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Save This Tool That Shows What Laws Your State Is Making Right Now in Six Key Areas

This OTYCD entry originally posted in May 2017.


Bookmark a tool by OurStates that shows you what new laws your state might be making in six key areas: immigration, policing and protest, reproductive justice, voting rights, LGBTQ equality, and economic justice.


State legislators aren’t just the equivalent of the farm teams for the Democratic and Republican parties–they’re the farm teams for federal laws, too. Well-funded right-wing activist groups have attempted to pass weird, extreme laws on the state level before trying to get Congress to bite.


While there are web-based tools that show what your state legislature is doing overall right now, and tools that show what bills the states are considering on a single issue, there aren’t many that show what all 50 states are doing on more than one issue.


In fact, what OurStates built might stand alone. It’s a project of StayWoke, a 501(c)4 organization devoted to pursuing justice and equality. Its planning team includes DeRay Mckesson, Samuel Sinyangwe, Brittany Packnett, and a whole host of smart, perceptive people who you’d be smart to follow on Twitter.


When you click on a category, it colors the U.S. map accordingly: States colored red are working on harmful laws; blue states are creating good laws; and grey states are not currently chasing anything on that topic.


Click on your state, and you’ll open a window that shows you everything it is doing on all six topics. It will describe the law and tell you if the bills are good or bad, as well as which party controls the legislature, what the law would do, and how close the bill is to becoming law.


If you scroll down, the OurStates page will give you a link through which you can find your state legislators’ contact information, as well as advice on how to speak with them.



See and use the nifty tool built by OurStates:


Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!


Meet the StayWoke planning team and follow them all on Twitter:


Donate to StayWoke:



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Call your MoCs and Tell Them to Protect the National Endowment for the Arts

This OTYCD entry originally posted in March 2017.

Call your members of Congress and tell them to defend the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) from any attempts to defund or abolish it.

When Republicans gain control of the government, a few rusty old issues always come up. Abolishing the NEA is one of them.

Republicans inevitably claim that they want to kill the NEA to save money, but it only receives $148 million, which represents 0.004 percent of the federal budget.

We citizens get a lot for that meager sum. The arts stimulate the economy and have proven critical to reviving ailing cities and towns.

The NEA also does something that few outside the museum world appreciate: It backs indemnity agreements that allow U.S. museums to arrange for loans of art for exhibitions that they otherwise could not afford to insure. Remember the last blockbuster museum show you loved that had oodles of priceless canvases from Europe, or sculptures from Asia? If the NEA disappears, so do exhibitions like those.

The NEA does a lot of good with a small budget. It also represents a fundamental commitment to the arts and humanities that any nation must honor if it thinks of itself as civilized. French-born composer Edgard Varèse put his finger on it when he said, “Art is the highest expression and not a luxury–Where are the Egyptian bankers today? And Egyptian art survives.”

We know the Egyptians through their art. We know the Neanderthals through the images that they inscribed on the walls of caves. Art is how we speak to generations yet unborn. Art is what those generations will think of when they think of America. That’s why we need the NEA, and that is why we will always need the NEA. Don’t let Trump and Paul Ryan and his ilk kill it.

Sample script: “I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I am asking (Senator/Representative Lastname) to fight against any attempt by the Trump administration to cripple or kill the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA is one of the best bargains in the entire federal government. It helps museums arrange blockbuster shows by backing indemnity agreements that allow for loans of priceless art. If we lost the NEA, we would all feel it, and we would feel it deeply.”