Where Has All Our Common Sense Gone? Remarks at the NRA Convention

I gave these remarks at the Texas Gun Sense press conference outside the NRA convention on May 4. Today, once again, children were slaughtered at school because our lawmakers refuse to take any meaningful action to protect them. With each mass shooting, families and communities are devastated, and the community of survivors grows ever larger. After a murderer cut our children down today in their classrooms, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared a war on doors, as though they were the real culprits in today’s deaths. There is evidence to support reasonable gun reform, and it doesn’t include trapping our children inside their schools in violation of fire codes, common sense, and common decency. We need serious people in office who will pursue policies that protect our children and communities, not guns.

My name is Lisa Goodgame, and I’m the President of Indivisible Austin. We are a chapter of the national grassroots movement focused on defending democracy and holding our member of Congress accountable. We believe that gun violence prevention is one of the biggest issues we’ll face in the coming year and in the next legislative session. I speak to you today not only as an activist and advocate, but as a gun violence survivor.

In the middle of the night of October 2, 1993, my 18-year-old sister Rani Goodgame was murdered in Houston. Two young guys shot her and another young woman at a party and she died at the scene. She had just started college at the University of Houston and she planned to pursue a degree in sports psychology. But instead of graduating and having a long life ahead of her, she was cut down in a hail of bullets.

I stand here as a member of the ever-growing community of gun violence survivors. Twenty-four years to the day of my sister’s murder we woke up to news of the massacre in Las Vegas. That day the survivor community grew by thousands. Twenty-four years to the day of the shooting at Parkland my family got the notification of the latest victim impact hearing as one of her murderers comes up for parole. That day the survivor community grew by thousands.

I’m here today to represent survivors who can’t be here to speak, but I’m also here to issue a challenge to our lawmakers.

Today our senators Cornyn and Cruz will the address the NRA convention. They are both A+ rated by the NRA, but they are failing our children, communities and schools because they are beholden to the gun lobby’s special interest and letting our children die.

Our children are a special interest.

Our communities are a special interest.

Our schools are a special interest.

In his pro-NRA op-ed in the Dallas Morning News, Sen. Cruz called those of us who are calling for commonsense gun reform “dunces” and “extremists.” No one speaking here today is either of those things. We aren’t dunces. We’re seeking policy change that the vast majority of Americans and Texans support. A Quinnipiac poll released on April 19 found that 94 percent of voters support universal background checks. 55 percent overall support stricter gun laws, and 53 percent want an assault weapon ban.

The majority of Texans are not dunces and they are not extremists. We are ready for political and policy change, and we’re ready to end the NRA’s stranglehold on our lawmakers.

NEW Pocket Guide with 2018 Election Info!

You know those neat little pocket guides we hand out at marches, rallies, and meetups? Now you can print your own!

The pocket guide has been updated for election season! Block walking your neighborhood? Take some with you to hand out to neighbors. The pocket guide now has:

  • contact info for all 6 U.S. Reps and Sens. Cornyn & Cruz
  • NEW state lege and Austin City Council contact info
  • NEW comprehensive voter information for 2018

Download the PDF and print double-sided in black & white

Call Congress to Protect SNAP on May 8

What: Call-In Day to Protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

When: Tuesday, May 8

​Who: Call your member of Congress at 888-398-8702

Please share this action alert widely and use the downloadable social media graphics from Children’s Defense Fund-Texas below 

Adapted from CPPP‘s SNAP action alert:
About 3.8 million Texans — kids, the elderly, people with disabilities, veterans and workers who don’t earn enough to feed their families — turn to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “food stamps”) to help buy food every month. It is the nation’s most effective anti-hunger program.

Now, SNAP is at risk because of proposals in the Farm Bill, the legislation that includes this vital program. The Farm Bill would make it harder for millions of working mothers to put food on the table by taking away or cutting their food benefits. In all, the proposal would cut the actual money families receive to buy food by more than $17 billion and instead would spend billions setting up a new system of untested work programs and requirements with punishing penalties.

RSVP on Facebook to join the National Call-in Day and let Congress know you oppose cuts to the SNAP program

Call your member of Congress on May 8 at 888-398-8702

Sample script/talking points:

  1. Identify yourself as a constituent calling about pending legislation.
  2. Tell them you want your representative to oppose the current Farm Bill, because it would:
    1. Cut food assistance for struggling families in your community, and
    2. Misuse those same funds to expand a bureaucracy that sells the promise of work, but won’t deliver results.
  3. Give a concrete example from your experience to demonstrate why you care.
  4. Provide your full mailing address and ask to receive a response from your member of Congress.
  5. Thank the staff member!

