What You Can Do For Statehood

As August draws to a close we need to start preparing for an action packed month of September and the rest of the fall as there’s lots happening on the statehood front. As always the you can help us build cosponsors on the statehood bill in the Senate by contacting the offices listed here but there’s so much more that we need your help on. Here are some upcoming events where we need you to help us spread the good word on statehood, recruit new people to the movement, and to help make our proposed draft constitution better:
  • H St. Festival: On September 17, from 11-5pm we’ll be tabling at H St. Festival. Once again this year the organizers have donated a table and tent to us because they like our group and love our cause. This is a fantastic event to recruit new people to our movement so that we can continue to build the grassroots movement for statehood. At our table we’ll once again be doing temporary tattoos, handing out bumper stickers, recruiting volunteers, and maybe even selling a few t-shirts. It’s a great event and if you lend an hour or two to the cause we’d love to have you with us. Please fill out this calendar if you can help us for an hour or two from 11am-5pm: http://doodle.com/poll/5idf7eeh3adygatb
  • Constitution Hearings: The DC Council Committee of the Whole will be holding two hearings on the statehood constitution. This is the time to voice your opinion about the process followed thus far in developing a constitution and on the substance of the draft constitution that we’ll be voting on this Nov. 8th. The first hearing will be on September 27th at 11am (http://dccouncil.us/events/cow-public-hearing5) and the second hearing will be October 6th at 6:30pm (http://dccouncil.us/events/cow-public-hearing6). Please go to the aforementioned links to sign-up to testify for either hearing. Your voice is needed in this important process!
  • Rhode Island Ave. Fest: On October 1, we might (provided people sign-up) once again table at Rhode Island Ave Fest to continue our efforts to recruit new members and expand the movement. If you’re interested in helping table this event, similar to H St. Fest, we’d love to have you. Please fill out this Doodle calendar if you can help from 10am-4pm on October 1, 2016: http://doodle.com/poll/uzd88wtm94ashdax
  • Op-Ed Writers Project: One of the most cost effective and far reaching ways to spread the word about statehood is to get op-eds published about the cause. Over the last several years we’ve done a good job of getting op-eds published in papers around the country but there is more to do. After the referendum on statehood this November our hope is to have allies across the country send in Op-Eds to their local papers asking their members of Congress to stand with the people of DC and support statehood. We need to start now recruiting people who have friends and family in the following states (Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Oregon, New Mexico, and any other you so choose) to start drafting op-eds and recruiting allies in those states to send them in. Please let me know if there’s a state you’d like to work with a friend or family from to draft an Op-Ed for calling on their members of Congress to support statehood for the people of DC.
We hope to see you at H St. Fest, at the Council Hearings, at RIA Fest, or somewhere else. There’s a lot still to do and we look forward to doing it with you.
Keep well, stay active, and we will prevail!
Josh Burch
Brookland, DC
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Heating Up for D.C. Statehood

Over the last several weeks there’s been a lot of actions related to D.C. statehood, the movement is heating up! The Republican Party shamefully included extremely offensive anti-statehood language in its platform despite the best efforts of the DC GOP to remove the language. The Democratic Party for the first time in over a decade now has pro-statehood language in its Party Platform joining the Green Party with that distinction. And while the Libertarian Party does not have an official stance on statehood its Presidential candidate does support statehood for the people of DC!

Support in party platforms or from Presidential candidates alone will not get us statehood therefore we still have a lot of work to do to build support for this cause across the country & specifically in Congress. There are 15 Senators I believe we should pressure right now to formally cosponsor the statehood bill. The Senate is currently on recess which makes this is a perfect time to reach out to staff as they have more availability to research issues and to draft cosponsor memos. Let’s voice our opinion that their bosses should cosponsor S. 1688, the New Columbia Admission Act.

