Advocacy update April 19, 2022

Advocacy update April 19, 2022

Advocacy update April 19, 2022 150 150 Episcopalians in Connection
Spiritual Resources for Earth Day and Creation Care Sunday

Earth Day is Friday, and the Episcopal Church celebrates Creation Care this Sunday. The Diocese of San Diego offers an array of resources, including prayers, the Episcopal Church carbon tracker, suggestions on engaging children, tools for civic engagement, and a list of books and films. Thank you to diocesan lay leader Harold Patrick for sharing this timely resource.

HB 616 would ban “divisive content” and discussion of gender identity of sexual identity in K-3 classes

Introduced April 4, HB 616 covers public schools and private schools that receive state vouchers. It includes a list of “divisive and inherently racist concepts,” including the 1619 Project, diversity, equity, and inclusion learning outcomes, and “any other concept that the State Board of Education defines as divisive or inherently racist.”  The bill requires the State Board to set up a procedure for parents to file complaints against a teacher, school administrator, or school district superintendent. Potential sanctions include revoking a teacher’s license and withholding state funding from the district. The State Board would have to create a system to monitor the compliance of local school districts.

As of April 19, the bill has only two sponsors. The Cleveland Plain Dealer noted that this could be a sign of limited support, but that controversial bills sometimes get added into more popular legislation or the state budget.

The bill amplifies the culture wars that flared in many Ohio school districts over the past year since the killing of George Floyd and subsequent backlash against Black Lives Matter. “Parents deserve and should be provided a say in what is taught to their children in schools,” says co-sponsor Jean Schmidt, R-Cincinnati. “The intent of this bill is to provide them with the tools to be able to see what their child is being taught.”

H.R. 2590, Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act

This bill would prohibit US foreign aid to Israel from being used to support the detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children. The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations cites data that Israeli authorities imprison many Palestinian children every month. In 79 cases from the West Bank, nearly 85% endured physical violence during their detention and 76% were not informed of the reason for their detention.  The Washington Office staff are hopeful this bill could pass if there’s enough constituent momentum. Go to this link for more background and a tool to write to your Senators and member of Congress. You can easily personalize the letter.

State legislative maps ruled unconstitutional again

On April 14, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected the fourth state district plan adopted March 28 by 4-3 vote by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. The ruling found that the new maps still produce disproportionate partisan advantage in violation of the Ohio Constitution. The Court set a May 6 deadline for the Commission to submit a constitutional plan.

Meanwhile, a three-judge federal panel may intervene in this state district mapmaking impasse after April 20.  Underlying this impasse is growing anxiety among election officials because of the 90-day filing deadline for candidates, which would be May 4 if the primary for local elections is held August 2.

In the April 14 ruling, the Ohio justices suggested that the Commission start with the plans created by independent mapmakers Douglas Johnson and Michael McDonald, who had worked intensively at considerable taxpayer expense, in a transparent process visible Ohio citizens on live broadcast through the Ohio Channel. Their work was discarded by House Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate President Matt Huffman on the afternoon of the deadline for completing the plan. Cupp and Huffman introduced a slightly revised version of the map previously ruled unconstitutional just before calling a vote, where it was adopted by a 4-3 vote with no Democratic support.

“The timeline of events demonstrates convincingly that the commission — or at least some members of the commission — when faced with one or more plans that closely matched constitutional requirements in the form of Dr. McDonald’s and Dr. Johnson’s plans, reverted to partisan considerations when time was running short, even though the potential for successful completion was high,” the majority justices wrote.
“Particularly problematic,” those justices said, was Huffman’s “last-minute insistence” that the mapmakers consider the addresses of incumbent House and Senate members in their district drawing, which the court said “pulled the rug out from under the independent map drawers.” Read more in this Ohio Capital Journal article. I’ll provide an update on this seemingly unresolvable crisis next week.

Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming, and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team. Connect with her at arielmillerwriter@gmail.com