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The UUMUAC Task Force issued this Action Allert on February 24th, 2017, to Illinois Representatives to support HB 3421

I am writing to urge you to join in co-sponsoring H.B. 3421, which was introduced this month by Rep. Christian Mitchell. This legislation would amend Illinois’ laws related to criminal justice to abolish the use of money bail in Illinois. Modeled after the system in place in the District of Columbia, and now being instituted in other jurisdictions around our country, this legislation would establish a system under which release before trial would be based on a risk assessment system, rather than on an individual’s ability to post money bail. Where an individual is assessed as posing a threat to society he or she would be held in jail until trial. Where an individual is not found to pose a risk to society he or she would be freed on an I-Bond, rather than posting a money bond. This creates a system that is much fairer, in that it does not tie release to an ability to pay standard.

To enable accused individuals to meet their obligation to appear, enhanced pretrial services that would remind defendants of upcoming court dates via phone or messaging and offer transportation assistance for indigent defendants will be required. Public availability of court dockets online would also help.

By not tying the release of poor defendants to an ability to pay standard, tax payers would be relieved of the costs of jailing defendants who do not pose a threat to society during the period prior to their court date. Poor defendants, who do not pose a threat to society, would not risk the loss of their jobs due to missing significant days of work, and the individual and his or her dependents would not risk loss of housing and other adverse impacts, due to the loss of income/employment.

Our communities will be stronger, our criminal justice system more fair, and our taxpayers less burdened, by the changes proposed in H.B. 3421. I again urge you to join in co-sponsoring this legislation. I look forward to your response, with your position on this legislation.

Sincerely,  


The UUSJ Peace Task Force issued an Action Alert on March 3rd to Senators and Representatives against using nuclear weapons

Dear Senator or Representative
                                                  
I am writing to urge you to co-sponsor HR 669 the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act.  Too many war powers have been granted to the President by Congress, and when someone is sitting in the Oval Office who has a tendency to raise his voice and retaliate against those who are critical of him, we need to make sure our future is protected.

As a person of faith I believe in the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.  Peace Action, the American Friends Service Committee and fourteen other nationwide groups are supporting HR 669 and have stated:  ‘While no one person should have the sole authority to launch a civilization ending nuclear war, [Trump’s] aggressive temperament and chaotic behavior are terrifying considering his authority over nuclear war-fighting.’

This change to the nuclear launch protocol is long overdue, and it’s never been more important to change the policy than it is now.  Please support this bill and make it illegal for President Trump or any successor to unilaterally start a nuclear war.

                                                                           Sincerely,


The UUSJ Environvental Task Force issued this Action Alert Prosting all Trump's Deep Cuts in the EPA and Other Environmental Programs on March 20th

Dear Senator or Representative
                                                  
As a person of faith, I believe we have an obligation to protect the web of life and the human rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and a livable climate. I support the important work of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to help restore ecosystems, study climate change, and support communities disproportionately impacted by industrial pollution. The Administration’s proposed federal budget includes severe budget cuts to environmental and climate programs of the EPA and NOAA. The proposal show the Administration doesn’t hold the same American values for clean air, clean water and healthy land as the vast majority of its citizens. I urge you to oppose severe budget cuts to governmental environmental programs, climate research, and climate change adaptation and mitigation programs, such as the following:

• Funding to combat algae blooms, invasive species and other water pollution problems in the Great Lakes, which are proposed for a cut from $300 million to $10 million.

• The Environmental Justice program budget, which has historically supplied grants to 1,400 frontline communities, which is proposed to have a 78% cut, from $6.7 million to $1.4 million.

• Funding for restoration in Chesapeake Bay, the country’s largest estuary, is proposed to be cut from $73 million to $5 million, while funding for restoration work in Puget Sound is proposed to be cut from $28 million to $2 million.

• The EPA’s work studying endocrine disruptor chemicals that can interfere with the body’s reproductive and development systems would nearly be eliminated, dropping from $7.5 million to $445,000.

• Funding for state testing of bacteria levels at beaches around the country would be totally eliminated.

• NOAA’s budget cuts endanger climate science research and data collection, and coastal resilience programs meant to help coastal communities adapt to the increased risk of extreme weather and sea level rise. NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would lose $126 million, or 26 percent of its current budget. I look forward to your reply, laying out your position on the Administration’s proposed budget cuts to the EPA and NOAA budgets.

Sincerely,


 

The Task Force on Economic Justice and Homelessness issued an Action Allert on April 17, 2017 to REDUCE the HUGE wealth inequities in it's tax reform bill

During the upcoming months the Republican majority in Congress will be developing and putting forth legislation to “reform” taxes.  I am writing to share my views, which I would like you to consider when the subject of tax reform comes up.
          What measures are considered regarding changes to the tax laws should always keep our nation’s escalating income inequality in mind.  Between 1979 and 2007, paycheck income of the top 1 percent of U.S. earners exploded by over 256 percent.  Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of earners have seen little change in their average income, with just a 16.7 percent increase from 1979 to 2014.  Income disparities have become so pronounced that America’s top 10 percent now average nearly nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent.  Americans in the top 1 percent tower stunningly higher.  They average over 38 times more income than the bottom 90 percent.
          With those numbers in mind I ask that you:

  • Oppose repeal of the inheritance tax.
  • Oppose “reforms” that would reduce the overall tax obligation of those in the top 10 percent of income earners, and vehemently oppose anything that would reduce the overall tax obligations of those with incomes in the top 1 percent.
  • Work to end the lower tax rates on income from investments.  Income from wages and salaries should have the same inherent value as income from investments

With regard to corporate tax rate changes, I would urge that such measures be revenue neutral, with any reduction in the general corporate tax rate funded through the elimination or sharp curtailment of corporate tax deductions.

                                                          Sincerely,


The UUSJ Peace Task Force issued an Action Alert on April 21, 2017 to Senators and Representatives to exert their authority to have a say before the Executive Administration expands the use of bombings.

Lately there seems to be a growing tendency for America to respond with air power in cases of intractable military conflict.  Our bombers have hit targets in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan without prior Congressional approval. Civilians are being killed and wide swaths of the countryside are being destroyed after a blanket “authorization” of military action by President Trump.

As a person of faith, I’m concerned about not only the increased use of the military, but also the erosion of our democratic principles.  As a Unitarian Universalist I believe in the sanctity of each human life and the importance of using the democratic process.  While the use of chemical weapons may be deplorable and a stronger cadre of ISIS fighters on the Afghanistan / Pakistan border something to fear, we shouldn’t immediately respond by initiating an air strike.

The UN charter only approves the use of force in self-defense or after a vote by the Security Council.  The US Constitution requires Congressional approval for military action, while the 1974 War Powers Act was enacted to "insure that the collective judgment of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities."  It doesn’t seem that Congress is fulfilling its designated role, and the President seems to have been left to act on his own.

The decision to use military force is one of the most serious actions a nation can take.  It ought to be a collective decision, approved by Congress and debated by our elected representatives.  The current tendency of the President to take unilateral action and the Congress to duck its duty to approve his decisions is unacceptable.  Please make your voice heard and insure that military incursions don’t continue to proliferate without Congressional approval,

Sincerely,