Advocacy update, December 7, 2021

Advocacy update, December 7, 2021

Advocacy update, December 7, 2021 150 150 Episcopalians in Connection

Rally to repeal coal subsidies

Ohio’s 2019 energy bill HB 6, whose core was the First Energy subsidies that are the basis of the federal $61 million dollar bribery case, also included subsidies for OVEC’s two aging, inefficient, and polluting coal-fired plants, costing Ohio ratepayers $233,000 a day.  Ohio Citizen Action invites you to come to the High Street side of the Statehouse on Thursday, Dec. 9, from noon to 1 pm to call for the repeal of these subsidies by passing SB 1117 and HB 351.  Elves will deliver stockings filled with coal to Ohio legislators.  Sign up here.

Build Back Better Bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer aims to pass this bill by Christmas. A huge wave of support from voters will help him achieve this daunting task. The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations says this bill includes the most ambitious climate change policies in U.S. history, in addition to investments in child care, health care, and many other essential work supports.  The Sierra Club has published a crisp factsheet with footnotes on the Build Back Better bill passed by the House of Representatives in November.   Please use this to raise public awareness:

  • Write letters to the editor and guest columns on the environmental provisions of the Build Back Better Bill.
  • Write, call, and tag U.S. Senators Portman, Brown, McConnell, and Paul.

A real chance to fix gerrymandering

On Nov. 30, Common Cause held a webinar on the real chances of passing the Freedom to Vote Act with its national remedies for partisan gerrymandering, which has brought us a host of laws counter to the majority of voters’ views, driven by extreme groups on the left or right (depending on the party who rigged the maps) who determine the composition of legislatures by “primarying” moderate candidates who don’t meet their ideological litmus tests.  The key problem is the current state of the Senate filibuster, which Republicans have used to block even debate on the Freedom to Vote Act. Common Cause policy experts explained that the filibuster is more like Swiss cheese than a wall, since many “carve-outs” have already been adopted in recent years to allow bills to pass in the Senate on a simple majority vote.. The use of reconciliation bills is just one example.  Here’s what you can do:

  • Urge Senators to create a voting carve-out for the filibuster, and
  • Pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Right Advancement Act to create nationwide consistent protections against partisan gerrymandering and restore the protections of the Civil Rights Act against suppression of minority voters.

Freedom to Vote Act

Sponsored by Senators Klobuchar and Mansion, the Freedom to Vote Act sets national standards guaranteeing two weeks of early voting, automatic voter registration, vote-by-mail for all who want it, and strict rules to prevent purging of eligible voters from the rolls.  It blocks partisan and racial gerrymandering by creating legally enforceable standards to ensure fair districts.  It seeks to reduce the influence of big money on our politics and improves transparency through provisions requiring disclosure of political contributors and funders of political ads. Senate Republicans have filibustered to prevent even starting debate on the bill.  Here is an overview of the Freedom to Vote Act and its implications on the current trends in state election laws from the Center for American Progress.

Several Ohio non-profits have filed suits claiming that the state legislative and Congressional maps adopted by the Ohio Legislature are unconstitutional under the rules against partisan gerrymandering approved by over 70% of Ohio voters in every county.  Nonprofits suing include:  Ohio Environmental Council, the League of Women Voters-Ohio, A. Philip Randolph Institute, ACLU-Ohio, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Ohio. Here is a Court News Ohio article about the suits over the state districts.  Jessie Balmert reported Dec. 1 on the suits over the Congressional map.

Climate provisions in the Build Back Better Bill passed by the House of Representatives incentivize sustainable energy rather than punishing fossil fuels.  It includes $320 billion on tax incentives for producers and purchasers of wind, solar, and nuclear power.  The Columbia Climate School published an article analyzing the bill on Nov. 22.

Key environmental provisions of Build Back Better include:

  • Clean transportation (including public buses, school buses, US Postal Service trucks, high speed rail, and tax credits of $12,500 for electric cars for working and middle-class families
  • Clean water by funding replacement of 5 million lead service lines and reducing toxic runoff from old stormwater systems.
  • Clean electricity by incentivizing renewable energy and energy efficiency, covering 40-50% of the costs of solar and wind projects for low-income and indigenous communities, 30% discounts for congregations, hospitals, schools, local governments, and nonprofits to install wind and solar.  It also includes funding to improve the resilience of electric grids.
  • Energy efficiency through rebates for eligible homeowners and residents of public housing
  • Converting factories to produce clean energy goods
  • Regenerative agriculture programs to help sustainable soil management and help farmers convert to renewable energy and more efficient machinery.

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