2014 Platform

DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF PIERCE COUNTY
2014 PLATFORM
Adopted by the Pierce County Democratic Convention on April 12, 2014
Pierce County Democratic Central Committee
3049 South 36th Street, Tacoma WA 98409

PREAMBLE
This platform declares our commitment to human rights, equal justice, economic opportunity for all, and the right of every person to a government that safeguards all the protections guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
As Democrats, we believe:
1) Peace provides the fertile field where progress and prosperity can flourish;
2) Our national leaders owe us the truth. We, the People, are the government;
3) Our elections must be free from fraud, manipulation and from ‘sale to the highest bidder;’
4) We are the guardians of our environmental, economic and ethical heritage. It is our
duty to strengthen that legacy for future generations;
5) A high quality public education is every student’s right; a well educated populace will enhance our Nation’s ability to compete in the global economy; and is vital to a healthy democracy
6) All workers deserve a living wage, safe and healthy working conditions, respect; and the right to organize associations among other workers to protect their rights and opportunities;
7) Access to quality physical and mental health care is a basic human right, not a privilege.
8) People have the right to marry whom they wish without regard to race, gender or other artificial constraints.
9) Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds must be funded and supported, as befits the world’s wealthiest nation, and their proven records of efficiency; and the Trust Funds should not be used to balance the federal budget.
10) We recognize that public libraries are a vital resource to under-served populations, both children and adults. We also recognize that the nation’s public libraries are a vital resource and are essential to maintaining an informed voting populace.
AGRICULTURE
We recognize the importance of agriculture as a primary industry of Washington and the role of farmers as “stewards of the land”. We support the production of renewable energy on farms and sustainable agriculture that preserves land and natural resources. We encourage buying locally grown produce and we call for the clear labeling of food, including its national origin, and whether or not it contains genetically-modified organisms.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, CORPORATE POWER AND MEDIA REFORM
We support incentives, including targeted tax benefits, to small businesses that provide family wage jobs with adequate health and pension benefits. While we affirm the importance of corporations to our economy and living standard, we expect them to obey our nation’s laws governing their conduct. We expect our government to punish repeat offenders by revoking their charters and holding officers and board members accountable for the conduct of their companies. We reject the Supreme Court ruling that corporations are “persons” and the granting of excessive tax breaks and other forms of corporate welfare that serve no provable public interest.
We affirm that the public owns the broadcast airwaves and the Internet; these resources must be managed to serve the public interest. We support competitive and diverse minority and community ownership of media, and increased funding for public broadcasting.
We oppose the undue influence of corporations, their lobbyists, and their money on “mainstream” media and the body politic. We deplore interference with public broadcast news reporting and other programming through partisan political provable public interest.
EDUCATION
We affirm the Washington State Constitution’s emphasis on the importance of education. We support a system of public education that brings together people of diverse experience, ability and background, with the goal of creating a broadly educated populace, skilled in critical thinking; and we support full and ample funding for all public schools.
We support salaries and defined benefit retirement and health care benefits that attract and retain quality educational employees, and schools that are safe from violence, bullying, and harassment of staff and students. We affirm the right of educational employees to organize, engage in collective bargaining, and the right to strike.
Schools must be inclusive of all, regardless of race, ethnic origin, religious belief or non-belief, sexual orientation, economic status or disability. We support age-appropriate, medically correct health education and values education, and an approach to public school curricula on sexuality and substance abuse that is scientifically accurate and non-sectarian.
We oppose publicly funded charter schools and public funding for private and/or religious schools, organized prayer in publicly funded schools; the teaching of pseudo-science like “Intelligent Design, and any linkage between educational funding and allowing military recruiters on our campuses. We oppose school funding based on high stakes testing.
We support public education programs for non-English-speaking people of all ages to become literate in English. We encourage education in a second language for all students.
We support funding public and school libraries at levels that make them full co-operators with our public education system.
ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY
