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Final weeks for state legislature: Take action for JUSTICE

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2020 July Issue Newsletter

By Marty Dagoberto, NOFA/Mass Policy Director

As the 2019-20 state legislative session draws to a close, we look back at the progress we’ve made advocating for issues at the heart of the organic movement and we look forward toward what are the most critical priorities to address in this moment with the time remaining. 

If you haven’t called your state legislator in recent memory, this is your last chance to influence the final weeks of the 2 year legislative session. Please speak up.

And as the protests continue and calls for racial justice and changes to policing grow steadily across our nation, it is readily apparent that NOW is the time to support decisive action at all levels of government to address these issues. For this reason, the NOFA/Mass Policy Committee has decided to prioritize before any other legislative priorities, the policy goals of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus.

We strongly urge our members and supporters, before calling their legislators on any of our remaining organic policy goals (delineated further below), to encourage lawmakers to take strong action for racial justice before the end of the legislative session (currently set to end on July 31st, 2020.) 

Please contact your state legislators (look them up, here!) ask them to “support the priorities of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus (MBLLC).” At the time of writing (6/16), the following bill had just been filed by one of the members of the Caucus:  

An Act Relative to Saving Black Lives and Transforming Public Safety (HD.5128)

Filed on June 10, 2020 by Rep. Liz Miranda and Sen. Cindy Creem

“The bill would ban the use of chokeholds, tear gas, rubber bullets and police dogs to “attack” a person by law enforcement officials in Massachusetts. The bill would also require all Massachusetts officers intervene if they witness any officers use unreasonable force. If they fail to, the officer ‘shall be disciplined, and, depending on the seriousness of the violation, may be decommissioned and terminated from their position,’ the bill states. If passed, the use of force used by a Minneapolis police officer prior to George Floyd’s death, would be banned. (MassLive article, 6/13/20)

After you talk to your legislators about the importance of taking action to address racial disparities in police use of force and urge them to follow the lead of the Mass. Black and Latino Legislative Caucus on these issues, we invite you to urge them to keep our other pre-existing priority bills moving.

Remaining NOFA/Mass Priority Bills that need your help to move before the formal session ends on July 31st

Mass. Healthy Soils Bill (S.2404)

Healthy Soils for Climate and Food Justice!

Our Healthy Soils Bill is one step away from being voted on by the Senate! Under the bill, the Healthy Soils Program would  bolster the use of healthy soils practices across the state. This program would provide guidance on proven ways to mitigate or even reverse carbon loss from soils. We have a moral responsibility to implement these readily available strategies for addressing the climate crisis.

And as we face the continued threat of the novel coronavirus, we are reminded that healthy soils are required in order to produce the truly healthy nutrient dense foods needed to support a robust human microbiome and strong immune system. We must scale out healthy soils practices so that everyone has access to nutrient dense food.

Since the bill is currently in Senate Ways and Means, it’s most important for your State Senator to hear from you on this issue (especially if they’re on that committee!). Phone calls have the greatest impact, but you can also send a quick message through our action page, here

3 Glyphosate-related bills

Environmental and food toxins like glyphosate disproportionately impact communities of color, so this is an easy issue to tie to your request that legislators take action toward racial justice!...

GOOD NEWS ON GLYPHOSATE, ICYMI: 

“Bayer To Pay More Than $10 Billion To Resolve Cancer Lawsuits Over Weedkiller Roundup” 

Consumer Ban: H.4413, filed by Rep. Carmine Gentile, bans all glyphosate-containing herbicides from hardware stores and ends consumer use of this toxic biocide (including Monsanto's Roundup)! The bill is before the House Ways and Means Committee (so if your Rep. is on that committee, they definitely need to hear from you- it could be one step away from passage in the House).

Protect Schoolchildren: H.791, also filed by Rep. Gentile, updates the outdated list of pesticides eligible for use on the outdoor grounds of schools and child care centers. It would allow only pesticides considered minimum risk by EPA, or certified organic (eliminating the use of glyphosate and 2,4-D which ARE currently permitted in IPM programs.)

End Use on Public Lands: S.499, filed by Sen. Jason Lewis, would end the application of any glyphosate-based herbicide on any public lands owned or maintained by the Commonwealth without a special permit (and only if/when the “the situation poses an immediate threat to human health and the environment” and “there is no viable alternative to the use of the proposed glyphosate herbicide").

As always, phone calls have the greatest impact, but we do have a “click and send” quick action page, here, which you can also share with your networks. 

Please also see our NOFA/Mass resource page on glyphosate for plenty of talking points. 

You can find more info about all of these bills and about other bills on our radar on our website

Thank you for reading and for taking action, once again!...

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