Needed Legislation

Automatic Voter Registration Automatic Voter Registration in each state would make it easier for all eligible Americans to vote.  Ari Berman reports in this article how GOP voter inspired voter suppression laws are curtailing voting by minorities.  Automatically registering people to vote when they get their driver’s license has been passed in states like OR (where voter turnout in 2016 was 66% far higher than elsewhere in the country).  Voter suppression in 2016 was a big factor in Hillary Clinton’s loss: minorities turned out in much lower numbers in WI and NC in large part due to strict new voter ID laws, fewer polling places, reduced hours for early voting, etc.  Since the number of young people getting drivers’ licenses is declining (millennials don’t drive cars; they largely take Uber or Lyft), it will still be very important to have robust voter registration programs throughout the country. Passing this legislation in swing states is particularly critical.  See this link for an update on the status of this legislation across the country.  By July, 2018 13 states and the District of Columbia have approved the AVR policy.

Conflicts of Interest Legislation

As we have learned, the President and Vice President are specifically exempted from the federal conflicts of interest legislation prohibiting federal employees from engaging in activity where they might have a financial interest.   Since this President-elect has chosen to ignore the conflicts of interest protocol that has been followed for the last 40 years, we need to change the law. The law at issue is Title 18 Section 208 of the U.S. code. It says federal executive branch employees cannot participate in government matters in which they or their immediate family have a financial interest. We need to pass legislation to require that the President, Vice President, Members of Congress and Federal judges should all be subject to the jurisdiction of this statute.  The offending exemption that needs to be deleted is below.  Even if we can’t get Members of Congress or Federal judges removed from this exemption we absolutely have to have the President and Vice President subject to the conflicts of interest legislation: (c)Except as otherwise provided in such sections, the terms “officer” and “employee” in sections 203, 205, 207 through 209, and 218 of this title shall not include the President, the Vice President, a Member of Congress, or a Federal judge. Katherine Clark, a MA House Representative, introduced a bill in 2016 to eliminate the exemption of the President and Vice President from conflict of interest laws. This proposed ‘Presidential Accountability Act’ prohibits the President/VP from engaging in government responsibilities from which they or their families can benefit financially.  Here’s a link to an article describing the proposed legislation.  

National Popular Vote Statute Above is a link to an update on legislation to pass this important law in state houses around the country.  When passed in a state, this statute requires that each state’s electors award the Presidency to the winner of the popular vote in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.   The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Here is an explanation of how the statute would work. It has been enacted into law in 12 states with 172 electoral votes (CA, CT, DC, HI, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, VT, WA). Map showing status in states.  The bill will take effect when enacted by states with 98 more electoral votes.  It has passed at least one house in 11 additional states with 89 electoral votes (AR, AZ, CO, DE, ME, MI, NC, NM, NV, OK, OR)  and has been approved unanimously by committee votes in two additional states with 26 electoral votes (GA, MO). The bill has recently been passed by a 40–16 vote in the Republican-controlled Arizona House, 28–18 in Republican-controlled Oklahoma Senate, 57–4 in Republican-controlled New York Senate, 34-23 in Democratic-controlled Oregon House, and 26-16 in the New Mexico Senate.   STATUS: AK  AL  AR  AZ  CA  CO  CT  DC  DE  FL  GA  HI  IA  ID  IL  IN  KS  KY  LA  MA  MD  ME  MI  MN  MO  MS  MT  NC  ND  NE  NH  NJ  NM NV  NY  OH  OK  OR  PA  RI  SC  SD  TN  TX  UT  VA  VT  WA  WI  WV  WY Even Newt Gingrich in 2014 endorsed this legislation, which is an effective way to blunt the effect of the outmoded Electoral College without a difficult to achieve Constitutional Amendment.  Please visit state links above to check on the progress of this legislation in your state.  If this legislation has not yet passed in your state, please consider doing all you can to get it passed in your state before 2020.

Requiring Presidential Candidates to Release their Tax Returns

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman has introduced  the T.R.U.M.P. Act (Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public) requiring that presidential candidates must release 5 years of their recent tax returns before they can get on the NY state ballot. We need to get similar legislation passed in as many states as possible.   If you agree, please contact your state representatives to urge them to introduce similar legislation in your state.  We need this legislation in place in as many states as possible by 2020.

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