Pages tagged "police"

Gun Violence Messaging


Any time you talk about gun legislation you need to lay out the problem and your solution in very simple terms. While pro-gun advocates know (or more accurately think they know) a lot about gun laws, persuadable Americans have no idea how easy our system makes it for dangerous people to buy handguns, assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.

Be aware that if you get into a debate about gun policy you will spend most of your time trying to steer the conversation back to the legislation at hand. The main strategy of pro-gun advocates is to sidetrack the debate so that you’re talking about something other than the need for background checks or the advisability of limiting access to the most dangerous types of guns. 

Don’t say . . .

Say . . .

Gun control

Stricter gun laws

You oppose the 2nd Amendment

Preventing gun violence

Stronger gun laws

Support for the 2nd Amendment goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people 

Why . . .

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has done a good job of making people think that gun control or even stricter laws means banning the possession of handguns or the confiscation of guns. Of course, no one is proposing that. You need to make it clear that you are taking what voters perceive as a moderateposition. Like them, you support the 2nd Amendment. Like them, you don’t have a problem with NRA members in your community. (If the situation requires you to attack the NRA, then condemn “NRA lobbyists” or the “NRA’s out-of-touch leaders.” Never attack average NRA members or local NRA leaders; that doesn’t work.)

To introduce your argument, start with the fundamentals: 

Say . . .

We need to do everything we can to keep our community safe and secure from violence. But every day, far too many of us are victims of gun violence. Dozens of Americans will be murdered, hundreds of others will be shot, and nearly one thousand will be robbed or assaulted with a gun—today. (If you can, tell a personal story here.) 

Why . . .

Don’t skip the universally shared values we are fighting for—safety and security. And then, don’t ignore the fundamental facts that motivate us to fight: there are about 10,000 gun murders, about 100,000 people shot, and about 350,000 Americans robbed or assaulted with firearms—every single year. Let people recognize that every day, wherever we go in America, we are all at risk of gun violence. And then: 

Say . . .

It is obvious why so many people are killed or victimized with guns, day after day—we have some of the weakest gun laws in the world. To make us, our families and our communities safer, we need to change a few of those laws—now. 

Why . . .

Don’t assume people understand why we need new laws. Link the problem to the solution.

To require background checks for all gun sales—this is your basic argument: 

Say . . .

Our community can’t be safe if we allow guns to be sold to felons or the dangerously mentally ill. That’s why current law requires that no gun can be sold by a licensed gun dealer without a criminal background check. But millions of guns are sold by unlicensed sellers at gun shows and through Internet sites with no background check. We need a simple change in the law in order to cover all gun sales. The few minutes it takes to complete a computerized check will save lives. It’s just common sense. 

Why . . .

Since 1968, federal law has banned the possession of firearms by convicted felons, domestic abusers and people who are dangerously mentally ill. The Brady law, enacted in 1993, requires a criminal background check before any licensed dealer can sell any firearm. (Some states require more.) A National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for gun purchases, operated by the FBI, began in 1998. Poll after poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly support background checks for all gun sales.

The only direct argument against background checks by the pro-gun lobby is that “criminals will get guns anyway.” 

Say . . .

The federal background check law has blocked more than 1.5 million illegal gun sales over the past 15 years. It works. The problem is that the law doesn’t apply to private sales, so felons can currently avoid a background check and get any kind of gun, no questions asked. Both the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the national Fraternal Order of Police have endorsed mandatory, universal background checks because they know it will save lives. It’s time to close the private sales loophole. 

Why . . .

Nobody suggests this law will stop all criminals. To be successful, it doesn’t have to. No law stops allcrime. It’s simply common sense to block as many illegal sales as possible.

All the other arguments raised in this debate are designed to change the subject: background checks will create a gun registration list that will lead to confiscation; they will keep women from defending themselves in the home; they would put us on a “slippery slope” leading to extreme laws in the future; they’re the first step toward fascism; they would violate the 2nd Amendment. We deal with such arguments below. But the most important thing is for you to quickly bring the conversation back to the question of whether we should sell firearms at gun shows and in parking lots with no documentation and no questions asked. Don’t be diverted from the simple matter of background checks when nearly every persuadable voter is already on your side.

To ban military-style assault weapons—this is your basic argument: 

Say . . .

Our community can’t be safe if any unstable person can walk into a gun store and walk out with military weapons. That’s why, for nearly 80 years, federal law has banned machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, silencers, very high-caliber firearms, grenades and bombs. Military-style assault weapons—like the one used to murder defenseless children in Newtown—are semiautomatic versions of military weapons that are designed for rapid fire. They are weapons of war and our communities will be safer if we stop their manufacture and sale. 

