Ballot Box Basics
Pennsylvania’s League of Women Voters is hosting free monthly webinars exploring topics relevant to voting, elections and other issues related to our democracy. The series is titled Ballot Box Basics. Expand your knowledge about this basic democratic process. Check out what is offered over the next 2 months and feel free to access one or both of these programs. Once registered you can access the series by zoom.
September 13, 6:00 PM: Election Security, Ballot Safeguards, and Election Audits
Discussion will center around election security and audits. Jonathan Marks from the Department of State will lead the conversation.
October 3, 6:00 PM: Constitutional Amendments in PA
This webinar will cover Constitutional amendments in PA. Susan Gobreski, LWVPA Director of Government Policy, will lead the discussion.
On June 5, 2022, UUFP was proud to host State Senators Katie Muth and Amanda Cappelletti, who came to speak about the Go100PA initiative which outlines a plan for Pennsylvania to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050.
In her welcome, UUFP President Linda Kozitzky reminded us of the importance of our involvement. She recognized that there’s a lot of information floating around out there regarding energy and choices, and our Unitarian Universalist Principal for free and responsible search for truth and meaning compels us to educate, bring forward points of view, and offer opportunity for discussion. Our Seventh Principal is the respect for the interdependent web of existence for which we are a part — how we interact with our planet, what we’re doing for our planet, and how we are protecting it for future generations.
In her introduction, Trish Rooney pointed out that adopting 100% renewable energy by 2050 may sound like an unreachable goal but the bill sets targets for state and local governments to reach the process by turning those ideas into action. She also stressed the importance of Senators Muth and Cappelletti’s work in the Senate to connect ordinary citizens with the process of legislating.
Senator Muth spoke about Pennsylvania’s addiction to fossil fuel, the difficulties of trying to pass legislation in the current government, and her campaign for public awareness. For instance, many in the audience were interested to hear her say that not only is Pennsylvania one of the most polluting states, but one of the most polluted spots on the Earth for carbon and methane.
Senator Cappelletti spoke about local government’s role to try to get this type of legislation past the state level. Local communities can commit to being powered 100% by renewable energy and pass resolutions and have working groups to look at ways to incorporate green energy.
The senators then took questions from the nearly 50 attendees before everyone adjourned to the North Lawn for refreshments and further climate-related discussions. If you missed it, the talk is posted on the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Pottstown YouTube channel.
The UU Justice Groups of UUJusticePA
This group if focused on Raising the Minimum Wage. Senator Tartaglione has 20 cosponsors for a bill introduced this session, SB 12. Mardys Leeper is the leader of this group and welcomes UUs interested in advancing this legislation by making this issue known in communities and the legislature.
No one needs to be told that Reproductive Justice in the United States and in PA is under attack right now. At least twelve pieces of legislation were introduced in the PA legislature to springboard off the challenge to Roe v Wade in the Supreme Court of the U.S. If you see anti-abortion bills in other states, understand these will reach PA eventually, as templates for legislation is useful to fast propagation of ideas, and lessening the options for those choosing abortion services. There is a team working with allies on these issues for those interested in working in this area.
PA is in the midst of pushback against unfair and, in some cases, unenforced regulations around fracking, land and water rights, and disregard for natural resources which belong to all the people of PA. Thirteen anti-environmental bills have been introduced this session, and Senator Muth is fighting back. She could use a citizen army. Working with a deeply involved and informed team headed by Bob Redfern in Delaware County and Rachel Mark in Harrisburg, the interested person would be joining a team already moving.
This team covers a variety of issues that are precisely in the middle of actions now before summer sets in and recesses the legislature. The Gift Ban proposal SB401 is currently
being pushed hard by March on Harrisburg. Fair Districts PA had an opportunity to give testimony before an open Senate State Govt Committee hearing over congressional redistricting maps. Both issues are supported by this group led by Tom Ulrich and could use as many interested activists as possible. The monthly meeting is the first Tuesday of every month.
The committee on Gun Violence also needs no introduction. It is led by a very experienced UU, Tom Buglio, of West Chester. Those interested in beginning advocacy work will find this group moving ahead with materials and arguments already formed. You will have partners and support and real teamwork. This team is in the midst of contacting Senator Toomey to ask him to help President Biden get David Chipman confirmed as director of the ATF. This group does not always have a national focus, but it has an extremely knowledgeable leader who knows how to press. He could use help.
UUA Social Action, Social Justice Causes
As an expression of our faith and values, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) takes positions on relevant issues of social justice. Our positions are discerned via the social witness process, as shepherded by the Commission on Social Witness. Grounded in these social witness statements, the UUA will sign on to letters and amicus briefs in coalition with other faith and social justice organizations, magnifying our impact in the larger world.
Please see the links below for UUA supported social justice causes:
Justice and Inclusion
UUPlan and Fair Districts PA
UUFP Virtual Meeting with State Rep Hennessey on Redistricting
Mark Pavlovich, Advocacy Team Advisor for Fair Districts PA, Trish Rooney, Judy McDonald and Kay Price met with state Representative Tim Hennessey via Zoom in September to urge his support on redistricting reform. A new strategy for achieving redistricting reform emerged amid the pandemic, after the collapse of earlier efforts to create an independent redistricting commission. Time to make that happen ran out in late June this year. Representative Hennessey was one of the first legislators to cosponsor House Bill 2638, a bill which allows legislators to be the final decision-makers on district mapping but which opens the entire process to public scrutiny and engagement.
Also called the Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act (LACRA), HB 2638 adds enforcement clauses should counties or municipalities be split more than strictly necessary and precincts are not allowed to be split at all. Racial and language minority communities will be kept whole insofar as it is possible.
The public may submit maps for adoption if they see deficiencies with legislators’ maps.
Representative Hennessey faces stiff competition in this election and he wanted to make sure UUFP was aware that negative campaign literature falsified his record. For our part, we wanted to make sure Representative Hennessey understood that co-sponsorship was not enough; he still has a role to play by encouraging his colleagues and party leadership to adopt HB 2638 in the few House sessions before session end November 30.
If HB 2638 or SB 1242 do not pass both House and Senate before November 30, 2020, the two-year legislative session ends and all bills are wiped from the record and must be introduced in the new session. If the bills do not pass before redistricting next year, Pennsylvania will suffer through anotherdecade of maps created by and for partisan actors.
Thank you to all those who helped with the effort to end gerrymandering in PA. ~ Trish
Patricia Rooney, Volunteer, Fair Districts PA: P.O.Box 193, Honey Brook, PA 19344 firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-347-3946 (cell)
Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities
Due to the coronavirus in-kind donations can not be accepted at this time. If you can donate financially to the Cluster please visit their website to make an online donation. Thank you.
UUFP participates annually in the Chester County Pride Fest! The Pride Fest has been cancelled due to the coronavirus. Hopefully it will be rescheduled later this year. Updated information will be posted here. It is usually held at Reeves Park in Phoenixville followed by a Pride Gala event. Please consider joining us for the 2020 celebration.