 

Right click to download and share these images on social media:

Protect SNAP national call-in day

Protect SNAP national call-in day

Protect SNAP national call-in day

Protect SNAP national call-in day

Get to Know: Workers Defense Project

This is the first in a regular series of blogs spotlighting organizations tackling major issues in Central Texas.

Guest post from Workers Defense Project:

Workers Defense Project (WDP) is a membership-based organization that empowers low-income workers to achieve fair employment through education, direct services, organizing and strategic partnerships. WDP was founded in August 2002 by employees and volunteers of Casa Marianella, a local Austin shelter, to address the problem of unpaid wages for Austin’s low-wage workers.

WDP is a worker center that provides low-wage workers, concentrating on the construction industry, with legal solutions for wage theft, discrimination and injury cases, as well as ESL classes, safety classes, and the leadership development they need to improve their working and living conditions. With these important resources, WDP members are able to change the conditions that negatively impact working families. WDP provides a source of power and hope for low-wage workers and is part of a national movement of organizations that seek to achieve sustainable change for working families. The organization is one of the most established worker centers in the South and a leader in fighting for fair conditions for working people.

WDP envisions a future where all low-wage and immigrant workers are treated with dignity and respect. In the wake of the 2016 election, WDP has renewed its commitment to fighting for the rights of low-wage workers and immigrants disproportionately affected by the policies of the current administration and its impact on local and statewide governance. This push back includes winning big changes in the construction industry and beyond, including:

  • Passing an ordinance requiring paid sick leave for all employees within the City of Austin;
  • Ensuring paid rest breaks for all construction workers in Austin and Dallas;
  • Suing the State of Texas over the anti-immigrant law SB 4, and moving every major city in Texas to join the lawsuit;
  • Winning fair pay and safe working conditions for more than 16,000 construction workers through WDP’s innovative Better Builder® program; and
  • Recovering more than $1.7 million in unpaid wages for more than 1,800 workers.
There are many opportunities to get involved with WDP, but none are more valued than our volunteers. Register HERE to attend our Monthly Volunteer Orientation and Volunteer Night, the first Thursday of the month at the Austin office. The next opportunity is May 3rd, 2018, 6-8PM. Contact elizabeth@workersdefense.org to learn more about the volunteer program or sign up for volunteer updates. Sign up HERE to receive our monthly e-newsletter, and click HERE to make a donation. We encourage you to visit our website or write info@workersdefense.org to learn more. WDP is grateful for the support of the community- we couldn’t do our work without you!

Indivisible Austin Files Freedom of Information Act for Trump Tax Cut

Indivisible Austin has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Department of Treasury to demand answers for how Trump’s tax cut will benefit Austin’s wealthiest corporations.

The request, filed with the Office of Tax Policy, seeks any internal documents related to “projections, forecasts, and evaluations made by the OTP of expected changes to the Austin MSA’s tax revenue as a result of the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”

“The Trump tax law takes hard-earned tax dollars from middle-class families and gives them to the wealthiest Americans,” said Lisa Goodgame, Board President of Indivisible Austin. “If Steve Mnuchin and the Treasury have information on how this corporate giveaway will impact Austin residents, then Austin residents deserve to know, too.”

As one of the biggest tax cuts in American history, Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut is especially benefiting corporations, commercial real estate interests, and private equity managers, among others.

The tax cut comes as Austin City Council deliberates whether to require private employers to provide mandatory paid sick time to Austin families. According to the Work Strong Austin coalition, an estimated 37% of Austin residents do not receive paid sick time from their employer. The vote is currently scheduled for February 15, 2018.

Read the full FOIA letter

Tax plan shell game hurts middle-class Texans

Who is the Tax Cut and Jobs Act for? What is it really meant to do? Create jobs? No. Regardless of how you normally vote, you know this bill doesn’t pass the smell test. It has one priority: cutting taxes for the wealthiest, by shifting the burden to everyone else.

