Utah State Senate
Utah State Senate
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!
Stop Child Predators From Being Set Free
Sunday night, two brothers attempted to kidnap a 6 year old boy, in broad daylight, in front of his parents, at a park that many parents take their children. Fortunately, the child’s parents were able to get these potential kidnappers arrested. Unfortunately, they were released. As if this incident wasn’t enough, these brothers have attempted kidnapping at least two other children, in less than a month. They have dealt with law enforcement on “numerous, numerous occasions”. Yet, they have never been arrested for long. These brothers are dangerous and will act, if given the chance. They do not need to be out in society, putting our communities at risk. They are determined, and won’t stop. Please, join me in protecting our children from these potential predators!
Ban Plastic Bags in Utah
Single use plastic bags are filling up our landfills, covering our cities and parks, damaging our recycling centers, and eventually making their way to the oceans; killing marine life and damaging Utah health. Utah legislature wants to kill the proposed ban on plastic bags because their priorities rest with their’s and their partner’s pocket books, not on the health of the state, nation, oceans, and their denizens. Switching to more biodegradable bags, or increasing funding towards reusable bags, can be financially beneficial and will serve the community and the state. Why Recycle?Salt Lake City collects recyclables from an estimated 45,000 residential homes, and 1,100 small businesses and multi-family complexes every day, five days per week. An average of 750 tons of material are recycled each month. Recycling this amount of material each month saves the equivalent of: 7,379 mature trees (91,427,200 sheets of copy paper)3,030 cubic yards of landfill space (the annual space needed for 3,891 people)2,353,583 kWh of electricity (enough to power the needs of 225 homes)2,604 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions4,011,430 gallons of water (enough to meet the daily needs of over 50,000 people). China banned the use of plastic bags, and only 4 year later, they had removed 40 BILLION bags from the environment. These plastic bags will end up in our landfills. When landfill space is overused, production of methane and NMOC’s (non-methane organic compounds) increases. These airborne chemicals contribute heavily to air pollution; Utah as a state consistently ranks in the top five when its Air Quality Index is considered, and Salt Lake City is ranked number 78 in the WORLD on air pollution according to airvisual.com , which also regards AQI. Banning plastic bags in the state of Utah will reduce space in landfills, improve our ability to recycle by preventing clogging and damaging of recycling machines, and increase our air quality/the health of its citizens.
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
Say NO to dumping toxic coal ash, lead and mercury on the Great Salt Lake!
An east coast corporation is seeking a permit to dump toxic coal ash at the tip of the Promontory Point peninsula - putting one of the nation’s largest industrial waste collections in the center of the Great Salt Lake and next to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and active fault lines. Coal ash, also referred to as coal combustion residuals or CCR, is produced primarily from the burning of coal in coal-fired power plants. Coal ash contains contaminants like mercury, lead, cadmium, selenium and arsenic and is considered to be hazardous. These contaminants can pollute waterways, ground water, drinking water and the air. If approved, this east coast corporation will have created one of the nation’s largest industrial waste landfills - putting humans and animals at risk. Millions of Birds at Risk The proposed coal ash dump is less than 20 miles from the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the Ogden Waterfowl Management Area, and it lies directly on the migratory path of millions of birds consisting of more than 250 species, including such species as the bald eagle, white-faced ibis, american white pelican, snowy plover, black-necked stilt, cinnamon teal and tundra swan. The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge contains nearly 80,000 acres of marsh, open water, uplands, and alkali mudflats. The concentrated pollutants in coal ash, such as lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium and selenium, cause fatal deformities in birds nesting and feeding near CCR landfills and polluted waters. Purity of Fresh Water Supply at Risk When you combine one of the largest municipal solid waste landfills with some of the largest bird habitats in the nation, you get double trouble for the drinking water supply of nearby residents. Birds, especially gulls, feeding on decomposing waste deposit very high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus into nearby streams, rivers, wetlands, lakes and reservoirs when they defecate into the water. This results in eutrophication, a leading cause of damage to freshwater and coastal marine ecosystems. Among the results are noxious toxins (e.g., microcystin and anatoxin-a; Chorus and Bartram 1999). Associated algal blooms (HABs) have been linked with degradation of water quality (Francis 1878), destruction of economically important fisheries (Burkholder et al. 1992) and (3) public health risks (Morris 1999). There is a whole industry related to landfill bird deterrent methods and products, as landfills attract birds. It is simply unacceptable to build a landfill of this size where these birds are already nesting! A Ticking Earthquake Time Bomb Making matters worse, the proposed toxic coal ash dump is located next to active fault lines. Over 25 earthquakes have hit within 70 miles radius in recent history, including one 13 miles NW of the dump and another 19 miles NE. Astonishingly, no significant earthquake study has been done related to the toxic coal ash landfill and the risks of being located so close to fault lines. Like with many other environmental concerns, the east coast corporation that stands to profit from the toxic coal ash dumping is denying any risk. They stated, “The landfill’s geologic and hydrogeological setting is appropriate for developing a landfill because there are no major geologic hazards (active faults or subsidence areas)...” despite the proximity of known faults. Join the fight. Take Action. Sign our petition to keep toxic coal ash from being dumped at the shores of the Great Salt Lake and near millions of birds. Submit a comment to the Governor of Utah and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) related to the lack of comprehensive environmental and geological studies that have been conducted for the proposed dump.Comments to DEQ should be emailed to email@example.com and include the subject line: “Promontory Point Landfill”. Share this petition with friends and families who are concerned about protecting the Great Salt Lake, Utah’s water supply and the millions of protected birds that call the shores of Great Salt Lake home.
