Last Monday, March 16th, with the nation buzzing and outrage building over the AIG bailout bonuses, Rural Organizing Project members from all corners of Oregon took those concerns and frustrations straight to our legislators in Salem for a Democracy Bailout Day.
Joined by urban allies, and friends from other cutting edge social justice groups like PCUN and the Center for Intercultural Organizing, ROP members met with over 50 state reps and senators, to say Yes to Rebuilding Oregon and NO to the Costs of War at Home and Abroad. Here are a few reflections from folks who participated:
Bobbi Hall, Corvallis, Alternatives to War:"The lobbying today went extremely well too, and I have to tell you, as our crew went to Frank Morse’s office a few minutes before 11, I saw him headed down the hall and went to him and shook his hand, said hello, etc. and said we were heading toward his office….he said ‘Do you have an appointment?’ I said…(while thinking, oh dear!) ‘we have an appointment with your staff as you were to be at a meeting’…he said, ‘the meeting was very short, so let’s all go down to the office and talk!’ 2 others from our district joined us and we were there for at least a half hour, I think closer to 40 minutes, and had a detailed, honest, enjoyable discussion."
Steve Milligan, Monmouth, Polk Commons Cafe: "There is so much going on with the legislature I could sense the stress. I still got the feeling of disconnect as we talked about the unemployment rate, all [Rep. Vickie Berger] seemed to see was lost revenue. ‘Those unemployed people just aren’t doing their part to help.’ As we are sometimes considered in budgets as RGUs (Revenue generating units), it takes out the human factor. I believe that we did some good today. There are some 4,000 bills in the legislature at present and we helped identify the bills to the staff to look into and identify to the Senators and Reps."
Rich Mires, Prineville, Human Dignity Advocates:"[We] had a fantastic experience at the Capitol—our leaders (Phil and Kathy) did a great job… [Representative] Gillman obviously supports the majority of our requests. [I] loved that he would support taxing the wealthy at a higher lever, if relief could be given at the lower income levels. [With Senator Whitsett we had a] very informative session—didn’t rush us at all—in fact he would have kept talking… I am following up with each contact made in the capitol… This was a fantastic event. I am fired up. Once a year won’t cut it."
Rich is right. Talking with our legislators once a year WON’T cut it. We need to be in touch regularly; with consistent contact and a multitude of voices lifting up our shared priorities of an economy that works for working people and a foreign policy approach based on diplomacy and collaboration – not war profiteering and the exploitation of people and natural resources.
In fact, our legislators need to hear from us all again today. Check out the action alert below from the Campaign to Keep Oregon’s Guard in Oregon and give your representatives a call. Ask them to make a firm commitment to keeping the Oregon National Guard where it belongs and where they are most needed — here at home in Oregon.
CONTACT HOUSE RULES, SPEAKER, AND YOUR LEGISLATORS TO KEEP THE GUARD IN OREGON
Thursday, March 19th
The vast majority of the 3000 Oregon Guard soldiers who will head to Iraq later this year will be leaving for annual training in California in late March/early April, then shipping out to Georgia for final preparations–unless the Governor takes action to keep them home. Even if they do get deployed, passing the Guard Home legislation will help prevent future call-ups that are not properly authorized.
The Campaign to Keep Oregon’s Guard in Oregon continues to move forward; with an excellent hearing held in the House Rules committee last Wednesday
(audio at http://www.leg.state.or.us/listn/archive/archive.2009s/HRULES-200903111501.ram), a well-covered rally and march on Sunday, and legislative visits to
nearly every member of the legislature on Monday.
In order to get the measures (HB 2556, HR 4 and SR 1), through the process, we want to be sure to have firm pledges from 31 members of the house and 16 members of the Senate to vote for the bill and resolutions. We don’t have an exact count right now, but these numbers are not terribly out of reach now that Rep. Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point, HD 4) is supporting the proposed revised version of HB 2556 (known as 2556-1, below).
