Driver’s Licenses for Immigrants Strengthens Families and the Economy

Across the nation, families, business owners, and police officers are calling on lawmakers to bring fairness to all in need of driver’s licenses – an item that many simply take for granted as an award for learning the rules of the road.

Drivers license copyBut for millions of undocumented residents throughout the U.S., the denial of this basic driving privilege has stifled their way of life.

Regardless of citizenship status, all can agree that daily activities require driving. Basic tasks like getting to and from medical care facilities, taking or picking up children from school, participating in family curricular activities, and traveling to and from work, unduly burdens the unlicensed. It also strains states’ limited financial resources.

Denying driver’s licenses to undocumented residents is a law that creates more harm than good and it needs to be changed.
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Tipping Subminimum Wage in Favor of Workers

When you go out to dinner at a restaurant you might ask for salad dressing on the side, whether the carrots are organic, or if the chicken is free range, but do you ever ask the restaurant owner if her employees make a living wage?

Waitresses and waiters are the largest group of tipped workers in the United States; they also struggle with a significantly higher rate of poverty than the rest of the workforce. Tipped workers are also more likely to be women and people of color, contributing to the broader race and gender wage gaps.Tips

While the federal minimum wage is $7.25 cents per hour, the tipped minimum wage has been frozen at just $2.13 per hour for the last 23 years. Seven states don’t have a separate tipped minimum wage, and some have higher tipped wages than the federal figure, however, tipped workers in most states rely on tips from customers to round out the rest of their salary.

When the economy is slow or when weather keeps customers at home, tipped workers see their hours cut and tips shrink, causing many to turn to public support just to stay afloat. Food servers collect food stamps at twice the rate of the U.S. workforce as a whole, and are three times more likely to live below the poverty line. Read more

Beyond Cellblocks: Reducing Criminalization, Promoting Health Care Access & Racial Justice

This is the first in a series of webinars on ending criminalization of everyday life that will be offered by the Alliance for a Just Society. The Alliance is a national research, policy and organizing network focused on social justice, including ending racial disparity and promoting health equity.

Like many other cities, Seattle has long struggled to address public safety concerns raised by low-level public drug sales, drug use, and prostitution. LEAD was created after Seattle elected officials, public defenders, and community and business groups collectively reached a point of exhaustion, recognizing that status quo of drug law enforcement was failing.

This webinar discusses the origins of LEAD, how it operates, how and when it will be formally evaluated, and prospects for replication in other communities. You can watch both halves in the player below.

RELATED READING: Listen to NPR Seattle’s report on the Seattle Police Department’s new policy. Read more

Expanding Health Care Coverage With Federal Funds In Idaho Will Create Economy-Boosting Jobs

Medicaid report jobsIf Idaho accepts federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage, an estimated 88,000 state residents will gain health insurance.  In addition, accepting the federal funding will also create jobs  more than 16,000 jobs and boost the Idaho economy, according to a new report by the Alliance for a Just Society. The report was released today by Idaho Community Action Network.

According to an analysis by University of Idaho economist Steven Peterson, if Idaho adopts the health coverage expansion in 2014, the new spending on health care services and its ripple effects will create 16,337 jobs in the state and increase total compensation by $567 million (in constant 2012 dollars) in 2024. The majority of jobs will be in the health care fields, but others will be created in food and lodging, social services, business services, transportation and construction.
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2014 Advanced Native Organizers Training

The Alliance for a Just Society’s Native Organizing Alliance is pleased to announce our annual Native Organizers Training this spring! Sponsored by the Communities Creating Healthy Environments Initiative, this is a four day intensive workshop on community organizing that covers building and leveraging people-power,76848_10202867522349938_1685908019_n campaign planning, community led policy change; and how to use our stories to win battles.

This workshop focuses on skill building while recognizing the considerations of organizing in Indian Country. Because of historic underfunding in Indian Country, organizing infrastructure is lacking. This training is an opportunity to bolster that infrastructure through relationship building, peer support and coordination with other Natives who are doing community organizing. This workshop prepares organizers for leading a community driven campaign on the issues and concerns that are relevant to Indian Country. Read more

An Open Letter to the Prosecutor in the Case of Jordan Davis

Rinku Sen, president and executive director of Race Forward, wrote an open letter to the prosecutor, Angela Corey, and the legal community in connection with the Jordan Davis killing. The Alliance for a Just Society is proud to be among those adding their names to the list of signers in support. Please click the link at the end of the letter and add your name:JD km crop

