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State AGs Are Celebrating Labor Day By Trying To Cut Workers’ Wages

In recent media appearances and press releases, Republican Attorneys General have been talking a big game about inflation and kitchen table pocketbook issues. Over the coming weekend, these same officials will likely be wishing their constituents a happy Labor Day and boasting about their commitment to working families on social media.  Meanwhile, more than a dozen GOP AGs are actively seeking to use the courts to cut workers’ federal minimum wages and wage protections. This hypocrisy should be called out for what it is: an attack on working people. These workers should not be collateral damage in political games to score points against the Biden administration.

Unhoused Activists Are Fighting A Wave Of Anti-Homeless Legislation

As soaring rents force many out of their homes, advocates across the country are battling a slew of state and local measures that criminalize homelessness and imperil those living on the street. Police in riot gear stormed the chambers of a Los Angeles City Council meeting on Tuesday after one protester climbed a bench to confront Council President Nury Martinez over an ordinance banning homeless encampments near schools and daycares. Martinez briefly recessed the meeting as dozens of activists chanted “Abolish 41.18!” — a reference to the ordinance. Last week, around 70 protesters shut down a council vote over the same measure, carrying signs with messages like “If I die unhoused – forget burial – just drop my body on the steps of L.A. City Hall.”

Massachusetts First To End Renewable Energy Subsidies For Biomass

Environmental groups today celebrated the enactment of Massachusetts’ new climate law, An Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind, which will expand clean energy development and end renewable energy subsidies for wood-burning power plants. The new law makes Massachusetts the first state in the nation to remove woody biomass from its Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS). While there are only two small biomass plants that currently qualify for MA’s RPS, that number was poised to balloon as a result of imminent  changes to the program advanced by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER). By removing woody biomass from the RPS program altogether, the new law will prevent DOER’s rule changes from going into effect.

Protesters Rally Overnight About Camping On Public Property Law

Starting July 1, people experiencing homelessness who sleep on state-owned land could face prison time and heavy fines. The controversial law has many people concerned about the unhoused community in the area. That’s why several people gathered at Legislative Plaza for a rally and march to Commerce Street Park. Some advocates are planning on sleeping overnight at the park to send a message to lawmakers that homelessness should not be a crime. The group Open Table Nashville organized the protest. The new law makes it a felony to camp on public property and could lead to up to six years in prison and thousands in fine. It also makes it a misdemeanor to camp under state bridges and overpasses.

School Privatization Movement’s Scheme To Undermine Public Education

Last August, when the school year began at Tyner Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, nearly 100 students walked out to protest the conditions at their public school building. These students were demonstrating because the freshman building had closed due to structural problems, while other parts of the school faced issues of mold, rust and leaky ceilings. Marching across the campus, students held signs reading “Fix our school,” “Water is dripping on our food” and “Stop diverting our funds.” While local officials approved funding to construct a new school building for Tyner by 2024 after meeting with student protest leaders, the problem is widespread—more than half of public school buildings in the county have been rated either fair, poor or unsatisfactory as opposed to “good” or “excellent.”

Doctors Who Care For Trans Kids Are Being Targeted, Protested, Harassed

Protests are pretty common at the Little Rock, Arkansas, clinic where Dr. Janet Cathey works. After all, she works for Planned Parenthood. Controversy is practically part of the job description. But at one recent protest, Cathey noticed an unusual sign. It was homemade, and it wasn’t  condemning abortion. Instead, its message was: “Boys are born boys, girls are born girls.” “Oh, so they’re picking on us for the transgender care, too,” Cathey, director of gender education for Planned Parenthood of Great Plains, recalled thinking. Arkansas is the only state whose governor has signed into law a bill to restrict healthcare for trans kids, and although that law has been halted by a court challenge, it hasn’t dissuaded a flurry of other states from trying to enact similar laws this year.

Inside The Campaign To Abolish The Subminimum Wage

As the economy recovers from a global pandemic, many business owners are pointing to labor shortages caused by the “Great Resignation” as a source of frustration. The term refers to the more than 33 million U.S. workers who have quit their jobs since the spring of 2021, largely due to low wages and burnout. The restaurant and service industry is experiencing one of the largest shockwaves to its workforce, adding just 108,000 jobs in January 2022, and remains 900,000 jobs short of where it was prior to the pandemic, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But restaurant workers and their allies are offering a different perspective: This is not a “Great Resignation,” but rather a Great Rejection of low-wage work.

