The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) sponsored an event at Philadelphia’s Friends Center on March 3 to gather inspiration and clarity, and plan for future advocacy efforts in line with our Faith. Radnor Meeting was well represented by Burt Dallas and Steve Olshevski.
We learned the essentials on how to become lobbyists for the things we care about and got a briefing on how to connect with our government representatives. Most importantly, we learned that our Congressional and Senate representatives do pay attention to our feedback, especially when it is well presented. The most influential methods are to call or to send an email. Recent successes by FCNL include: Introduction of the Climate Change Act by the Climate Solutions Caucus, and Young Adults defending Healthcare to prevent the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act.
We had a skype conference with Jose Santos Woss, FCNL’s Legislative Manager for Criminal Justice and Election Integrity. Jose discussed how Criminal Justice Reform, which is a current priority, is making progress at the Congressional level, led by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. This reform has two principal movements: Sentencing Reform – to change incarceration practices, and Prison Reform – with an emphasis on rehabilitation. To really understand where our representatives stand it is important to listen carefully to which initiatives and bills they are pushing and voting for. The top 3 things we can do to help Criminal Justice Reform are:
- Support the movement to remove the requirements for cash bail
- Establish civilian reviews of police shootings
- Ask our representatives to reintroduce the Sentencing Reform Act.
Michelle Beers passed along several resources for all of us:
- One way for Friends who are interested to know the outcomes of FCNL’s work is that they can visit the A Year of Advocacy page. This shows a month-by-month synopsis of FCNL’s work in 2017.
- Help! My Representatives Are Great. What Now?
- Help! My Representatives Never Agree with Me
- “How to” Lobby Visit Road Map
- Folks can visit fcnl.org/priorities to learn more about FCNL’s Priorities Process and how to participate