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We’re cooking with gas now. Less than two weeks to go until Committee Cutoff (2/15/21)—the deadline for bills to pass through their first committee. It’s the first major hurdle that a bill must overcome on the way to becoming a law. It means we don’t have any time to waste. After updates and actions on Our Big Five, check out highlights from the Racial Equity Team, a group of lobbyists of color tracking the legislation that affects our communities across the state.

Per usual, you can always check out our previous newsletters where we’ve covered our priorities in detail, how a bill becomes a law, and best practices for making your legislator do what you want.

🖐️ Our Big Five

🗳️ Local Options to Strengthen Democracy (HB 1156)

  • News: Our organizing is moving the needle. Racial justice has become a top priority for the Democratic caucus this session, and hearing from community on how ranked-choice voting will make our democracy more equitable has helped this bill pick up momentum. Though it looked like it might stall in committee, and despite Rep. Javier Valdez’s (D-46th LD) concern about allowing localities to move their elections to even years (something proven to help voters of color in particular), this bill has been scheduled for a hearing on Mon., 2/8 at 1:30pm.
  • Action: Sign on to formally support HB 1156
    • Select “State Government & Tribal Relations Committee and the hearing date and time (Mon, 2/8 at 1:30)
    • Select “HB 1156” and your “type of testimony”—oral, written or simply “note your position for the record” as pro
    • Fill in your information
  • Bonus Actions: 1) Let the coalition know you want to testify during the hearing. 2) Attend the virtual rally with Rep Kirsten Harris-Talley this Saturday! And 3) if you get the chance, share the chart below with Rep. Valdez (and maybe this paper or this one or this one or this one showing how “off-year” elections, like the ones forced on cities by state law, make it harder for working class communities of color to vote)

Hint: The longer the bar, the more people are excluded.

⚖️ Community Oversight for Police Accountability (HB 1203)

💸Unemployment Insurance for Undocumented Workers

🌱Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act (SB 5489)

🔑Progressive Revenue

  • News: Earlier this morning, the House Finance Committee passed the Working Families Tax Credit (HB 1297). This week was a busy one for the committee which also held a hearing on a wealth tax (HB 1406). Over a thousand people signed on in support or to testify, setting a record and facing virtually no opposition. For a House Finance Committee hearing two weeks before cutoff, that turnout is huge and helps legislators feel as if they have the wind at their backs. If this past week was any indication, it seems the House will continue pairing progressive revenue bills with spending solutions that put people first. Last week, it was the wealth tax and WFTC. Next week, we could see Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley (D-37th LD) drop a bill to protect families facing foreclosures as other legislators introduce reforms to our estate tax to make it more progressive.
  • Action: Tell your legislator that we need both the wealth tax and Working Families Tax Credit

WCA 🤜🤛 The Racial Equity Team

The Racial Equity Team is a decade-old cohort of lobbyists of color that gather every week to discuss bills that affect communities of color across our state and how they’re moving through the legislature. We’ll be sharing their insights and actions with you weekly.

The Good

The Bad

The Ugly

  • Death penalty repeal bill (SB 5047) is now considered dead because House leadership doesn’t want to court controversy within its the caucus.
  • A bill aimed at reducing the use of solitary confinement in prisons (HB 2080) is also unlikely to pass, with a hearing anticipated to be scheduled just days before cutoff. Because the bill carries a fiscal note that would increase capacity and programing within facilities in order to mitigate the need to put people in solitary, it’s far less likely to make it.

👥 Next week: Who Matters and Why

The legislature is a maze of committees and chambers. Things move so quickly that if you take your eyes off something, it can change or disappear. At times, it seems more like Hogwarts than the people’s branch of government. But there is a discreet order to things, a hierarchy of power that sets the systems in motion. Part of our goal with this newsletter is to demystify the process. Next week, we’ll help you understand who’s pulling the curtains.

📧 Let your folks know about The Tally and what we got cooking. Don’t let your friends and co-workers miss out.

📲 Share this news on social. The Tally is live and public. Stay tuned on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more shareable updates.

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