Through our public policy engagement we advocate, organize and support efforts for systemic change at the community, state and federal level. We are deeply engaged in policy movements that are raising key questions about how we can make our world a better place for all.
For 2013 and now in 2014, we are currently focused on two initiatives – Raise Up Massachusetts & The Trust Act.
Raise Up Massachusetts Campaign
The goal of this campaign is to:
- Pass state legislation to raise the minimum wage significantly from $8 an hour up to $10 or $10.50 an hour—this would help 580,000 low wage earners across Massachusetts.
- Pass an earned sick benefit for the almost 1 million workers who do not currently have this right.
UPDATE: Corporate lobbyists are fighting to tie the raise in the minimum wage to cuts to unemployment insurance. To put things bluntly, they think that this long overdue raise to the minimum wage should only come at the expense of unemployment insurance.
Please contact your state legislators and urge them to:
- SUPPORT a long-overdue raise in the minimum wage BUT
- OPPOSE any unemployment insurance cuts that are tied to this bill.
To contact your state legislator, call the MA State House switchboard at 617-722-2000 or visit www.wheredoIvoteMA.com to find your legislator.
To learn more about the campaign, click here.
THE MASSACHUSETTS TRUST ACT
What Is the Trust Act?
The Trust Act is proposed state legislation that will ease the unfair burden currently placed on local governments and improve public safety for everyone by establishing that Massachusetts law enforcement officials are not involved in immigration enforcement.The Trust Act will promote:
- Family Unity
- Public Safety
- Fiscal Responsibility
- Equal Rights
Specifically, the bill will:
- Provide that individuals ordered released by Massachusetts judges and magistrates will not be detained for ICE in spite of the court’s release order.
- Clarify that it is not the responsibility of Massachusetts law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law, and direct Massachusetts law enforcement officers not to arrest, detain, or transport individuals for federal immigration purposes.
Trust Act Facts:
- Even though ICE claims Secure Communities is about deporting criminals over 60% of those deported in Massachusetts since May 2012 have committed no crime what-so-ever.
- ICE detention requests misuse local resources because ICE does not reimburse local governments for the cost of holding individuals for them.
- ICE detention and deportations regularly tear apart Massachusetts’s families and communities often leaving US citizen children and spouses without providers and caregivers.
For more information and sign up for Action emails visit: www.MATrustAct.org
To learn more:
Our 2012 public policy initiatives included:
“Three Strikes” Bill – During 2012, per the request of Bishop Tom Shaw, Episcopal City Mission chaired a criminal justice task force for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. The goals of this task force was to address criminal justice issues at the state level, including the hotly debated “Three Strikes” bill. Currently, ECM has co-sponsored a resolution about criminal justice reform which will be presented and voted on at Diocesan Convention on November 3rd and 4th.
2012 Ballot Questions – Continuing our partnership with the Massachusetts Council of Churches, ECM is planning to hold an evening program in late October 2012 that will provide an opportunity for clergy and lay people to come together and discuss the three ballot initiatives which we will all vote on in the upcoming general election on November 6th. The evening will include a light dinner, a short presentation on each question and an opportunity for dialogue.
Massachusetts C3 Voter Engagement Table – Through a Burgess Urban Fund Out-of-Cycle grant, ECM is supporting the work of the Voter Engagement Table, a partnership of leading community-based organizations and statewide groups dedicated to working together on nonpartisan civic engagement in historically under-represented and disenfranchised communities. Through careful planning and relationship building a plan has been developed that will advance nonpartisan voter education and registration, access to new technology and a shared goal of building progressive power across the state. The Voter Engagement Table is committed to a structure that will increase the civic participation among groups that generally are not statewide, but represent traditionally underrepresented constituencies, recently referred to as the Rising American Electorate: immigrants and new citizens, people of color, low-income people, women, youth and seniors. Creating this structure has not been easy because there is no history or infrastructure for these organizations to know each other and work together.
Our past and ongoing public policy initiatives include:
Preventing Homelessness – As members of the Massachusetts Council of Churches Ecumenical Advocacy Coalition, ECm and 15 faith-based organizations prepared a joint statement of support testifying why we as Christians have a commitment to ensure that all people have a safe place to call home. To share this message, we planned and launched a week of letter writing , phone calls and state house visits in support of two key programs in the state buedget designed to help low-income families retain and attain affordable housing.
- Massachusetts Emergency Shelter Reform
- Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program
- The Massachusetts Affordable Housing Law/40B
The “Three Strikes” Bill – A controversial and highly publicized debate occurred at the state level around this bill, and the issue of criminal justice reform. ECM worked closely with our grantees and strategized with staff from the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, parish clergy and others to ensure our voice was heard in this conversation. We urged our state leaders to support reforms that will hold people accountable for their offenses, but emphasize education, rehabilitation and re-entry programs, and a reduction in recidivism.
Redistricting – In 2011, we had an opportunity to incrase and give voting power into the hands of the people of Massachusetts by ensuring that the redistricting process was done with the knowledge gleaned from the 2010 census and fairly represented the increase in new citizens and population shifts in our state. By supporting the Drawing Democracy Project and its advocacy and organizing for fair voting districts we ensured a fair redistricting process in our Commonwealth and saw incredible results at both the state and local levels!
Community Organizing -ECM funded over 20 community-based organizations during 2011. These groups are utilizing grassroots organizing methods to mobilize their members on multiple social justice issues. These groups need additional support to help them train new leaders to take action and engage in the advocacy needed to bring about structural change. ECM awarded funds to provide additional community organizing training for new organizers (in Spanish and English) working for justice in Massachusetts.
During 2010, we collaborated with over 50 organizations and funding groups to:
- Save the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Law (Chapter 40B) and ensure it remained state law even when threatened by a ballot initiative
- Continue the work of ending homelessness by supporting the Governor’s proposed changes to the state’s shelter system
- Advocate for equal rights for low-income and immigrant workers
- Organize and rally support for CORI reform
- Support foreclosure prevention programs in communities facing high rates of this crisis
- Connect with other funders supporting community organizing, learn to be a better resource for grantees and how we can further our work in this arena
To learn more about our public policy engagement please contact:
Katie Campbell Simons
617.482.4826 ext 224