine employment verification versus the status quo.

5. “Path to citizenship” versus “amnesty.”

6. Illegal immigration versus legal immigration.

Read his points in their entirety here.

A Facebook group called Utahns for Immigration Reform has been created to advocate for a fair and just system of immigration for all people without violating anyone’s civil rights, regardless of immigration status.  The group calls for citizens to become engaged in the process of advocating for the repair of the current broken system and creating an equitable system for all people.   From the group’s page:

We can influence American immigration laws by being engaged in the process.

No person is illegal. Being undocumented is a violation of civil law, not criminal law. Federal immigration reform needs to happen now because the immigration system is terribly broken. We agree that all people should immigrate legally but in a broken system unfortunately that is not the reality.

The page continues on by describing how current legislation is damaging:

SB 81 is a now Utah law. The new law encourages racial profiling. Most law enforcement agencies in Utah understand that the law is an afront to civil rights and have refused to enforce it.

Immigration reform will make SB 81 unnecessary.

Cory Redstone, creator of Utahns for Immigration Reform issued this notice yesterday about SB251 Verification of Employment Eligibility and   HB 428 Non Resident Tuition Amendments

SB 251 is another employment verification bill. This bill mandates the use of E-verify for every employer, not just those contracting with the state as SB 81 did. Because E-verify has a %5 rate of inaccurate information this is just wasteful. Additionally the rate of failure could be used to discriminate against minority workers and cause undue delays in employment if a record is mistakenly flagged. There will be discrimination against businesses who are minority owned. They will face more scrutiny and undue harassment because of this law.

Make no mistake E-verify use is eventually going to be mandated on a federal level eventually but all of the kinks need to be worked out. We also need to see Comprehensive Immigration Reform so nobody works without documentation. Please call OR email your legislator and tell them to vote no on SB 251. Just one phone call from you can make a huge difference.

There is also a bill to take in-state tuition away from undocumented college students HB 428.

Here is the link to find your state Senator to call or email:
http://www.utahsenate.org/map.html

There is an analysis of HB428 at the Enriching Utah Coalition blog. (Read this coalitions mission and values here.)

Bills on immigration can be viewed here, but not all bills addressing immigration issues are in this category and in fact the bills referred and linked to in the above paragraphs are not listed on this page.  For example another bill that addresses health care for immigrant children up for consideration this year: SB44 Health Amendments for Legal Immigrant Children

One thing is evident:  The people must be engaged and getting their voices heard on these issues to address the unjust system currently in place.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

“Unless you have been in our wheelchairs, you don’t know what it’s like….”

This is the message that  disabled citizens wanted to get across to legislators as they rallied yesterdayat the Utah Capitol in protest of the cuts being made to health care in Utah as part of HB67 Health System Amendments and the budget cuts being made this year.  The bill is before the Senate after passing the House on February 11th. (See previous post on this issue here.)

The Deseret News reported on the rally in today’s news.

“….[the legislators] are compounding the problem by supporting bills against health care reform,” said Stevie Edwards, a West Jordan resident who said he came to the Capitol to “do what I can to make sure that they understand that their positions have real-life consequences for those of us who depend on a little assistance just to get by.”

Several attending the rally, which was organized by the Disabled Rights Action Committee and the Anti-Hunger Action Committee, said the bill is premature, likely unconstitutional and makes outlandish claims without any convincing evidence to back them up.

“And they are compounding the problem by supporting bills against health care reform,” said Stevie Edwards, a West Jordan resident who said he came to the Capitol to “do what I can to make sure that they understand that their positions have real-life consequences for those of us who depend on a little assistance just to get by.”

Organizers of the rally had these things to say:

The coalition’s chairwoman, Barbara Toomer, who has been a wheelchair-bound disabled rights activist for years, said….”By bringing health care reform into this new push for state sovereignty, lawmakers should know they are reaching for that high ideal by standing on the backs of the disabled and the 258,000 uninsured citizens who would finally have coverage under federal reforms,” Toomer said.

Utah lawmakers pride themselves on being health care reform leaders in their own right, said Bill Tibbetts, head of the anti-hunger coalition. “So far, the main health care reform solution is to do less every year.”

Participants in the event are tired of fighting this issue year after year.

“This is not national health care reform leadership, and HB67 is a lie,” said protestor Jason Weeks, a disabled local keyboard player and Web-based music promoter.

“I’m just here to be part of the group that has to constantly fight tooth and nail to keep on being able to fight tooth and nail their whole lives,” Weeks said. “The federal options are not the obscenity some lawmakers are trying to make them out to be. Besides that, it hasn’t even happened yet, and who knows if it will.”

In an effort to avoid raising taxes, the legislators have proposed deep cuts to many services as part of this year’s budget balancing act.  (View post about budget proposal here.)

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Health Care Crisis: Groups Organize to Ask Important Questions

The Disabled Rights Action Committee (DRAC) and the Anti-Hunger Action Committee (AHAC) have together organized a rally at the Utah Capitol for Tuesday to confront legislators on the HB67 Substitute Health System Amendments in advocacy for the rights to adequate and equitable health care for all, particularly addressing the current crisis of those who are without insurance.  This announcement was recently distributed via Facebook ((links to organizations and the bill added by this post’s author):

Utah Legislature Action/Press Conference
Whereas the legislature continues to deny that there is a health care crisis we need to set the record straight!