We support strong environmental protection laws. We believe the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the land we inhabit must be restored and protected. A healthy economy depends upon a healthy environment; we support moving rapidly toward policies and practices of sustainable development, production and consumption. We support legislation, research and program funding to develop and implement clean alternative energy solutions and to encourage resource conservation.
Responsible use of energy includes responsible acquisition of sources, production of energy, use of energy and post-energy cycle changes to the environment and populations, such that all outcomes of the energy cycle must be managed for the health and sustainability of the human and natural environments.
We recognize the scientific evidence that global warming poses a serious threat to our planet and appropriate and immediate steps must be taken to diminish and remove the human contribution to climate change.
We support assigning high priority to the preservation and restoration of wild salmon and other endangered species, and to the protection of road-free areas, ancient forests, and our vital farmland. We affirm the need to restore Puget Sound, our rivers, and aquifers, and to develop safe methods of nuclear waste disposal. Land use should be planned around principles of energy efficiency to combat urban sprawl; we support the creation of green collar jobs.
We oppose the give-away of public resources for less than fair market value, as exemplified by the General Mining Law of 1872, which gives private corporations the right to exploit publicly-owned resources and to avoid responsibility for environmental destruction in the course of that exploitation.
FOREIGN POLICY
The U.S. must work cooperatively with all nations to promote a non-violent world free of nuclear weapons where the human rights of all people are respected, and to resolve critical issues such as international terrorism, environmental degradation, and nuclear proliferation. We support the original Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We reject the principle of preemptive warfare, and we reject the practice of torture or other war crimes for any purpose.
We must continue the safe, orderly removal of our military forces from Afghanistan and turn our nation’s human and financial resources from conflict, toward helping the Afghanis repair their infrastructure, and meeting our nation’s many long-ignored domestic needs. We support the decrease in the nuclear arsenals of all nations, and commend President Obama for reviving his now-successful negotiations with Russia, which should result in a significant reduction of U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads.
The United States should commit to vigorous, serious, constructive and persistent engagement in a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The United State should promote negotiations and other actions that lead to a viable two-state solution that ensures security and quality of life for the Israeli people of a sovereign state of Israel, and the Palestinian people of a sovereign state of Palestine.
We support the right of all Americans to travel freely to Cuba
GOVERNMENT, POLITICAL REFORM, AND FAIR ELECTIONS
We believe our government derives its legitimacy solely from the People. We support the consistent application of constitutional checks and balances and oversight among the branches of our government; public financing of all election campaigns, and full disclosure of contribution amounts and sources; the facilitation of registration for every U.S. citizen eligible to vote; accessible, fair, open, and verifiable elections, and balloting with paper trails.
We support voter participation in all elections, the restoration of the original Freedom of Information Act and its strict enforcement. We oppose the out-sourcing or privatization of any part of the election process; revealing election results while polling places are still open; and the privatization, outsourcing, or off shoring of any governmental public service.
HEALTH CARE
We affirm that health care is a basic human right and that government must assure accessible, universal, single-payer health care for all, including but not limited to coverage of preventive care, catastrophic illness, prescription drugs, dental care, physical therapy, diagnostic and palliative technology, parity between physical and mental health care, treatment of addiction, long term care, and alternative forms of health care; the right to obtain legally prescribed medications from any licensed pharmacy, access to birth control and methods for preventing sexually transmitted diseases; funding of bio-medical research, including stem cell and HIV-AIDS protocols, and increased funding for the National Institutes of Health.
We support all persons be involved in Federal Drug Administration pre-approval tests, regardless of gender, age or racial heritage. We affirm the right of every woman to control her reproductive life, to access reproductive health care free from harassment or coercion and to determine the number and spacing of her children.
We support the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act as positive program, that in no way diminishes our support for a universal single-payer health care for all. While more than 7.1 million Americans have already been enrolled, we support efforts to encourage all Americans to enroll in this effective way for people to obtain healthcare insurance.
We oppose ending the Medicare Trust Fund for any voucher system, which would limit access to affordable medical care for seniors.

