Tag: constitutional amendment

ENDORSEMENT: NO on Missouri Personhood Amendment

The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives advanced a so-called “personhood amendment” to the Missouri Constitution out of committee on a party-line vote. If placed on the ballot by both houses of the Missouri General Assembly and approved by voters, the so-called “personhood amendment” would grant more legal rights to zygotes, embryos, and fetuses than women, and, in effect, ban abortion, many forms of contraception, and stem cell research in Missouri.

Should the so-called “personhood amendment” be placed on the Missouri ballot, I strongly encourage Missouri voters to vote NO on the proposed amendment.

The so-called “personhood amendment” effectively grants more legal rights to fetuses, which are dependent on the would-be mother for survival, than women. Unlike what Republicans and bible-thumping bigots claim, life legally and biologically begins at birth, not conception or at any other point before birth. The so-called “personhood amendment” would strip Missouri women of their legal right to control their own body and make their own health care decisions.

Voters in states like North Dakota and Mississippi have rejected similar measures in recent years, and I believe that Missouri voters should, if it appears on their ballot, vote NO on the so-called “personhood amendment”.

Advertisements

Hillary Clinton’s claim on the rationale behind Bill Clinton’s support for DoMA is total bull

In case you missed it, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was caught red-handed trying to rewrite history. Specifically, Hillary tried to claim that the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA), signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996, was a defensive measure designed to appease religious conservatives, who were pushing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have banned same-sex couples from getting married anywhere in the country.

A 1996 memo, written by Clinton Administration officials Jack Quinn, George Stephanopoulos, and Marsha Scott, gives some insight as to the rationale behind what prompted Bill Clinton to sign DoMA, which was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress with all but one Republican and many Democrats voting for it, into law. While the memo mentioned efforts to enact marriage equality at the state level in Hawaii in the mid-1990’s, nowhere in the memo does it reference any kind of movement to enact a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In fact, the memo clearly referenced the fact that Bill opposed marriage equality in 1996.

Chris Geidner has done a ton of research on Bill Clinton’s role in regards to DoMA, and he has found zero evidence to back up Hillary’s claim that Bill supported DoMA as any kind of defensive measure to prevent religious conservatives from enacting a federal constitutional amendment enshrining anti-LGBT bigotry in the U.S. Constitution. To put that another way, Hillary’s claim on Bill’s rationale for supporting discriminatory legislation that was struck down by a conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court long after Bill was out of office is a bunch of bull.

I’m from an area of Illinois that is full of Religious Right extremists, and I’m very familiar with the Religious Right’s political modus operandi. If they had enough support to amend the U.S. Constitution to enshrine their bigotry in the Constitution at any point in modern American history, they would have done so as quickly as possible. Their whole political modus operandi is to do everything possible to shove their religious beliefs down everybody else’s throats. For the Clintons to try to rewrite history by claiming that DoMA was some kind of defensive measure designed to ward off the Religious Right’s attempt to enshrine their bigotry in the Constitution is flatly absurd.

The Bruce Rauner shutdown begins in Illinois

Starting today, Illinois state government employees won’t get their paychecks that they earned because Republican Governor Bruce Rauner shut down our state’s government and is holding the people of Illinois as political hostages because he wants a series of non-fiscal political policy proposals, which don’t belong in the state budget, to be rammed into law as part of the state budget.

The political ransom that Rauner is demanding includes:

  • Changes to rules pertaining to liability lawsuits and workers’ compensation designed to make it harder for Illinoisans to receive compensation from those who legally wronged them and to pay for medical expenses related to on-the-job injuries.
  • Enacting term limits for high-ranking Illinois politicians, which, depending on the specific language of the legislation on that subject, I may or may not support as a separate measure to put a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution on the ballot, but not as part of the state budget.
  • Enacting a more impartial and/or more independent method for congressional and/or state legislative redistricting, which is something that I would support as a separate measure to put a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution on the ballot, but not as part of the state budget.

None of these items that Rauner is demanding have very little, if anything at all, to do with the state’s budget or the state’s finances, and policy proposals, regardless of my opinion on the policy proposals themselves, should be dealt with as separate legislation from the state budget.

Sadly, Rauner has repeatedly advocated for shutting our state’s government down as part of his hostage politics scheme. Rauner needs to realize that the State of Illinois is not his plantation, and that he can’t buy and bully his way to enacting a right-wing, anti-worker political agenda.