Whereas the State of Utah, embodied in State Representative Carl Wimmer’s HB 67 bill continues to deny that there is a health care crisis in Utah and

Whereas Representative Wimmer asserts in HB 67 that Utah has embarked on… health system reform, that the health system reform efforts for the state … address the unique
circumstances within Utah and to provide solutions that work for Utah and that Utah is a leader in the nation for health system reform, and

Whereas on February 23 Families USA will be releasing a report detailing the number of uninsured Utahns who will die from untreated illnesses as a direct result of their uninsured status,

Now comes the Disabled Rights Action Committee (DRAC) and the Anti-Hunger Action Committee (AHAC) to ask why, in light of the above assertions, dental, vision, physical and other critical aspects of health care have been cut from Medicaid, to ask why critical health care has been cut from children and to ask why consideration is being given to further cutting back on Medicaid eligibility, further increasing the roles of Utah’s uninsured, and

To set the record straight that there is a heath care crisis in Utah—any needless death or suffering is a crisis.

Join us February 23, 2010 at 1:30 PM in the State Capitol Cafeteria to ask why our legislature insists on denying the existence of a health care crisis in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary while continuing to engage in actions that worsen the health care crisis.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

HJR12 Heats Up

The heat is on with the Climate Change Joint Resolution (HJR12).  A message from a newly formed Facebook group of citizens against this resolution, which had organized a rally of 300 people for Friday at 2pm,  came out with this news and call to action:

It looks like those on the hill in support of HJR12 smelt defeat and moved the resolution to a new committee at the last minute. HJR 12 has been moved from the Senate Workforce Committee to the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee. This means that the senators voting on the resolution have changed to the people listed below and the vote will occur this Friday at 8:00 am instead of 2:00 pm. This will likely reduce the amount of people who can attend on Friday, but if you are able to make it this Friday at 8:00 am we could definitely use the support.

It is crucial for us to contact this new list of senators as soon as possible. It’s likely that the committee was changed to ensure that the resolution will pass. You can just forward the emails you sent to the last committee members to these new senators. Two of the senators, Okerlund and Morgan, serve on both committees. If you are not able to make it to the meeting this Friday due to the time change you may want to mention that in your email.

On another note, High Road for Human Rights is collecting signatures in opposition to HJR 12. Check out http://climateletter.highroadforhumanrights.org/ before Friday to add your name to the list.

Thanks,
Drew Thompson

Sen. Dennis E. Stowell (R) (Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane, Millard, Washington)
Email: dstowell@utahsenate.org
Home: (435) 477-8143
Cell: (435) 559-8143

Sen. Allen M. Christensen (R) (Morgan, Summit, Weber)
Email: achristensen@utahsenate.org
Home: (801) 782-5600
Cell: (801) 710-0315

Sen. Gene Davis (D) (Salt Lake)
Email: gdavis@utahsenate.org
Home: (801) 484-9428
Office: (801) 484-9442

Sen. Margaret Dayton (R) (Utah)
Email: mdayton@utahsenate.org
Home: (801) 221-0623

Sen. Karen W. Morgan (D) (Salt Lake)
Email: kmorgan@utahsenate.org
Home: (801) 943-0067
Office: (801) 538-1406

Sen. Ralph Okerlund (R) (Juab, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, Tooele, Wayne)
Email: rokerlund@utahsenate.org
Home: (435) 527-3370
Cell: (435) 979-7077

Read other posts about this Resolution here.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Affirmative Action: A Thing Of The Past?

Some Utah Legislators hope so.

HJ24 Equal Treatment by Government is moving faster than one can say “equal rights”.  The Resolution is aimed at eliminating Affirmative Action and would require an amendment to Utah’s Constitution, which would be up to the voters to ratify in the November election.

Ward Connerly, a former member of the University of California Board of Regents … has worked to pass similar legislation in other states, was in town to testify for the bill.”The implication is that those of us who are … minorities cannot compete and therefore society has to bestow its benevolence,” Connerly, who is black, told lawmakers. “Sometimes we don’t realize that’s a double-edge sword. We demean people.”

Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said the measure will help ensure Utah colleges don’t discriminate.

“We’re not getting necessarily the most qualified students there because of the quota system,” Waddoups said.

Opponents are angry at the speed at which this is occuring:

“To pull this bill out two days ago, and ram it down the throats of this community, is awful,” said Rep. Jackie Biskupski, D-Salt Lake City. “This is big, and it deserves public input.”

Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP Salt Lake Branch, said she wasn’t made aware of the proposal until Thursday night.

“He’s trying to kind of do it in a backdoor approach, which I find very offensive,” Williams said.

Senator Margaret Dayton supports the Resolution:

This fast moving resolution has caused a flurry of controversy.

But is the Resolution really necessary?  The Standard.net has published an opinion piece on the issue.

Our main beef with Oda’s resolution is a concern over whether it’s really needed in Utah. According to Kay Harward, University of Utah senior associate vice president for enrollment management, there is no preferential treatment when it comes to admission in state universities. Also, state agencies are not allowed to use preferential treatment in hirings or promotions.

Nevertheless, Utah legislators are determined to prevent even a hint of a non-existent quota system from infecting our state. Before that energy is expended, it might be a good idea for Oda and other anti-affirmative action fighters to find evidence of such discrimination in the state.

Agreed.  The evidence has yet to be published to solidify the justification for this Resolution.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Happy 90th Birthday League of Women Voters

The candles may have been blown out, but  The League of Women Voters is still kickin’ up fire as it turned 90 this week .   The Utah Legislature took time to recognize the group in yesterday’s session – a video can be viewed at the LWV’s Facebook page:

House Representative Carol Spackman Moss took personal privilege on the floor of the Utah House of Representatives to recognize the League of Women Voters of Utah on the 90th birthday of the organization.

This group is one of the most active advocacy groups in Utah and its members are faithfully at the capitol every day while the Legislature is in session.

Here’s to 90 more!

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)