Rhode Island State House
Rhode Island 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. 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. 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 2017 creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. 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 struggle to connect to their American military fathers. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017 now!
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 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 simple world with plentiful jobs in their communities that are extinct or never really existed. And now, they have the nerve to complain about losing the federal government programs they benefitted 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 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 allows 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 it’s 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 neigbor 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 can not 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 reduces 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 to 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.
Don’t Take Away Our Right To Resell Tickets! Oppose Rhode Island Restricted Ticketing Bills!
When tickets go on sale, loyal Rhode Island fans line up for the chance to see our favorite artists, sports teams, or events. We go online, pick up the phone or wait in line for hours to purchase tickets. But sometimes life gets in the way, and we can’t attend a highly anticipated show or the big game. If Ticketmaster and their allies have their way, we won’t be able to sell, donate, or even give away the tickets we bought and own. Rhode Island General Assembly bills H-7543 and S-2658 are an attempt by ticket giants like Ticketmaster and the venues they do business with to further monopolize ticket sales by eliminating your rights to use, donate or resell tickets however you choose. That’s not right! No other industry operates this way in Rhode Island, because these restrictions violate some of our most fundamental consumer and property rights. It’s time to protect our rights as fans – write to your Rhode Island legislators and tell them to stand with fans, not ticket industry monopolies, and oppose H-7543 and S-2658!
Justice for Justin
In the early hours of Thursday June 29th, 2017 Justin Phelps was pronounced dead at his home in West Warwick, RI of an accidental drug overdose. Although Justin did not make it, he was not alone. Justin's former fiancee', Natasha, would remain in the household until morning. Under the "Good Samaritan Act", Natasha could have contacted emergency services getting Justin the help needed to save his life while also freeing her of any and all responsibility of his overdose. Instead of saving his life, she proceeded to get high and "go to sleep." After investigation the police determined that Natasha had stayed with Justin's deceased body for a duration of at least 8 hours. Officers on scene stated that she was not at fault and allowed her to leave. Justin's sister Ashley, who resides in the adjoining condo had started attempting to contact her brother Wednesday evening as early as 6 pm, both his and Natasha's phones would only repeatedly send her to voicemail. There were approximately 28 calls that would be ignored by Natasha that evening, Ashley never spoke to her brother again. Sensing something was amiss, she went next door. Knocking loudly, trying to gain entry into the house, she only found herself locked out. Several other friends of Justin had also tried to contact him; all ignored by Natasha. For more than half of my life the Phelps family has been my family, despite having our occasional differences like families often do. I love them and it breaks my heart to see them going through this. It hurts to breathe when I realize that I'm not going to just wake up from this, that I'll never see Justin again. We will never see Justin again. This could have easily been prevented had Natasha simply answered a phone or unlocked a door. Two weeks prior to this incident; Justin had overdosed, rescue was called by Ashley and Justin was revived using narcan. Natasha was furious with Ashley for contacting and "involving" the police, even though it saved his life. During the investigation Thursday morning while questioning Natasha she told the police that she had been asleep. She went on to give them her phone with a newly deleted call log and an old phone that she claimed to be Justin's; having no missed calls. Ashley quickly pointed out that this was not her brother's phone and provided evidence of the ignored calls on her cellphone but the officers dismissed it. I know that nothing can bring Justin back to us. What I cannot accept is that fact that Natasha walked away from this. Why do we have the Good Samaritan Act if there is no penalty imposed if it's neglected? Especially when the neglect results in death? The fact is that Justin could be alive right now and the only reason he is not is because his girlfriend did not want to involve police. This is not right and what I'm asking for is simply this; Justice for Justin. I would like to see Natasha held at least partially accountable for her actions, or in this case her lack thereof. Perhaps if it was made a punishable crime to neglect the GSA, unfortunate events such as this could be avoided in the future. I cannot even fathom the pain and suffering his family is enduring at this time and it is sincerely my belief that no one should ever have to.
