Advocating for progressive change and reform.
The Legislative Committee of the Yale College Democrats partners with other progressive groups on and off-campus to fight for progressive legislation that represents our generation's commitments to inclusivity, equality, justice, and fairness. We write letters, make phone calls, hold rallies, host education panels, and travel to the state capital in Hartford to meet with legislators and make sure our voices are heard. Through our work, we have been able to develop close ties with our Connecticut Senators and Representatives.
In the past, we have supported issues such as expanded access to higher education for DREAMers, reducing carbon emissions, increasing the minimum wage, and criminal justice reform. In 2015, after two years of hard work, the Dems helped to pass juvenile justice legislation that ensures that minors in Connecticut will no longer be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In 2014, as the Affordable Care Act's rollout was underway, Legislative Committee made expanding healthcare coverage in Connecticut a priority, running off-campus sign-up canvasses in coordination with the New Haven Board of Alders and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro. We collected the signatures of hundreds of Yalies who supported juvenile justice reform and testified before the state legislature to to demonstrate student support for ending life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders. At the end of the semester, we sent a large delegation of Dems to Hartford to meet with legislators about these issues, as well as the national popular vote in presidential elections. A number of bills that we advocated for passed, including the establishment of an Office of Early Childhood and an increase in the minimum wage.
This semester, our weekly Legislative Committee meetings take place on Wednesday afternoons. If you have any questions about our work or getting involved in Legislative Committee, please contact our Legislative Coordinator Makayla Haussler '19.
2016 Legislative Wrap Up
After two years of leading passionate advocacy along with other college students across the state, the Dems are elated that H.B. 5376, An Act Concerning Affirmative Consent, passed both the state House and Senate. Largely thanks to college students' testimony, letters, petitions, social media campaigns, and persistent one-on-one conversations with legislators, all colleges and universities in Connecticut will adopt "yes means yes" policies for adjudicating sexual assault cases. The law does not stop there: required bystander intervention and consent training will foster more positive, safe, and healthy sexual climates on college campuses, and make it every student's responsibility to play a part in preventing sexual assault and rape. Affirmative consent will be signed into law by the Governor in the summer of 2016 as Public Act 16-106. You can read the Act's full text here. If you have more questions about this important legislation or how you might call for affirmative consent in your state, contact legislative captain Olivia Paschal.
Termination of Rapists' Parental Rights
H.B. 5605, An Act Concerning the Termination of Parental Rights, also passed both chambers of the CGA and will be signed into law as Public Act 16-70. Another triumph for survivors of sexual violence, this bill will close a loophole that once allowed convicted rapists in the state to claim parental rights over children conceived from rape. The Dems are proud to have been part of the efforts to bring justice and healing to women and mothers in our state. Read the full text of the Act here, and contact captains Sarah Donilon and Nick Girard for more information.
Institutional Aid for Undocumented Students
For the second year in a row, the Dems fought alongside Connecticut Students for a Dream (C4D) and immigration advocacy groups on campus to expand access to education for undocumented students in our state. S.B. 147, An Act Assisting Students without Legal Immigration Status with the Cost of College, passed the Higher Education Committee and the Senate thanks to the moving testimony of undocumented high school and college students from all over the state. Regrettably, the bill was not called to a vote in the House this year, but we are proud of the progress we have made. The Dems collected over 800 letters in th course of one evening from other students in support of S.B. 147, C4D organized dozens of high school and college students to provide moving testimony to the Higher Ed Committee, and FWD.Yale partnered with C4D to create a stunning video profile of one talented Connecticut student, Yenimar. The fight is not over yet! To learn more about this bill and the coalition supporting it, contact legislative captain Alissa Wang.
Criminal Justice Reform & A Second Chance Society
After passing the Judiciary Committee, S.B. 18, An Act Concerning A Second Chance Society, was not called to a vote in the House or Senate. Among the many provisions of the bill, the Dems were particularly excited to support the Governor's call for raising the maximum juvenile sentencing age from 17 to 20. Connecticut is a leader in innovative, progressive criminal justice policy, and we will keep working to ensure that this tradition of positive change continues. Contact co-captains Yasmin Eriksson and Adam Michalowski for more information on the Dems' work regarding criminal justice reform.
Finally, the Dems have been hard at work investigating ways that New Haven can be a leader in progressive, environmentally responsible policies. New Haven co-captains Michael Bogaty and Daniel Vernick are in conversation with the city's pension fund to determine how much the fund invests in fossil fuel companies, and what possibilities exist for divestment. Contact Michael and Daniel for more information on their research.