Senator State Staff Email
Richard Blumenthal CT Sam Simon Sam_Simon@blumenthal.senate.gov
Chris Murphy CT Michael Bednarczyk Michael_bednarczyk@murphy.senate.gov
Amy Klobuchar MN Ben Driscoll Ben_driscoll@klobuchar.senate.gov
Robert Menendez NJ Andrew Geibel Andrew_geibel@menendez.senate.gov
Angus King ME Sanjay Kane Sanjay_kane@king.senate.gov
Mark Warner VT Lauren Marshall Lauren_marshall@warner.senate.gov
Mazie Hirono HI Shelby Boxembaum Shelby_boxembaum@hirono.senate.gov
Ron Wyden OR Thomas Brunet Thomas_brunet@wyden.senate.gov
Gary Peters MI Jordan Wells Jordan_wells@peters.senate.gov
Debbie Stabenow MI Kristen Lee Kristen_lee@stabenow.senate.gov
Sheldon Whitehouse RI Lara Quint Lara_quint@judiciary-dem.senate.gov
Tom Udall NM Matt Nelson Matt_nelson@tomudall.senate.gov
Martin Heinrich NM Jude McCartin Jude_mccartin@heinrich.senate.gov
Maria Cantwell WA Pete Modaff Pete_modaff@cantwell.senate.gov

Emails should be short direct and make sure the explicitly ask that their boss “cosponsor the D.C. statehood bill” as it is the only bill before Congress that will make the citizens of the District full and equal U.S. citizens. Since the below list targets Democrats (and one Independent who caucuses with the Dems) you can mention additionally that 1) Secretary Clinton has voiced strong support for DC Statehood in an Op-Ed in the Informer Newspaper; 2) the Party Platform endorses it; and 3) there have been 26 bills or amendments targeting DC’s local laws just in the 114th Congress demonstrating the undemocratic attempted intrusions into our affairs because we are not a state. Please send emails as soon as possible to the following offices so that the cosponsor list will grow when the Senate comes back into session in September and please ask family & friends in these Senators states to do the same.

Together we can make statehood a reality but we have to work for it!

Josh Burch

Brookland, DC

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DC Statehood at the 2016 DNC

Eleanor Holmes Norton stated our case for D.C. statehood before the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Her words are not just a statement of fact but a call to actions for District citizens and our family and friends across the nation to embrace and own this cause. Please watch this video and then let us know how you’d like to help the cause.

//www.c-span.org/assets/swf/CSPANPlayer.swf?clipid=4615458

Email us at unitedforstatehood@gmail.com

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26 More Reasons for D.C. Statehood

The argument for D.C. statehood at its core is a about the fundamental right of American citizens to have equal representation in Congress but it is also just as important for us to gain the right to be the final arbiter of our own affairs. Congress meddles in District affairs so much that it is hard to keep track of but thanks to the staff in Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton’s office we have list of the 26 bills or amendments offered in the 114th Congress (thus far) that aim to meddle in our local affairs, overturn our laws, or impose new laws upon us, all without our consent.

Reading through the list its evident that some in Congress are hellbent on using the District for grandstanding purposes and pandering to their base of supporters back home by offering such legislation. And Congress after Congress this happens because members of Congress cannot help themselves. It’s too easy for them to score cheap political points back home by picking on the District so they will continue to do this as long as we remain the disenfranchised federal district.

Please read, share, get mad, and let’s get even via D.C. statehood!

Non-Discrimination

D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act

*  Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Diane Black introduced a resolution of disapproval on the D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA), which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees, their spouses and their dependents based on reproductive health decisions. The House passed the resolution.
*  The House Appropriations Committee-passed fiscal year 2016 D.C. Appropriations bill would have prohibited D.C. from spending its local funds to enforce RHNDA.  The amendment in committee was sponsored by Representative Steven Palazzo.
*  The House-passed fiscal year 2017 D.C. Appropriations bill would prohibit D.C. from spending its local funds to enforce RHNDA.  The amendment on the floor was sponsored by Representative Gary Palmer.

D.C. Human Rights Amendment Act

*  Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Vicky Hartzler introduced a resolution of disapproval on the D.C. Human Rights Amendment Act, which repeals a congressionally imposed provision that permitted schools in D.C. to deny LGBT students equal access to school facilities and services.

First Amendment Defense Act

·        Senator Mike Lee and Representative Raúl Labrador introduced the First Amendment Defense Act, which would prohibit the federal government from denying benefits, contracts and the like to individuals, non-profits and for-profits that discriminate against LGBT people, as well as individuals who engage in extramarital relations, based on a sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction.  The latest version, which the sponsors have publicly released but not yet introduced, applies to both the federal and District governments and defines the District government as part of the federal government.