Why . . .

It’s important to point out that we have been banning particularly dangerous guns for years.

Keep in mind it is okay to be emotional about assault weapons. Just consider the three most prominent school massacres: Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut—20 children and six faculty murdered with a semiautomatic copy of the U.S. military’s M-16 rifle; Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado—13 killed and 23 wounded with four guns, including 55 rounds fired from a TEC-9 semiautomatic assault pistol; Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California—five small children killed and 30 wounded with a semiautomatic copy of the Soviet military’s AK-47 rifle.

What makes these guns different is they were originally designed for military, not sporting, use. So they have features—like large-capacity magazines, pistol grips and barrel shrouds—that enable the shooter to fire a lot of bullets very rapidly and still keep control of the gun. In the hands of someone with practice, an assault weapon can fire almost as fast as a machine gun. Search YouTube for “bump-fire AR-15” and see for yourself.

There’s really only one direct argument made by pro-gun debaters against an assault weapon ban: “There is no proof the 1994-2004 federal ban on assault weapons prevented crimes.” 

Say . . .

In the ten years that the federal ban on assault weapons was in effect, the percentage of assault weapons traced to crime fell by 66 percent. The ban worked and countless lives were saved. 

Why . . .

Gun tracing statistics provide the best measure because they cover all types of crime and accurately distinguish assault weapons from other guns.

The rest of the arguments against an assault weapon ban are designed, once again, to change the subject: women won’t be able to defend themselves in the home; these guns aren’t really called assault weapons; the Swiss and Israelis have military weapons in their homes; British gun control doesn’t work; military rifles are useful for shooting coyotes and varmints; veterans like them because they’re used to them; this is what Hitler would do. 

To ban high-capacity ammunition magazines—your basic argument: 

Say . . .

To protect our families and communities, we need to keep the most dangerous gun accessories out of the hands of felons and the dangerously mentally ill. This is not unusual. Silencers have been banned for nearly 80 years. The fact is, high-capacity ammunition magazines are designed to shoot a lot of people, fast. There is no hunting or sporting purpose for them. Just like silencers, high-capacity magazines should be banned to make our communities more secure. 

Why . . .

Like assault weapons, it’s important to show that we have banned particularly dangerous gun accessories for years. And high-capacity magazines are very common in mass shootings. The killer in the Newtown, Connecticut massacre used at least three 30-round magazines. The shooter in the Tucson, Arizona massacre—in about 15 seconds—fired 31 shots from one magazine, hitting 19 people, including Rep. Gabby Giffords, and killing six, including a nine-year-old girl and a federal judge. The shooter in the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater had a 100-round magazine.

Again, there is only one direct argument against the proposal: “A magazine ban wouldn’t save any lives.” 

Say . . .

The Tucson massacre, where Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot, is a good example. The shooter had an ammunition magazine with 31 bullets. He was tackled after he shot out his clip and was trying to reload. If the magazine had only 10 rounds, a lot of people would have been saved. 

Why . . .

Our past six Presidents—Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush—all endorsed a ban on high-capacity magazines. It’s just common sense.

As we’ve explained above, the standard pro-gun tactic when arguing against gun laws is to change the subject. Whatever else you say, bring the debate back to the specific legislation on the table. Here are some examples:

Right wing argument: The Second Amendment forbids the proposed gun law. 

Say . . .

I support the Second Amendment. Hunting and shooting are part of our national heritage. But the Supreme Court ruled, just a few years ago, that reasonable gun laws, like this one, are constitutional. The Court explicitly upheld the current ban on possession of guns by felons. There is no constitutional difference between having that ban and enforcing it with a background check. The Court affirmed the current ban on sawed-off shotguns. There is no constitutional difference between that ban and one on semiautomatic assault weapons or large-capacity magazines. Over the last few years, federal and state courts have consistently ruled that modest gun laws like these do not violate the Second Amendment. 

Why . . .

The 2008 Supreme Court opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller guarantees Americans the right to have a handgun in the home for self-protection. The Court also said: “[N]othing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” And that ruling explicitly reaffirmed the Supreme Court’s 1939 U.S. v. Miller opinion that upheld a law banning sawed-off shotguns (the same law bans machine guns, silencers and grenades) and also agreed that lawmakers have the power to prohibit “dangerous and unusual weapons.”

