Call Your State Legislators · Elections · Ethics · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Ask Your State Legislators to Pass a Bill Requiring Presidential Candidates to Release Their Tax Returns Or Else

This OTYCD entry originally posted in April 2017.

Have a look at this bill that Massachusetts State Senator Michael Barrett proposed that would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns, and ask your own state legislators to pass a similar bill. 

When the feds are asleep at the wheel, we citizens have to turn to state and local government to step in and steer as best they can. Trump promised to release his tax returns when he was a presidential candidate, but has consistently refused to honor his pledge. Enter Massachusetts state senator Mike Barrett, who’s doing his best to make sure no one else can pull the same move without consequences.

In January he proposed Bill S.365, titled An Act Restoring Financial Transparency in Presidential Elections. If passed, it would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns if they want to appear on the state’s ballot. Candidates who fail to comply lose the right to appear on the ballot; they could only compete as a write-in.

Brendan Berger, who handles communications for Barrett, says the state senator consulted constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe, on the bill, and reports that Tribe believes it will pass muster.

Could your state pass something similar?

First, check and make sure your state legislators aren’t already on the case. A handful of states, all heavily Democratic, are pursuing similar measures.

If your state legislators aren’t mulling a bill like this one yet, call or email them and ask them to consider it.

To find your state legislators, plug your address and zip code into this web site:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org

Once you have the two names you need, go to the web site for your state legislature and find the contact information for your state senator and state house rep.

Contacting your state house rep and state senator is different from contacting your federal-level reps. Calls and emails are equally effective, and you’re far more likely to get through to the actual elected official. It might be best to start with your state senator, seeing as Barrett is a state senator.

Sample email: Dear State Senator (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname), and I live in (town, zip code). I am emailing to ask if you would consider introducing a bill that would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns in order to appear on our state’s ballot. Having a law like this in place would prevent future candidates from refusing to release their returns, as Trump has. I have (attached/included a link) to a Massachusetts bill now under consideration that is designed to address this issue. Thanks for considering my request. Sincerely, (Firstname Lastname).

 

Read the text of Massachusetts State Senator Mike Barrett’s bill:

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S365/Senate/Bill/Text

 

Read Barrett’s statement about his bill, S.365, which explains it in plainer language:

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Mass–law-can-compel-presidential-candidates-to-release-their-tax-returns—So-let-s-do-it—The-Barrett-Report–December–2016-.html?soid=1110058483636&aid=dXsAzV6_NRA

 

Read stories from Massachusetts newspapers on Barrett’s bill:

https://www.boston.com/news/politics/2016/12/15/this-massachusetts-bill-could-block-donald-trump-from-the-ballot-in-2020

http://lexington.wickedlocal.com/news/20161214/senator-mike-barret-d-lexington-wants-presidential-candidates-tax-returns-to-run-for-office-in-massachusetts

 

This Politico article contains references to efforts in Illinois and New Mexico to pass state bills that are similar to that of Barrett’s (scroll down a good bit):

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/state-legislators-trump-trolling-234919

 

Special thanks to Brendan Berger for answering OTYCD‘s questions about Mike Barrett’s bill via DM on Twitter. Please follow him: @brendanberger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elections · GOOD UPDATE!

Update: Connecticut Special Election Results: Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

This OTYCD entry originally posted in March 2017.

 

Connecticut held a trio of special elections on February 28, 2017. Democrats won two out of three races, and control of the state’s senate remains split between the Democrats and the Republicans.

 

Democrat Douglas McCrory trounced Republican Michael McDonald to claim the District 2 senate seat, and Democrat Dorinda Borer beat Republican Edward Granfield for a house seat in the 115th district.

 

Democrat Greg Cava lost to Republican Eric Berthel to win the senate seat in District 32, but there is a silver lining. Cava did a lot better than expected. District 32 has been described as “the most Republican senate district in the state” and he lost by only 10 points.

 

Turnout for the state senate races was reportedly low, hovering around 18 percent.

 

Read several stories from local, state, and national papers on the results of the races:

http://www.courant.com/politics/hc-senate-special-election-20170228-story.html

http://ctmirror.org/2017/02/28/borer-keeps-115th-house-seat-in-democratic-hands/

http://www.nhregister.com/government-and-politics/20170228/dorinda-keenan-borer-wins-special-election-for-115th-district-house-seat

http://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/connecticut-state-senate-district-32

 

 

Original OTYCD post is below.