Reenact the Flag Protection Act - American Flag Protection Act 2018
American Flag Protection Act 2018(a) Definition Of Flag Of The United States.—In this section, the term ‘flag of the United States’ means any flag of the United States, or any part thereof, made of any substance, in any size, in a form that is commonly displayed as a flag and that would be taken to be a flag by the reasonable observer. “(b) Actions Promoting Violence.—Any person who destroys or damages a flag of the United States with the primary purpose and intent to incite or produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace, and under circumstances in which the person knows that it is reasonably likely to produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace, shall be fined not more than $100,000, imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both. “(c) Flag Burning.—Any person who shall intentionally threaten or intimidate any person or group of persons by burning, or causing to be burned, a flag of the United States, and / or under circumstances in which the person knows that it is reasonably likely to produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace, shall be fined not more than $100,000, imprisoned for not more than 1 year, or both. “(d) Damaging A Flag Belonging To The United States.—Any person who steals or knowingly converts to his or her use, or to the use of another, a flag of the United States belonging to the United States, and who intentionally destroys or damages that flag, shall be fined not more than $250,000, imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both. “(e) Damaging A Flag Of Another On Federal Land.—Any person who, within any lands reserved for the use of the United States, or under the exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction of the United States, steals or knowingly converts to his or her use, or to the use of another, a flag of the United States belonging to another person, and who intentionally destroys or damages that flag, shall be fined not more than $250,000, imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both. Excluding individuals that are attempting to rescue or protect the flag of the United States from damage, misuse and/or desecration. “(f) Construction.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to indicate an intent on the part of Congress to deprive any State, territory, or possession of the United States, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico of jurisdiction over any offense over which it would have jurisdiction in the absence of this section.”. This act excludes clothing, with the exception of which portrays or indicates burning of and/or desecration of the flag of the United States of America, with the exception of artistic interpretation that does not have the intent of or perceivable intent of being a desecration of the flag of the United States of America. (g) Technical And Conforming Amendment.—The chapter analysis for chapter 33 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking the item relating to section 700 and inserting the following: If any provision of this Act, or the application of such a provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of the Act, and the application of this Act to any other person or circumstance, shall not be affected by such holding.That any desecration of the flag is not protected by the freedom of speech as stated in the following landmark cases and bill, as the burning or desecration of the flag would indicate either a plot to over throw the government, intended harm on certain members of the government, be considered obscene, be considered fighting words, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value and / or tends to lead to or incite a breach of the peace and could likely provoke a violent reaction : Dennis v. United States that the First Amendment doesn’t protect the speech of people plotting to overthrow the government.Bethel School District v. Fraser upheld the right of a school to suspend a student for making an obscene speech. Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 1988, supported a school’s right to censor student newspapers. However, many states are now passing laws to grant broader First Amendment protections to student speech. Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942), the Supreme Court held that speech is unprotected if it constitutes "fighting words". Fighting words, as defined by the Court, is speech that "tend[s] to incite an immediate breach of the peace" by provoking a fight, so long as it is a "personally abusive [word] which, when addressed to the ordinary citizen, is, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke a violent reaction" Miller v. California, came up with a three-part definition of obscene material. *A work is legally considered obscene if an average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the material appeals to prurient (appealing to sexual desire) interest.*the work depicts or describes, in an offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions, specifically defined by applicable state law.*taken as a whole, the material lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. House Bill 347 authorized Secret Service agents to arrest anyone protesting in the president’s or vice president’s proximity. They also have this authority at National Special Security Events. These events have included state occasions, of course, but also basketball championships, the Academy Awards, Olympic events, and the Super Bowl. A conviction can result in up to 10 years in a federal prison (another place where your freedom of speech is limited).
Reinstate Prop 2
ProblemOn November 6th, 2018, Utah voters, participating in record numbers and wanting their voices heard, passed Proposition 2 to legalize medical cannabis by a margin of 53% - 47%. It represented a victory for democracy, regardless of one's position on the issue.In previous legislative sessions, the Utah State House and Senate have refused to pass a bill legalizing medical cannabis, despite strong public sentiment and several opportunities to do so. This deliberate inaction by lawmakers led citizens to create the initiative and leave the issue up to Utah's voters. Once it became clear in the polls that Proposition 2 had widespread support and a significant chance of passing, legislators suddenly changed their tune from apathy to concern. A compromise had never been in the cards for these elected officials until it looked like they wouldn't be getting their own way.All of this culminated today in 60 members of Utah's House of Representatives, 22 members of Utah's Senate, and Governor Gary Herbert completely disregarding the voice and will of Utah citizens by effectively repealing Proposition 2 with their own legislation (H.B. 3001). Not a single business day after Proposition 2 went into effect, state legislators blatantly silenced and disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Utah voters.SolutionRepeal House Bill 3001 and reinstate Proposition 2 as approved by the majority of Utah voters.Whether you're in favor of legalizing medical cannabis or not, you should be concerned that our elected officials can so easily and callously throw your vote away if they don't agree with you. Complicit silence is not the answer! Demand Utah's legislature to repeal this un-democratic bill and reinstate Utah's voters!