Minnesota State House
Minnesota State House
Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!
I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered amerasian children, and descendants, of U.S. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. Filipino Amerasians are abandoned and neglected biracial children of Filipino mothers and American fathers (mostly members of the US armed forces). In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. As a former US colony between 1898 and 1946, the Philippines was home to millions of US soldiers and their dependents, even after its independence. Until 1992, the country hosted two of the largest US military facilities outside the US – Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, which played major roles during the Vietnam and first Gulf wars. In 1982 US Public Law 97-359, or the Amerasian Act of 1982, allowed children from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand to move to the US and eventually become American citizens, but those who were from the Philippines were excluded from the law, an exclusion which was upheld by the US Senate on the basis that many Filipino Amerasians were “conceived from illicit affairs and prostitution”, and were born during peacetime. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2018, HR 1520, creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Currently, blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggles to connect to their American military families. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017, HR 1520, now!
Ban Gay Conversion Therapy
Twelve states have moved to ban "ex-gay therapy" for young people -- dangerous "therapy" that tries to change someone's sexual orientation. "Ex-gay therapy" has been linked to suicide, depression, isolation and anxiety, and has been condemned by nearly every medical and psychological body as dangerous, destructive and something no child should be forced to undergo. And yet in 38 states -- including states like New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Ohio -- "ex-gay therapy" remains a practice that's largely legal under the law. But there is national momentum as more and more states move to ban "ex-gay therapy" and protect minors from attempts to "cure" them of their sexual orientation. Hawaii just became the 12th state to ban "ex-gay therapy," and New Hampshire and Delaware are close to following suit. They join states like California, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Oregon. That's nearly 25% of the country! But it's not enough. LGBT kids are still facing dangerous "ex-gay therapy" attempts in more than 30 states around the country. All these states have seen bills introduced to ban "ex-gay therapy". New York -- which touts itself as one of the most LGBT-friendly states in the country -- has seen legislation pass the State Assembly three times; Pennsylvania has had a bill introduced several times; Ohio now has a bill as well that legislators are pushing; and activists in Minnesota have been pushing for a ban on "ex-gay therapy" programs for years. Let's build on this national organizing momentum, and work to get these states added to the list of states stepping up to protect LGBT youth, and banning harmful "ex-gay therapy" that tries to "cure" LGBT people and change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Abolish the statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault
The historic trial of Bill Cosby for his acts of sexual violence took place this month. While more than 60 women have spoken out against him, Cosby only faced trial for the criminal violence he committed against a single woman. The law that exists preventing many survivors from prosecuting Cosby for the crimes perpetrated against them is a law that still exists in 30 states including Maine, Illinois, Connecticut, and Minnesota. Cosby survivor and artist Lili Bernard shares her story: "In the early 1990s, Bill Cosby mentored me as I prepared for my guest-starring role on The Cosby Show. After he had won my complete trust and adoration, he drugged me and raped me. When I told him that I would report him to the police, he threatened serious consequences to my life. In 1992, during our last contact, he said to me, “As far as I’m concerned, Bernard, you’re dead. Do you hear me? You’re dead, Bernard. You don’t exist.” I interpreted that as a death threat and feared for my life. In the spring of 2015, empowered by dozens of brave women who publicly disclosed the abuse they suffered at the hands of Bill Cosby, I finally shed the fear and filed a police report against him in the state of New Jersey, in which an assault occurred. However, despite the evidence I saved and the witnesses willing to testify on my behalf, Cosby could not be considered for prosecution because the assault occurred a few months outside of the statute of limitations." Statutes of limitations on rape and sexual assaults are a predator’s best friend and a victim’s worst nightmare. An overwhelming amount of sexual violence -- an estimated 63% -- goes unreported and a pervasive rape culture is responsible. As we work to reduce the impact of social silencing mechanisms, we must dually eliminate laws that bar many sexual assault survivors from seeking the justice they deserve. The election to the highest office in our country of Donald J. Trump - a known sexual predator - cast a great shadow over justice for survivors of sexual assault. It is incumbent upon us all, now more than ever, to take real action to show our country’s most vulnerable that we stand with them. In September 2016, California became the 20th state to abolish the timeline for reporting rape and sexual assault. The bill - which does not change the burden of evidence required to press charges - passed the Senate and Assembly unanimously before being signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. Senator Connie Leyva, who filed the bill, said that it "shows victims and survivors that California stands behind them, that we see rape as a serious crime, that victims can come forward and that justice now has no time limit.” Senator Leyva was recently recognized by the California Women’s Law Center for her work on the legislation. Elected Representatives - if there is one thing you could do to push back against the rape culture further enabled by the current White House administration, it would be to ensure that justice is served in your state. Abolish the statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault in your state, and ensure that every survivor has a chance at justice in our legal system. Justice knows no time limit.
