Call of the Day: Support Criminal Justice Reform, Affordable Housing, and Equal Pay

This week's state-focused call is another grab bag.  Below are three bills before the state legislature right now, along with three scripts.  Call about one bill or call about all three – it's up to you!

1.  SUPPORT CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

Our state has the highest rate of incarceration (816 per 100,000 residents, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics) in the world's most jail-happy nation.  That makes Louisiana the world's incarceration leader.

In an effort to change that the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force, a group of 15 businesses, was formed to make suggestions on criminal reform in Louisiana.  They generated a package of bills and recommendations which would save the state an estimated $305 million by 2027.

Some bills of the package have already passed, but three bills dealing with sentences are coming to a vote in the Senate.  Call and let 'em know these bills have your support!

If you don't know who your state senator is, go to www.legis.la.gov.  Click on "Who are my Legislators?" on the left side of the Home page, and enter your address.  Then click on your State Senator's name to be taken to their website and their contact info.  It's actually really quick to do, promise.

WHO TO CALL (example – your reps may differ!):

State Senator Karen Carter Peterson: (504) 568-8346

Reminders: Identify where you're calling from (town and zip code is fine) so they know you're an actual constituent.  Only call your own representatives.  Be concise - the office will get through more calls that way.  Be polite and don't argue with the staffer - they don't set policy.  If you get a voicemail, then leave a message.  And if you get a busy signal -- call back later!

Sample script:

Hi, my name is [Name] from New Orleans, zip code 70118 [or wherever you're from].  I don't need a response.

I am calling to ask Senator [NAME] to vote for Senate Bills 139, 220 and 221.  Collectively, these measures would reverse decades of over-the-top sentences for non- violent drug possession offenses that have served only to overcrowd jails without reducing crime.

Thank you for your time, and for your hard work answering the phones.

2.  OPPOSE EFFORTS TO STOP INCLUSIONARY ZONING

"Mandatory inclusionary zoning" is a set of zoning ordinances that require a certain percentage of new construction to be affordable by people with low or moderate incomes.  In New Orleans, that's the "smart housing mix" policy, which would build and preserve lower-priced housing in the area, but mandatory inclusionary zoning policies are either in place or in the process of being instituted throughout the state of Louisiana.

State Senator Conrad Appel, however, has introduced SB 162, which would refocus affordable housing policy from "inclusionary zoning policies" to business "incentives".  The bill passed the Senate and now stands before the House Commerce Committee.

Mandatory inclusionary zoning is an effective tool that helps battle persistent economic segregation and combat housing bubbles.  Especially with federal housing programs shrinking, we can't trust that the free market will correct itself.  Because so far, it hasn't. 

If you don't know who your state representative is, go to www.legis.la.gov.  Click on "Who are my Legislators?" on the left side of the Home page, and enter your address.  Then click on your State Representative's name to be taken to their website and their contact info.  It's actually really quick to do, promise.

WHO TO CALL (example – your reps may differ!): 

State Representative Helena Moreno: (504) 568-2470

Reminders: Identify where you're calling from (town and zip code is fine) so they know you're an actual constituent.  Only call your own representatives.  Be concise - the office will get through more calls that way.  Be polite and don't argue with the staffer - they don't set policy.  If you get a voicemail, then leave a message.  And if you get a busy signal -- call back later!

Sample script:

Hi, my name is [Name] from New Orleans, zip code 70118 [or wherever you're from].  I don't need a response. 

I am calling to ask Representative [NAME] to vote NO on SB 162, if it makes it out of the House Commerce Committee.  SB 162 would be detrimental to the continued development of affordable housing in our state.

Thank you for your time, and for your hard work answering the phones.

3.  RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE

SB 153, Senator Troy Carter's bill to raise the minimum wage up to $8.50 by 2019, has passed out of committee and the next stop is a full vote by the State Senate.  So there's still plenty of time to influence your Senator's opinion!

If you don't know who your state senator is, go to www.legis.la.gov.  Click on "Who are my Legislators?" on the left side of the Home page and enter your address.  Then click on your State Senator's name to be taken to their website and their contact info.  It's actually really quick to do, promise.

WHO TO CALL (example – your reps may differ!): 

State Senator Karen Carter Peterson: (504) 568-8346

Reminders: Identify where you're calling from (town and zip code is fine) so they know you're an actual constituent.  Only call your own representatives.  Be concise - the office will get through more calls that way.  Be polite and don't argue with the staffer - they don't set policy.  If you get a voicemail, then leave a message.  And if you get a busy signal -- call back later!

Sample script:

Hi, my name is [Name] from New Orleans, zip code 70118 [or wherever you're from].  I don't need a response.

I am calling to ask Senator [NAME] to vote YES on SB 153 to raise the minimum wage.  It would help people and the economy both, and over 75% of Louisiana residents support raising the minimum wage! 

Thank you for your time, and for your hard work answering the phones.

This call is courtesy of Indivisible Metairie.