We write this letter out of our deep commitment to racial equity, as well as to the principles of fairness upon which this country was built. The trial of the People of Florida v. Michael Dunn underscores the need for our legal system to understand and address racial bias. We are not all attorneys, so we will not offer a detailed legal analysis here. What we can offer, as veterans of racial equity efforts nationwide, is some reflection on the racial dimensions of the case and how they can be addressed constructively. Read more

Critics Overstate Job Loss in CBO Report; Living Wage Lifts Families from Poverty

Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office released a report on the estimated effects of increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 and indexing it to inflation by 2016. Opponents of the increase have jumped on the report’s (questionable) conclusion that it would cost jobs, while many in favor of increasing the minimum wage have focused on the benefits, including lifting almost one million workers out of poverty.Min Wage v Living Wage

However, even a minimum wage of $10.10 doesn’t come close to reaching a living wage that allows workers to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck. Our 15th annual Job Gap study, America’s Changing Economy, clearly shows that $15 – $16 per hour is the minimum pay needed to support a single adult working full time.

So, here are seven reasons not to let the CBO report discourage Congress from increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10, and why we actually need an even higher minimum wage:
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Affordable Care Act Reports are Missing Data on Enrollment by Race and Ethnicity

For Immediate Release:
February 17, 2014
Contact: Kathy Mulady
Communications Director


Affordable Care Act Reports are Missing Data on Enrollment by Race and Ethnicity

The Affordable Care Act has great potential to shrink the racial gap in health coverage.  But we can’t tell how it’s doing without data on race and ethnicity.

Again last week when numbers were released by the Department of Health and Human Services about those enrolling in coverage under the Affordable Care Act – there was no data by race and ethnicity.

The ACA is an unprecedented opportunity to shrink the racial gap in health coverage and end inhumane disparities. How do we know who is being reached if Health and Human Services isn’t providing the data?

“It’s inexcusable. The department should collect and release full race and ethnicity data. Failure to do so suggests that HHS doesn’t see closing the racial coverage gap as a high priority,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society.

“Our nation faces critical health disparities that are associated with race, ethnicity, culture and language. Minorities and the poor suffer more, and die sooner, than the general population,” she said.

In January, HHS released its first numbers on enrollment. More data was released by the agency February 12. Again, an analysis of enrollees by race and ethnicity was missing.

The most difficult groups to enroll are those who have never had health insurance, who speak different languages, or who have never been able to afford health insurance. They should be the first priority of enrollment efforts. The department’s own reports show that 31 percent of Latinos, 21 percent of African Americans, and 18 percent of Asian Americans are uninsured.

It is imperative to count who is enrolling – and make that data public.

Those who are working to bring information about health care benefits to minority communities need data. With these tools we can make sure no mother, father or child suffers or dies because they can’t afford to go to the doctor.

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The Alliance for a Just Society, based in Seattle, WA, is a national research, policy and organizing network that focuses on health care, economic, racial and social justice.

Hall and Smedley in USA Today: Provide Data, Expand Medicaid to Close Racial Health Divide

On the opinion pages of USA Today, LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society, and Dr. Brian Smedley, with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, call on on HHS to release full data on who is enrolling – and who is being missed. They also call on states where lawmakers have turned their backs on their poorest families, to accept federal fund for expanding Medicaid.

Little girl Medicaid CropThe health disparities associated with race, ethnicity, culture and language in America are vast. Minorities and the poor suffer more, and die sooner, than the general population.

The ACA is an unprecedented opportunity to shrink the racial gap in health coverage and end inhumane disparities. How do we know who is being reached if Health and Human Services isn’t providing enrollment data by race and ethnicity?

Data or no data, these disparities demand action. If every state expands Medicaid, it could cut the uninsured rate for people of color in half. Instead, lawmakers in 19 states have rejected the funds, and six states are still debating.

Read the full article in USA Today here.

ACA Numbers Something to Celebrate, But Some States Still Missing

A man walks into a bar. He sees an old friend sitting with a champagne glass in front of him. “What’s the celebration,” he asks.

“We just learned that my brother qualified for Medicaid and isn’t going to die,” is the answer.

And you thought that this was going to be a man walks into a bar joke. Well, this isn’t much of a joke but it sure is something to smile about. And it actually happened to me a couple of weeks ago.

For all the to-do about the Affordable Care Act website and the agony of the private market, the real story should be about Medicaid.
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