Behind the scenes at Action Utah
What are Action Utah leaders doing each week in between writing calls to action for Utahns like you so you can take action on the issues that matter to you most? Our team is hard at work researching the issues and where Utahns stand on them, identifying strategies already in place, filling the gaps where no strategies exist, and building relationships with legislators, lobbyists, academics and issue-specific advocacy organizations to coordinate efforts. Here are just a few things our leaders have been up to lately:
Laura Bandara, Immigration/Refugee Issue Captain – Laura attends weekly and monthly local coalition meetings on immigration issues here in Utah, as well as regular conference calls with national organizations on trends and policies nationwide. Laura has identified policy and ethics gaps at the municipal level and is heading up strategies for ordinary Utahns to impact them. She also published this terrific letter to the editor in the Deseret News last week.
Teresa Carlson, Poverty/Homelessness Issue Captain – Teresa is our newest Issue Captain and a long-time volunteer in poverty and housing issues. Teresa recently attended meetings with the Utah Housing Coalition, Circles and last week’s SLC Council Candidate Forum on housing and poverty issues to better understand the complexities around housing issues in Salt Lake and Utah. She is working to identify a slate of state legislation around poverty and housing for our members to support in the next general session.
Ashley Anderson, Education Issue Captain – Ashley is a mom and educator who cares deeply about Utah’s schools and is an active participant in school board meetings and education issues. Ashley recently met with Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, and also Senator Ann Millner, to discuss legislative possibilities for improving our schools. She is also a top volunteer for the Our Schools Now ballot initiative.
Join Action Utah for these great events!
Interim Session Tour at the State Capitol – September 20th, 7:45a at the State Capitol. Join Action Utah leaders and members for a tour of the State Capitol and explanation of Interim Session, the state legislature and community lobbying at the Capitol. No experience necessary. This is a great window into how our legislative branch works and how to impact it. Interested members may choose to stay and sit in on a public committee meeting of their choice (we highly recommend this!). RSVP here.
How Our Political System Works and How To Impact It – October 18th, 7:00-8:30p, Utah County (venue TBD). Learn about our legislative branch, delegates, candidates and elections, including how you can impact policy decisions, how to become a delegate and why running for office may be up your ally. Guest speakers include former state legislator and Executive Director of the Women’s Leadership Institute, Pat Jones, and former state legislator, Salt Lake Tribune columnist and advocate, Holly Richardson. Invitation to come. Sign up to spread the word in Utah County by emailing us here.
Workshop: How To Write Effective Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor (LTEs) – November (date TBD). Get practical tips on how to write and submit LTEs to your local papers to draw attention to the issues you care about, plus talking points on 2-3 current issues that need community member support. Participants will draft LTEs on site and receive critique on a few examples written by the group. Interested in participating? Email us to add your name to our list.
We Are All Dreamers March – Saturday, Sept 16, 12:00-3:00p, Wallace Bennett Federal Building in Salt Lake City. Rally behind the members of our community that will be affected by the end of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) to show our love for the vibrant Dreamers that make Utah wonderful and send a powerful message to those in office that the end of this program will not be tolerated. Route, program, ADA accommodations, and exact start time will be finalized in the coming days.
Here’s what you can do this week
These three issues continue to dominate headlines, calling out for community members like you to weigh in at both the state and federal level and remind politicians to make decisions that reflect the beliefs and needs of a majority of Utahns and Americans.
1. IMMIGRATION: A majority of Americans and politicians on both sides of the aisle are still reeling from Trump’s decision to eliminate DACA when 78% of Americans and 73% of Trump supporters believe in providing a legal path to citizenship for Dreamers. At the same time, immigrant victims of crimes continue to face unethical and unnecessary barriers to filing U-Visas.
- Take Action Locally – Utah County residents: sign up to advocate for more ethical legal practices in issuing U-Visas to immigrant victims of a crime.
- Take Action Nationally – Click here to read up on the 3 immigration reform policies Congress is considering so you know what you’d like to advocate for. Then call your Members of Congress to ask them to co-sign and support your favorite policy.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (202) 224-5251 (DC) // (801) 524-4380 (SLC) // (801) 375-7881 (Provo) // (435) 634-1795 (St. George) // (801) 625-5672 (Ogden) // (435) 586-8435 (Cedar City)
Sen. Mike Lee 202-224-5444 (DC) // 801-524-5933 (SLC) // 435-628-5514 (St. George) // 801-392-9633 (Ogden)
Rep. Rob Bishop (Congressional District 1): 202-225-0453 (DC) // 801-625-0107 (Ogden)
Rep. Chris Stewart (Congressional District 2): 202-225-9730 (DC) // 801-364-5550 (SLC) // 435-627-1500 (St. George)
Rep. Mia Love (Congressional District 4): (202) 225-3011 (DC) // 801-996-8729 (West Jordan)
Not sure who your U.S. Representative is? Check here.
2. EDUCATION: Meanwhile, the Senate is voting on a budget that proposes 2 billion dollars of cuts to public education, cuts that will impact class sizes, teacher training, after school, and Title II. At the same time, Betsy DeVos is making appointments and policies that negatively impact Title IX, which prohibits gender based discrimination in schools.
- Locally: Sign up to gather signatures for Our Schools Now. Booklets of 28 signatures each can be mailed to you as well as details and instructions on this ballot initiative that increases school funding.
- Nationally: Write or call Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Mike Lee to tell them you do not support the 2 billion in cuts to public education. Utah is ranked last in per pupil spending, class sizes, and more. To address our teacher shortage we can’t turn away desperately needed federal funds.
3. REDISTRICTING: Prominent Republicans from elected seats across the country as well as a bipartisan alliance of former and current Congressional leaders all filed Supreme Court briefs opposing gerrymandering and encouraging the high court to make an end to the practice once and for all in the upcoming October 3 hearing. However, our own Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes filed an amicus brief on behalf of Utah supporting the partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin. Polls show that 67% of Utahns actually oppose partisan gerrymandering and favor an independent redistricting committee.
- Locally: Sign up to help the Better Boundaries ballot initiative, which aims to create an independent redistricting commission in Utah.
- Nationally: Write to or call UT AG Sean Reyes to let him know what you think about his amicus brief on behalf of Utah to the Supreme Court in favor of partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin and what you think about legislators choosing their own voters.
Want to make a bigger impact?
Join one of our Action Teams to step up your community engagement by linking directly with our Issue Captains and working on together with other team members on coordinated strategies to impact the issue(s) that matter to you most. We offer Action Teams on Healthcare/Addiction, Eduction, Air Quality, Redistricting, Immigration, Public Lands, Poverty/Homelessness, Women/Families, Voting Policy, Water Policy and Energy Policy. Simply click here to join one or several Action Teams. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get our Daily and Urgent Actions during the week.
Andrea & Katie
Co-Founders, Action Utah
PS – New to Action Utah? Join us here.