Guns

*  Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Jim Jordan introduced the Second Amendment Enforcement Act of 2015, which would wipe out almost all of D.C.’s gun laws.
*  Senator Rand Paul introduced an amendment to the Senate’s budget reconciliation bill to wipe out, among other things, D.C.’s gun laws.  The Senate voted it down.  Senator Paul subsequently introduced it as a stand-alone bill, the Defend Our Capital Act of 2015.
*  Representative David Schweikert introduced the DC Personal Protection Reciprocity Act, which would force D.C. to recognize out-of-state permits to carry concealed guns, regardless of the standards those states use for issuing permits.
*  Amendments filed in the Rules Committee to the House’s FY 17 D.C. Appropriations bill that were not made in order:
*  Representative Thomas Massie amendment to block D.C. from using its local funds to enforce its carry laws, allowing open and concealed carry.
*  Representative Thomas Massie amendment to block D.C. from using its local funds to enforce its enhanced penalties for carrying in gun-free zones.
*  Representative David Schweikert amendment to block D.C. from using its local funds to enforce its “good reason” requirement for carrying.

Abortion

*  Senator Roger Wicker and Representative Chris Smith introduced the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015, which would, among other things, permanently prohibit the D.C. government from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women, prohibit D.C. government employees from providing abortions, prohibit abortions in D.C. government facilities, and define the D.C. government as part of the federal government for purposes of abortion.  The bill passed the House.

·        The House Appropriations Committee-passed FY 16 D.C. Appropriations bill would have prohibited D.C. from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women.

·        The FY 16 D.C. Appropriations bill signed into law prohibited D.C. from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women.

·        The House-passed FY 17 D.C. Appropriations bill would prohibit D.C. from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women.

Immigration

*  Representative Louie Gohmert introduced the Safer DC Act of 2015, which would overturn a D.C. law that limits the circumstances under which the District will cooperate with federal immigration officials, including detention and gathering and disseminating information about a person’s immigration status.

Labor

*  Representative Tom Price introduced the Federal Employee Rights Act, which would, among other things, prohibit the D.C. government from deducting union dues from employee paychecks.

Education

*  Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Mark Meadows introduced the Educational Freedom Accounts Act, which would require D.C. to use its local funds to pay for K-12 private school tuition.

Marijuana

·        The House Appropriations Committee-passed FY 16 D.C. Appropriations bill would have prohibited D.C. from spending its local funds on marijuana commercialization.

·        The FY 16 D.C. Appropriations bill signed into law prohibited D.C. from spending its local funds on marijuana commercialization.

·        The House-passed FY 17 D.C. Appropriations bill prohibits D.C. from spending its local funds on marijuana commercialization.

Budget Autonomy

·        Representative Mark Meadows introduced the Clarifying Congressional Intent in Providing for DC Home Rule Act of 2016, which would repeal the budget autonomy referendum and prohibit D.C. from passing similar legislation in the future.

·        The House-passed FY 17 D.C. Appropriations bill includes the text of the Clarifying Congressional Intent in Providing for DC Home Rule Act of 2016; repeals D.C.’s FY 17 local budget; and appropriates D.C.’s local funds for FY 17.

·        The Senate Appropriations Committee-passed FY 17 D.C. Appropriations bill appropriates D.C.’s local funds for FY 17.

Occupational Licensing

·        Senator Mike Lee introduced the Alternatives to Licensing that Lower Obstacles to Work Act of 2016, which would change D.C. occupational licensing rules.

Legislators from around the country have spent time, money, and effort meddling in the affairs of the people of the District of Columbia and in some cases have been successful in overturning the democratic will of the people of DC. This could not happen and would not happen if we were a state.

We must fight back against these bullies, we must let their constituents know that these members of Congress care more about the District than their district, and we must stay focused on achieving statehood. Only statehood will end this undemocratic meddling for good.  Let’s work together to end this madness and ensure our rightful place as equal partners in American democracy as the 51st state.

 

Josh Burch

Brookland, DC

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Dismay, Despair, & Anger

I walked out of the Statehood Commission’s meeting to amend the draft constitution on June 28th in a state of dismay, despair, and outright anger. Those are three feelings to which I am not prone and I work hard to steer clear, yet after bearing witness to Town Halls, a faux constitutional convention,  an intellectually lazy exercise, and power hungry selfishness in amending our draft constitution, I found those feelings overcoming my mind, body, and spirit. Thus, for my own mental and emotional well-being, I walked out. I could not take sitting there anymore as members of the commission argued about how to preserve or enhance their own individual or institutional power rather than debating what should be in our Bill of Rights.