Bhuaigh Comhionannas!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The title of this diary is in the Irish language; the English translation of the title is “Equality wins!”. I am providing an American English language version and an Irish language translation of my article. The translations are courtesy of Google Translate, because I have no actual working knowledge of the Irish language.

NÓTA AN ÚDAIR: Is é an teideal an dialann i nGaeilge; Is é an leagan Béarla-theanga an teideal “Equality Wins!” Tá mé ag soláthar leagan Meiriceánach Béarla agus aistriúchán Gaeilge de mo earra. Is iad na haistriúcháin caoinchead Google Translate, toisc go bhfuil mé aon eolas ag obair iarbhír ar an nGaeilge.


A strong majority of voters in the Republic of Ireland have voted to ratify an amendment to the Irish Constitution that will allow gay and lesbian couples to enjoy the same right to marry that heterosexual couples currently enjoy. With all 43 Dáil (lower house of the Oireachtas, the Irish national legislature) constituencies having counted votes, there were a total of 1,935,907 valid votes cast in the marriage equality referendum. Of those valid votes, 1,201,607 votes were cast in favor of marriage equality, and 734,300 votes were cast in opposition to marriage equality. Rounded to the nearest hundredths of a percent, 62.07% votes were cast in favor of marriage equality, and 37.93% of votes were cast in opposition to marriage equality. As only a simple majority is required to ratify an amendment, marriage equality is officially law of the land in the Republic of Ireland.

This is an historic victory for supporters of equality for two major reasons. First, the Republic of Ireland will now and forever be known as the first sovereign country to approve marriage equality in a public referendum. Second, the Republic of Ireland is an historic stronghold of the Catholic Church, which has aggressively defended discrimination against gay and lesbian couples and has strongly opposed all efforts around the world to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Irish voters have bravely stood up to the Catholic Church and other supporters of discrimination by voting to ratify the marriage equality amendment. Love has won in Ireland!


Tromlach láidir na vótálaithe i bPoblacht na hÉireann tar éis vótáil leasú ar Bhunreacht na hÉireann a chuirfidh ar chumas lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha chun taitneamh a bhaint as an ceart céanna chun pósadh go taitneamh a bhaint as lánúineacha heitrighnéasacha láthair a dhaingniú. Le gach 43 Dála (teach íochtarach an Oireachtais, na hÉireann náisiúnta reachtas) dáilcheantair a bhfuil vótaí a chomhaireamh, bhí iomlán de 1,935,907 vótaí bailí a caitheadh sa reifreann chomhionannais pósadh. As na vótaí bailí, bhí a caitheadh 1,201,607 vóta i bhfabhar comhionannas pósadh, agus cuireadh chaith 734,300 vóta ina gcoinne comhionannas pósadh. Slánaithe go dtí na chéadú gaire de faoin gcéad, bhí chaith 62.07% vóta i bhfabhar an chomhionannais pósadh, agus bhí 37.93% de na vótaí arna gcaitheamh i gcoinne comhionannas pósadh. Toisc go bhfuil ach tromlach simplí de dhíth leasú a dhaingniú, tá comhionannas pósadh hoifigiúil dlí ar an talamh i bPoblacht na hÉireann.

Is é seo an bua stairiúil do lucht tacaíochta an chomhionannais ar dhá chúis mhóra. Gcéad dul síos, beidh an Phoblacht na hÉireann anois agus go deo ar a dtabharfar an chéad tír ceannasach chun comhionannas pósadh cheadú i reifreann poiblí. Dara, is é an Phoblacht na hÉireann ina dhaingean stairiúil an Eaglais Chaitliceach, a bhfuil a chosaint aggressively idirdhealú in aghaidh lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha agus tá láidir i gcoinne gach iarracht ar fud an domhain chun ligean lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha chun pósadh.

Vótálaithe na hÉireann a sheas cróga suas go dtí an Eaglais Chaitliceach agus lucht tacaíochta eile idirdhealaithe ag vótáil an leasú chomhionannais pósadh a dhaingniú. Grá bhuaigh in Éirinn!

Bruce Rauner wants to amend the Illinois Constitution in order to steal pension benefits

With the possibility that the Illinois Supreme Court may strike down at least part of former Democratic Governor Pat Quinn’s pension theft legislation looming, incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is already pushing for an amendment to the Illinois Constitution that, if ratified, would steal pension benefits from our state’s public employees. While a formal amendment has not been proposed yet, the amendment would, if ratified, force at least current public employees to choose between reduced pension benefits or a 401k-type plan.

Make no mistake about it, the Rauner pension theft amendment would be disastrous for Illinoisans.

