News You Can Use – Mar 3, 2022


PA Stands Up

New voting info and hot takes on SOTU

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As we slide casually from Black (Women’s) history month into (Black) Women’s History month, we’re already seeing a lot of changes. It’s incredibly historic that the State of the Union was presided over by women and the party responses were both given by women. It’s more historic that the Progressive response continued to push Biden to do more for our people, and shows how far we have truly come while knowing we can go so much farther.

In more historic changes, the CDC is slowly backpedaling on mask requirements, but only in counties that meet their blend of high vaccination rates and low infection rates. There is truly a light at the end of the tunnel, but only if we remain steadfast in our work.

In Solidarity,

Ashleigh, Onah, Lev and the PA Stands Up team

What’s happening in Pennsylvania?

Voting By Mail and Committee Petitions
Midweek, the Pa Supreme Court finally allowed Precinct Committee People to begin collecting signatures for the petitions that will get them on the ballot. State and legislative candidates are still sitting on their hands waiting for the signal, but that should happen before March 11. If you haven’t signed a petition for your candidates yet, you can come to a training to get more information. In other exciting and breaking news, the same court reinstated the early voting provision of Act 77 from 2020. That means that you can sign up to get your mail-in ballot and no one can take it from you! Apply here for your ballot!

The American Rescue Plan Act that gave millions of dollars to our communities is finding its place in our city and county budgets. It needs to be obligated to be used in the budget no later than Dec 31, 2024 but many of our councils and commissioners are making decisions on how it will be spent without asking for public opinion. That’s why we’re so glad to announce that Duncan Hopkins is the new Lancaster Stands Up organizer that will focus on getting folks involved at the city and county level! Find out what YOUR chapter is doing around ARPA by contacting your local organizer!

New Nominees Needed
The Democrats have lost their only announced candidate for PA’s 10th congressional district. Eugene Depasquale ended his campaign to be the democratic nominee in what is largely considered to be one of the most flippable districts in the country. Depasquale cited the newly drawn maps as the reason for suspending his campaign, although this new map is probably as good as it was going to get for the former Auditor General and York County resident. This leaves the Dems of Dauphin, Cumberland and York counties scrambling to find a replacement.

The truth is that better maps aren’t coming so better candidates need to surface. We need primaries where real people run and engage in real conversations with voters on policies that directly affect their everyday lives. If you know someone who wants to run for office in your county, connect with your local chapter organizer!

What’s happening nationally?

State Of The Union
Last night, President Biden gave his first State of The Union and it was mostly what we expected. He focused heavily in the first half on our support for Ukraine and dropped news that he would ban Russian aircraft from U.S. airspace.

Unfortunately for our staff drinking game he did not actually use the word “windmills,” but touched briefly on expanding solar and wind power. With the new U.N. Climate Report showing that dramatic structural change is needed, it was good to hear that it’s on the president’s agenda, but in a more muted tone than we were expecting.

When it comes to inflation, Biden admitted that we are in a less than stellar situation, and urged companies to “lower your prices, not your wages.” He also called for raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hr. We know that part of this problem is not the $1,200 we got from the government, but from spending trillions to bail out greedy corporations that turned around and raised their prices anyway.

One of the biggest bipartisan bouts of applause disappointingly came from Biden saying “Fund the Police” several times. (Even as I type this, my computer thinks I’m misspelling “Defund.”) Nearly every community spends a majority of its budget on policing. Spending more money on policing has not been proven to reduce crime and will continue to lead to other systemic problems.

Overall, it was one of the most progressive platforms presented at a SOTU in recent memory, and we’re excited to keep pushing for more changes.

Police “Textbooks”
As we’re talking about what police money actually funds, Esquire released this in depth look at what textbooks are used for all that training. The CEO of Lexipol (Bruce Praet) is a former officer and current defense attorney that defends cops and police departments. Praet was even sued twice when he was an officer for shooting suspects. Lexipol makes policy manuals for 3,500 of 18,000 (20%) US Police Depts. The manuals include language designed to mitigate risks to departments by specifically avoiding de-escalation requirements. Lexipol even actively and openly opposes legislation that would increase accountability. All this is revealed even as plainclothes Philadelphia police shot 12 year-old Thomas Siderio in the back as he ran from them.

The Supremes set a Date
The Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson will officially come before the Senate for her Supreme Court nomination hearings later this month. Her nomination will certainly help to even out the court and protect some of our rights from the bench. She has more than the typical bipartisan support so when Justice Breyer retires in October, we shouldn’t see the same resistance that we saw directed at Merrick Garland who now serves as U.S. Attorney General. She will be the only public defender to take the bench since Thurgood Marshall.

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