"We have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone. Applying those laws, collecting facts, that's what determines the outcome of an investigation.
Nothing more and nothing less." Jack Smith, Special Prosecutor, on federal indictment of former President Donald Trump _______________________________________________________________________________
Advocates: How We Fight Back
Last week's BAM meeting offered a "To Do List" on actions we can take in response to bills passed by the 2023 Florida Legislature attacking voting rights, access to reproductive health care, and public education. For an overview of these and other priorities, check out BAM's Legislative Report Card. In this Alert, we're offering up ways to take action on some of the legislature's most heinous efforts - for the benefit of those who couldn't attend. Here's a snippet of remarks and advice from our speakers:
Sam Coodley, FL grassroots organizer, for All Voting is Local, outlined new requirements
imposed on groups like the League of Women Voters in conducting voter registration activities. Failure to meet these requirements incurs hefty fines and potentially, criminal charges. Local supervisors of elections (SOE), according to Coodley, have a significant influence on how elections are conducted - and as we welcome a new Duval SOE, that should be our number one focus.
What We Can Do:
Join All Voting is Local and other voting rights groups in advocating for changes to Duval SOE. The organizations are meeting with Jerry Holland, who takes over the office on July 1, to push for more voting sites and increased voter outreach on vote-by-mail renewal requirements. These groups are also working to organize a community meeting with Holland. Watch for more information and participate!
Get ready for 2024! Vote-by-Mail must be renewed annually. Renew your VBM request and encourage friends and family to do the same.
Ginger Mundy, co-chair of the Reproductive Health and Justice Team, FL League of Women Voters, detailed legislation to ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The new law will be implemented 30 days after the state's high court rules on the 15-week ban passed in the 2022 session. What We Can Do:
Write a Letter to the Editor after the Florida Supreme Court rules on the 15-week ban. The court is expected to uphold the law, triggering the six-week ban a month later. We need to flood the media about the impact of the stricter ban and the need to take this decision out of the hands of politicians. Allow Florida residents to voice their support for reproductive rights through the proposed ballot initiative!
Public education was a GOP target during the 2023 session. Elizabeth Andersen, local public
education advocate, and former Duval County School Board member, underscored the impact of laws creating universal vouchers for private schools, expanding book banning, eliminating funding for college-level diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) courses, and restricting teacher unions, sex education curricula, and supports for LGBTQ students, among other legislative actions. Andersen pointed to a disturbing shift in power from local school boards to the state DOE around these issues, and the influence of Moms for Liberty, recently dubbed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. What We Can Do
Get involved in local School Board activities with Public School Defenders, a local education advocacy group. The School Board is launching a process for replacing the School Superintendent following the forced retirement of Dr. Diana Greene. You can stream School Board meetings here. The District Material Review Committee meets weekly to consider book removal - and reinstatement - requests from parents. Learn about the process and books banned by the district here.
A bright spot - many provisions of these and other egregious bills passed in the 2023 session are being challenged in court. At the very least, this may delay implementation and give us time to elect people who actually represent us! MEETING BONUS: It was great to be with a group of kindred spirits when the indictment of the twice-impeached, and now twice-indicted ex-president was announced. Mark your calendar for the next BAM meeting on September 14th at 7 p.m. and plan to join us as we gear up for 2024!
100,000 & Counting! Support the Ballot Initiative
Petition organizers are elated with the response to the 2024 ballot initiative for a constitutional amendment explicitly protecting access to abortion and reproductive health care. More than 100,000 petitions have already been signed! While this is great news, we still have a ways to go to reach 900,000 by February, 2024. BAM Board member Dee Reiter is generously providing copies of the petition at the Beach, and dropping them off weekly at the downtown collection site. Pick up and return petitions to the box on her front porch. A reminder that Floridians Protecting Freedom holds virtual training on collecting signatures for the ballot measures every Tuesday from 5 - 6 p.m. Learning how to make sure every petition counts is worth the time. If you'd like to get involved with in-person outreach at meetings and events, contact Jax NOW.
Make a Splash for Kids: Support Donner Proposal
The Atlantic Beach City Commission will consider a staff recommendation tonight (Monday, June 12) to repurpose $200,000 in unexpended funding for the construction of a children's splash park at Donner Park. Construction costs, even after re-bidding the project, exceed the amount set aside for the project, and additional funding is needed to make up for the shortfall. Kids in the neighborhood will benefit greatly from this park! Take a minute today to reach out to City Commissioners and urge them to support the recommendation, or attend the meeting if you can. It starts at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers on Seminole Road.