Take our quiz to determine if you’ll get a tax break from the Trump Tax Scam >>

The House version of this scam gives the top .3 percent of Texans 52 percent of cuts. That’s 83,000 out of the nearly 28,000,000 Texans. Imagine the residents of Mission, Texas getting more tax cuts than the rest of the state combined. It would be farcical, if it wasn’t so serious.

The most narrow yet extreme of these cuts may be the elimination of the estate tax, which applies to only the largest .2 percent of estates. A married couple can pass on $10.9 million to their children before any estate tax is due. Do you know anyone who has $11 million to pass on? Rep. Michael McCaul, the wealthiest Texan in Congress, would save $38.7 million. However, this change is really about Sen. Ted Cruz’s desire to save non-Texan Robert Mercer hundreds of millions more. Never mind the expense to the country that provided the environment and secure conditions necessary for them to amass their stunning wealth.

Congress’ tax plans are shell game, offering slightly reduced rates and an increased standard deduction with one hand, while yanking away essential credits and deductions with the other. Important supposed benefits for the middle class include increased child tax credits as well as new credits for essentially every other member of the household. When taken together, these might be enough to make up for the elimination of personal exemptions, which deduct more than $4000 of taxable income for each person in your household. With the introduction of the Senate version of the bill, all the supposed tax benefits for middle class folks will disappear in 2025 — but the corporate tax cuts will be permanent.

You have major medical expenses? Sorry, no deduction. Want an education? Tax credits and deductions for student loan interest are gone. Buying a house with a $750,000 mortgage? Only interest on $500,000 is deductible. Lost everything in a disaster, like so many in Houston and the Gulf Coast? Now you’re really out of luck, because the property loss deduction is lost.

And now the Senate has decided to turn its version of the tax bill into a stealth attempt to repeal the ACA. There’s no question that it will cause premiums to go up and at least 13 million people uninsured by 2027.

Some may end up with a scrap of a benefit for a few years, but many won’t. Even those who do actually see a cut will see it turn into a tax increase by 2027 when the tax cuts for individuals phase out.

Extraordinary cuts will be required to pay for this — cuts that will disproportionately target health care programs that millions of Americans depend on. The House’s budget plan depends on more than $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid, which is even higher than any of the ACA repeal plans. We expect an immediate $25 billion cut to Medicare, and a total of $500 billion in cuts to Medicare.

All of this is for what? So Wells Fargo can rebuild shareholder value? So the children of billionaires can inherit even more money?

No. It’s not right, and it shouldn’t happen. Tell your representatives that it can’t happen. They work for all 28 million Texans, not just the 83,000 at the top.

Sick of This: Help All Austinites Win Earned Sick Days on 11/16

Guest post from Work Strong Austin Coalition
(Abajo en español)

As Austin continues to grow, too many working people are left without the ability to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families.

All workers, regardless of background, wage level, and occupation, should have access to earned sick days. Unfortunately, approximately 223,000 Austin workers – 37 percent of the total workforce – are at risk of losing wages or being fired if they follow doctor’s orders when they or a family member are ill.

In September, Austin City Council passed a resolution that would begin a public input process to bring Austin working families, business leaders, community groups and public health professionals together to discuss paid sick days. Please join us for the Second Stakeholder Meeting: November 16, 4:00pm – 6:30pm, Town Lake Center Assembly Room 130, 721 Barton Springs Road, Austin, Texas 78704. Come and support paid sick days. We need to make sure our voices are heard.

You can also provide feedback to the City of Austin about why it’s critical for all Austinites to have paid sick days on this online forum here. Can you please take a few minutes to fill out this survey.

Learn more about Work Strong Austin’s paid sick days campaign:
English

Español

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La ciudad de Austin sigue creciendo, debido a esto demasiadas familias trabajadoras se estan quedando atras en la posibilidad de proveer y mejorar la calidad de vida de si mismos y de sus familias.

Todos los trabajadores, independientemente del tipo de trabajo que hagan o de cuánto ganan, deberían de poder cuidarse a sí mismos o a un ser querido en situaciones de necesidad.Desafortunadamente, aproximadamente 223,000 trabajadores en Austin — lo que equivale al 37 por ciento de la fuerza laboral — están en riesgo de perder salarios o ser despedidos si siguen las órdenes del médico cuando ellos o un miembro de su familia están enfermos.