Right wing argument: The assault weapon law wouldn’t have stopped Newtown or other claims that one particular gun law wouldn’t have prevented one particular crime. 

Say . . .

We don’t make any laws that way. The law against murder doesn’t stop all murders; we don’t expect it to. The law that lowered the blood alcohol level for driving didn’t stop all drunk driving; we didn’t expect it to. The question is not whether this law would have certainly stopped any particular crime, it is whether our communities would be safer with this law. They would be safer; it’s common sense. 

Right wing argument: This proposed law puts us on a slippery slope that will lead to worse laws down the road. 

Say . . .

You can make that argument against any law. Why not claim we shouldn’t have driver’s licenses because it might lead to bicycling licenses, walking licenses, and the confiscation of cars? Let’s return to the real issue: isn’t it simple common sense that we should stop selling these guns to just any adult, no questions asked? 

Right wing argument: This law will give the federal government the data to create a gun registration list, and that’ll lead to us getting our guns taken away. 

Say . . .

There is nothing in the background check proposal that creates a registry. In fact, existing law forbids the federal government from establishing a gun registration list. 

Right wing argument: That gun law will inhibit the right to self-defense. 

Say . . .

I support the right to self-defense and nothing in this legislation would prevent law-abiding citizens from defending themselves with a gun. Americans will still have access to thousands of different kinds of guns. 

Right wing argument: We should provide armed guards/do something about mental health/make parents take responsibility/ban violent video games instead. 

Say . . .

We should make our communities safer. If you’ve got a good proposal, that’s fine. But this is not an either-or debate; one policy does not exclude another. Can we get back to the legislation on the table—why should we sell these guns to just any adult, no questions asked? 

Right wing argument: The answer to gun violence is to have more guns. An armed society is a polite society. 

Say . . .

The states with the highest gun ownership rates have more gun violence—by far. But more important, this legislation will not prevent law-abiding Americans from buying or owning guns. The point is irrelevant; let’s return to the real debate. 

Right wing argument: The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Say . . .

It just doesn’t work that way. Columbine High School had an armed deputy sheriff. Virginia Tech had an entire police force, including a SWAT team. At the Tucson shooting, not only was there an armed civilian who failed to stop the shooter, but he almost shot one of the brave unarmed people who tackled and disarmed the shooter. The Fort Hood massacre happened at a military base filled with soldiers. President Reagan and his press secretary Jim Brady were surrounded by armed police and Secret Service, and yet both were shot. Let’s get back to the real debate. 

Criminal Justice Messaging


When you’re talking about crime, you must tell voters how your policies will make them safer, not how they benefit the criminal.

Don’t say . . .

Say . . .

Rights (of criminals)


Security, safety, protection



Do not begin a discussion of crime with the ideas of fairness or equal opportunity. Persuadable voters want to know how your criminal justice policies protect them. Explain how your solutions make citizens safer. That’s what all good progressive criminal justice policies accomplish—they prevent crime, reduce recidivism and improve the quality of life for everyone.

Conversely, right wing policies—like giving long prison sentences to nonviolent drug offenders—take hundreds of millions of dollars away from strategies that more effectively fight drug abuse and prevent crime.

Say . . .

Among the most fundamental jobs of government is to protect residents from crime. I want to make law-abiding people safer. For serious felons, we should lock ’em up for a long time. For nonviolent and young offenders we need to do everything we can to divert them from crime and make sure they don’t become hardened criminals. For example, nonviolent drug offenders sentenced to treatment facilities instead of regular prisons are far less likely to commit future crimes. My opponent’s policies would throw those people in jail with violent felons and make them more likely to victimize us when they get out. That’s the wrong approach. I favor a justice system designed to reduce crime and make all of us safer and more secure.

Why . . .

Everyone wants safer communities. But what if the progressive policy is specifically about the rights of the accused? For example, policies to require electronic recording of interrogations, reform police procedures for lineups, and create commissions to research whether imprisoned people are actually innocent.

Emphasize that for every wrongly convicted person there is an actual perpetrator who has escaped justice and remains a threat to our public safety. Don’t blame the police, but suggest that there are more modern practices that have been proven to work better than current police procedures. Say that we owe it to the victim, as well as the whole community, to find and punish the real criminal. For example:

Say . . .

