UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
(UUSJ) OF GREATER CHICAGO

ORGANIZING FOR JUSTICE LOCALLY AND NATIONALLY

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Action Alerts

 

The UUSJ Economic Justice and Homelessness Task Force issued this Action Alert on October 13, 2019 to Representatives supporting H.R. 3 -- the Lower Drug Costs Act of 2019.
It would benefit many constituants as well as save taxpayers money and would be supported by BOTH Democrats and Republicans

Dear Representative
I am writing to urge you to join in co-sponsoring H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Act of 2019.  This legislation would both be a benefit to many of your constituents and save taxpayers money, so should appeal to both Democrats and Republicans.
The primary part of H.R. 3 deals with lowering drug prices through negotiation, starting with plan year 2023.  The DHS Secretary is directed to establish a Fair Price Negotiation Program to lower prices for certain high-priced single source drugs.
The negotiated fair prices would be for drugs, which includes biologic products, for eligible individuals, plus hospitals, physicians, and other providers of services and supplies that are serving such eligible individuals.  Eligible individuals include those covered by one or more of parts A, B or D of Medicare, or those covered by Medicare Advantage PD plans, plus those enrolled under a group health plan or health insurance coverage offered in a group or individual market.
“Negotiation-eligible drugs” are those provided by a single source, which are also among the 125 covered part D drugs with the greatest net spending under parts C and D of Medicare, or the drug is among the 125 drugs for which there is the greatest net spending in the United States, as determined by the Secretary.  Furthermore, the Act specifies that insulin is a qualifying single source drug.
The Secretary of DHS and the manufacturer have a specified period where they can negotiate a fair price agreement for a specific drug, which shall be effective until such drug is no longer considered a selected drug.  Factors to be considered in the negotiation include: 1) research and development costs, 2) unit costs of production and distribution, 3) size of the expected market, and 4) comparison to existing therapeutic alternatives.  In no case should the negotiated fair price be above the average international market price, determined by average market prices for the drug in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom.
Again, I urge you to join in co-sponsoring H.R. 3.  I look forward to receiving you views on this legislation.

                                                                   Sincerely,

 

The UUSJ Environvental Task Force issued this Action Alert on August 15, 2019 to IL Representatives and Senators supporting the Clean Energy Jobs Act HB 3624/SB 2132

Representative/Senator
[their] Bldg., #
Springfield, IL 62706

Dear Representative/Senator

I am writing to urge you to join in co-sponsoring the Clean Energy Jobs Act (HB 3624/S 2132).  This legislation would raise renewable energy targets, train workers for clean energy jobs (particularly in disadvantaged communities) and allow the Illinois Power Agency to handle the capacity market for northern Illinois, keeping money in the state to spend on renewable energy projects. It also is designed to get Illinois to 100% renewable energy by 2050, eliminate carbon from the power sector by 2030 and reduce the number of gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles on the roads.
Some highlights of the legislation include:

At the end of August, FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur retired, breaking a 2-2 deadlock on the commission that regulates the nation’s energy markets. That opens the door for FERC to pass a proposal favored by out-of-state power generators that would be devastating to our electric bills. It also would hamper Illinois’ efforts at becoming a national leader in securing clean, affordable electricity for consumers. The plan would overhaul the rules for an auction that determines the prices in a special electricity market called the “capacity market.” That would inflate market prices to prop up struggling fossil fuel power plants and, in effect, make ComEd customers pay higher power bills for dirty power that they don’t need.
new analysis estimates that northern Illinois consumers could see future rate hikes increasing bills by up to $864 million a year.   The Clean Energy Jobs Act includes capacity market reforms that would shield electric customers from skyrocketing bills.  The next auction to determine capacity prices in Northern Illinois is early in 2020. That’s why the General Assembly has to act in the fall of 2019 to save customers from the rate hikes.
Thus, I urge you to support and join in co-sponsoring the Clean Energy Jobs Act (HB 3624/S 2132).  I look forward to your reply.