HUMAN RIGHTS AND CIVIL RIGHTS
We strongly condemn all forms of discrimination in education, employment, housing, public accommodation, and access to health care based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or non-belief, age, gender, sexual orientation or disability whether mental or physical. We support the passage and conscientious enforcement of strong laws to prevent such discrimination. We support strong legislation to fund treatment programs and education designed to reduce harassment, intimidation and domestic or sexual violence.
We affirm that no crisis or calamity caused by a human act or an accident of nature justifies the denial or restriction of the civil rights of any resident of the United States. We oppose any law or practice that violates our constitutional right to privacy and to freedom from government surveillance, including interception of private electronic communications without a lawfully obtained warrant; any law restricting freedom of thought, opinion, or peaceful assembly, and all unconstitutional provisions in the Patriot Act, including but not limited to indefinite detention, denial of access to legal counsel, and the denial of the writ of habeas corpus.
We support the constitutional principle of separation of Church and State and affirm the right of every person to choose their own belief system, whether represented by an organized religion, a philosophy, or a personal code of ethics. While we affirm the right of religious entities to establish conditions for religious marriage within their dominations, we support granting all couples, regardless of gender, the right to marry. We oppose organized prayer in public schools and the use of public funds to pay for the “Faith-Based Initiatives” program.
We support stronger enforcement of laws against human trafficking for sexual purposes.
HUMAN SERVICES
We believe that government must never abdicate its responsibility to provide a publicly-funded and managed “safety net” to help those in need, including children, seniors, the physically and mentally disabled, and the impoverished, including the working poor and those suffering from addiction.
IMMIGRATION
We support a path to legal citizenship for law-abiding undocumented persons residing in the U.S. as part of comprehensive immigration reform, and the securing of our national borders.
We oppose mass deportation, prolonged detention, harassment, or any solution to the problem of illegal immigration that separates families, the staging of sudden raids on workplaces resulting in the detention of parents and causing their children to be left alone and unprotected. We condemn all mistreatment or exploitation of immigrants.
LABOR AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE
We affirm the right of working people to organize and join unions. We recognize the Labor Movement’s contributions to our society of the 40-hour work week, sick leave, health care, workplace health and safety laws, paid vacations and defined pensions among other benefits.
We support “card check” organizing, the right to collective bargaining, and the right to strike; and the repeal of labor laws unfairly favoring employers over employees.
We support the renegotiation of the WTO, CAFTA, NAFTA, and GATT treaties to conform to fair labor and environmental standards, or the exercise of our right to withdraw from those agreements. We oppose tax benefits for corporations that take jobs abroad seeking cheap labor, and lax environmental standards. We condemn the exploitation of all workers, including unskilled and immigrant workers by unscrupulous employers.
We support pay equity and transparency in wages and salaries, and the rights of employees to share pay information without reprisals.
LAW, JUSTICE AND CRIME PREVENTION
We support the right of every person living in the U.S to equal justice under the Constitution and laws of the U.S. regardless of economic status, race, ethnicity, religious belief or non-belief, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability whether mental or physical; emphasizing prevention as well as punishment of crime.
We support public ownership, management and administration of all correctional facilities, the provision of positive programs and activities for youth, and addressing social conditions that contribute to criminality. We oppose racial or ethnic “profiling,” all forms of violence in our communities, the failed “War on Drugs” strategy, “Three Strikes” and determinant sentencing laws. We call for the abolition of capital punishment, and substituting life in prison without parole in its stead.
We believe the current War on Drugs has been ineffective, costly and damaging to the American people. We believe the government position on marijuana use ignores the scientific knowledge gained about marijuana/cannabis since it was outlawed in the 1930s, and that enforcement of the current draconian laws against marijuana have been more damaging to otherwise law-abiding American citizens than the actual use of marijuana, and as such these laws must be repealed.
We are proud that Washington is one of the two American states, with Colorado, which have both passed legalization laws. We encourage Congress to repeal the prohibition of marijuana.
We believe that sales of non-prescription marijuana should be regulated and taxed as tobacco and alcohol are, with legal use restricted to persons over the age of 21 years. We support fines for illegal possession or sales of marijuana commensurate with the amount of marijuana seized, and call for mandatory community service by those with illegally-acquired marijuana, commensurate to the amount seized. We believe Washington State’s new marijuana control system should incorporate medical marijuana facilities into the network of legal dispensaries so that law-abiding entities are not negatively impacted by a misinterpretation of the law.
We support an emphasis on treatment rather than punitive measures for those addicted to controlled substances.
We oppose the privatization of correctional facilities. We oppose the inhuman treatment of detainees, including, but not limited to solitary confinement by employees of profit-making corporations now managing the Northwest Detention Center and other private prisons.
MILITARY
We are deeply grateful for the service of the men and women of the U.S. Military. We support the right of all persons to serve free from harassment and sexual assault. The best physical and mental health treatment must be provided to U.S. military personnel whose war wounds and physical stresses deserve continued empathetic and well-funded support from the Administration. We affirm the right of military veterans and retirees to health care, education, job training and other benefits.
We support equal treatment for National Guard members and Reservists who serve beside their Regular military sisters and brothers, and affirm the right of servicemen and women to defend their own honor, and that of our country by refusing to obey an illegal order. We applaud the Obama Administration’s end to the “Stop Loss” policy. We support and applaud the Obama Administration’s goal to end veterans homelessness on his timelines.
SOCIAL SECURITY
We believe that Social Security is a basic American value. It is a promise that if we work hard, we will have some security when we retire or become disabled. The Social Security Trust Fund is an investment that keeps seniors out of financial poverty. We believe it is a pledge that if a working spouse or parent passes on or becomes disabled, the surviving family will continue to have the support and security needed. Social Security is most often thought of as an earned retirement program, but it is also a comprehensive family insurance program, protecting families of deceased and disabled workers from sliding into poverty. Almost 90% of Americans over the ages of 65 receive Social Security benefits. We believe the remedy for cries of alarm about the Social Security Trust Fund running low in future years is to lift the lid on Social Security taxes so that all income up to $500,000 is taxed at the same percentage for the Trust Fund.

