Earlier this week, President Biden addressed the nation with a second State of the Union speech since taking office in 2020. If you missed out on the speech, the Alliance team reacted on social media all evening long with our SOTU BINGO and live tweets. Catch up on our social channels now!
During this year’s State of the Union address, Biden celebrated creating new jobs, passing a slate of bipartisan legislation, and seeing falling inflation rates. Among other things, Biden also promised to veto any abortion bans passed by Congress, highlighted the importance of fighting to keep our democracy strong, and shared plans to rebuild America’s middle class. But the biggest takeaway from the President’s address was that America has the tools to be better, we just need to finish the job.
It’s a tale as old as time. Youth organizers have always been the backbone of progress in this country, and 2023 is already shaping up to be a big year for change at the local and state levels. The Alliance Network isn’t sleeping on this opportunity, we’re here to finish the job.
On the heels of President Biden’s State of the Union address, we wanted to share a glimpse of what issue organizing will look like on the ground in a big year for legislation and state budgeting. Here’s how Alliance youth organizers are creating progressive people power at the local and state levels to get the job done and change their communities.
Democracy & Voting Rights
Mississippi Votes and their partners are working to pass legislation that would reinstate the ballot initiative process with more detailed language around the number of congressional districts, and number of signatures required to petition an initiative.
They’re also working on passing legislation that would allow for Electronic Absentee Voting for college students. This would give students the accessibility to cast their vote on laptops or computers, essentially creating the space to vote anywhere on campus with internet access.
Organizers at Detroit Action are working to identify a number of upgrades to Michigan’s automatic voter registration law, created by PTV18. Some of these upgrades include pre-registration of 16-year-olds via Automatic Voter Registration (AVR), tribal AVR that would allow Michigan’s American Indian nations to opt-in collectively to a process for AVR of their citizens, and upgrades to the DMV process to maximize registration rates among eligible voters.
Over in Kansas, Loud Light has grown into the lead advocate on voting rights in their state. This year, they’re leading coalition calls, creating talking points, lobbying for and against bills, and organizing testimonies at the Legislature.
Loud Light is also continuing with lawsuits against voter suppression bills. This year, they plan to push back against a bill that would remove the ability for students to use student IDs to vote.
In 2021, Texans faced a power-hungry state leadership more focused on limiting the freedom to vote than working to be accountable to the people. In 2023, MOVE Texas is calling on the Texas Legislature to Get Sh*t Done and will organize young Texans to apply the pressure for electeds to pass policies that reflect their values and fight against policies that violate them.
The Washington Bus
Washington has a fresh slate of voting rights legislation this session that our friends at The Washington Bus are fighting for. SB 5208 would make online voter registration accessible to people without drivers licenses, SB 5112 contains several enhancements to the state’s automatic voter registration won in 2018. HB 1755 would expand the Democracy Voucher Program to allow everyday people to have political power by strengthening their voice and providing every eligible Washingtonian with vouchers to give to the candidate(s) of their choice in their district.
Reproductive Rights & Abortion Access
New Era Colorado
In 2023, the New Era Colorado team will be engaging their base young people and campus leaders to build youth advocacy power around their The Brazen Project work that includes introducing legislation to regulate anti-abortion centers and their deceptive practices including false advertising.
Next Up is a part of the 2023 Fair Shot for All coalition, a group working to champion an agenda that prioritizes racial, gender, and economic justice during the 2023 Oregon State Legislative Session. Their priorities include Indigenous language justice, reproductive & gender justice, and creating stable homes for Oregon families.
Minnesota Youth Collective
Youth organizers in Minnesota are working on housing policy on the state level this year. Minnesota Youth Collective is working in coalition to draft a policy around a statewide tenant bill of rights. They’re also working to strengthen the St. Paul rent control efforts as the city government continues to try and weaken them.
Engaging in State Budgets
2023 is a budget year for many of our network states. Here’s how some Alliance organizers plan on engaging with their state’s budget process:
Leaders Igniting Transformation
Black and Brown youth organizers in Wisconsin will be engaging with the state budget process to ensure they have a voice in the decision making, especially around higher education funding. LIT also plans on hosting another Lobby Day in connection to the budget process to support equitable funding for k-12 public schools and affordability and accessibility of higher education.
Engage Miami is building power with the Young People Policy Priorities Platform, kicking off this month! This is a budgetary campaign that will have a big focus on reimagining libraries in Miami.
Ohio Student Association
Ohio youth organizers have a huge slate of higher education-related priorities for this year’s state budget process including restructuring the Ohio College Opportunity Grant so it can be used for expenses beyond tuition and fees, stopping schools from withholding transcripts to leverage payment of fees, and getting the Ohio Attorney General out of the business of collecting student debt.
New Hampshire Youth Movement
This year, New Hampshire Youth Movement will mobilize members to advocate for a progressive state budget. The state’s original abortion ban was passed through the last state budget so youth involvement in this year’s budget will be critical for protecting abortion access and other progressive policies.
NHYM is also focusing on growing their base to educate young people about the legislative process and mobilizing them to civically engage by supporting or opposing bills via sign-ins, testimonies, and outreach to elected officials.
Stay connected with the Alliance because we’ve got plenty more to come in areas like affordable housing, LGBTQ+ advocacy, climate justice, marijuana decriminalization, ending policing in schools, Indigenous and tribal advocacy, and restorative justice. Stay connected with the Alliance via email by using this form to choose your Alliance Squad. And, of course, make sure you’re following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!