I take the pursuit of statehood seriously (maybe too seriously), but I believe it’s our democratic right and destiny to be treated fairly and equally within our union. I believe the voice and the vote of the people matter, have value, and are what hold our country and city-state together despite all of its imperfections. This is why the process facilitated by the Statehood Commission has left me dismayed, despairing, and angered.

In early April, the Mayor’s office brought together a team of lawyers to craft a draft constitution, and in mid-April, the draft constitution was unveiled along with a schedule that laid out the process for soliciting input to the constitution through online comments, in-person testimonies at Town Halls, and  a “constitutional convention.” For those who were not able to attend the Town Halls or the Constitutional Convention, there was no difference between them other than the fact that the Constitutional Convention had bands present for pep-music, had panel discussions about why statehood matters (as if we need to know that at a *constitutional convention*), and gave us “delegate” badges so we could replicate Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton in being non-voting delegates to a faux constitutional convention.

While there may not be constitutionally defined parameters for what makes up a constitutional convention, I do not believe what we have just gone through comes close to what a constitutional convention means in the hearts and minds of most Americans. Do we need a constitutional convention where every citizen can vote and amend the document? No, I don’t think so. Do we need a constitutional convention where all power to create a draft constitution lies with only 5 people in elective office? I don’t think so either. There has to be a better way to do this with elected delegates given we live in a representative democracy. The people of the District, long-denied a full voice and full vote in our national and local democracy, should surely have more of a role in creating the document that will define the structures of our state government and in enshrining within it values and principles we hold dear.

This process has not been about democracy; it has been about expediency, and that’s a shame. I walked out of the Commission meeting after hearing one of their lawyers and then the Council Chairman himself dismiss the idea that the people pf the District of Columbia should have more of a say in amending our constitution and/or creating a new one after we achieve statehood. Why are they so afraid of what the people think and believe? Why do they think that our voice and vote matter less than theirs?

I walked out of that room because I wanted to scream “this is about democracy! This is about my voice, my vote, and that of my neighbors too! Why don’t you think we matter and should have power in this process?” This Commission is simply acting like Congress by claiming to act out of duty-bound benevolence, while disregarding the voice of the people and failing to give us a true vote until the very end, and then only as a take it or leave it scenario.

When I reached home after walking out, I saw that our Council will review, hold hearings, and possibly amend the draft constitution before we hold a vote on it in November. That’s a good thing, as the participation of 13  people is better than 5, but that still has problems. Will the legislature act out of its own self-interest and consolidate its power when they consider amendments, especially since they are the last stop before the citizens vote on it? Having ONLY people in elective office with the power to change a constitution is deeply troublesome because they are prone to self-preservation and/or expansion of powers. This is why I hope that, at the very least, the Council adds an amendment to our constitution that calls for a true constitutional convention-with elected delegates-so that our process avoids real or perceived self-preservation by our elected officials and includes the voice of the people.

Finally, another reason I left feeling dismayed, despairing, and angry is because I asked myself the simple question: Will you still vote for statehood in November, despite this horribly undemocratic process and its resultant intellectually lazy and morally deficient constitution? And the answer in my head was “yes.” Despite all of my fervent objections to this top down, elitist process, I’d still rather live in a state with a crappy constitution and a dumb name than in the disenfranchised District, where we are still subject to a Congress in which we have no representation. It makes me sick that I might have to swallow this charade of a process to gain statehood, and there’s some self-loathing going on because of it.

I am dismayed, despairing, and angry at those who espouse the virtues of democracy and demand our right to be equal partners in it, yet have so little faith in “we the people.” We are better than this, we must be better than this. Now it’s in the Council’s hands to make this document better and to lead a process where issues can be debated openly and publicly about our Bill of Rights, our structure of government, and our values as a people.

I believe in statehood because I believe in the promise of America, but more importantly, I believe in statehood because I love, value, and respect the people of the District of Columbia. Any process to create our constitution should do the same. I was dismayed, despairing, and angry, but none of these feelings will gain us what we need and deserve: statehood. I know we’re better than the process imposed on us, and I’m ready to get back to work so that together we can and will create the 51st state in the union.

 

Josh Burch

Brookland, DC

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