PEG 6th Congressional District Newsletter 314
Thursday, April 27, 2023
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Kudos to President Biden
On Friday, April 22, President Biden signed an executive order directing every single federal agency to work toward “environmental justice for all” and to improve the lives of communities hit hardest by toxic pollution and climate change.  The order will establish a new office of Environmental Justice within the White House to coordinate efforts across the government and require federal agencies to notify communities if toxic substances are released from a federal facility. 
What is Environmental Justice?
Environmental justice is defined as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies”. It is rooted in the recognition that certain communities, particularly those of lower income and people of color, have historically been subjected to living in areas with high pollution and exposure to hazardous waste, leading to negative health outcomes and reduced quality of life for these residents.
Environmental Justice: A Centerpiece of Biden’s Climate Agenda
Since his first week in office, President Biden championed environmental justice as a centerpiece of his climate agenda, when he signed an executive order pledging 40% of the overall benefits from certain federal clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities overwhelmed by pollution.
The order tells the executive branch agencies to use data and scientific research to understand how pollution hurts people’s health, so that work can be done to limit damage to residents living in polluted areas. Executive agencies will also be required to inform nearby communities if toxic substances were released from a federal facility. 
Potential Impact of the Executive Order
The Biden administration’s Office of Environmental Justice represents a significant step forward in the United States’ commitment to addressing historic and ongoing environmental disparities faced by vulnerable communities. By focusing on strengthening partnerships, enhancing public engagement, prioritizing high-impact initiatives, and establishing robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, the Office of Environmental Justice has the potential to maximize its impact and contribute to a more equitable and sustainable future for all Americans.
Our Reign of Gun Terror
We’re living in a reign of gun terror, where almost every day there is another mass shooting of ordinary and innocent Americans. Yet according to the Pew Research Center, despite the epidemic of gun violence, Americans remain deeply divided about guns with 81% of Democrats favoring gun reform in contrast to 20% of Republicans. Regardless of party affiliation, family members of gun victims are committed to gun reform. Said Martha Omilian whose daughter, Maggie was murdered at the age of 19 by an ex-boyfriend, “When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I think about is Maggie; the last thing I think about is Maggie. I don’t want anybody else to have to deal with this. When you lose a child like that, you just want to fix things so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
In the last week, we’ve witnessed an accelerating phenomena. A man shot a black sixteen-year-old who rang his doorbell by mistake. Another man shot into a car who drove into his driveway by mistake, killing one of the occupants. Evidently, some Americans are so riled up by the chatter about the need for guns and the talk of “stand your ground” that they press a trigger at the mere sight of a stranger. According to Jack Healy, Glenn Thrush, Eliza Fawcett and Susan C. Beachy in their collaborative article in The New York Times, there’ve been many other instances of what they term “wrong address” shootings that have gone unpublicized. We’ve entered an era of what the gun-toting New York Times columnist, David French, calls “gun idolatry.”
As he defines it, “In many quarters of America, respect for firearms has turned into a form of reverence.” As an advocate for gun ownership, French concludes on rather a sad note: “The cry for legal and moral reform will sweep the land. America will change and gun rights will diminish.” Those of us who believe in gun reform can only hope that is the case.
Michigan Democrats are not done with gun safety
Having passed legislation for safe gun storage, background checks and red flag laws, the Democrats in the Michigan state legislature are now looking to introduce further gun restrictions. Among Democrats’ next targets: Banning the sale of large-capacity magazines, keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and allowing gun manufacturers to be held liable for the deadly toll of gun violence.