Remove the penalty that prevents people with disabilities from marrying!
When we think of marriage equality, we think about the ongoing fight LGBT couples face, but another minority group must deal with the stark reality that they are better off living in long-term committed relationships, without marriage. Like LGBT couples, these couples are denied the right to over 1,100 rights afforded to married couples. They have been denied access into their loved ones hospital rooms, faced family disputes over wills and have been denied spousal benefits from their partners workplace or the government in the event of their partners death. These are people with disabilities. Many people rely on the government for medical and financial assistance. Without medical insurance they would have no way to live independently. They would be forced into nursing homes (some already are), which would cost the government significantly more than getting Medicare and/or Medicaid does. At the same time, this assistance comes with a price. The government expects married couples to share income and that affects any assistance the couple receives. For many, their spouse makes too much (even if they make meager SSDI payments). This cuts into the healthcare services these couples receive. For some, their able-bodied partners make too much to allow them to qualify for medical assistance, if married, but not enough to pay out of pocket for costly medical equipment, medicine, or any other needs the disabled partner has. Add in the fact that even when a person with a disability can work, the opportunity for quality medical insurance is hard to find, due to their pre-existing condition and you will understand why many couples with disabilities are forced to live in domestic partnerships. Also, if two people with disabilities marry and they are on SSI or SSDI, their payments are CUT significantly, making it hard for them to maintain independence and afford their own food, shelter, clothing or other necessities. The time to stand up is now!! Let your Senators and Representatives know you want to remove the income caps placed on individuals with disabilities, so they can keep the government assistance and still be able to get married. Every loving couple deserves the right to marry. No one should have to choose between their wheelchair and their love, their therapy and their love, their medication and their love, their ability to eat or have a roof over their head and their love!! Those are not choices!! Help make it possible for those with disabilities to share their love without being penalized!Join our fight for marriage equality for people with disabilities:https://www.facebook.com/MarriageEqualityForPeopleWithDisabilities
Call for Blue States to Move On
What happened to make this country the focus of judgment, laughter, and fear from the rest of the world? The industrialized world outside of the United States enjoys a better quality of life and general happiness that most of us can only imagine. First class education, comprehensive health care, clean food/water/air and an overall better relationship with their fellow citizens. And as a country, we have higher mortality rates at younger ages, poorer health, and an impoverished population who can't learn new skills without going deeper into debt. As much as we like to blame Donald Trump for our national problems; these problems were here before him, and they will still be here if Trump is removed from office tomorrow. We have a political system that centralizes power to a consolidated political center in Washington, DC and an economic center in New York City. Our Electoral System will isolate the power to determine the direction of our political system to a very small, easily manipulated portion of the electorate in a strategic location.Worst of all, we have a large portion of the population who will empower a mentally unstable man to the highest office in the world; just so they can say “We Won”. This group is constantly complaining about a simply lost world with plentiful jobs in their communities. And now, they have the nerve to complain about losing the federal government programs they benefited from and voted against.It's time we said “ENOUGH” and have Progressive States and Communities band together and share resources and ideas to provide a better quality of life for its people, that the Trump Administration wants to take away. And furthermore, we need to ensure that we only support States and Communities who will change their policies for its people. We can no longer provide assistance to the Red States, just so they can abuse and neglect their citizens for business interests. For the future of this nation, we need to explore every legal method possible to protect the people from an extremely dangerous President Trump. A Values-Based Alliance of the States (VBAS) is one way of resisting this new reality of government, and the dangerous changes that we all know are inevitable. I understand that the constitution will not allow us to directly stop this monstrosity, but it will allow us to devalue it. A VBAS of certain states with similar values and policy preferences can and will use its population centers and economic influence to co-op, share resources, and implement policies with other co-opted states, while not having to depend on or engage the federal government. Examples: There are certain states with a majority of people that believe single-payer healthcare system (CA, MA, VT, NY, WA, OR, IL, HI.). If those states passed laws to provide single payer health care for its people, a Single Payer Healthcare VBAS organization of those states can share resources to improve efficiencies, expand medical training/education amongst the co-opted states, negotiate pharmaceutical/treatment, amend needed tax policies and petition the US Government. This would also force neighboring states to decide if they want to change their internal policies to provide single payer, so they can join the Health Care VBAS. A resident of Indiana might ask his state to join the VBAS because he could literally see his next-door neighbor in Illinois fully covered, and using a Doctor that just came back from his training at a medical school in California.Although the VBAS states cannot legally sign the Paris accords, they can change their internal policies to abide by its recommendations. There could be an environmental protection VBAS, where the states involved agree to abide by the Paris accords, improve safety protocols within its states, take climate change seriously, and provide economic preference to states and nations that do the same. CA, OR, NY, MA, VT, WA HI, and NV could agree to be a preferred customer of states or nations that voluntarily reduce its carbon emissions and address climate change, instead of LA or TX, which most likely will not.Other issues could include minimum wage, education, trade agreements, gun control and virtually every policy not adjudicated solely by the federal government.As more VBASes are organized and more states agree to join them, Donald Trump and the ignorance of future presidents become less and less relevant. Please sign this petition and pass it on to as many people as possible.