Save Lives: Require Spinal Muscular Atrophy Newborn Screening
August is Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Awareness Month. Please join our efforts to require SMA newborn screening, and help end the deadly effects of SMA. About SMA: • SMA is the number one genetic killer of babies and children under the age of two.• SMA is a motor neuron disease like ALS.• SMA robs the ability to move, swallow, and eventually breathe. • One in 40 unknowingly carries the gene responsible for SMA.• When two carriers have a baby, there is a 25% chance the baby will have SMA, a 50% chance the baby will be a carrier, and a 25% chance the baby will be unaffected.• One in 10,000 babies is born with SMA. The FDA approved Spinraza as the first treatment for SMA on December 23, 2016. However, newborns continue to go untreated when they would receive the most benefit, as no states are performing SMA newborn screening. Newly diagnosed Type 1 SMA babies treated with Spinraza didn't lose their ability to move, swallow, and breathe, but instead gained strength. Some even crawled and took steps — steps away from the deadly effects of SMA. Newborn babies treated within the first two weeks never lost abilities to SMA, and developed as average babies do. They crawl, eat, stand, and walk. Only newborns with older SMA siblings have been treated this way, as their parents knew to screen for SMA. Every newborn needs to be screened for SMA, so babies born with SMA can develop just as babies without SMA do. For this to happen, SMA needs to be added to the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP), states need to require SMA newborn screening, and funding needs to be provided for SMA newborn screening. The Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children (Committee) is scheduled to vote to add SMA to the RUSP at its February, 2018 meeting. Once the Committee votes favorably to add SMA to the RUSP, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will add SMA to the RUSP. This is an important step, as many states look to the RUSP when adding new conditions to screen for. This petition will be delivered to both the Committee, and the Secretary of HHS. States also need to require newborn screening, as the RUSP is only a recommendation, it does not mandate states to test for conditions. We will continue to pursue SMA newborn screening in every state, and this petition will help our efforts. Missouri is the only state to enact newborn screening legislation, and will begin screening for SMA in January of 2019. Federal and state funds are also needed to begin and continue SMA newborn screening. This petition will help us as we advocate for funding with the appropriate federal and state congressional members. Act Now: With an FDA-approved treatment, it is urgent we secure SMA newborn screening. Newborn babies treated within the first two weeks will have the best chance at progressing as they would without SMA. Every baby born with SMA should be afforded this life-saving treatment. Please sign our petition urging Committee to vote to add SMA to the RUSP, urging states to require SMA newborn screening, and urging federal and state congressional members to provide funding for SMA newborn screening.
Stop The Statute of Limitations (SOL) on Sex Crimes - Sexual Assault, Pedophilia, Rape
Lesley Barton’s WWII hero father once said to her, “You should never take advantage of someone that is weak or vulnerable just because you can." Little did he know how much his simple words would one day mean to his beloved daughter as the 1st survivor of 10 (4 in SOL 6 outside of it) known victims to report a 15 yr active and violent serial rapist who continuously got off with slaps on the wrist. The time is NOW to Stop The Statute of Limitations on Sex Crimes for children and adults. Please click the link below to learn more about her and her sisters’ fight against sadistic and emboldened rapist Marc Winner and to really understand the gravity of predators like him who are able to use the statute of limitations against their victims to their advantage. http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/December-2016/Marc-Winner/__________________________________________Lesley’s story... Over 16 years, she’d hoped and prayed this day would actually never come, because although she knew he couldn’t stop-it was her greatest wish that he would, so no one else would be violently raped by him again. Painfully, that was not the case with 4 in the Statute of Limitations and 10 known total in a 15 year period. The continuous promises made to her when they wanted her to be okay with the plea deal, were not kept. Woman after woman reported him only to be disbelieved and disregarded, because of archaic belief systems even within the justice system and Chicagoland Cook County City and Suburbs being on different computer systems. How senseless is that? This has not been an easy road for her and her sisters. It’s actually been harder than any victim survivor could ever be able to explain. Our msister and brother survivors understand why sexual assault is the most under reported crime, because coming forward in order to protect others from a monster has no upsides due to the revictimization of stigma, harassment, a pretty inept and broken system, and those who want to make rape of all things about politics or shaming and blaming the survivor rather than stopping the perp. It’s been a long 16+ years for Lesley Barton who was the first to report Marc Winner for criminal sexual assault. Even after she came to terms with the unthinkable by finding some joy again she was really thrown for a loop that invasion day almost two years ago now when she found out he was back or actually never left. For he remained active and her reporting