UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
(UUSJ) OF GREATER CHICAGO

ORGANIZING FOR JUSTICE LOCALLY AND NATIONALLY

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Action Alerts

 

 

The UUSJ Environvental Task Force issued this Action Alert on March 24, 2019 to Illinois Representatives and Senators regarding two fracking bills, HB 282 to make fracking information more open to the publiic, and HB 3383 to allow counties and municipalities to restrict fracking within their districts.

Dear Representative
          I am writing to ask you to co-sponsor, or at least support, H.B. 282, which deals with making information related to oil and gas drilling in Illinois, using fracking methods, more open to the public and to specific personnel responsible for monitoring chemicals and additives used in drilling or completing a well, in order to protect public health and the environment.
          H.B. 262 amends the Illinois Oil and Gas Act.  It specifies information to be included in an application for a well permit, and provides that horizontal wells or wells drilled using directional drilling are prohibited from being classified as confidential.  It provides that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) shall post a weekly notice on its website indicating all permits issued during the preceding week, and specifies information to be included in a well drilling and completion report for horizontal wells and wells drilled using directional drilling on the DNR website.
          Where information is provided under a claim of trade secret, DNR shall determine whether the information has been published, disseminated, or otherwise become public knowledge.  If it has not, DNR will determine if the information has competitive value.  If the information has not become public and DNR determines it has competitive value, then it can be considered a trade secret.  Where information qualifies as a trade secret, the information will still be shared with a health professional who states a need for the information and articulates why the information is needed.  DNR shall disclose information that has qualified as a trade secret to specific personnel if there has been any release of a chemical or additive used for drilling or completing a well, so as to protect public health and the environment.
          I look forward to hearing whether you will co-sponsor or otherwise support H.B. 282.
          On a related issue, I ask you to co-sponsor, or at least support, H.B. 3383.  That bill would amend the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act to allow county boards, in addition to municipalities, to restrict or prohibit fracking within their jurisdictions.                                                     

Sincerely,

Dear Senator
I am writing in support of some legislation related to oil and gas fracking in Illinois which may be coming to the IL Senate within the next month.
Upon it arrival in the IL Senate, I ask you to sponsor, co-sponsor, or at least support, H.B. 282, which deals with making information related to oil and gas drilling in Illinois, using fracking methods, more open to the public and to specific personnel responsible for monitoring chemicals and additives used in drilling or completing a well, in order to protect public health and the environment.
H.B. 262 amends the Illinois Oil and Gas Act.  It specifies information to be included in an application for a well permit, and provides that horizontal wells or wells drilled using directional drilling are prohibited from being classified as confidential.  It provides that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) shall post a weekly notice on its website indicating all permits issued during the preceding week, and specifies information to be included in a well drilling and completion report for horizontal wells and wells drilled using directional drilling on the DNR website.
Where information is provided under a claim of trade secret, DNR shall determine whether the information has been published, disseminated, or otherwise become public knowledge.  If it has not, DNR will determine if the information has competitive value.  If the information has not become public and DNR determines it has competitive value, then it can be considered a trade secret.  Where information qualifies as a trade secret, the information will still be shared with a health professional who states a need for the information and articulates why the information is needed.  DNR shall disclose information that has qualified as a trade secret to specific personnel if there has been any release of a chemical or additive used for drilling or completing a well, so as to protect public health and the environment.
I look forward to hearing whether you will co-sponsor or otherwise support H.B. 282 once it arrives in the IL Senate.
On a related issue, I ask you to co-sponsor, or at least support, H.B. 3383, once that bill arrives in the IL Senate.  That bill would amend the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act to allow county boards, in addition to municipalities, to restrict or prohibit fracking within their jurisdictions.

Sincerely,

 

 

The UUSJ Economic Justice and Homelessness Task Force issued this Action Alert on March 20, 2019 to Illinois Senators for a fair tax

Dear Senator

A Fair Tax would bolster Illinois’ economy and raise billions in revenue to pay down overdue bills, fund our schools and social services, and put Illinois on a more sustainable fiscal footing.
A more just tax system is long overdue.  Under Illinois’ current flat tax, wealthier residents do not pay their fair share of state and local taxes.  The burden falls too heavily on middle- and low-income families.  For example, the top 1% of Illinois’ income earners pay 6.81% in state and local taxes, while working age households with the lowest quintile of income pay 13.26%, and other working age households with income less than $200,000 pay over 11%.
The regressive tax structure perpetuates the state’s dire financial circumstances, an untenable situation made worse by the years-long budget impasse. Illinois’ revenue deficiencies have forced unconscionable cuts to vital services and a chronic failure to pay our bills on time. More revenue is needed in order to put Illinois on a path to fiscal health.

Please support efforts to establish a graduated income tax for the people of Illinois.  Join in supporting this necessary measure by supporting SJRCA 1.  This measure would place a Constitutional Amendment, to end Illinois’ current ban on a progressive income tax, before the voters in 2020.  If approved by the voters, a progressive income tax could be put in place in 2021.


