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RFS feel-good update (3/6): Students standing up for students
Read about how our alums are fighting for LGBTQIA+ Nebraskans
Hi Team - We loved to see Texas State University’s student newspaper, The University Star, fight back against the state legislature’s efforts to stop young people from voting. In an editorial against a bill that would ban polling places on college campuses, the newspaper wrote that “In times when it’s increasingly important that a young voice be heard in the political world, this bill would make an already low demographic of voters even more discouraged.”
Many students are new to voting which can make it scary to participate in elections. Having polling places on college campuses gives students an opportunity to vote in an environment that they’re comfortable in.
Rather than having to inevitably spend thousands of dollars on buses to get students to voting locations, the state legislature should do the right thing and expand access to voting through more locations and take away restrictions on early voting and voter ID laws.
Seeing student journalists use their platform to stand up for the youth vote not only makes us happy, it will help mobilize and energize more young people to get involved in politics, vote and maybe even run for office! We hope to see more student newspapers across the country engaging like this.
(Fun fact: LBJ was the summer editor of The University Star in 1930)
We had more wins last week! In Chicago, Ronnie Mosley finished the first round of voting in first place in his City Council race and will head to the April 4th runoff (please uplift him on social and/or contribute to his campaign between now and then). Alderman Matt Martin was unopposed in his race and is set to serve on the Council for another four years!
And Leonardo Quintero, Murillo Garcia, Anthony David Bryant and Sam Schoenburg all appear to have won seats on newly established police District Councils. Council members will play a role in police oversight and get community feedback on safety and policing in the police district in which they serve.
There’s much more to come on the election (and wins!) front. We have already endorsed 72 candidates for 2023 races, with many more to come. And they’re out and about on the campaign trail.
Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca is putting in the work to get another term next month:
New York City Council Member Shahana Hanif’s reelection campaign for New York City Council is off to a strong start:
Nancy Fry’s campaign for Coconut Creek City Commission got a bunch of volunteers out this weekend:
And check out this RFS alum collab:
“This is a proactive effort,” said City Council member Michalyn Easter-Thomas, who introduced the ordinance, in a press conference. “We want to decrease the possibility of negative interactions.”
But the long-term threat to access remains, Ziegler warned, regardless of public opinion or prevailing legal interpretations. With a conservative supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court, she said, policymakers must weigh the risk that any crackdown on municipal laws could jeopardize abortion rights in other places.
For New Mexico state Rep. Serrato, the calculus is not a difficult one. “I know there are always going to be tactics,” she said. “But you can’t have a hodgepodge of regulations for health care access.”
Nevada Assemblyman Howard Watts’ legislation to remove language in the state Constitution that allows slavery to be used as a punishment for crimes passed the legislature and will be on the ballot in 2024.
Colorado state Rep. Iman Jodeh’s work to cap EpiPen copays was noted by Physician’s Weekly, saying “This unfortunate trend we were seeing of lifesaving medication being completely unattainable or out of reach for people is something that we are really trying to put an end to.”
Indiana state Senator Andrea Hunley has only been in office for a few months, but already got her first piece of legislation through the senate. Her bill to “study data and roadways to help implement safety improvements across the state, as well as boost driver education” passed with broad, bipartisan support.
Three Nebraska state senators / RFS alums are standing up for LGBTQIA+ Nebraskans: Senators Megan Hunt, Jen Day and John Fredrickson.
“Bills that could expand protections this session include Legislative Bill 169 and LB 670, both proposed by Hunt. The bills would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s employment nondiscrimination policies.”
“LB 179, proposed by Fredrickson, would prohibit conversion therapy for minors in the state, what he defined as a ‘deceptive’ medical practice to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“Legislative Resolution 26CA, a constitutional amendment proposed by State Sen. Jen Day of Omaha, would remove mentions of marriage from the Nebraska Constitution. In 2000, voters defined marriage in the Nebraska Constitution as a union between one man and one woman and invalidated same-sex civil unions. Both the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 and Congress in 2022 recognized same-sex relationships, but the Nebraska law remains on the books.”
Phoenix Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari and Phoenix Elementary School District #1 Governing Board Member Regional Carrillo were featured in a Next City article about Phoenix’s work on “preventing deaths and lowering urban temperatures, which they hope to achieve through initiatives as simple as handing out bottled water and as ambitious as doubling the city’s tree cover.”
San Antonio City Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez is working to ensure city residents are not discriminated against because of their hair.
Oklahoma state Sen. Jo Anna Dossett is yet another great example of why representation matters, as the former educator authored legislation that would update the definition of “career teacher” to ensure teachers are credited with years worked if they move to a new district. The bill, which would give more Oklahoma teachers the job security and protections that a career teacher designation provides, passed out of the Senate Education Committee.
“When people get out of college, they often take the first job offer they get just to have a paycheck. After being employed for a while, they may find better opportunities and decide to move to a different district, and they shouldn’t be punished for that by not being named a career teacher in the allotted time frame,” Dossett said.
Senator Dossett also got a bill out of a Senate committee that would help new small businesses grow by tracking how many state contracts are given businesses that have been around for fewer than five years compared to more established businesses.
Colorado state Rep. Brianna Titone’s bipartisan legislation to make it easier and more affordable for farmers to repair their equipment passed the state House. The bill requires manufacturers to sell “tools, parts and digital information to farmers and independent shops so they can make their own diagnoses and repairs.”
Massachusetts state Sen. Becca Rausch’s proposal to expand abortion access to 15 year olds was included in larger pro-choice legislation moving through the legislature. In 2020, the state passed a law to expand “access to 16- and 17-year-old individuals, who no longer need parental consent to get an abortion or circumvent their parents by going to court and receiving permission for the procedure from a superior court judge.”
“It’s actually mostly a delay method, and a discouragement and intimidation method, to scare young people away from abortion access because going before a judge can be scary,” Rausch said of the judicial bypass process. “At some point, someone’s going to have to explain to me the difference between a 15-and-10-month-old and a 16-year-old. This doesn’t make any sense.”
And Charlottesville City Council Member Michael Payne announced he’s running for reelection!
Payne, now 30, was 26 when he was first elected, making him the youngest councilor in Charlottesville’s history since the city abandoned the mayor-council form of government in 1922.
If you read one opinion piece this week, make it Pennsylvania state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta’s op-ed on reducing prescription drug costs:
In 2017, my mother tragically passed away from a stroke brought about by diabetes. Growing up, I watched my mother inspire others as a foster mom, a nurse’s assistant, and a community leader, all while being under the immense stress of struggling to afford her insulin costs.
She was my rock and my best friend. And it was tragic to watch her chronic disease and the sky-high cost of her prescription drugs cost her her life. I know so many Pennsylvanians reading this share a similar story of a loved one who left us too soon due to being unable to afford care or medication they so desperately needed.
We’ll leave you with Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow’s MSNBC interview about legislation that would require universal background checks for gun purchases and the secure storage of guns and ammunition.
That’s all for this week!
Ross and Abe