him, going to all their trial dates, and his slap on the wrist plea deal didn’t keep him from continuing his proclivity to do irreparable and permanent harm. Lesley no lomger feels any of the unfounded shame or blame any longer. She could really careless what the ignorant callous bullies towards survivors of rape think or say either. She does however feel an immense responsibility to her sisters who survived him, all sister and brother survivors, and the community at large to see this through to the end-to finish this-and to help convict him anyway they lawfully can so he never hurts another living soul again. Many confusingly mock and attack survivor activists who put it all on the line to stop criminals by using the term social justice warrior as a negative connotation on the internet and elsewhere. However, what they don’t seem to understand is that this is NOT a political issue and a violent despicable crime such as rape can never be referred to as “social.” It’s a matter of stopping a violent criminal from seriously hurting others in a way that the survivors receive a life sentence. Rape is actually a CRIMINAL JUSTICE issue-always has been, always will be. As a Criminal Justice issue, one way to end the emboldening of predators like Marc Winner, Brock Turner, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, Louis CK, USA Gymnasts Dr. Larry Nassar, Thad Alton, and Denny Hastert (to name only a small few) is to Stop the Statute of Limitations Clock. Predators know very well that they have a time clock they can easily run out during the often decades of time it takes a victim to come forward and be a survivor. The time is NOW to #StopTheStatute of Limitations on Sex Crimes in every state for children and adults, once and for all. There are no statutes in different states on Forgery, types of Fraud, Murder, Manslaughter, Attempted Murder, Arson, types of DUI accidents, and even in a few on Rape, but a few isn’t good enough-Rape is a life sentence, so should be the time period it takes to report it (which remember does not mean the lack of burden of proof) in order to help deter. The system needs to give survivors the time they need to come to terms with the heinous violation to their body and spirit in order to get closure and justice-How can’t everyone have some common sense, reasonably understand, and get behind that? #metoo#Ibelieveyou#stopthestatute
Help the Mental Health in Teens
Many teenagers have a mental illness, and many more of these teens do not know that they have an illness. Between 50% and 75% of adolescents with anxiety disorders and impulse control disorders (such as conduct disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) develop these during adolescence. This accounts for the 500,000 through one million young people aged 15 to 24 attempt suicide each year. With so many teens with mental illnesses, we need to change something. What needs to be done? Well, if we start to provide funding to replicate comprehensive school-based health centers throughout the state, particularly those that provide mental health services. Access to on-site, school-based mental health services in school-based health centers increases the likelihood that adolescents will receive mental health services. Adolescence is a critical period for mental, social, and emotional well being and development. During adolescence, the brain undergoes significant developmental changes, establishing neural pathways and behavior patterns that will last into adulthood. Because their brains are still developing, adolescents are particularly receptive to the positive influences of youth development strategies, social and emotional learning, and behavioral modeling. But adolescents’ developing brains, coupled with hormonal changes, make them more prone to depression and more likely to engage in risky and thrill-seeking behaviors than either younger children or adults. These and other factors underline the importance of meeting the mental, social, and emotional health needs of this age group. Mental health and social and emotional well being – combined with sexual and reproductive health, violence and unintentional injury, substance use, and nutrition and obesity – form part of a complex web of potential challenges to adolescents’ healthy emotional and physical development. Facts about Adolescent Mental Health Approximately 20% of adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder Many mental health disorders first present during adolescence Between 20% and 30% of adolescents have one major depressive episode before they reach adulthood Between 50% and 75% of adolescents with anxiety disorders and impulse control disorders (such as conduct disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) develop these during adolescence Suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents and young adults Suicide affects young people from all ages, races, genders, and socioeconomic groups, although some groups seem to have higher rates than others Older adolescents (aged 15-19) are at an increased risk for suicide Between 500,000 and one million young people aged 15 to 24 attempt suicide each year Existing mental health problems become increasingly complex and intense as children transition into adolescence Mental health problems may lead to poor school performance, school dropout, strained family relationships, involvement with the child welfare or juvenile justice systems, substance abuse, and engaging in risky sexual behaviors An estimated 67% to 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health disorder System-level Challenges to Attaining Adolescent Mental HealthBetween 25% and 33% of adolescents forgo needed care, and many others lack access. Below are some of the factors hindering