An important part of my job is [or will be] to help protect you from crime. The question is, which policies make you safer? A lot of other jurisdictions get better evidence from suspects and witnesses by requiring that all police questioning be recorded electronically. It eliminates disputes about what was said, it protects the innocent and makes it easier to convict the guilty. I’m not saying our police have done anything wrong in the past, it’s just that technology has changed rapidly and we should take advantage of it. If we can do something that simple to help get some felons off our streets, it’s my responsibility to make it happen—so we can all be safer and more secure. 

What, if anything, is causing violent crime to increase?

Recently, the New York Times published a front page story headlined “Murder Rates Rising Sharply in Many U.S. Cities.” Much of the media have run similar reports, including USA Today, Reuters and Time.

First we must consider whether the storyline is entirely true. Both the Washington Post’s Wonkblog and FiveThirtyEight wrote analyses demonstrating that there is no uniform rise in violent crime across all or even most cities. According to data compiled by FiveThirtyEight, comparing similar periods in 2014 to 2015, homicides decreased or stayed the same in 23 of America’s 60 biggest cities.

Across all 60 of these cities, however, the number of homicides from January through mid-August increased from 2,963 in 2014 to 3,450 in 2015, a rise of 16 percent. And there have been undeniably significant increases in murder in Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Louisville, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Omaha, St. Louis, Tulsa and the District of Columbia.

It seems something awful is happening. Yet, we must cautiously qualify that statement. Since the late 1980s, murder, violent crime, and crime in general have all plummeted. The United States has become tremendously safer over the past 30 years—although no one really seems to know why.

Read more

Time to kill the death penalty

In February 2015, Pennsylvania issued a moratorium on executions. In May, Nebraska became the 19th state, and the seventh state since 2007, to abolish the death penalty. And weeks ago, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional, saying “…this state’s death penalty no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency and no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose.”

Nevertheless, states have executed 19 prisoners so far this year—15 of them killed by the states of Texas and Missouri alone. Texas, Missouri and Florida accounted for 28 of the 35 people executed in 2014. In contrast, 23 states and the federal government have not executed anyone for at least the past ten years.

There’s been quite a turnaround from the late 1980s and early 1990s when leaders opposed to the death penalty were afraid to speak out against it. At that time polls indicated that about 80 percent of Americans favored capital punishment while only 16 percent opposed it. The polls are better today, but, at least on the surface, Americans still favor the death penalty by a margin of two to one.

Read more

Body Cameras, Conservative Message, Rent Control and More

The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group that helps turn state and local elected officials, advocates and grassroots activists into progressive champions. To join, click here.

Police Body-Worn Camera Act: The indictment for murder last week of a University of Cincinnati police officer once again proves the need for police body cameras. The prosecuting attorney admitted that the officer would have gotten away with his alibi except that the body camera disproved it. The Police Body-Worn Camera Act is a strengthened version of South Carolina’s SB 47, the first law to require body cameras statewide.

Why is the generic conservative message so popular? About 40 percent of voters call themselves “conservative” and even most Democrats hold some conservative beliefs. Why is that and how should we respond? Read about it on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

How to answer ten tough policy questions: Wednesday, August 12 @3pm Eastern, 2pm Central, 1pm Mountain, Noon Pacific. Let’s talk about some of the toughest questions in any political debate, like the death penalty, gun control, abortion and climate change. Bring your best answers and let’s have a real interactive discussion. Register here.

Cities now considering an old idea—rent control: An article in Stateline outlines a renewed interest in governments holding down the skyrocketing cost of rent.

In most states you don’t need a high school diploma to home school your child: Thirty-seven states have no requirement that home school instructors have at least a high school diploma, according to a study by the Education Commission of the States.

If you’re pro-choice and want to participate in a new PLI project, please contact us: The Public Leadership Institute is starting a new effort to win proactive pro-choice policies in both states and cities. If you’re interested in participating, please email  

Six key progressive victories in the states and localities

With the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives controlled by the right wing, it’s no wonder that this Congress has been among the least productive in our nation’s history. But while Congress treads water, some real progress has been made in states and localities across America.

Progressive legislators, council members and commissioners are leading some cutting-edge policy debates and enacting a series of innovations, protections and reforms. Admittedly, conservatives have won most of the major state legislative battles this year—I’ll write about that next week. This week, let’s recognize some of the top progressive legislative accomplishments of 2015:

  1. Minimum Wage—Los Angeles became the largest city in America to adopt a $15 per hour minimum wage, following the lead of Seattle, San Francisco and Oakland, which passed such legislation last year. In addition, Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear, by executive order, set a new minimum wage for state employees. This builds on momentum from 2014 when minimum wages were increased in Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.