First off, the amendment would effectively force our state’s public employees to make a lesser-of-two-evils decision: either take lower pension payments once they retire, or take payments from 401k-type plan once they retire. Lower pension payments would mean less money for retirees to spend on goods and services, resulting in many of them becoming impoverished and dependent on social safety net programs in order to survive. On the other hand, 401k-type plans provide no lifetime guarantee of payments, meaning that it’s possible for a beneficiary of a 401k-type plan to outlive their benefits.

If the Rauner pension theft amendment were to be ratified by voters, it would likely result in the loss of thousands of Illinois private-sector jobs. That’s because many Illinois businesses, even businesses located hundreds of miles from Springfield and/or Chicago, are dependent on retired public employees spending money on goods and services in order to survive. While our state’s pension system is badly underfunded, pension theft would leave our state even worse off than it currently is.

60% of all members of both houses of the Illinois General Assembly, which is controlled by supermajorities of Democrats, would need to approve of the Rauner pension theft amendment in order for it to appear on the Illinois ballot. If that happens, Illinois voters will be able to vote yes or no on the Rauner pension theft amendment in a ratification referendum. Either 60% of those voting on the referendum or 50%+1 of all votes in the election in which the referendum is held for the “yes” option would ratify the amendment. If the Rauner pension theft amendment appears on an Illinois ballot at any time in the future, I strongly encourage a “no” vote on the amendment.

The progressive case against compulsory voting

President Barack Obama recently announced that he supports making voting in the United States compulsory for those who are legally eligible to vote.

I know that I’m going to get a lot of flack from my fellow progressives over this, but I’m opposed to the idea of compulsory voting, in which people who are eligible to vote are legally required to do so.

While Republicans and conservatives oppose compulsory voting because it would likely benefit Democrats electorally, my opposition is for a completely different reason: I believe that compulsory voting violates the civil liberties of the American people. Yes, I’m opposing compulsory voting for the same reason I oppose, among other things, spying on the American people without a warrant and laws that restrict a woman’s right to make reproductive health decisions for herself.

While I strongly support amending the U.S. Constitution to give all U.S. citizens who are at least 18 years of age a constitutionally-protected right to vote, I believe that, while it would probably not be necessary to explicitly state this in a constitutional amendment or other type of law (I’m not an attorney, and I don’t claim to be one, but I’m guessing that the U.S. Constitution would probably have to be amended in order to allow for compulsory voting), those who are legally eligible to vote in this country should have a right to not vote if, for whatever reason, they don’t want to vote. While I believe that voting is a very important civic duty, and I would never discourage anyone from voting, I oppose the idea of forcing people to vote, as doing so would violate the civil liberties of those who decide not to vote.

Make no mistake about it, I strongly support many other measures to provide the American people with increased access to voting and make their vote actually matter, such as replacing the Electoral College with national popular vote presidential elections, restoring and strengthening the Voting Rights Act, implementing automatic voter registration, allowing same-day voter registration, making redistricting non-partisan and completely independent of state legislatures and other legislative bodies, making Election Day a national holiday, repealing the odious Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision via a federal constitutional amendment designed to get big money out of politics, having election authorities pay for postage on absentee ballots so that voters don’t have to pay for postage themselves, making it easier for candidates to get on the ballot, and requiring that elections be conducted in a fair, professional manner in order to allow those who are eligible and willing to vote to cast their ballots and to allow all votes to be properly counted. Additionally, I strongly oppose measures to suppress the vote and make America less democratic, such as voter ID laws and gerrymandering. However, I’m not going to support anything that violates the civil liberties of the American people.

The Progressive Response to the State of the State of Illinois Address

Earlier today, Bruce Rauner, the Republican governor of our state that we instinctively know as Illinois, outlined his plan to drive down wages, infringe on the rights of Illinois workers, and destroy an already weak Illinois economy.

Prior to giving his State of the State address, Rauner went around the state using PowerPoint slides to publicly bash our state’s public employees, whine about public employees being, in his view, overpaid, spread lies about worker’s rights and public employee pay, and blame public employees for our state’s fiscal problems. Additionally, it was reported yesterday that Rauner strongly hinted that he wants to eliminate collective bargaining rights for our state’s public employees. Given that Rauner has given his top administration officials pay raises and appointed a $100,000/year chief of staff to his wife despite the fact that his wife has no official duties whatsoever, for Rauner to give his cronies pay raises while wanting to drive down public employee salaries is blatantly hypocritical.