Having the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament be a state holiday in Minnesota
We as Minnesotans like our events, for example the Minnesota State Fair. Minnesota is the State of Hockey, and we all know as students, workers, as Minnesotans, that the State High School Hockey Tournament is probably the biggest. Let's be honest, how many students, as well as workers, are watching it more than what they are supposed to be doing when it is on? I don't see it as a bad thing, but I have heard from MANY people when asked about The Tourney, say something like "It should be a state holiday" or "We shouldn't even have school." So I am asking that The Tourney become a state holiday so that all of us Minnesotans can relax and enjoy themselves, their family, as well as their fellow classmates and friends, for those three days we all love SO much. Students don't have to worry about school and workers get time off. It would be another "great Minnesota get together" we would all enjoy!
Legalize darker window tint
Minnesota has one of the most restrictive automotive tint laws in the country, and tint tickets start at over $100 dollars. One more thing to add. Right now current tint laws allow for a 3% + / - before you get a ticket or fine. To account for tint built into the window from the factory, I propose the 3% be changed 8% + / -. Ignorance may be no excuse, but many people getting pulled over weren't even aware that they were breaking a law, and are hardly criminals. Such a strict law hurts citizens interested in investing in the benefits window film can provide: -Adds crash safety from passenger ejection and shattered glass -Reduces the sun's glare, helping prevent accidents due to excess glare -Blocks 99.9% of UV radiation -Keeps vehicles more comfortable by reducing solar heat gain -Adds privacy for drivers, passengers and belongings -Discourages smash and grab theft -Helps protect interiors from fading -Eliminates the need for mounted shades, which can become dangerous projectiles in the case of an accident This law has also been devastating to local shops across the state. Why hurt Minnesotan businesses when customers can just go across the border or to a back alley to get a tint job done? All we want is a 35% limit, which is more in line with 47 other states. 35% is dark enough to allow Minnesotans the full benefits of window film, but light enough that our police officers can feel safe.
Minnesota State Legislators: Enact "Cameron Norris Law" as New Child Homicide Statute
What Happened to Cameron Samuel Christopher Jones, was a close family friend of Cynthia Sweats' family for years. He was trusted to watch Cameron for Cynthia on one occasion, so she could go to work. Samuel Jones brutally beat baby Cameron Norris to death on February 7, 2003. Jones was released March 8, 2017 after only serving 14 years, of his 20 year maximum sentence. Jones is now a free man, on parole until 2023. Jones has never showed remorse, had no mandated rehabilitation, nor has he faced Cynthia to apologize, for what he did. In the courtroom he smiled and scoffed at the victimized family members during his sentencing. Cynthia Sweats will never receive justice for Cameron's death. However, her goal is to provide justice for other children fatally victimized at the hands of an adult. The courts should hold offenders fully accountability for these crimes. WCCO 4 NEWS TAKES THIS CAUSE SERIOUSLY: https://youtu.be/WmhYqntlFjY?list=FL_kuA4kWArUtz6GBNKmCmVA Cameron Norris Law – A focus into the future, for a new Child Homicide Statute in Minnesota. MISSION: Enact Cameron Norris Law in response to child homicide. Offenders must be held fully accountable for the crime they committed. Parents need to feel some sense of justice. The cycle of violence needs to be broken with mandated intense rehabilitation for those found guilty of these heinous crimes, if any plea bargain is offered. Society Needs Lawmakers to; See society's need for harsher sentencing and mandated treatment for those who harm a child. Ensure that all parents feel heard and represented throughout the process. Mandated Restorative Justice Rehabilitation to offenders that seek the plea bargain. Outline of Cameron Norris Law Offender will be charged with 1st degree homicide, when arrested and booked into jail. Offender is given the choice to decide if he/she wants to go to trial or take the "Intentional Second Degree Murder" plea deal. If offender chooses to go to trial; He/she can be found guilty or not guilty, in court of law. If found guilty, offender will be sentenced to life in prison If offender chooses intentional second degree murder plea deal; Plea deal sentence terms; 40 years max, possible parole after 26 years (2/3rd of 40 years) Offender can only reach parole in 26 years by compliance with all requirements of the plea deal. If offender is not in compliance with all requirements, the offender must serve the remaining 14 years (of 40 year maximum sentence) before parole will be offered one more time. Plea deal requires; The offender to confess and provide all details of the child's murder. Offender to successfully complete extensive, intense treatment, structured rehabilitation, goal training, anger management, coping and skills training, educational and job coaching skills. Offender must complete all phases of the rehabilitation program, show progress and remorse. If all requirements of the Restorative Justice Rehabilitation Program have not been met, the offender will forfeit the agreement and will then serve life in prison. IMPORTANT LINKS FOR YOU TO KNOW Send PayPal Love Contribution www.facebook.com/ffcak www.ffcak.org TWEET US! THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT SHARE this petition with everyone that you know. God Bless you!