  2. Earned Sick Leave—Oregon became the fourth state to mandate earned sick leave. Companies with ten or more employees will be required to provide up to 40 hours per year of paid sick leave. Similar legislation was enacted this year in Philadelphia; Tacoma, Washington; and Bloomfield, New Jersey making a total of 18 cities that have adopted earned sick leave.

  3. LGBT Rights—Advocates didn’t just wait around for the Supreme Court to rule, they achieved a variety of proactive victories. Utah enacted a ban on discrimination against LGBT people; Maryland expanded its preexisting LGBT nondiscrimination policy with two bills that make it easier for transgender people to obtain an updated birth certificate and prohibit health insurers from discriminating against same-sex couples when it comes to infertility coverage; and Oregon enacted a law that bans so-called “conversion therapy.” At the local level, the Fairfax, Virginia School Board enacted protections for transgender students and staff while Thurmont, West Virginia became the smallest town to enact LGBT anti-discrimination legislation covering housing, employment and public accommodations.
  4. Police Body Cameras—Responding to a series of incidents involving police, legislation facilitating the use of body cameras was enacted in the states of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas, as well a variety of cities. South Carolina’s law is the strongest, requiring all law enforcement agencies in the state to use body cameras.

  5. Death Penalty—The Nebraska legislature voted 30 to 19 to override the Governor’s veto and abolish the death penalty. Nebraska became the 19th state to repeal the death penalty and the 7th to do so since 2007. In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf suspended the death penalty pending review, saying the system was “riddled with flaws.”

  6. Voter Registration—In March, Oregon passed a path-breaking measure to automatically register to vote citizens who have driver’s licenses. This encouraged lawmakers in more than a dozen states to introduce similar legislation. Florida, New Mexico and Oklahoma enacted laws for online voter registration; 27 states and the District of Columbia now authorize online registration. Last but certainly not least, Vermont enacted a law to allow Election Day registration, jointing 13 other states and the District of Columbia.

These policies have the potential to encourage waves of change in the states, and ultimately at the federal level as well. But the fact is, progressives have historically spent less time and effort organizing at the state and local levels while right-wing organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have provided strong, coordinated assistance to conservative lawmakers year after year.

It is long-past time for our movement to recognize these kinds of victories, as well as the leaders who made them possible.

Education Smokescreen, Climate Change, Police Shootings and More

The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group that helps turn state and local elected officials, advocates and grassroots activists into progressive champions. To join, click here.

Minimum Standards for Subsidized Jobs Act: State and local governments spend millions of dollars on economic development subsidies. This Minimum Standards for Subsidized Jobs policy model requires that subsidy recipients must meet basic standards for employee pay and benefits, and ensures that recipients aren’t law breakers.

School evaluation that’s data driven—over a cliff: Last week, the National Research Council published an Evaluation of the D.C. Public Schools. Pretty much all they did was study and report on test scores and other “data.” Focusing on such “data” creates a smokescreen that covers up the real problems in high-poverty schools. Read about it on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

How to debate Climate Change: Wednesday, June 17 @3pm Eastern, 2pm Central, 1pm Mountain, noon Pacific. Americans have very little understanding of climate change. As a result, giant energy companies and their allies have been able to stop the enactment of real solutions. How can we persuade our fellow citizens? Register for the webinar here.

States are spending much less on higher education: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculated the change in per-student spending on higher education from the beginning of the recession (2008) to the present. Forty-seven states have cut spending, with the worst five being Arizona, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama and Pennsylvania. See the whole report here.

Police shootings in 2015: Police shot and killed at least 385 people during the first five months of 2015, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. During January-May 2015, police were responsible for about one of every 13 non-suicide gun deaths in America.

Latest Compendium of State and Local Legislation in 2015: What’s happened so far in 2015? Read about it in our Compendium. If you have additions to suggest, please contact

Fast Track, Language Access, Direct Mail and More

The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group that helps turn state and local elected officials, advocates and grassroots activists into progressive champions. To join, click here.

Language Access for Non-English Speakers Act: Thousands of residents cannot access public services because of their limited ability to speak or read English. SB 758, approved by the Maryland Senate, requires government agencies to make important resources available in other languages. This simple model bill accomplishes the same thing.

Three Reasons Americans are Ignorant of Basic Facts: Polling shows that average voters are ignorant of basic political facts—like who controls the U.S. House and Senate! Why are so many voters so ill informed, and what can progressives do? Read about it on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

Top Ten Rules of Direct Mail: Wednesday, May 20 @3:00pm Eastern, 2:00pm Central, 1pm Mountain, Noon Pacific. For most state and local policy campaigns, direct mail is the only affordable way to broadcast messages. Join this webinar to discuss: the mechanics of direct mail, the messages conveyed through direct mail, and design of the most effective direct mail.