The UUSJ Peace Task Force issued this Action Alert on March 18, 2019 to Federal Senators urging support of a War Powers Resolution to Prevent US Military Intervention in Venezuela

Dear Senator(Durbin or Duckworth),

Thank you for your support in the successful Senate vote of 54-46 to invoke the War Powers Resolution to end U.S. involvement in the ugly brutal Saudi-led war in Yemen. 
Another War Powers Resolution is being introduced to prevent U.S. military intervention in Venezuela. Please co-sponsor S.J.Res.11 to prohibit the unauthorized use of United States Armed Forces in hostilities with respect to Venezuela.
As Unitarian-Universalists, we support the democratic process for decision making. Intervention by the US is not democratic without support of both Houses of Congress. We know how badly past U.S. regime change operations have worked out and we know the American people are clear that they don’t want more U.S. wars. That’s why it’s so important that you support this bill. Send a message to Trump, Bolton, and Abrams, that without congressional authorization — authorization they don’t have — they aren’t allowed to send the U.S. military to war in Venezuela.
 Please follow the lead of Senator Jeff Merkley who said, “It’s critical that the Venezuelan people are the ones to determine their own future, and that the U.S. does not repeat a failed strategy of military intervention in Latin America. ” The legislation would lay out to the Trump administration that they may not send Armed Forces to intervene in the affairs of Venezuela without “specific statutory authorization by Congress.”

Attempts made so far by the Trump administration, and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guiado, have so far failed to bring down the Maduro government. This reality may well lead the US administration to advance their next stage of escalation — military intervention. But with S.J.Res.11 in the Senate and its companion, H.R.1004, in the House, we can stop them.

 

The UUSJ Economic Justice and Homelessness Task Force issued this Action Alert on February 6, 2019 to Illinois Senators and Representatives to Raise the Minimum Wage to $15/hour

Dear (Representative or Senator)

I am writing you to urge your support for legislation raising the minimum wage in Illinois to $15 per hour.  The last General Assembly passed legislation to raise our state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022, only to have that legislation vetoed by then Gov. Rauner.  The General Assembly should again aim to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2022, through a raise to $11 an hour in 2019, followed by an increase to $13 12 months later, with a raise to $15 an hour the year after that.  Some are urging that the $15 per hour level only be achieved after six or seven years, but I urge you to vote against that drawn-out option.

Some business interests argue that raising the minimum wage will drive businesses out of Illinois, but they fail to provide evidence that prior increases in the minimum wage lead Illinois businesses to close or move out of state, so such claims should not be given much weight.

Some who support a raise in the minimum wage argue for a lower minimum wage for “downstate” Illinois compared to the Chicago metro area.  While such an option can be considered, providing it is based on solid cost-of-living figures, we must be aware that there are many cost-of-living variations within the state, so it will not be possible to avoid all inequities.  When in doubt, come down on the side of low-wage workers.

I look forward to your response.

                                                          Sincerely,

 

The UUSJ Interfaith Criminal Justice Task Force issued this Action Alert on January 28, 2019 to Illinois Legislators to legalize marijuana

Legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois is expected to be considered during the current General Assembly.  I am writing to urge you to support such legislation and further to work to include language that would provide clemency for those currently incarcerated for marijuana crimes and allow expungement of past marijuana convictions.
          The reasons for supporting legalization of recreational marijuana include the following:

Including clemency for those currently incarcerated for marijuana crimes will save the criminal justice system additional money.  Allowing expungement of past marijuana convictions will allow affected individuals greater opportunities for employment and housing, and allow them to better provide for themselves and any family they may have. Plus, such retroactivity is the equitable thing to do. 
I look forward to hearing your position on this legislative matter.                                                     

Sincerely,

 

The UUSJ Environvental Task Force issued this Action Alert on January 18, 2019 to Chicago Aldermen to remove lead from ALL residential water feed lines:

I urge you to help solve the problem of lead in Chicago residents’ water pipes, which could affect as many as 375,000 properties in Chicago.
Lead service lines deliver water to individual homes from main lines that run beneath city streets. Lead is a dangerous toxin for which there is no universally safe level in drinking water. The city maintains it does routine testing and puts a chemical in the water to make sure there is no lead runoff from these pipes. But even former Water Department Commissioner Thomas Powers has admitted to “Chicago Tonight” that the safest solution would be to replace those lead service lines. However, that could cost a homeowner between $15,000 and $20,000.

I urge you to support the Ordinance, sponsored by Ald. Gilbert Villegas, which is proposing a 1-percent tax on real estate sales of $750,000 and up to pay for the estimated $2 billion it would cost to replace those lines. It’s the fairest way to raise enough money to solve the problem.

There is a legal debate over whether the city or an individual homeowner is responsible for the cost of replacing service lines. Any city ordinance that makes a homeowner spend $15,000-$20,000 will surely be unpopular. But until 1986, the city mandated that all service lines be lead, so it would be unfair for individuals to foot the bill to change something the city made them do in the first place.

Realtors have suggested increasing everyone’s water and sewer fees.  However, those fees have already gone up at lot in recent years as the mayor has sought to pay for the replacement of nearly 1,000 miles of old water mains in the city. Coincidentally, when those replacements occur, it increases the risk of lead seeping into the service lines.  Also, water and sewer fees are on the rise to help shore up some of the city’s pension funds.
There is a direct connection between lead exposure, especially early in life, and criminal activity. That is because it can stunt a person’s emotional development, it can hurt IQ and it can cause aggression.

For these various reasons I again urge you to support Ald. Villegas’ Ordinance, calling for a proposed 1-percent tax on real estate sales of $750,000 and up to pay for the estimated $2 billion it is expected to cost to replace the problematic lead service lines.

Please reply with where you stand on this issue before the Feb. 26 municipal elections.

Sincerely,

 

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