Thank you so much for your interest in Saratoga Unites!
We are an activist group dedicated to uniting groups and individuals to uphold democratic values and advocate for equal rights, equal opportunity, a healthy environment, and a more peaceful world.
Week of 3/26/18 –
New York State
1. Early voting. Call or tweet Governor Cuomo [(877) 235-6537/(518) 474-1041; @NYGovCuomo], Senate Majority Leader Flanagan [(518) 455-2071; @LeaderFlanagan], Assembly Speaker Heastie [(518) 455-4812; @CarlHeastie], and IDC [Independent Democratic Caucus] Chairman Klein [(518) 455-3595; @JeffKleinNY] on Monday (3/26) or Tuesday (3/27) to urge them to support funding for early voting in this year’s state budget. For more information on early voting in New York, go to www.letnyvote.org. To follow the course of the petition we delivered to the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors and Senator Kathy Marchione, see http://chn.ge/2FwA75e.
2. Monday, March 26 or Tuesday, March 27 – Call to Include Gun Violence Prevention Legislation in this Year’s State Budget. Contact Governor Cuomo [(877) 235-6537] and your local State Assembly and Senate representatives to urge them to include improved gun violence prevention measures in this year’s budget, including options such as passing an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law (also recently passed in Florida as a “red flag” law), restricting domestic abusers’ access to guns, banning bump stocks, and closing a loophole that enables a gun to be sold after 3 days – even if the background check hasn’t been completed.
The Assembly passed a package of gun violence prevention bills in early March. Former Congresswoman and gun violence prevention advocate Gabby Giffords has endorsed the Assembly’s bill package. See https://giffords.org/2018/03/ny-assembly-package/. NYS’s “ERPO” bill authorizes “families and law enforcement to seek court issued orders restricting access to guns for individuals who are likely to harm themselves or others.” For more information on the bill (S.7133/A.8976) and the ERPO Coalition, see https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/brian-kavanagh/statement-new-york-erpo-coalition-proposals-include-gun and a fact sheet at http://nyagv.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/ERPO-Fact-Sheet-FINAL-5-2017.pdf.
Sign a petition urging the NYS Senate to pass ERPO at http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5610/c/209/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=25365.
Find your NYS Senator at https://www.nysenate.gov/find-my-senator
Local Senators (by District)
43 Kathleen Marchione (518) 455-2381
45 Betty Little (518) 455-2811
46 George A. Amedore, Jr. (518) 455-2350
47 Joseph A. Griffo (518) 455-3334
48 Patty Ritchie (518) 455-3438
49 James Tedisco (518) 455-2181
51 James Seward (518) 455-3131
53 David Valesky (518) 455-2838
Find your NYS Assembly member at http://nyassembly.gov/mem/search/
Local Assembly members (by District)
108 John T. McDonald III (518) 455-4474
109 Patricia Fahy (518) 455-4178
110 Phil Steck (518) 455-5931
111 Angelo Santabarbara (518) 455-5197
112 Mary Beth Walsh (518) 455-5772
113 Carrie Woerner (518) 455-5404
114 Dan Stec (518) 455-5565
115 Billy Jones (518) 455-5943
116 Addie Jenne (518) 455-5545
3. Speak out at the Upcoming Sub-Minimum Wage/Tip Credit Hearings. Do you support eliminating or keeping the wage tip credit? Governor Cuomo has asked the NYS Commissioner of Labor to hold hearings in the coming months to “evaluate the possibility of ending minimum wage tip credits.” The first hearing will be held in Long Island on Friday, April 20, 2018. The hearing in Albany is currently scheduled for Friday, May 18th, at 10a.m. Pre-registrants will be given 3 minutes to speak. To PRE-REGISTER for a hearing, go to https://www.labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/subminimumwage.shtm.
The wage tip credit applies to workers who, because they receive tips, are paid a “sub-minimum” wage from their employer. To see how employers in NYS currently must calculate the wage tip credit, go to https://www.labor.ny.gov/legal/counsel/pdf/tips-frequently-asked-questions.pdf. For information on how Maine’s experience with repealing the minimum wage tip credit led to the credit being recently re-instated, go to https://www.pressherald.com/2018/01/11/maine-voices-after-success-in-getting-tip-credit-restored-in-maine-its-time-to-go-national/.
Week of 3/5/18 –
Stop Sinclair Broadcasting from scripting local news anchors, including ours at CBS 6. Call Sinclair Broadcasting at (410) 568-1500 and ask for their News Department. Tell them you don’t want their company putting words into the mouths of our local newscasters. Then call CBS 6 News at (518) 346-6666 to tell them you don’t want their newscasters parroting Sinclair scripts and talking points, and that you assume their newscasters don’t want to either.
For more information on this issue, please see http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/07/media/sinclair-broadcasting-promos-media-bashing/index.html.
New York State
Advocate for early voting and automatic voter registration in NYS. Contact Senator Marchione at (518) 455-2381 to urge her to support $7million in funding for early voting and automatic voter registration in the Senate One House Budget. In addition, sign Saratoga Unites’ petition (before 7 a.m. on Tuesday, March 13th), at http://chn.ge/2FwA75e. We will deliver it to Senator Marchione that day.
For a summary of the meeting on February 27th and to see local news coverage, please go to http://chn.ge/2FwA75e.
Stop Congress from de-regulating the big banks that caused the 2008 Recession. Call Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to tell them to vote NO to S.2155, the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.” You can also sign CREDO’s petition to Senate Democrats at https://act.credoaction.com/sign/bailout_caucus?t=5&akid=27032%2E6742866%2E23Ajzz.