                                                                   Sincerely,

 

The UUSJ Interfaith Criminal Justice Task Force issued this Action Alert on May 7, 2019 to federal Representatives to release Marijuana at the Federal Level to let States do what they wanted

Dear Representative

I am writing to urge you to join in co-sponsoring H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act), which has Representative Jerry Nadler as the chief sponsor

The MORE Act is the most sweeping marijuana reform bill in Congress.  It would deschedule marijuana at the federal level to let states set their own policies without interference, plus it would begin to repair the damage done by prohibition.

Marijuana prohibition has been ruining lives for decades, disproportionately affecting people of color and low income communities.  A marijuana arrest or conviction can have life-long consequences, making it difficult for millions of people to get a job, housing, further education, and sometimes even keep their children.

Even though 11 states have legalized marijuana and 33 have legalized medical marijuana, people often face severe consequences because marijuana carries the most restrictive federal classification possible – Schedule 1.

In addition to removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, the bill aims to correct the historical injustices caused by prohibition.  It would allow people with marijuana convictions to petition for resentencing and expungment.  It would also protect immigrants at risk of deportation or citizenship denial based on a simple marijuana infraction.

I hope you will agree to co-sponsor H.R. 3884.  I look forward to your reply.

                                                                   Sincerely,

 

The UUSJ Economic Justice and Homelessness Task Force issued this Action Alert on August 3, 2019 to Representatives to join in co-sponsoring the Federal Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, H.R. 3760

Dear Representative

I am writing to urge you to join in co-sponsoring the Federal Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, H.R. 3760.  The people who clean many of our homes, raise many of our children, and care for our seniors, have lived in the shadows for far too long, some enduring horrible working conditions.  Eight states have already laws on the books protecting domestic workers, but being protected should not depend on where one lives.

The Federal Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, H.R. 3760, would shield domestic workers nationwide from harassment and discrimination, as well as guarantee overtime pay and sick leave.  Domestic workers often make less than the minimum wage and rarely get healthcare coverage or any sort of retirement plan.  Without protection, their employers can hurl racial slurs or abuse and force them to work odd hours without breaks or sick days.

The Federal Domestic Workers Bill of Rights helps in two ways.  First it would extend labor laws to domestic workers.  They would get Occupational Safety and Health Administration protections, help in cases of discrimination or harassment, the right to overtime pay, and the ability to form unions.  Second, the bill would extend essential new protections – like retirement savings, affordable health care, the right to meal and rest breaks, paid sick days, contracts on paper, and advance knowledge about their work schedules.
I look forward to your reply.

                                                                   Sincerely,

The UUSJ Environvental Task Force issued this Action Alert on July 15, 2019 to Representatives to Ammend the NDAA to Restrict PFAS in Drinking Water

Dear Representative

          I urge you to support legislative solutions to PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances)—toxic chemicals contaminating drinking and groundwater across our country. As your constituent, I urge you to support amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that address this public health crisis in the most comprehensive way possible.
It is important to take every opportunity to make meaningful progress towards addressing this critical public health issue. I ask that you support the efforts to strengthen the NDAA and include PFAS solutions to tackle this problem with the full force it requires.
PFAS are found in food packaging, nonstick pans, and firefighting foam and are linked to serious illnesses such as liver damage, thyroid disease, some cancers, asthma, and hypertension in pregnant women, as well as other adverse health impacts. Communities across the country—including those near military bases—are being impacted by this public health crisis.
Currently the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has only a non-enforceable advisory on PFAS levels in the environment. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, safe levels for PFAS are 7 to 10 times lower than the EPA’s advisory. The EPA response on this has been virtually non-existent. We need Congress to act on PFAS and require agencies to address this problem thoroughly, and with all the programs and resources at their disposal.