adolescents’ uptake of or access to programs and services that can help reduce the risk of mental health problems: Health and health-related services access and use among adolescents lag behind that of other children Adolescents represented more than 25% of the estimated 8.3 million uninsured children in 2005 Nearly half of State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) programs place limits on inpatient and outpatient mental health services Of the 213 accredited pediatric residency training 25 have fellowship programs in adolescent medicine, 7 of which include interdisciplinary training Rates of serious mental health disorders among homeless youth range from 19% to 50% Laws in only 20 states and the District of Columbia give minors explicit authority to consent to outpatient mental health services There is a high prevalence of depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts among adolescents who forgo care due to confidentiality concerns RecommendationsA well-financed health prevention and response system that fosters communication and cooperation across sectors can provide adolescents better access to high quality resources that are responsive to their unique mental health needs. In order to achieve this, federal and state governments should: Fund programs for adolescents that foster improved decision-making skills and provide positive models for behavior to reduce risk-taking behaviors. Adolescents are particularly resourceful and resilient and respond well to positive engagement strategies that help provide a social support structure. Finance effective, empirically based education programs to help parents recognize mental health problems in their children. When parents lack knowledge of teens’ mental health problems, obtaining services may be difficult. Pass legislation to enhance confidentiality protection to improve adolescents’ access to confidential services. Inconsistent and unclear policies regarding adolescent patient confidentiality can create additional barriers to mental health care. Only 45% of adolescents surveyed would seek care for depression if parental notification were required. Provide funding to attract, train, and retain a more diverse workforce of health care providers. Cultural differences between patient and provider can lead to misdiagnosis of major mental illness, while ethnic and gender matching has been shown to lead to lower dropout rates in mental health treatments. Establish local, state, and national targets for expanding the number of adolescent specialists in primary health, mental health, behavioral health, and addiction strategies. Data show that less than 1% of primary care physicians who may see adolescents are board-certified specialists in adolescent medicine. Institute financing mechanisms to support necessary services, especially in venues that increase access, such as schools, youth centers, and adolescent specific health and wellness centers. Insurance restrictions, poor funding, and low priorities for resources are among the key obstacles impeding access of children and adolescents to the services necessary to treat mental health disorders.
Grant Bus Passes for High School Students in RI
Who We Are: We are 11th grade students from Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School, and for the past semester we have been studying the effects of the lack of student transportation in our community with Generation Citizen. We have talked to a representative from RIPTA & Young Voices and reached out to our State Representatives to find more information on this issue. The Issue: Not all the students in our community are getting free RIPTA bus passes because they don't qualify under Rhode Island's statewide school distance radius rule. Some students have after school activities and are not able to go on time or even go because of the far distance from their schools. Students that do not have bus passes tend to come late and some have to get up really early to get to school on time. This is intensified in the winter season, when they have to walk to school in extreme weather. Also, this poses an issue when students want to come to school and their parents do not have a car, parents have to pay another person to bring their children to school. For these reasons we are asking for free bus passes to be make possible for all students regardless of how far they live. We want to solve this problem because if the students receive bus passes, all the students can come to the school without excuses. We are asking for funding to be made possible to support this initiative, whether it be through a new source of funding or a redistribution of funding.
RI House and Senate: Prevent the Breed Specific bills H 5287 and S 178 from advancing
Breed specific legislation is unjust. Stop punishing responsible dog owners and their pets! In the words of the AKC "The American Kennel Club strongly opposes any legislation that determines a dog to be "dangerous" based on specific breeds or phenotypic classes of dogs. We support laws that: establish a fair process by which specific dogs are identified as "dangerous" based on stated, measureable actions; impose appropriate penalties on irresponsible owners; and establish a well-defined method for dealing with dogs proven to be dangerous."
I do not support H 5287 or S 178. No animal should be categorized or punished because of irresponsible owners, trainers or breeders.
I do not support H 5287 or S 178. No animal should be categorized or punished because of irresponsible owners, trainers or breeders.
Since when is showing compassion to an injured animal and trying to bring it back to health a crime
Since when is showing compassion to an injured animal and trying to bring it back to health a crime