In his State of the State address, Rauner called for gutting our state’s workers’ compensation system, lowering property taxes while our state and local governments have billions of dollars in unpaid bills, allowing local governments and/or voters to bust unions at the local level, prohibiting project labor agreements, eliminating prevailing wage laws, and privatizing public education to benefit his political cronies. Rauner did have a few good ideas that he talked about in his address to the people of Illinois, such as banning trial lawyer donations to judicial campaigns, merging the offices of state comptroller and state treasurer, and increasing funding for early childhood education.

While there is no disputing the fact that our state is in a fiscal mess for a large number of reasons, the primary reason why our state is in such a fiscal mess is because the wealthiest Illinoisans, such as Rauner himself, don’t pay enough state income taxes thanks to an ridiculous provision in the Illinois Constitution that prohibits the General Assembly from passing legislation to tax the incomes of wealthier Illinoisans at a higher rate than the incomes of poorer Illinoisans. The flat tax requirement in the Illinois Constitution prohibits our state from raising the revenues that would be needed to pay off our state’s unpaid bills and put our state on solid financial footing. I would strongly support a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution to allow the General Assembly to levy a progressive state income tax in order to raise income taxes on the wealthiest Illinoisans, cut income taxes for the poorest Illinoisans, and put our state’s finances back on track. Additionally, I would strongly support eliminating all tax breaks for businesses, such as the ridiculous tax break that Sears and CME Group received a few years ago, as this would also bring in more revenue to the state that can be used to pay off unpaid bills.

Regarding public employee pensions, another reason why our state is in a fiscal mess, I would strongly support a pension reform proposal that would phase out the current public employee pension systems in our state, but still allow public employees who have paid into the current pension systems to still receive the benefits they’ve earned once they retire, and require all new state and local elected officials, appointed officials, and hired public employees who receive a full-time salary but had not previously paid anything into the current public employee pension systems in our state to pay into a newly-created public employee pension system that is designed to be fully-funded and provide our state’s future elected officials, political appointees, and public employees with a steady retirement income once they retire. Make no mistake about it, I will strongly oppose any pension reform proposal that cuts benefits for those who have currently paid into the pension systems, creates a 401(k) system for public employees, and/or turns an existing pension system into a 401(k) system.

Regarding cutting spending, I would support an audit of the entire state government and every single county, township, city, town, village, and other type of local government entity in our state in order to find actual wasteful spending and propose common-sense solutions to cut actual wasteful spending and help save the state money in both the short term and the long term. Make no mistake about it, I will strongly oppose cuts to public education, social services, and other government services that reduce the quality of service by our state and local government agencies.

Regarding strengthening our state’s economy, I strongly support raising the state minimum wage here in Illinois to $15/hour and indexing automatic, annual minimum wage increases to productivity. Additionally, I strongly support creating a North Dakota-style economic development bank here in Illinois to issue and/our guarantee loans to factories, farms, small businesses, and other types of businesses that have to be repaid in full with interest. These two proposals would lift thousands of Illinoisans out of poverty, establish a minimum wage that values work, and help entrepreneurs start up new businesses and create jobs without pocketing government benefits to simply pad profits. Busting unions and driving down wages is something I strongly oppose because those policies would do absolutely nothing to strengthen our state’s economy or empower Illinoisans.

Regarding campaign finance, ethics, and government reform, while a federal constitutional amendment to repeal the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision that helped Rauner and his cronies buy the last gubernatorial election would be required to allow Illinois to enact meaningful campaign finance reform, I strongly support eliminating the conflicts of interest that are currently allowed by our state’s campaign finance system, such as a couple of conflicts of interest that Rauner mentioned, prohibiting unions from donating to candidates for public office that they’d have to collectively bargain with if said candidates are elected and prohibiting trial lawyers from donating to judicial candidates, and one that Rauner did not mention because he’s effectively opposed to it, prohibiting business owners and managers from donating to candidates for public office that could use the public office in question to directly benefit said business owners and managers if elected. Additionally, I would support setting the maximum campaign contribution for a statewide office here in Illinois at $250 and enacting even lower limits for state legislative and local offices. Additionally, I strongly support implementing a pair of public campaign finance systems, one for judicial elections and one for other non-federal elections. The judicial public campaign finance system would prohibit judicial candidates from receiving campaign contributions from other people and/or funding their own campaigns, require that all judicial candidates receive a set amount of campaign funds from the state, and require that judicial candidates receive the same amount of campaign funds from the state that their opponents receive. The public campaign finance system for other offices would allow candidates for those offices to receive $4 of state funding for every $1 they receive in contributions and/or self-fund their campaigns with. Additionally, I would support enacting what I like to call the Bruce Rauner Rule, which would outright prohibit candidates for statewide office here in Illinois from donating or loaning more than $100,000 of their own wealth to their campaign, and set even lower self-funding limits for other offices. On term limits, I would support limiting the offices of governor and lieutenant governor to one elected term, limiting the other state executive offices to two elected terms, limiting state senators to five elected terms, and limiting state representatives to eight elected terms, and anything stricter than that would receive my opposition. Some other government reform ideas I support include allowing Illinois voters to recall all non-federal elected officials, converting the Illinois General Assembly into an unicameral legislature with at least 177 members via a state constitutional amendment, and amending the Illinois Constitution to establish a truly non-partisan redistricting process for congressional and state legislative districts.