Initiate Hands Free Driving in Minnesota
We’ve all heard it before, “Don’t text and drive,” but many teens and adults don’t really take this statement to heart. As I was sitting at the stoplight at Minnetonka Boulevard and Highway 100 earlier this evening, I looked around to see if people were on their phones. Stunningly, every single person sitting in the driver's seat was looking at a phone. I was astonished that people young and old could not put down their phones for just a few minutes as they drove home from work or to their nightly activities. Is the text, email, or Snapchat really that urgent? If it is, please pull into a parking lot. As many of you know, Officer William Matthews recently died on the side of Highway 12, after being hit by a woman who was on her phone while driving. Although I never met Officer Matthews personally, I have heard he was a kindhearted man who loved his job and family. His wife Shawn works at our school and she never fails to brighten my day when I see her. We have seen each other nearly every day for the past four years, and she consistently greets me with a smile and asks, “Hi, how are you doing Katie?”. She checks in to see how my sports are going and is always encouraging and kind, even if I am disappointed. Shawn shows a genuine interest in my life, and it is people like her that make St. Louis Park a great place to grow up. My heart aches for Shawn and her son. She is young, but already a widow, living without the person she vowed to love for the rest of her life. Their son Wyatt will grow up without a father to read to with him at night, cheer him on at sporting events, see him graduate high school, or celebrate when he gets married and has children. Shawn and Wyatt will live through these moments and years with a void in their lives, for one reason: someone could not put down their phone while driving. It is unconscionable to prioritize a text message or Snapchat ahead of a lifetime of lost memories for a family. I vow to NEVER use my cell phone while driving, not even to change the song on the aux cord, or look at directions. If something is really that important, I will pull over. If I need directions, I will turn on the audio version before I begin driving. I will never hold my cell phone in my hand while I am behind the wheel. Driving comes with responsibilities and staying safe is number one. Now I ask something of each of you. Please join me. By making this pledge your name will be added to my petition asking Minnesota legislators and Governor Dayton to pass a hands-free law for drivers. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia already have similar laws. It is time for Minnesota to take this important step too. If we do, thousands of senseless tragedies can be avoided in the future. Please join me in petitioning the next session of the Minnesota Legislature to pass a hands-free bill. All you have to do is electronically sign your name using the link below. Your action and commitment to this cause can help prevent tragedies for people like Officer Matthews, or others in your own circle of family and friends. If at any time in the future you consider picking up that text message or Snapchatting while driving, please remember Officer Matthews’ widow Shawn and their fatherless son Wyatt. You do not want to be responsible for such a tragedy. Dear Legislators, Please pass the hands free driving bill proposed in the 2017 session, during the 2018 session of the Minnesota Legislature. Please remember Officer William Matthews when you vote on this important and life-saving bill.
DON'T ABOLISH PERPICH CENTER FOR ARTS EDUCATION
There is a bill in the Minnesota House of Representatives being introduced to have the "Perpich Center for Arts Education abolished". See: HF 1825 (90th Legislature, 2017 - 2018) This school has been an invaluable resource to thousands of children who want to make art the focus of their lives and/or future careers. Whatever problems there are within the inner-workings of the institution can and should be solved without totally refusing this center for arts education to future generations. Abolishing this unique school would be a true disservice to Minnesota's youth. I know the untold psychological benefits of this school personally because attending it in the late nineties introduced me to friends who I still collaborate on art projects with and saved me from a school which instead locked its students indoors and put great emphasis on sports *shudders*. We need more art schools, not less. Young artists don't have it easy, please don't limit their options but instead encourage them to thrive and wave that freak flag high.