En Septiembre el Concilio de Austin pasó una resolución para iniciar un proceso público en el cual familias de Austin, negocios, grupos comunitarios, médicos entre otros discutirán la posibilidad de una ordenanza de días de enfermedad pagados. Por favor acompáñenos a la segunda reunión de este proceso el 16 de Noviembre de 4:00pm – 6:30pm, Town Lake Center Assembly Room 130, 721 Barton Springs Road, Austin, Texas 78704. Venga a apoyar esta campaña, tenemos que asegurarnos que nuestras voces sean escuchadas.

También puede dar su opinión a la Ciudad de Austin de la importancia crítica para todos que todos los trabajadores tengan este derecho de días de enfermedad pagados. Puede llenar este cuestionario aquí.

How Your Voices Made a Difference: Unraveling

Some weeks are tougher than others, and this was a rough one—between Donny giving companies the right to deny women health care coverage for birth control, to the EPA’s Scott Pruitt rolling back the Obama-era protections of the Clean Power Plan to replace it with his own dirty version and threatening to remove tax incentives for wind and solar power, and of course demented Donald’s latest disgorgements of bile:  trying to circumvent the GOP’s failure to repeal the ACA with an executive order, flouting our First Amendment by threatening to revoke media outlets’ licenses for publishing news he doesn’t like…and the soul-draining childishness of the man-baby-in-chief’s petty feud with Sen. Bob Corker, and GOP lawmakers’ collective cowardly silence in its wake.

But the weird upside of all this awfulness is this: Lately it’s Donny’s own voice making a difference. Don John’s behavior and actions are becoming egregious enough that some of the GOP is beginning to find its spine (and moral compass). Backlash against Donald’s attack on the First Amendment was immediate and bipartisan, including GOP Sen. Ben Sasse’s sharp call-out on Twitter (apparently the new forum of political discourse…sigh). Donald’s attacks against women’s health care have women’s health experts speaking out to refute his premises. His Twitter-tantrum threats to remove aid from Puerto Rico in a crisis “largely of their own making”(while he plays golf yet again) is an attack on and abandonment of more than 3 million Americans drawing broad censure—and his failures as a leader are starkly underscored by five former leaders’ (the five living ex-presidents) banding together to help hurricane victims (of all shades). His undermining a health care system that a majority of Americans now approve of is fueling criticism from states on both sides of the aisle. And his attempts to undermine NAFTA will undoubtedly bring a backlash from the industrial and rural base he so often panders to, who will be most hurt by it. Even Rex Tillerson, after Donald demanded a tenfold increase in nuclear armaments despite decades of policy designed to reduce the nuclear threat worldwide rather than expand it, has realized his boss is a “fucking moron.” (Mensa has kindly offered to host an IQ test to answer the question definitively after Donald tweeted out an “I know you are but what am I” to his secretary of state.) An array of White House insiders report versions of Donny “unraveling” in jaw-droppingly unstable ways.

Meanwhile, the Harvey Weinstein scandal is rocking Hollywood—not only showing conservatives how you handle a sexual predator (by calling it out loudly and publicly, and taking sharp actions against the predator to stop the actions—rather than by defending it and offering it a cable show, or electing it president), but by bringing this rampant sexism and harassment into the light, and showing that women (and James Van Der Beek, one of the disappointingly few courageous men speaking up) will no longer be silent in the face of institutionalized sexual misconduct and abuse. The tide for sanctioning the sexual-predator-in-chief may be turning.

Steps forward are incremental, and not always steady—some weeks it can be hard to see all the progress we are making. But remind yourself of the huge victories the resistance has already won, most decisively stopping every attempt to repeal the ACA, and comfort yourself that Donny’s ratings—sorry, approval numbers—are tanking faster than his loose hold on rationality, even in his rural base, and according to pollster Quinnipiac, 55% of voters believe he is not fit to be president.

Donald’s own actions will wind up bringing him down, as long as we continue holding him and all his defenders in the GOP accountable, and demanding our lawmakers do the same. To that end, on the Russian-investigation front, it’s looking like Bob Mueller is getting close to something that’s making the Donny John camp pretty uncomfortable: Carter Page—Don John’s former campaign manager who got benched after confabbing with Russian diplomat and top spy Sergei Kislyak last year (despite denying speaking with him) and who subsequently met with Putie’s top associates in Russia—has refused to testify before the Senate Intelligence panel in their Russia investigation. You know, like you do when you have something to hide and fear incriminating yourself and perhaps the leader of the free world. Reince Priebus spent an entire day with Mueller’s team, talking about who can only guess what…? Now’s a good time to call your MoCs and ask that they support the two bipartisan bills in Congress proposed to prevent Donald from firing Mueller as he tightens the noose around the man-baby-in-chief’s neck.