Sign-On Against Fast Track Authority for the TPP: As Senator Elizabeth Warren explains here, the Trans-Pacific Partnership includes an “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” (ISDS) provision that would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. law—including state and local laws—in special tribunals that are not part of the U.S. system of courts.

Toolkit addressing the use of force by police: Our friends at Center for Popular Democracy and PolicyLink have created a very useful report to help you reform the policies and practices of state and local law enforcement agencies. Click here to download Building Momentum from the Ground Up: A Toolkit for Promoting Justice in Policing.

Lots of horrible legislation at the state level, much better in cities: What’s happened so far in 2015? Read about it in our Compendium. If you have additions to suggest, please contact Michael Weiss at

Living Wage, Right Wing Strategy, Police Body Cams, and More

The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group that helps turn state and local elected officials, advocates and grassroots activists into progressive champions. To join, click here.

Living Wage Act: Most local governments lack the power to raise the minimum wage. But most can increase the minimum pay for those working for the local government either as employees or through government contractors, and more than 100 have done so. Here is a simple model bill.

The Right Wing Isn’t Crazy, It’s Strategic: So far this year, the Oklahoma House banned AP American History, the Tennessee House named the Holy Bible as “the official state book,” the Mississippi House passed the “Jesus Take the Wheel” bill, and there’s so much more. It’s easy to dismiss the right wing as crazy. But these bills have a political purpose that we can’t dismiss. Read about it on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

Reproductive rights and a proactive women’s agenda: Rescheduled from last week—now Wednesday, May 6 @3:00pm Eastern, 2:00pm Central, 1pm Mountain, Noon Pacific. Our guest, Susan Frietsche of the Women’s Law Project, will explain what’s going on and—using Pennsylvania as an example—how reproductive rights advocates can change the debate with a proactive policy agenda.

Hawaii on the verge of raising the minimum age for smoking to 21: Because 95 percent of adult smokers started before they turned 21, more than 60 localities in seven states have raised the age for buying tobacco to 21. Hawaii is poised to become the first state to increase the age to 21 for both the sale of tobacco products and smoking in public.

Thoughtful rules for police body cams: As momentum increases to address excess use of force by police, many jurisdictions are considering body cameras on police. The ACLU recently republished a discussion of the rules needed for proper body cam use, and the Maryland legislature approved cautious legislation to deal with these questions while moving forward on body cams.

Latest update on legislation at the state and local levels: Read about it in our Compendium. And we welcome input! If you have additions, please contact Michael Weiss at

Top 10 Victories, Three Steps to Persuade, Police Reform and More

The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group that helps turn state and local elected officials, advocates and grassroots activists into progressive champions. To join, click here.

Too Young to Test: Given their age, skills and abilities, it is unreasonable and inappropriate to administer standardized tests to students in prekindergarten through grade two. Federal law does not require such tests until the third grade, yet many school systems are ignoring the best interests of children, parents and teachers. The Too Young to Test Act puts a stop to it.

Top Ten Legislative Victories of 2014: Over the past year, legislative efforts to advance economic and social justice were thoroughly frustrated by right wingers in Congress. Yet there were true progressive victories in states and localities across America. Read about the Top Ten Victories of 2014 on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

Three Steps to Persuade: Wednesday, January 14 @3:00pm Eastern, 2:00pm Central, 1:00pm Mountain, noon Pacific. Behavioral science tells us that persuasion is hard. When deciding whether to agree with you, people rely on emotion and ingrained beliefs far more than facts. This webinar explores the science and describes three rules that help you break through stereotypes and persuade by focusing on the listener’s values and interests. Register here to participate.

Ideas for Police Reform: Every state, as well as every city, county and town that controls a police force, should be reassessing their law enforcement procedures. This short paper links to six different police reform model bills and ten other models to improve other aspects of public safety.

Twenty different Local Progress policy briefs: Written by Center for Popular Democracy for Local Progress, these 20 policy briefs do a terrific job explaining a wide variety of municipal issues.

Order printed copies of the Progressive Agenda: The 2015 Progressive Agenda is ready for distribution. You can download a PDF copy here. If you are willing, we will send you printed copies to distribute to your colleagues. Order here or contact Michael Weiss at

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