According to Bridge Magazine, gun safety advocates want this and more, including an assault weapon ban and reining in Michigan’s “open carry” law to prevent weapons from being allowed in sensitive places like school or places of worship. However, acknowledging the challenge of passing legislation to ban assault weapons, State Senator Rosemary Bayer, D-Keego Harbor said that more than 50 members of the legislative firearms caucus have discussed limiting magazine capacity as an alternative to an assault weapons ban. These legislators are also considering devoting more funds to mental health resources, particularly since the easy availability of guns has resulted in fatalities for people with depression or other mental health challenges. Katie Cavanaugh who serves on the Okemos Board of Education and is a member of Moms Demand Action also said she would like to see more money be put into providing schools with more security equipment and student resource officers, security personnel, therapists and mental health support. Stay tuned for more legislation! – Bridge Magazine
Resident input requested for Early Voting
Early Voting is Coming to Michigan!
“Residents of Michigan will soon have the option of early voting in statewide federal elections, following the approval of Prop 2 in November 2022. Ann Arbor is planning to introduce early voting for the 2024 election cycle and is asking residents to take a six-question survey to determine their preferred method of voting, whether it’s absentee, in person, or early voting. Jackie Beaudry, A2 City Clerk, is leading the initiative and wants the survey results to inform the city’s planning. The survey is anonymous and available on A2 Open City Hall, and the city encourages residents to participate before May 22. The city is committed to providing more information on elections and voting in Ann Arbor, and residents can visit www.a2gov.org/elections for more information.”
Sunday, May 7. A2 Climate Teach-In
Protectors of Equality in Government are proud to be Media Sponsors for this event!!
Things to do, read, watch, and listen to
Threats to Democracy have Gone Local
Ms. Squires, an editor at Bolts, a magazine that covers elections and voting rights at the local level, wrote an opinion article for the New York Times on April 15, 2023 which discusses the threat to American democracy based on election denialism. She warns that denialism has not disappeared, but rather shifted to state and local levels. It is at this grass-roots level that our voting system is vulnerable, which means these” obscure election boards aren’t where denialism goes to die; it’s where it takes root and starts to grow.”
Republican officials are making it increasingly difficult to cast votes, tally votes, and receive timely results. Election deniers continue to affect state and local elections, creating disorder in local election administration. Officials are policing elections, establishing task forces and election police units that are supposedly there to root out fraud but could have the effect of intimidating voters from exercising their civic right.
ERIC has become the subject of conspiracy theories and attacks. A growing list of states have pulled out of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). ERIC is not political nor party affiliated. It was created in 2010 to help states maintain accurate voter rolls through information sharing. It helps guard against fraud by allowing states to crosscheck for inaccurate or outdated voting records and helps identify potential new voters who haven’t yet registered. Without this crosschecking tool at their disposal in the future, it’s possible for these instances to slip through the cracks. Squires opines that it is difficult to know just what the full effect of a weakened ERIC will be. Ironically, departures from ERIC could make elections less secure. The varied and confusing patchwork of election laws and powers across states, counties, and municipalities enables threats to American democracy.
Severed Ties: Florida divorces Hillsdale College Curriculum
Bridge Michigan reported that Hillsdale College in Michigan has been “fired” for its curriculum including The Classics. And yes Virginia, David (in the nude) is considered inappropriate to be viewed by students according to the Tallahassee Classical Academy. The principal resigned because of pressure from parents. This is not surprising given the national trend of censorship which denies the parental rights of many for the parental rights of the few.
We all can take action by supporting candidates who agree with the concept of Free Speech and Democracy from City Councils to Local Library Boards, School Boards and up the ballot. Whether making calls, writing to lawmakers, or providing funding, you too can be part of the solution.
Keep this guide handy for your out-of-state loved ones
We wish that privacy for abortion seekers was as important for some states as covering up David’s figs and berries. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. This guide provides 11 steps to help protect your privacy and avoid detection from authorities when planning or having an abortion. Risks to your privacy include personal devices and apps collecting and sharing your data, which could be used against you in an investigation. Steps include limiting the information you share, securing your devices and accounts, using encrypted messaging services, using a VPN, and disabling location sharing. The guide also advises against using period tracking apps and offers tips for hiding the data trail from an abortion payment and avoiding physical surveillance technology.
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