You’re not imagining how hard this battle can be—this administration is taking a deep emotional and mental toll on many Americans. But in a glimmer of hope for our collective future in these divided times, 55% of Americans now believe politicians should work more bipartisanly and embrace compromise. (You know, like you do in every single other relationship in your life.)

Hang in there, warriors. If all else fails, Hustler’s Larry Flynt is offering $10 million to anyone who can provide info leading to 45’s impeachment. Really.

OMG We are SO Tired of This Repeal BS! Here’s What We Need to Do

We know you are tired of beating back health care repeal bills. We are, too. We’ve been doing this for months, and it doesn’t get any easier.

The only saving grace is that the the Senate Republicans can only attempt to repeal the ACA through the gimmick called reconciliation until September 30. (And really, it’s September 29, since the Senate won’t be voting on Yom Kippur.) That’s only eight days away!

The time is short, so we have to work fast! Here’s what you can do right now to help stop this final attempt at repeal:

    1. Call Sens. Cornyn and Cruz at 202-224-3121 and tell them:
      My name is [Name] and I am one of your constituents. I want Senator [Cruz/Cornyn] to oppose Graham-Cassidy because it will take healthcare away from millions including children, people with disabilities seniors and even victims of natural disasters like Harvey and Irma. (If you also have a personal story to share, it really helps.)
    2. Sign up for a timeslot in our call relay! The goal is to get enough people signed up every day to make calls all day long so the DC office phones never stop ringing. This page will reset each day until we #KillTheBill. (You can still call whenever you want!)
    3. If you’ve called both Sens. Cornyn and Cruz and you’re asking yourself: what more can I do? How can I influence Republicans in red states who may be on the fence? You can sign up to call constituents in the target states and ask them to call THEIR senators!
    4. Join us this Sunday, Sept 24 at 8:30 a.m., for a Public Square Town Hall to take a last stand against ACA repeal and Medicaid cuts! Sens. Cruz and Cornyn will be just steps away from our event, speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival!
    5. Sign up here to get email and occasional text alerts for urgent actions.

BONUS: Submit comments to the Senate Finance Committee by Monday at noon! 

Thank you for supporting Texans who depend on the ACA and Medicaid for their healthcare!

How to Make a #WelcometoAustin Kit

The mayor announced that as many as 7,500 people could be coming to Austin soon, seeking shelter from Harvey’s wrath. There are a lot of ways to help, but one way is to provide a welcome kit for new arrivals. Like you, we’ve seen many lists of needed items, and different groups are collecting for different needs. But everyone needs something to get started with, and here’s a way to help.

The city is calling for 6,000 welcome kits to be delivered to Austin Disaster Recovery Network at their Hope Thrift Store location at

1122 E 51st Street
Austin, Texas 78723
Mon-Sat, 10AM-5PM

Prepping a welcome kit is not a totally inexpensive proposition, we get that. If you are in a position to give, that’s amazing, and it might also be a good project to share with a friend or another family. If you’re not, but you have time, Austin Disaster Recovery Network and many other organizations need volunteers. You can also make a contribution to ADRN or other local groups involved in Harvey relief.

See list of welcome kit contents below.

Welcome kits should include the following:

KIT ITEMS:

  • New Towel
  • New Washcloth
  • Soap
  • Tissue
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine products
  • Shampoo
  • Comb
  • A note of encouragement

ADDITIONAL IMPORTANT ITEMS:

  • New Blanket
  • New Pillow
  • Wipes
  • Baby bottles/formula
  • Diapers
  • Baby food

HOW TO CREATE A WELCOME KIT:

  1. Get a reusable bag(s) or plastic container with a lid
  2. Fill the container with listed items
  3. Drop your donation off

PLUS: Austin Animal Center needs supplies for lost animals and pets of people in shelter:

  • 500 large crates
  • Used sheets and towels to line the crates

Donate to:
Austin Animal Center
7201 Levander Loop
Austin, TX 78702
11am to 7pm, 7 days a week