Regarding reforming the criminal justice system, I strongly support legalizing, taxing, and regulating recreational marijuana, which would reduce the incarceration rate in our state and provide our state with much-needed tax revenue. Additionally, I’m open to various ideas to reform the criminal justice system in order to make our prison system more about rehabilitating convicted criminals instead of simply punishing them and make our criminal justice system more fair. For example, one idea that I strongly support would be requiring independent investigations of deaths that occur in the hands of state and local police here in Illinois.

Regarding education, I strongly oppose implementing school voucher programs here in Illinois, expanding charter schools, or any other school privatization scheme. I strongly support repealing Common Core State Standards and replacing them well-rounded, developmentally appropriate K-12 academic standards developed by the state and are held accountable by measures other than assessments and standardized tests. Additionally, I strongly support getting rid of the emphasis on career preparation in K-12 education, since I believe that career preparation should be the responsibility of higher education institutions, not the K-12 system. Also, I strongly support increasing funding for public schools in our state and making our state’s K-12 school funding system fairer to poorer school districts.

Illinoisans are worth more than speeches, political buzzwords, and PowerPoint presentations about driving down wages, busting unions, and making our state’s economy even weaker than it currently is, and Illinoisans are certainly worth more than Bruce Rauner’s far-right policies to drive down wages, bust unions, and destroy our state’s economy. It’s time for Illinoisans to push for progressive policies to protect workers’ rights, strengthen our state’s economy, put more money into the pockets of poor and working-class Illinoisans, provide a world-class education system for our state’s K-12 and college students, and provide for a more perfect Illinois.

The Wisconsin GOP’s court-packing scheme is straight out of the FDR playbook…this time, there’s no valid reason for it whatsoever

During the midst of the Great Depression, then-Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was stymied by a conservative-led U.S. Supreme Court that struck down many of FDR’s New Deal programs. On February 5, 1937, FDR unveiled a court-packing scheme, titled the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, that, in part, would have allowed FDR to pack the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) by appointing either six new justices or a number of new justices equal to the number of current justices who were older than 70 1/2 years of age, whichever was lesser, which would have resulted in a SCOTUS bench consisting of up to 15 members and, more than likely, a solid pro-New Deal majority. Nearly two months after FDR’s court-packing plan was unveiled, then-SCOTUS Associate Justice Owen Roberts, the usual swing vote on the New Deal-era SCOTUS who had previously sided with the “Four Horsemen”, as the anti-New Deal justices were known as, sided with the pro-New Deal justices in a 5-4 decision upholding the State of Washington’s minimum wage law. That decision also effectively ended any chance of FDR’s court-packing scheme from becoming law and kept the SCOTUS bench at nine members, which it remains today.

Nearly eight decades after FDR’s federal court-packing scheme failed, Wisconsin Republicans are attempting to pack the Wisconsin Supreme Court (SCOWI) with conservative justices. However, the Republicans in Wisconsin are not trying to increase the number of justices on the bench of Wisconsin’s highest court (currently seven), and they aren’t stymied by liberal justices who are using the court to block Republican Governor Scott Walker’s far-right political agenda (in fact, Walker’s conservative allies have a solid majority on the court and have rubber-stamped every part of Walker’s agenda that has come before the court, including the union-busting Act 10 law). Instead, they’re “stymied” (note the quotation marks) by SCOWI Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who is a liberal chief justice on a conservative-controlled court by virtue of being the most senior member of the court, and their efforts to pack Wisconsin’s highest court so that all seven spots on the SCOWI bench are held by far-right justices is a three-pronged effort:

  1. Enact a state constitutional amendment that would allow SCOWI justices to elect their own chief justice, which, if enacted, would result in one of the conservative justices, probably Patience Roggensack, becoming chief justice. This amendment will go before Wisconsin voters on April 7, and “yes” votes from a majority of voters would be required to ratify the amendment and effectively remove Abrahamson from the chief justice’s chair on the SCOWI bench. I’ve endorsed a “no” vote on this amendment.
  2. Enact a state law that would set a mandatory retirement age of 70 years for state judges in Wisconsin. This would automatically remove Abrahamson, as well as Patrick Crooks, the lone moderate on the SCOWI bench, from the bench entirely, and their replacements would be appointed by Walker, who would appoint far-right justices to replace Abrahamson and Crooks on the bench. Given that Republicans control both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature, and Walker would almost certainly sign a judicial mandatory retirement bill into law, it’s not a matter of if a judicial mandatory retirement bill will be enacted, but when it will enacted.
  3. Defeat liberal SCOWI justice Ann Walsh Bradley, the other of the three justices who usually side against Walker and his cohorts on the SCOWI bench, in this year’s state supreme court election. Conservatives are running James Daley, a Rock County circuit court judge, against Bradley, however, Daley is not a strong candidate, having repeatedly flip-flopped on the proposed chief justice amendment that will be on the ballot at the same time he is, so there’s a good chance that Bradley could win re-election.

The proposed Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice amendment is about more than simply removing Shirley Abrahamson from the chief justice’s chair on Wisconsin’s highest court. It’s the first prong of Wisconsin Republicans’ three-prong court-packing scheme designed to completely remove liberals and moderates from Wisconsin’s highest court and replace them with right-wing extremists who will rubber-stamp Scott Walker’s destructive agenda and oppose all efforts by Wisconsin Democrats to implement progressive policies designed to make Wisconsin a better place to live if and when Democrats regain control of the governor’s office and/or the state legislature. Wisconsinites can oppose the first and third prongs of the GOP’s court-packing scheme by voting for Ann Walsh Bradley for Wisconsin Supreme Court and voting “no” on the chief justice amendment on April 7, which will send a strong message to the Republicans that control Wisconsin’s state government that they won’t support the second prong of their court-packing scheme. The state court-packing scheme that Republicans are trying to implement in Wisconsin is even more ridiculous than FDR’s federal court-packing scheme that he proposed nearly eight decades ago.

My video entry to the MAYDAYin30 video contest

I’ve decided to enter the MAYDAYin30 video contest that MAYDAY PAC, the Lawrence Lessig-led, crowd-funded SuperPAC that supports ending the culture of big-money politics in this country by, among other things, overturning the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision by a federal constitutional amendment.

My submission is a video supporting the campaign of Staci Appel, the Democratic U.S. House nominee in the 3rd Congressional District of Iowa. Appel, who has been endorsed by MAYDAY PAC. Staci supports amending the U.S. Constitution in order to overturn the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision and end the era of big-money campaigns and SuperPACs that can raise unlimited amounts of money from big-wig donors.

Here’s my video:

If you like my video and would like to see it aired as a TV ad on stations covering Central and Southwestern Iowa, you can vote for my video here!

U.S. Senate votes 79-18 for proposed constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics

The U.S. Senate has voted to advance a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would effectively repeal the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision and explicitly allow Congress and state legislatures to prohibit corporations, labor unions, and other types of organizations from spending money to directly or indirectly influence the outcome of elections, allows Congress and state legislatures to legally distinguish between corporations and actual people, and enact “reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections”.

The vote was 79 for the amendment and 18 against the amendment. The 18 Senators, all of which are Republicans, who voted against the amendment are, in alphabetical order by last name, John Barasso of Wyoming, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Roberts of Kansas, James Risch of Idaho, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Richard Shelby of Alabama, John Thune of South Dakota, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. The 3 Senators who did not vote on the amendment are Missouri Republican Roy Blunt, New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski. At least 67 total votes were required to advance the proposed amendment, due to the U.S. Constitution requiring any constitutional amendment proposed by Congress to be approved by 2/3 majorities of both houses of Congress in order for it to be referred to either state legislatures or state ratifying conventions.

Here’s the text of the proposed amendment:

Section 1. To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.

Section 2. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.

Section 3. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.

While the Republican-controlled U.S. House, more than likely, won’t even bring this proposed amendment to a vote there, this is a big victory for people who, like me, would love nothing more than to see the corrupting influence of big money in our country’s political system gone.