Activists To Delaware Legislators: Sign Green New Year’s Resolutions

Dover, DE - A coalition of progressives and environmental groups are challenging lawmakers to sign on to a set of green New Year’s resolutions to kick off the 2022 session. Says participant Phillip Bannowsky, “this is a way to separate the committed from the compromised.” The activists claim in their text that confronting the climate crisis “has been impeded by the short-sighted interests of powerful economic players.” Specifically, they call for a Green Amendment to the Delaware Constitution and support current legislation in the pipeline, including HB 259, requiring an emergency alert system to inform citizens when disasters like Croda’s November 25, 2018, toxic leak erupted, which injured workers at their Atlas Point plant as well as neighbors and motorists on the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

Proposal Would Create Alert System For Missing Indigenous People

A bill proposed in Olympia would create an alert system for missing and murdered Indigenous women and people, the first of its kind in Washington and the United States. House Bill 1725 would create an alert to help identify and locate missing Indigenous women and people. Similar to “silver alerts” for missing vulnerable adults, it would broadcast information about missing Indigenous people on message signs and in highway advisory radio messages when activated, as well as through news releases to local and regional media, according to a news release from state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. It would be the first alert system specifically for missing and murdered Indigenous women and people in the country, the news release said.

New Anti-Protest Laws Cast A Long Shadow On First Amendment Rights

Tiffany Crutcher was worried. Oklahoma lawmakers had passed a new measure stiffening penalties for protesters who block roadways and granting immunity to drivers who unintentionally hit them. The state NAACP, saying the law was passed in response to racial justice demonstrations and could chill the exercising of First Amendment rights, filed a federal lawsuit challenging portions of it. But the new law was only weeks from taking effect. Crutcher, an advocate for police reform and racial justice, was moderating a virtual town hall about it, featuring panelists who brought the lawsuit. At the end, she asked a question that went directly to the stakes. Under the new law, “is it safe for the citizens of Oklahoma to go and do a protest?” The three men on the panel were silent.

Students Rally To Support Prison Moratorium

Massachusetts - Smith College students marched through the streets of downtown Northampton backed by a chorus of honking cars as they chanted, “We don’t want a prison nation, stop mass incarceration!” on Saturday, Dec. 4. This march was in support of a moratorium on prison and jail construction within Massachusetts that was introduced in the Massachusetts state legislature. The bill was written by Families for Justice and Healing and the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, who, along with Massachusetts Peace Action, sponsored the walk. Smith students and volunteers from other prison abolition organizations in the area met at the Smith Campus Center and walked through downtown Northampton to the post office and then back to the Campus Center.

Over 100 Anti-Protest Bills Have Been Introduced Since George Floyd Rebellion

This June, a dangerously low-flying helicopter operated by the Department of Homeland Security descended on the largest civil disobedience action yet against the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota. In an attempt to disperse the crowd, hundreds of demonstrators were pummeled with debris — and misdemeanor trespassing charges. If Minnesota Republican House Members Shane Mekeland and Eric Lucero had their way, demonstrators and anyone involved in the organizing process would have been hit with serious felony charges, a $5,000 fine, and liability for any damages incurred by the multibillion-dollar company Enbridge. Mekeland and Lucero, who introduced these measures in a bill in late February, aren’t alone in their repressive ambitions.

Backlash Over The Equality Act Is Fueling State-Level Attacks On Trans Youth

The Equality Act — the landmark piece of LGBTQ legislation passed for a second time by the House of Representatives this week — faces near insurmountable odds to pass and become law as currently written. Support for it in the Senate is currently nowhere near the 60-vote threshold that would be needed to pass the bill with the filibuster. And though, if passed, the Equality Act, would codify critical and comprehensive updates to our federal civil rights laws, it’s reintroduction at this time is fueling a harmful backlash against transgender people as we contend with systematic governmental assaults on trans youth in state legislatures. It has been incredibly moving to see our representatives in Congress speak out against anti-LGBTQ discrimination and defend trans lives in the face of cruel efforts to demean and dehumanize us.

Five Action Items To Stop Anti-Trans Bills

Over the past six years, state legislatures have made it a priority to attack transgender youth. This year, we are witnessing a record number of bills proposed in states across the country with many moving quickly through the legislative process. Most of the bills propose doing two main things: (1) bar trans women and girls from women’s athletics; and (2) criminalize (or otherwise ban) gender-affirming health care for trans youth. The underlying goal of these efforts is to entrench in law restrictions on self-determination for all youth and ultimately to prevent people from being trans at all. They are animated through a well-funded and developed infrastructure that weaponizes misinformation about transness to capitalize on people’s fears of gender variance.
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