Message from Rev. Bud Murphy, President of UU Justice Florida
As President of the UUJF Board, I know planning and implementing an event such as our Legislative Day involves a mountain of detail and I am awed and grateful for the efforts of our Board of Directors. I am also impressed with the participants from UU Congregations, Indivisible and others who traveled to Tallahassee and developed plans for meeting with their Legislators to share their support for legislation. David Johnson, UUJF Vice President, our technical guru identifies and tracks legislation to give us focus and amplifies our voice through his web-based communication efforts.
As we look to the future our grassroots efforts are more important than ever. Informed and articulate Citizens are essential to the health of our Democracy. If anyone is willing to provide financial support or volunteer to help with projects I welcome your interest. I know we will be eager to customize your involvement and I'm confident you will enjoy working with this dedicated team.
UUJF supporters have a difficult road ahead in order to achieve its Legislative Advocacy agenda. Here’s a recap of what’s happened in the first three weeks of this year’s session.
Criminal Justice sentencing reforms are advancing slowly through the Senate with little opposition. However, companion bills that have been referred to the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee have yet to be placed on any committee agenda although special efforts have been made to reach out to the committee chair.
No gun safety legislation has yet been heard in either the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee or the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee except for loophole-ridden SB 7028 which is a weak and ineffective attempt to require background checks for private sales at gun shows.
Local regulatory authority in various unrelated areas is being preempted to the state. Efforts to curtail State support for private and charter schools have been unsuccessful.
Election reforms along with rights for women and the LGBTQ community have generated little interest or support while the bill to require parental consent for abortion is on a fast track for passage.
Bills advancing immigration reforms are being neutralized by bills requiring E-verification of legal entry despite opposition from agricultural and construction employers.
Several bills protecting Florida’s water resources are getting some traction as are bills to conserve state lands, support disaster preparedness and initiate efforts supporting renewable sources of energy.
Approximately 5,000 people are still homeless in Bay County 16 months after Hurricane Michael! You are urged to support SB 502which is on the 02/10/20, 4:00 pm meeting agenda of the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee. Click here for the names of Committee on Infrastructure and Security members and ask your Senator to vote yes if he or she is on the Committee.
Of the 220 bills on the Tracker all but a handful have yet to be placed on their next committee stop agenda for a hearing. With only 5 weeks remaining in the session and up to three committees that must take action, chances for passage are becoming less and less likely which is why we must redouble our efforts to show public support.
Subscribe to UUJF Action Alertsand respond with your emails and phone calls to make your voices heard. Bills to advance progressive issues take many years to enact as evidenced by the slow progress of bills cited above on sentencing reform, water supply protection and disaster preparedness. Keep in mind that Action Alerts are targeted to constituents of legislators who sit on committees that will hear bills referred to their committees. All Action Alerts are posted in the UUJF Facebook group for those who would like to see what is on tap for other districts or for sharing with those who are not on the email list.
Debra Schyvinck of Indivisible Venice read Greetings from Kindra Muntz, past president of UUJF:
Thank you so much for the extraordinary work done by the UU Justice Florida board members, Climate Resilience Ministry Director Jan Booher, Bay County presenters, and participants from Indivisible Chapters across Florida.
I am sorry I can’t be with you this year, but am so appreciative of UU Justice Florida board members David Johnson, Martha Hartgering, Bud Murphy and Cate Wenzing for continuing the important work with our legislators at the State Capitol.
All good wishes for a most successful Legislative Days January 27 and 28, 2020 in Tallahassee. Kindra Muntz
PhotoVoice’s Coming of Age PhotoVoice came to Tallahassee to speak:
The photo "Rosenwald HS Students in Tallahassee" shows: Janice Lucas, Tacitus Williams, Kiondis Turentine, Sen. George Gainer, Rosenwald HS Principal Ms. Chandra Tyson, Blayd Kuhn, and Commissioner Mike Nichols.
The PhotoVoice Exhibit was a success! Blayd Kuhn and Tatitus Williams' asked questions of the Children's Services Panel at the Teens Only Town Hall about how families can be kept together after disasters, and what can be done to help children with asthma and respiratory illness if they are living in hurricane damaged homes with mold.