A majority of Senators agree that the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA) needs to be revised to reduce the regulatory burden it imposes on small community banks. However, S.2155 deregulates larger banks, such as those similar in size to Countrywide, which was one of the banks responsible for creating the 2008 Recession. Under S.2155, banks with up to $250B in assets will no longer be subject to the strictest regulations, whereas under current law, only those banks with $50B or less in assets receive such relaxed treatment. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/03/05/the-senate-is-moving-to-ease-major-banking-regulations-this-is-how-they-will-do-it/?utm_term=.f5363e0ea897, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/06/elizabeth-warren-banking-bill-congress.
In addition, S.2155 promotes institutional bias against communities of color, as described more thoroughly at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/opinion/mortage-minority-income.html.
To listen to Senator Warren explain her concerns in a brief interview, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2roG2L8bqAc.
Prevent off-shore drilling. Tell the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) what you think of the Trump administration’s plan to drill for oil and gas off the coasts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans. To submit a comment using the NRDC’s automated tool, go to https://act.nrdc.org/letter/af-ocs-5-year-180105?source=WBLOCSPETAI, or submit a comment directly at https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=BOEM-2017-0074.
BOEM develops the leasing program for off-shore drilling. The program specifies the “size, timing, and location of potential leasing activity that the Secretary of the Interior determines will best meet national energy needs for the five-year period under consideration.” Trump has ordered the BOEM to develop a new schedule of oil and gas lease sales for the U.S. for 2019-2024. BOEM released its draft proposal on January 4, 2018 and is accepting public comments on it until before midnight tomorrow, Friday, March 9th.
To see the draft proposal, go to https://www.boem.gov/NP-Draft-Proposed-Program-2019-2024/. To
For more information on this issue, see https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/01/23/climate/trump-offshore-oil-drilling.html.
Week of 1/29/18 –
1. Defend the Clean Power Plan: call Senator Kirsten Gillibrand before Tuesday, January 30, 2018 – Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt will testify at the Senate Environmental and Public Works (EPW) Oversight Hearing this Tuesday. Senator Gillibrand is a member of the EPW Committee. Call her at (202) 224-4451 or (518) 431-0120 before Tuesday’s hearing to urge her to challenge and expose the lack of evidence underlying the bases for Pruitt’s proposed repeal.
In August 2015, Barack Obama’s administration issued the Clean Power Plan. This was the first time the U.S. had adopted national standards to address carbon pollution from power plants. At the time, the EPA said the regulations resulted from “unprecedented outreach to states, tribes, utilities, stakeholders and the public, including more than 4.3 million comments EPA received on the proposed rule. The final Clean Power Plan reflects that input, and gives states and utilities time to preserve ample, reliable and affordable power for all Americans.” See the EPA’s Fact Sheet at https://archive.epa.gov/epa/cleanpowerplan/fact-sheet-overview-clean-power-plan.html.
But then in March 2017, Donald Trump signed an Executive Order (E.O. 13783) calling for, among other things, the rescission of the Clean Power Plan (CPP). In October 2017, Pruitt announced plans to repeal the CPP. As detailed by the Environmental Defense Fund, the proposed repeal 1) uses faulty science to downplay public health risk, 2) ignores the immediate presence of climate change, 3) uses accounting gimmicks to inflate costs, 4) benefits Pruitt’s political supporters, and 5) ignores broad support for the CPP. See https://www.edf.org/blog/2017/10/09/trumps-epa-making-reckless-and-damaging-decision-heres-what-you-need-know?utm_source=google&utm_campaign=ggad_cleanenergy_upd_dmt&utm_medium=cpc&utm_id=1513935518&gclid=Cj0KCQiAhrbTBRCFARIsACY7MW16WK4zj-lUvGd12twVH8-twukS91ro5fTm8Wyc9GYfNIOXlcpR3eoaAiArEALw_wcB
The comment period for the repeal plan closed on January 16, 2018. On January 9, 2018, NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman held a “people’s hearing” on the proposed repeal in NYC, because the EPA ignored his requests to hold a hearing in New York. The Attorney General’s office pledged to compile and submit the comments received at the hearing to the EPA before the comment deadline.
2. Defend the rights of workers to keep their own tips: submit a comment to the Department of Labor (DOL) before Monday, February 5, 2018 – DOL seeks to repeal regulations that stop restaurant owners from taking their employees’ tips. To submit a comment to DOL about this proposal, go to https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/12/05/2017-25802/tip-regulations-under-the-fair-labor-standards-act-flsa
In 2011, the Obama administration issued regulations making tip income the sole property of the employee that received it. The Trump administration now wants to repeal the rule to allow “wage pooling” with other workers who do not receive tips. However, DOL’s proposal gives employers control over all tips and does not specifically prohibit employers from taking the tips and using them for their own purposes. According to a report in the Washington Post, “Allowing employers to distribute tips as they see fit . . . would end the Labor Department’s practice of treating gratuities as the property of workers, a custom that dates to the 1974 amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/food/wp/2017/12/07/the-trump-administration-proposes-allow-tip-pooling-in-restaurants-critics-call-it-stealing-workers-wages/?utm_term=.0aa159ad9f6d The Post also indicates that “critics say the new rules could invite trouble. The rules, they say, would allow employers to distribute the pooled tips to anyone, including salaried managers or even themselves.”