We know many of you called and wrote your representatives last month, but it is time to contact them again! We need them to make a firm commitment
to the Guard Home legislation.
The legislators who are co-sponsoring the Oregon bill and resolutions are: Representatives Jules Kopel-Bailey, Michael Dembrow, Chris Edwards, Mitch
Greenlick, Jim Thompson, Carolyn Tomei and Chip Shields. The Senators are: Laurie Monnes-Anderson, Rod Monroe, Bill Morrisette, Diane Rosenbaum, Vicki Walker and Martha Schrader. Public statements of support have also come from Reps. Dennis Richardson (for HB 2556-1) and Sara Gelser, and support has been indicated wholly or as a "maybe" from numerous other legislators.
If your legislator is on this list, thank them; if not, please urge them to vote for HB 2556 and HR 4/SR 1. To find your legislator’s info, go to http://www.legislatorpro.com/oregon .
Here is a quick guide of what to say:
I am calling/writing the Representative/Senator to ask for your firm commitment to vote in favor of the Guard Home legislation, HB 2556 and HR 4 (or SR 1 for a Senator).
The bill’s intention, clearly laid out in the revised version co-authored by Rep. Shields and Rep. Richardson, is merely to restate existing law that the Governor should not release the Guard into federal service without Congressional authorization.
This bill in no way questions the service of the men and women of our National Guard, and in many ways supports their service to our state, ensuring that they
will only be called up by the federal government by legal means.
The companion resolution, HR 4, asserts that the authorizations for the conflict in Iraq has expired, and the authorization for the "war on terror" is too broad, allowing for a perpetual call-up of the Guard.
The House Rules committee held a Public Hearing on March 11 (audio available at http://www.leg.state.or.us/listn/archive/archive.2009s/HRULES-200903111501.ram).
As House Rules Chair Roblan is seeking to be sure there are 31 votes for either or both of these measures before holding a work session, we are hoping we can
count on your vote at least on HB 2556-1 (text appended below) to ensure the Guard is only used under a lawful order.
Will you, Rep./Sen _______, pledge to vote for HB 2556 and/or HR 4 or SR 1?
Thank you again for your time.
Text of HB 2556-1
(1) As used in sections 1 to 3 of this 2009 Act, "organized militia" means the Oregon Army National Guard and the Oregon Air National Guard.
(2) The organized militia is limited to service on behalf of the State of Oregon unless the organized militia is called into federal service pursuant to a valid Congressional enactment consistent with the Constitution of the United States of America.
Here are the people to call. Don’t forget the toll free number to get through to any of these offices–1-800-332-2313:
Speaker of the House, Representative Dave Hunt (House District 40/Gladstone): 503-986-1200
Chair of the House Rules Committee: Representative Arnie Roblan (House District 9/Coos Bay): 503-986-1409
Vice-Chair House Rules Committee: Representative Vicki Berger (HD20-Salem): 503-986-1420
Representative Tobias Read (HD27-Beaverton): 503-986-1427
Representative Mary Nolan (HD36-Portland): 503-986-1900
Representative Bill Garrard (HD56-Klamath Falls): 503-986-1456
Representative Bob Jenson (HD58-Pendleton): 503-986-1458
Representative Sara Gelser (HD16-Corvallis): 503-986-1416
Here are other points you can make
**In January at the Capitol, a campaign of 56 organizations delivered the names of over 7000 people from across the state who want legislation to keep our Guard home.
**22 states plus Washington DC are now participating in the nationwide effort to keep the Guard home.
**Voting for House Joint Memorial (HJM) 5 is not an acceptable substitute to passing the bill and resolutions calling on the Governor to keep the Guard in Oregon. While it is not harmful for the Legislature to "send a message to Congress," the Governor must take a stand against the misuse of the National Guard.
Thank you so much and let’s keep the pressure on to Keep Oregon’s Guard in Oregon.
for the Campaign to Keep Oregon’s Guard in Oregon.