The Rosenwald High School students also met with Sen. George Gainer and Commissioner Mike Nichols in Tallahassee to express their concerns about the slow recovery from Hurricane Michael in Bay County. They have been invited to participate in the dialogue about youth recovery concerns. They are discussing school workshops and a possible return trip to Tallahassee to continue the conversation with Sen. Gainer.
Ana Maria Del a Rosa (UUSC), Jan Booher (UUJF Environmental Justice Ministry, Janice Lucas (Bay County LEAD)
Attendees share their thoughts about UUJF Legislative Days
About the Legislative Day experience:
Members of the UU Fellowship of St Augustine (Mary Kellough, Adele DelSavio, Sandy Lenney, Nana Royer) visited the offices of Representative Cyndi Stevenson and Senator Travis Hutson. We each shared our concerns about immigration, homelessness, gun control, preemptive bills, climate change mitigation/adaptation, and parental consent for abortion. Though each staff person listened to us, it was difficult to judge how robustly our opinions would be shared with the representative and senator. Few to no notes were taken though they gladly accepted the packets which we had made up for them. Rep. Stevenson's staff person is new and seemed in a rush. Sen. Hutson staff person has been in the office for 8 years and he seemed somewhat more attentive and willing to tell us just how Sen Hutson would vote, at least on the parental consent bill. We wanted to make sure Sen Hutson was aware there were Floridians out there who did not agree with him who vote!
Pat Wellington and Thom Reeves of the UU Congregation of Venice
On Monday at UU Church of Tallahassee we learned about the immediate shock of Hurricane Michael and the dire circumstances facing the Panhandle communities, especially Panama City.
Pat also writes: This was Thom’s first time and my second visiting the State Capitol. We arrived on the early shuttle and watched the sunrise from the 22nd floor observation area. We also enjoyed the art exhibit of works by disabled persons.
Next, we visited Senator Joe Gruters office and met with his aide Chris Hodge. Five of us spoke of various bills including SB404 (parental approval for abortion by minor) and SB346 and SB436 (criminal justice reform). We five then went to meet with state Legislator James Buchanan. Again we spoke of abortion bill opposition and brought up instances of incest in relation to the bill. He urged us to submit amendment wording for this and Jane Hunter of INDIVISIBLE was going to try to do this. Urged support of HB347, for no solitary confinement of youth. He had not heard of this bill. We also handed out papers about SB502 for panhandle disaster assistance to both legislators.
We attended two committee hearings during the day: Criminal Justice and Agriculture & Natural Resources.
As we look to the future, our grassroots efforts are more important than ever. Informed and articulate Citizens are essential to the health of our Democracy.
Steve Urse reports that UU Church of Tallahassee is building upon ongoing initiatives that focus on food. Folks at Tallahassee are developing a Food Justice Initiative that is has been guided by the early 2019 Justice on Earth book-read discussion and the recommended subsequent research into local community needs.
The study group learned there is significant food insecurity in the community. In order to supplement three current UUCT food outreach programs (the multi-church Manna on Meridian monthly food bank, serving a lunch and dinner at the homeless center, and hosting Beethoven for Food Concerts for the 2nd Harvest food bank), the food justice core group is developing a more extensive list of volunteer opportunities.
The first suggestions include community gardens in a low-income African-American neighborhood and local homeless shelter, the 2nd Harvest warehouse and community farm, gleaning for the Food & Nut exchange. a Kitchen Share program in the historic Frenchtown Neighborhood and a food recovery program at a FSU dining hall. Each program will have a liaison to ease entry for newcomers. The opportunities will be marketed each Sunday in February.
Ed Oaksford adds that a related program, “Ethical Eating,” encourages ways to eat “closer to home,” less or no animal products and healthier living. Shared by Linda and Ed Oaksford (UU Church of Tallahassee)
Bob Gilmore of the UU Fellowship Bay County spoke of the toll super storms can have on church leadership. He also informed the attendees that Bay County has received significant rebuilding aid from a FEMA grant and advised attendees to apply for FEMA assistance should that be necessary.
Henry Lawrence of UU Fellowship of Bay County shared how staying involved can result in bigger changes than expected: Henry writes that a group which started before the storm called PC Growing Strong was able to partner with the new City Manager, Mark McQueen, and the City Commissioners to help foster a Visioning/Rebuild process to include citizen input at dozens of workshops and meetings. The results are now a Plan For Redesigning our Downtown and our Marina properties. So thankfully in the aftermath of such a horrific disaster, as Hurricane Michael surely was, Panama City is moving forward.
