Racial Justice Legislation Update
Dear United Parish Family,
During the past month, a number of United Parish members joined with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization to organize in-district meetings (IDMs) between concerned constituents and their representatives in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. These meetings set out to expose our legislators to their constituents' passion and to demand that our legislators act now to pass crucial racial justice legislation before the end of the 2019-2020 legislative session on July 31st. In the IDM that Kendra Holt Moore, Anne Auerbach, Beth Klein, and I (along with members of Temple Beth Zion, Temple Israel, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and others) helped organize with Reps. Vitolo, Honan, and Moran, we were able to push our representatives to take strong and decisive action in each of these areas. We had more than 100 people join our IDM. Even though our representatives did not always give us the answers we wanted, we were able to ask hard questions and make clear the urgency of the moment.
Next steps: This IDM campaign focused on four issues: 1) advancing strong police accountability measures; 2) pushing for the speedy decarceration of currently imprisoned people vulnerable to COVID-19; 3) supporting an extension of the eviction moratorium to ensure a homelessness crisis is not added on to the public health and economic crisis COVID has already created; and 4) immediate action to make health care more affordable and accessible to all Bay Staters.
As of today (7/28), both the Senate and the House have passed police reform omnibus bills. Unfortunately, the House’s bill was disappointingly weak on the critical issues of qualified immunity reform and restrictions on the use of tear gas and military equipment by police. Both bills also failed to adequately address our concerns regarding decarceration. However, GBIO and United Parish's efforts were not in vain. These bills have begun a conversation about rethinking public safety in Massachusetts that is far from over. Next, these bills will go to a Conference Committee made up of three House and three Senate members who will reconcile differences between the two bills before sending it to Gov. Baker’s desk to be signed into law.
With regard to the issue of housing justice, two critical issues remain outstanding: a 12-month extension of the eviction moratorium and Housing Choice. To support an extension of the eviction moratorium and prevent Massachusetts from being plunged into an eviction and homelessness crisis, please write to your representatives and ask them to support HD.5166. To support Housing Choice, which would allow for easier increases in the available housing stock, please write to your reps and ask them to preserve Housing Choice as part of H.4879, the Economic Recovery Bill.
Lastly, the House is currently drafting a healthcare reform bill, and GBIO has asked for an extra push of support. To support health care reform, write to your reps and ask them to support the strongest possible version of H.4888, as well as to vote “Yes” on amendments #11 & #53 and “No” on amendments #19 & #33.
Thank you for your support and for stretching toward justice during this moment of urgent need.