 

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

 

On February 28, the state of Connecticut holds three special elections–two for state senate seats, and one for the state house of representatives.

 

The Connecticut state senate races are extra-interesting because as of now, party representation is tied, 18 t0 18. The Democrats have a chance to gain control of the state senate through these special elections.

 

Do you live in Connecticut? Do you have friends and family who do? Support Douglas McCrory and Greg Cava for the state senate and Dorinda Keenan Borer for the state house of representatives in three special elections on February 28.

 

Democrat Douglas McCrory, now a seven-term member of Connecticut’s house of representatives, will run against Republican Michael McDonald in the special election for the 2nd State Senate District. (Eric Coleman, also a Democrat, vacated the seat to pursue a judgeship.) While the 2nd leans blue, McCrory is bracing for a fight. His Republican opponent has reportedly qualified for public financing.

 

Democrat Greg Cava hopes to claim the senate seat for district 32, which has been vacated by Robert Kane, who defeated Cava in the last state senate election. (Kane is leaving to join the state’s office of the Auditors of Public Accounts.) Cava will have two competitors: Republican Eric C. Berthel and Dan Lynch, who has no party affiliation.

 

Democrat Dorinda Keenan Borer hopes to keep the district 115 house of representatives seat blue. It, too, is open because its occupant, Democrat Stephen Dargan, left for a job with the state board of pardons and paroles. She will battle Republican Edward Granfield for the seat. (She does not yet have a campaign web site; we’ll update this post to include it when it appears online.)

 

 

Learn more about the McCrory-McDonald race:

http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-second-senate-districts-endorsements-0121-20170120-story.html

 

 

See McCrory’s Connecticut House of Representatives web page:

http://www.housedems.ct.gov/McCrory

 

 

Donate to McCrory’s campaign fund:

https://causes.anedot.com/mccroryforsenate

 

 

Visit Greg Cava’s web site (which reflects his 2016 race):

http://www.gregcava2016.com

 

Action Alerts · Community Activism · Public Education · Vote with your Dollars

UPDATED: Pay the Meal Debts of Students at Your Local K-12 School and Ask Your State Legislature to Pass an Anti-Lunch-Shaming Bill

Call a local K-12 school in your area and ask if you can pay off the school lunch debt of a student or two. Also, find out if your state has an anti-lunch-shaming bill and if it doesn’t, ask your legislature to pass one.

 

Low-income families sometimes struggle to pay the school lunch bills of their children. Hungry kids have trouble learning, but some poor kids suffer worse than a missed meal. Some have suffered the indignity of having their breakfast or lunch taken from them and thrown in the trash. Sometimes this happens in sight of their classmates.

 

In extreme cases (scroll down for a New York Times article that relays these incidents), students who owe are forced to clean cafeteria tables. The arm of a child in Alabama was stamped with the phrase “I Need Lunch Money.”

 

Being poor isn’t good or bad; it just is. No child should be made to feel shame over not having as much money as their fellow students, or made to suffer socially because their parents fell behind in their school meal payments or simply forgot.

 

One way you can fight back is to call a K-12 school near you and ask if you can pay the bills of students whose families are in arrears. Odds are there’s at least one school in your city or town that has unpaid school meal bills. A 2016 report by the School Nutrition  Association states that roughly 75 percent of responding districts had at least some student meal debt by the end of the school year.

 

This is an admittedly imperfect solution, as it lets the government off the hook for funding a service that minor children should be able to expect, but it does help where help is needed.

 

You can also ask your state legislators if your state has an anti-lunch-shaming bill on the books, and if they don’t, you can ask them to pass one.

 

First, find your state legislators by plugging your zip code into this web tool:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org/

 

Then look up their biographies on your state legislature’s web site and see if either your state senator or state house rep or both sit on any education-related committees. If they do, it is extra-important for you to pursue this matter.

 

Ask your state reps to pass a bill like the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights Act, which New Mexico’s governor signed into law in April. It appears to be the first bill of its kind passed by an American state. It outlaws any techniques that have the effect of shaming students, and it asks schools to work with parents to satisfy meal debt or get them on a federal school meal assistance program.

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

GOOD UPDATE: A Seattleite by the name of Jeff Lew has made it his mission to combat lunch debt and school practices that shame children whose parents have trouble paying for meals.

