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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.



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.                                                     



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.



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