Nana Royer writes that plastic has “got to go” and the Sierra Club is encouraging Publix, the major grocery store in Florida, to stop using plastic, reduce and eventually end paper significantly, and advocate reusable bags. Only 5% of plastic bags are recycled, despite the advertising which Publix does to promote a sustainable image. Please sign the petition to Publix to stop using single-use plastic bags at checkout.
Pat Wellington of the UU Congregation of Venice shared an opportunity that might work for you in your neighborhood: My husband and I discovered that there was a group of “progressive people” in our gated community when we posted two signs in our yard for Democratic candidates. Recently the person managing the email list moved and I agreed to take it over. Our last gathering called “Drinking Liberally” met at a home for hors d’oeuvres and drinks and over 30 people came! I will plan a few events throughout the year. I use the list to let people know of local Progressive speaker events and other occasional news.
Click here to view and download Photos from UUJF Legislative Days 2020
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bay County received a Life Membership Plaque from the Bay County Branch of the NAACP at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Commemorative Breakfast this morning. UUFBC President Heather Ogilvie received the plaque.
UUJF is planning to participate in the UU College of Social Justice 2020 Global Justice Summer Internship program in collaboration with congregations in Panama City and/or in Central Florida
For information on internship opportunities visit the internship application link. Congregations and members are strongly encouraged to share the internship positions within your own networks and/or social media channels to help spread the word. The application deadline has been extended to February 19. If there are individuals you know who might be a good candidate for UUJF internship positions, Deva Jones, email@example.com. UUCSJ program director will be more than happy to reach out to them directly to extend an invitation to apply!
FL-iCAN! Affiliate, Unitarian Universalist Justice Florida, is providing Action Alerts. All concerned members of the public, including secular and interfaith friends, are invited to join us to bring the voice of our shared values to our elected officials. The time has never been more urgent to bring civility, understanding and a moral voice to discussions with each other and with our legislators. You will receive specific action alerts for legislation being addressed by your State Representative or State Senator, that only you can impact as a constituent. If you have questions or comments, please E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
On April 24-26, All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, DC, will have the pleasure of hosting Revolutionary Love: Toward a More Perfect Union, a multi faith, multicultural conference dedicated to just that: helping us build the vision, deepen our partnerships, and get fired up for the work ahead. With inspiring movement-builders like Ruby Sales, Valarie Kaur, angel Kyodo Williams, Traci Blackmon, Brian McLaren, Linda Sarsour, William Barber, and more, we will gather to learn, strategize, and share best practices for liberating our democracy.
There will be specific programming on congregation-based voter mobilization programs through a partnership between the conference sponsors and UU the Vote. And there is a significantly discounted registration rate of $239 for UUs ($160 off) that expires February 14. To register with a code, follow this general registration link, then click the green button for “Tickets” and “Enter Promotional Code” in the upper righthand corner. The code is UUVOTE20.
Community Screening of The Condor & Eagle for World Water Day
UU Ministry for Earth is honored and proud to be an Executive Producer of the award-winning documentary, The Condor and The Eagle, and has set a goal of holding as many UU community film screenings on (or around) World Water Day (Sunday, March 22) as possible.
Click here to view the movie trailer and for information on scheduling a screening in your congregation.
Screening Opportunity regarding Getting out the Vote
Screenings are a great way to educate your community, motivate your constituents to take action, or to raise money for your cause. Consider partnering with community groups to sponsor a showing.
Suppressed: The Fight to Vote, a new documentary by Robert Greenwald (Director of Outfoxed, Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price, and Making A Killing: Guns, Greed, & the NRA), weaves together personal stories from voters across the state of Georgia to paint an undeniable picture of voter suppression in the 2018 midterm election. Stacey Abrams fought to become the first Black female governor in the U.S. while her opponent, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, was in charge of running the election. In a race that was ultimately decided by 54,723 votes, the film exposes that the basic constitutional right to vote continues to be under siege in America.
About SUPPRESSED; The Fight to Vote Runtime: 38 minutes