Sincerely,


The UUSJ Economic Justice and Homelessness Task Force issued this Action Alert on May 22, 2019 to Illinois Representatives to support SB 1786 the Licence to Work Act

Dear Representative

          I am writing to urge you to support SB 1786, the License to Work Act, which has passed the IL Senate and may come before the IL House later this month, or possibly later in this General Assembly.. 
Many Illinois residents need their driver’s license in order to get to and from work, and in some cases need it to perform their jobs.  SB 1786 would end the practice of suspending a driver’s license for unpaid tickets, fines, fees, etc. that do not relate to a moving vehicle violation.  Suspending a driver’s license will in many cases lead to loss of employment, which will make the individual less able to pay their financial obligations, so the suspension is counter-productive.
Again, I urge you to vote in favor of SB 1786, the License to Work legislation, if it comes up for a vote in the House before the end of the current General Assembly.                                                              

Sincerely,

 

The UUSJ Board issued this Action Alert on May 9, 2019 to Senator Tammy Duckworth urging her to support the DREAM act whi Senator Durbin had co-sponsored.

Dear Senator Duckworth,
I am writing to urge you to commit to support S. 874, the Dream Act of 2019, sponsored by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), with our Senator Richard Durbin as the chief co-sponsor. This legislation currently has 3 Republican and 3 Democratic sponsors/co-sponsors, and we understand that Democrats can only co-sponsor to the extent that there is the same number of Republican sponsors/co-sponsors.  A similar bill, H.R. 6, is in process in the House.
This bill cancels and prohibits removal proceedings against certain aliens and provides such aliens with a path toward permanent resident status.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the Department of Justice (DOJ) shall cancel removal proceedings against certain aliens who entered the United States as minors and grant such aliens conditional permanent residence status for 10 years. The bill imposes various qualification requirements, such as the alien being continuously physically present in the United States and being enrolled in or having completed certain educational programs. Aliens who were eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and not disqualified for renewal also qualify.
DHS shall remove the conditional permanent resident status granted to such aliens, if the alien applies and meets certain requirements, such as completing certain programs at an educational institution or serving at least two years in the Uniformed Services and being discharged honorably.
This bill also repeals a restriction that bars states from providing higher education benefits to undocumented aliens unless those benefits are available to all U.S. citizens.
DHS or DOJ shall cancel removal proceedings against certain aliens who qualified for temporary protected status or Deferred Enforced Departure status on certain past dates (both statuses temporarily protect covered aliens from removal). For such aliens who apply, DHS shall grant permanent residence status.
When DHS eliminates temporary protected status for nationals of a foreign country, it shall report to Congress its reasons for doing so.

I look forward to your response and hope you will commit to supporting S. 874, the Dream Act of 2019.

 

The UUSJ Interfaith Criminal Justice Task Force issued this Action Alert on May 7, 2019 to Illinois Senators to co-sponsor or support HB 94 which allows inmates to recieve credit for academic work and reduce their sentence.

I am writing to urge you to co-sponsor, or otherwise support, HB 94, which passed the House by a vote of 61 to 47 and which will this month be up for consideration in the Senate.  This legislation provides that inmates currently serving sentences that began prior to June 19, 1998, shall receive specified sentence credits if the inmate satisfactorily completes an assigned program as determined by the IL Dept. of Corrections.  Such programs include ones for substance abuse, correctional industry assignments, educational programs, behavioral modification programs, life skills courses, or re-entry planning.  The legislation also provides 180 days of sentence credit shall be awarded to any prisoner who obtains a Bachelor’s degree while the inmate is committed to IDOC, and an additional 180 days of sentence credit to any prisoner who obtains a Masters or professional degree while committed to IDOC.

Such additional education or skills training makes it more likely that a prisoner will be able to successfully re-integrate into society and avoid recidivism, so I strongly support rewarding prisoners for obtaining skills and higher education degrees.  Unfortunately, the Illinois State Police oppose giving prisoners credit for acquiring skills and higher education degrees, which made the vote in the House as close as it was.

Again, I urge you to see the value in this legislation and to co-sponsor HB 94, or at minimum vote to pass it when it comes up for a vote in the Senate.  I look forward to hearing your views on this legislation.

 

 

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,