Close the Gap: Big win for women in 2018, keep up the good work in 2019!

From an email by Susannah Delano, Executive Director at Close the Gap CA

Keep up the good work in 2019

They’re sworn in and at their desks. You helped them get there and you’ve had an impact. Women are now 30% of the CA Legislature, up from 21% at the start of 2018. In state rankings, CA has jumped from 30th to 22nd for our proportion of women legislators.

An unexpected moment of parity, California-style: As the 2019-2020 session begins, four new Latina Senators from CTGCA target districts bring the number of Democratic women in the Senate even with the total number of Republicans, at 10.

California Legislature

State Senate:
State House/Assembly:
Total Senators: 40          Total Women: 13
Total Members: 80          Total Women: 23
Percentage of Women: 30%
Ranking among state legislatures for the proportion of women: 22

Congratulations! We sent flowers, too!  Filing for 2020 opens in 8 months. Not a moment to waste.  Click here to find out how you can pitch in.

Board President Sonya Logman and volunteer Barri Babow delivered CTGCA bouquets to 9 new women legislators (Asm. Christy Smith, pictured in the center)

Rep. Mike Thompson introduces new gun bill requiring universal background checks

From the Benicia Independent, repost from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat

North Coast U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson unveils expanded gun bill requiring universal background checks

By Kevin Fixler, January 8, 2019, 6:31PM
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, right, watches as Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman fellow Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, signs the bill, accompanied by gun violence victim former Rep. Gabby Giffords, left, and others, during a news conference to announce introduction of bipartisan legislation to expand background checks for sales and transfers of firearms, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

With the stroke of a pen and a stroll onto the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday, North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson introduced the highest-profile legislation of his political career, believing the newly sworn-in Democratic majority finally will be able to deliver on the promise of requiring universal background checks on all private gun sales.

The St. Helena Democrat and House veteran of 20 years was accompanied in Washington, D.C., for the ceremonial submission of House Bill 8 by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Arizona, who nearly lost her life in a mass shooting attack in Tucson in 2011.

Tuesday marked eight years since a gunman shot and killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Giffords with a bullet in the head from close range, outside a Safeway supermarket during a public meet-and-greet event.

Since recovering, she and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, have dedicated much of their lives to advocacy work to prevent gun-related deaths.

“Stopping gun violence takes courage — the courage to do what is right, the courage of new ideas,” Giffords said during an afternoon press conference announcing the introduction of Thompson’s expanded legislation to help ensure people only get access to firearms after their backgrounds are vetted. “I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line. Now is the time to come together, be responsible — Democrats, Republicans, everyone. We must never stop fighting.”

Not one year after the tragedy in Tucson, a 20-year-old gunman stormed Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 young children and six adults. Thompson, a Vietnam War veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart after being wounded while serving, has been working to gain traction on enhanced gun legislation ever since that 2012 tragedy.

The latest call for background checks on all gun sales, including for the first time at gun shows, over the internet and in classified ads, is Thompson’s fourth try at getting a gun safety bill to reach the House floor for a vote. The new Democratic majority and Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, again in the key decision-making position as House speaker should allow that to happen.

“For the last six years, there was Republican control of the House, and they would not even have a hearing on the issue of gun violence prevention, let alone on the bill,” Thompson said in an interview Tuesday. “This is a new day. Every day that goes by potentially loses more lives and the whole idea is to save lives.”

His previous attempts at a law weren’t as ambitious, he said, because the congressional appetite hadn’t yet fully formed. Thompson, chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and lifelong hunter, said he needed to remain practical. Through “a natural progression,” however, he now thinks he’s garnered the necessary support across the aisle to pass the bill onto the Senate, namely as the pendulum has swung further forward with each subsequent mass shooting — Aurora, Orlando, Las Vegas and Parkland, to name a few.

“The fact of the matter is the population across the country is fired up on this,” Thompson said. “Young student leaders from one end to the other, they’re engaged and demanding that some action happen. The American people are way out in front of this and I believe the public sentiment wins out.”

The No. 8 assigned to the legislation was a symbolic decision by Pelosi to pay respect to the eight-year mark of the shooting in Tucson on Jan. 8. But the single-digit number for the bill also is used to signal its importance and level of priority for the new speaker, who spoke of the issue’s “growing crescendo” from the packed stage during Tuesday’s press conference announcing the bill.

