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Testimony to the House Labor Committee on Raising the Minimum Wage (HB1355)
I'm Jolinda Stephens, representing Unitarian Universalist Voices for Justice, a faith-based 501(c)4 for Unitarian Universalists in this state. Raising the minimum wage is one of our top three priorities for this legislative session and we urge that you pass this bill. While study after study has shown that raising the minimum wage benefits the economy, that is not the primary reason that we chose this issue.
Record wildfires in eastern Washington. Our shellfish industry experiencing economic loss. Communities and kids’ health impacted by air pollution. These are the kinds of threats we face now from global warming.
We all do our part to follow the rules to keep our state clean and save energy and fuel. But meanwhile, oil and coal companies and other big polluters aren’t taking responsibility for the pollution they put into our air and oceans. We are paying the price.
It’s time to enforce the law on the books and hold big fossil fuel polluters accountable.
By making polluters pay, we can have more clean energy that we produce here at home. That create good jobs in our communities and helps us build stronger local economies and means all of us can enjoy a healthy future. We have the know-how and the workforce to transition Washington from the pollution of fossil fuels to the prosperity of a just and sustainable clean energy economy.
This next week in Olympia, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy is coming together at the Capitol to show that the time to act is now. The Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy is Washington State’s coalition of community organizations, businesses, labor unions, and environmental organizations dedicated to reducing global warming pollution, creating family-wage jobs and securing a better future for our families and future.
But we need you too. We need to demonstrate the strong backing to counter oil industry’s influence and attempts to stall climate action.
Please join us! Tuesday, Jan 27 at 11 am in the Washington Room of the Pritchard Building on the campus show our support of the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy.
After the launch, the House Environment committee will hold the first hearing the Carbon Polluter Accountability Act (time: 1:30 p.m., room TBD). Please stay for the hearing so we can show strong support for Gov. Inslee’s policy that would cut global warming pollution and reinvest in our communities.
To have the event be a success, we need to demonstrate the strong backing of the broad community and need organizations and individuals to show up in support. Washington can and must lead to create a better path that protects our health and future.
Will you join us on Tuesday?
As you may already know yesterday the Senate, in a party line vote, changed their rules to require a 2/3 majority simply to bring a bill that raises revenue to the floor. They can't even be discussed. This is in defiance of a Supreme Court decision that ruled such super majority requirements unconstitutional.
Of course, this means that solving the education crisis, addressing pollution through making the big polluters pay (cap and trade) and making our taxes a bit fairer are dead before arrival.
Please send an email to your Senator. You can find contact information for your Senator here - http://goo.gl/Qzsrs9. If you don't know your district or Senator, information is at the legislator finder service.
This is reported as a party line vote. If your senator is a Republican, here's a sample email. If your senator is a Democrat, please thank them, let them know how concerned you are, using some of the wording below, and encourage them to continue the struggle.
I am dismayed and very concerned about the Republican Senators who changed the rules of the Senate yesterday to make the future of education for all children, reducing pollution by charging the polluters and making our taxes a bit fairer with a capital gains tax on the wealthiest impossible. It circumvents the legislative process of discussion and compromise and has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. This is a disaster for the middle class, our children and the poor and a win for corporations, the wealthy and massive polluters, without allowing any discussion.
As a Unitarian Universalist, my faith teaches me that extreme financial inequality, such as we have now, is so extreme that it is a moral imperative on a par with racism. Our Principles require that we live in such a way that all might thrive. Equity in public life is required. We recognize that our fate is bound up with the fate of all. While it is true that reducing inequality will boost our economy, at its core allowing people to starve so that others can live in great luxury is immoral.
The Tri-City Herald editorial board observed of the Senate's reckless act:
"This new rule will choke off discussion of new tax measures early in the process, which will limit options and suppress creative budget strategies. It will make it harder for legislators to shoot for the middle and compromise because they won’t have to if the tax debate never happens.
"Their super-majority plan makes a complex process even more complicated. There is enough gridlock in Olympia without putting up another hurdle to the process. This new rule was a bad decision."
I'm asking you to call on your leadership to reverse this immoral decision and reengage in the democratic process. Here's a link to the brochure outlining the priorities of Unitarian Universalist Voices for Justice for this session. http://goo.gl/lQ7cWY
The 2015 Legislature begins with hearings on two of our key issues - budget fairness and fossil fuel transport safety. Read on for details on the hearings, the bills and the legislators on the committees considering the issues. If one of your legislators is on the list, please drop them an email or make a quick phone call. Link to the Lobbying Brochure: http://goo.gl/lQ7cWY.
On Nov. 22nd about 75 of us representing 22 Washington congregations gathered online to discuss and vote on the priorities for the coming year. Most of the group had reviewed the video interviews to get up to speed on issues. Here are our priorities:
- The Governor's carbon proposals combined with the Carbon Tax Initiative, if the proposals fail
- Fossil fuel transport and permitting
- Increasing the state minimum wage
- The WAmend initiative that calls for an end to corporate personhood
- Budget priorities that make preserving what is left of the social service safety net combined with increasing revenues through closing loopholes in corporate tax breaks.
- A second tier of priorities include the Family Unity Act (immigration) and ending the death penalty.
The first three issues plus any bills that address increasing revenue are the ones that we will lobby hard from the beginning of the session. The final bullet point represent issues that we will work on if they survive the assigned committees. Both of them represent issues that we have worked on for several years.
Climate change is the gravest danger facing humanity today. We are already experiencing its effects — rising sea levels, catastrophic storms, species extinction — but the potential effects of climate change are even more devastating. And while climate change affects all of us, its consequences will be felt most profoundly by the most impoverished and marginalized of the world’s communities.
We cannot remain silent in the face of such a threat. We are compelled to respond.
UU Voices for justice received a letter from Randy Rodrequez, an organizer of the Seattle March that we endorsed, that reads in part:
Sunday was amazing! Two independent attendees estimated 2,000 people marched in Seattle’s People’s Climate March. This shows the power of our coalition to inspire and mobilize people ready to take action to oppose the fossil fuel projects proposed for our region and link that to a demand for massive investment clean energy jobs.
What Sunday showed was the potential to grow this movement, to keep drawing in sections of society not traditionally involved in climate action – labor and communities of color, especially. This unprecedented coalition is a truly monumental breakthrough in the struggle against climate change. The connections we share are endless and we need to weave together this movement from all of our movements. We can’t stop here. Sunday was only the beginning and we have no more time to waste.
Socialist Alternative would like to propose that we continue our united action and collaboration towards the shared vision of a sustainable future that coming generations deserve. Some of you are likely already planning the next events. Let’s ensure these events are as massive and effective as Sunday's march by working together – where we have agreement – and solidifying the new connections between us....
We want to thank you all for your help organizing the event, speaking at the event, and bringing out such a beautiful array of our community to speak as one. You can view photos and video on the Facebook event page here.
Please let us know if you are interested in continuing the coalition and meeting in the coming weeks.
"The earth and her people cry out in anguish, in indignation, and, yet still, in hope. In times like these, prophets must speak loudly, clearly and with many voices." by Dan McKanan from the Introduction to Reclaiming Prophetic Witness: Liberal Religion in the Public Square by Paul Rasor