Lobby Day 2011
Rita L. Smith, Robbie Moultrie and Diane Dost from the Chicago: Northwest district, plus Sally von Bruenchenhein and Ester Larson from the Elgin district, and Janice Gintzler from Chicago: Southern district hopped onto the 7 AM Amtrak train to Springfield, having risen at dawn.
Like wise, Linda Frana, Julie McCutchan, and Nellie Winters drove in from DeKalb district. We were joined by Associate Director of the NIC-UMC Office of Mission and Advocacy.
Lobby Day was sponsored by Protestants for the Common Good and co-director Courtney Eccles filled us in on the legislation we would discuss with our legislators, as well as how to find them. We went right to work. Most of us met our representatives as they headed to the House chamber. The senators were in session and committee meetings, so we had to leave information with their personable and alert secretaries.
We managed to either see or leave messages with Representative Constance Howard, Representative La Shawn Ford, Representative Camille Lilly, Representative Robert Rita, Representative Coy Pugh, Representative Jim Sacia, Representative Jerry Mitchell, and Representative Don Moffitt.
I hope all participants in Lobby Day, as well as all reading this article contact state senators and also resend the messages we left with our representatives. Even if you could not be with us May 4, you can still be a good citizen. Here is the legislation we are hoping you read about and run with. Call, write, or deliver your messages to their local offices. If you do not know who your legislators are, Votesmart to the rescue! Log in and supply your 10-digit zip code to get a list of all your legislators. Or call the Voter's Research Hotline: 1-888-VOTE-SMART (1-888-868-3762).
Your local library will have answers for you too. While I was waiting to see my representative, his secretary gave me this web site: http://www.ilga.gov/. Use it to look up the status of all the bills listed below.
The United Methodist Women’s reason to be in Springfield was to lobby for issues related to women and children, as well as two bills about how the state should relate to immigrants. Here is the run down:
- Support S.B. 1037, Justice for victims of sex trafficking crimes act. Many times people are brought to this country under false pretenses to find work, but end up without their passports and become slaves in agriculture or the sex trade. Then they are picked up for being here illegally or for prostitution, but they are victims themselves. This legislation would be a way to expunge any record of prostitution if the prostitution were performed while enslaved, thus providing better opportunities for them to gain employment, education, and legal immigration status.
- Support S.B. 2185, the Illinois DREAM Act, because Israel was once a stranger in a strange land, yet he prospered. So we should welcome the stranger and provide opportunity for those who excel academically. Oppose House Bill 161, Amendment 1, The Food Stamps LINK Card Photo Identification Bill. The food stamp program is fully funded by the federal government. But this bill would require Illinois to spend funds in order to put a photo on each card. Since funds are delivered to LINK cards electronically, it is much easier to trace, prevent, and prosecute would be traffickers (those who sell a card for money). The USDA even sent a message to Illinois denying the cost effectiveness of enacting this legislation.
- Support H.B. 1598 and S.B. 2266 Smart Enforcement Act. Many counties in Illinois have enrolled into the “Secure Communities” program, which was intended to capture violent criminals. But it has had unintended consequences. “Secure Communities” has resulted in the arrest, jailing, and deportation of immigrants who have never been convicted of a crime. This overburdens local sheriffs and their staffs, and leads people to fear the police, making the job of the police that much more difficult. These bills would allow communities to “opt out” of the Secure Communities program. Log onto WBEZ, 91.5 FM to hear Worldview on Monday, May 9. 2011, which was about this legislation.
Of course, our Social Principles outline for us the reason we need to lobby against expanded gambling. I am sure you have read the news articles of those who steal from churches or even commit suicide to avoid the consequences of huge gambling losses. The web site for Illinois Church Action Against Alcohol and Addictions Problems, that many of you support, is a great resource for action which must be taken to stop the onslaught of gambling. Sign up for the action alerts!
We also want our legislators to co-sponsor a bill similar to the Supply Chain Transparency Act recently enacted in California. For whenever one purchases an electronic device, coffee, chocolate, and any number of products, who really pays the price? It may be an enslaved children abducted from Uganda to work in the cocoa fields of Ivory Coast; or a victim of the 25 year old civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), where women mostly have been victimized so that the winning side can exploit the land for its natural resources which provide tin, tantalum and tungsten, items used to create our flat screen TVs, cell phones....
Wish more people could have attended. But not to fret: one may still write to Illinois state legislators--often.
Janice Gintzler, reporting