“In communities across America, courageous survivors, families and young advocates are showing outstanding courage and persistence demanding an end to the horrific scourge of violence in our nation,” Pelosi said in a prepared statement. “Our Democratic majority will press relentlessly for bipartisan progress to end the epidemic of gun violence on our streets, in our schools and in our places of worship. Enough is enough.”

The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 is actually co-sponsored by 10 members of Congress, including five Republicans. Rep. Peter King, R-New York, is for the fourth time joining Thompson in his pursuit of what’s been labeled “commonsense” and “bold” gun legislation.

A request seeking comment on the legislation from the National Rifle Association, which traditionally opposes the expansion of laws that restrict access to guns, went unreturned Tuesday. If passed by both congressional chambers as written and signed into law by President Trump, Thompson’s bill still would allow firearm transfer exceptions between families, friends and hunting partners. It does not address a Trump administration rollback of an Obama-era gun law that would have required the Social Security Administration to provide information on those with mental disorders during background checks.

Thompson bristles at the idea of maintaining inaction as the continued response to tackling the complex issue because there exists no panacea for ending mass shootings and gun deaths in their entirety in America.

“There’s no single piece of legislation that’s going to solve all the problems and address the overall issue of gun violence,” he said. “The experts say the single most important thing that yields the greatest return is expanding background checks. It’s our first line of defense in keeping people who shouldn’t have guns from having guns.”

No set timetable for when the bill might advance through a House Judiciary Committee hearing and then, if approved, onto the House floor, but Thompson said he’s confident it will pass with near-total support among the 235-member Democratic majority and at least the five Republicans who signed on as co-sponsors. He said he expects that will happen in the first 100 days of the 2019 Congress, and then it would be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, whether to put the bill up for a vote in the Senate.

“The Senate is a hurdle,” Thompson acknowledged. “I also think sending this bill over with a good bipartisan vote puts pressure on McConnell to allow the issue to come up in the Senate. It’s important we have success with this, pass the bill out of the House, which sends a loud message that yes we can do these things, and my colleagues in the House and Senate need to stand up for what’s right and take these issues on.”

Meeting of January 8, 2019

Progressive Democrats of Benicia met on Tuesday evening, January 8, 2019 at 7pm. On the agenda for this meeting was election of PDB officers and discussion of activities for PDB in the coming months and seeking ideas from members.

MEETING LOCATION: Casa de Vilarrasa, 383 East I Street, Benicia, (corner of East I and East 4th Streets).  The room is called the Garden Room.

 


INVITATION FROM RALPH DENNIS, CHAIR…

December 14, 2018

Members,

It’s time to start the New Year off right – with the first 2019 PDB meeting! At the top of your 2019 to-do list, I am sure.

Well, ready or not, our next meeting is scheduled:

January 8th  7:00pm
The Garden Room
383 Casa Vilarassa (corner of East I Street and East 4th).

The Agenda for the evening will include:

  • Election of PDB officers.
  • Mimosa Montag, Vallejo-Benicia Indivisible for Justice. Indivisible 2.0 for 2019.
  • PDB planning for 2019 actions/meetings.
    • Benicia visit by Cong. Mike Thompson (co-sponsors)
    • Community air monitoring (expand info/awareness)
    • Recruiting women for public office: commissions and boards, gender parity in CA Legislature…. International Women’s Day, March 8.
    • Ideas from members

For those of you who were in on the beginning of PDB, we had our first public meeting on August 27, 2017 at the Garden Room, where we will be on January 8, 2019. It’s nice to revisit old roots, and many thanks to charter PDB member June Mejias for making the arrangements, then and now.

Don’t forget, PDB annual dues are payable in January of each year, that means you can pay your 2019 dues as you come to the Jan. 8 meeting. How convenient!!!

Hope to see you on Jan. 8. By the way, seating space in the Garden Room is about one-half the space we have had at the Library. A word to the wise….

As always, thoughts and suggestions are encouraged, and please visit your PDB web site at progressivedemocratsofbenicia.com/.

Ralph Dennis, Chair

Equity & Justice for All