 

His GoFundMe is a clearinghouse for schools in need, and it lets you start a campaign on behalf of a school near you:

https://www.gofundme.com/raise-funds/erase-lunch-debt

 

You can also show support by following him on Twitter:

@biglew8

…and following his dedicated Twitter account for the cause, which is admittedly a work  in progress as of May 28:

@LunchDebt

 

 

Read this 2016 Atlantic piece on unpaid school meal bills:

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/02/unpaid-school-lunch-bills/460509/

 

 

See the particulars of the New Mexico anti-shaming law:

https://www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/Legislation?Chamber=S&LegType=B&LegNo=374&year=17

 

 

Read this New York Times piece on the New Mexico anti-shaming law:

 

See the School Nutrition Association report that states that three-quarters of districts who filled out the survey had outstanding student debts (scan for the paragraph with the phrase “unpaid student meal debt” in bold):

https://schoolnutrition.org/NewsPublications/PressReleases/SNANationalSurveyRevealsIncreasedEffortsToPromoteStudentConsumptionOfHealthyChoices/

 

 

Read about that incident in Alabama where a kid’s arm was stamped with the phrase ‘I Need Lunch Money’:

http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2016/06/gardendale_elementary_student.html

 

 

See more proof that school lunch-shaming is, sadly, a thing:

Some Schools Shame Students When Their Parents Can’t Pay For Lunch

http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/children-shamed-so-parents-will-pay-the-school-lunch-bill/

 

 

Read about recent efforts by individual citizens to settle unpaid student meal debt:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/donors-unite-nationwide-to-pay-off-kids-school-lunch-debt/

 

 

Community Activism · Elections

Join Flippable and See Which State-Level Races Need Your Help

This OTYCD entry originally posted in December 2017.

 

Join Flippable, which alerts you to state-level house and senate races with Democratic candidates who could use your help.

 

Flippable is one of many civic-minded organizations founded in the wake of the 2016 election. It points itself at state legislative elections, an aspect of the political scene that does not get the attention that it deserves.

 

In particular, Flippable exists to rebuild our country by electing Democrats at the state level. Democrats control too few state legislatures, and it’s the states that tend to serve as a farm team for future political talent–remember that Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator before he won a special election to serve as a senator from Illinois, and moved upward and onward from there.

 

 

Visit the Flippable home page:

https://www.flippable.org

 

 

Read the Flippable blog:

https://www.flippable.org/blog/

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Learn about other upcoming elections that could use your help:

https://www.flippable.org/upcoming-elections/

 

 

Like Flippable on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/flippableorg

 

 

Follow Flippable on Twitter:

@flippable_org

Elections

Spread the Word and Vote for These Three Democrats in Virginia on Jan 10, 2017.

Do you live in Virginia? Do you have any friends who do? Please vote for the Democrats in three state special elections that will take place on January 10, 2017.

Democrat Cheryl Turpin is running for a house seat to represent district 85, which covers Virginia Beach. District 85 has been characterized as a toss-up. The seat had been held by a Republican; Turpin could turn it blue. She faces Republican Rocky Holcomb.

Democrat Ryant Washington is running for a state senate seat, representing district 22. It covers several entire counties: Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, and Goochland, plus some of Louisa County and some of the city of Lynchburg. It is open because its Republican holder was elected to Congress.

Washington is up against Republican Mark Peake and independent conservative Joseph Hines for this seat. This is a Republican area but Washington has a chance, seeing as the other conservative option could split the vote.

Democrat Jennifer McClellan is running for a state senate seat, representing district 9, which includes parts of Richmond; all of Charles City County; and parts of Hanover County and Henrico County. Its Democratic holder just got elected to Congress. McClellan does not have a Republican opponent.

If you can only support one of the three, focus on Cheryl Turpin. If you need to prioritize, focus on Turpin, then Washington, then McClelland.

Virginia is one of the many state legislatures that is in Republican hands. If there are too many state legislatures dominated by Republicans, Congress could pass amendments to the Constitution. Any effort to elect Democrats to Virginia’s open state government seats will help the greater cause.

More about Cheryl Turpin:

https://cherylturpinforvb.com/about/

http://southsidedaily.com/2016/12/13/5- … andidates/

More about Ryant Washington:

Facebook, search for: Ryant Washington for Virginia State Senate – 22nd District

More about Jennifer McClelland:

http://www.jennifermcclellan.com/