ESPIONAGE ACT OF 1917 ENDANGERS OUR FREE PRESS

WHEREAS the 13 colonies that became the United States refused to go forward until freedom of the press was assured with the First Amendment of the Constitution, as Founder Thomas Jefferson noted: “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” And,

WHEREAS President Barack Obama’s administration has employed the Espionage Act of 1917 six (6) times to prosecute and intimidate journalists who uncovered illegal actions or lies by the government, in contrast being used against journalists only three (3) times between 1917 and 2009; and,

WHEREAS the Administration has never asserted in the six cases that the journalists have broadcast or published lies about U.S. government actions; and

WHEREAS  the Administration has indicted Edward Snowden for providing information that the U.S. government was spying on all its citizens without warrant, and is threatening further use of the Espionage Act to prosecute journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Bart Gelman of the Washington Post, James Risen of the New York Times, and James Rosen of FOX News, and other journalists who dare shine the light of truth on ineffective, expensive, inappropriate and likely illegal government activities; and,

WHEREAS the President has it within his power to put a stop to this serious overreach by simply ordering the Justice Department to forget about the Espionage Act for journalists doing the job prescribed for them by our Constitution; .

THEREFORE be it resolved that President Obama curb the enthusiasm of the Justice Department for persecuting and prosecuting journalists under the Espionage Act of 1917 who have exposed incredible transgressions of this nation’s values thereby fostering an important national dialogue.

 

Abolishing Death Penalty; Commending Governor Inslee for Suspending Use

WHEREAS the Washington Democratic Party Platform states “We call for: Abolition of capital punishment, and substituting life in prison without parole;” and,

WHEREAS DNA testing has provided scientific proof that our system convicts and sentences innocent people — and that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events; and,

WHEREAS Washington State has experienced four (4) exonerations of citizens sentenced to death based on DNA research and/or case review after final sentencing; and,

WHEREAS the Washington Compensation Law requires repayment to the exonerated persons including annual wages and legal fees; and,

WHEREAS the system required to provide an humane, legal, acceptable execution is very expensive to maintain and expensive per execution; and,

WHEREAS it is logically absurd to teach society to honor life by sentencing murderers to the same act for which they’re punished, that is, taking their life; and,

WHEREAS the nation’s police chiefs rank the death penalty last in their priorities for effective crime reduction; and,

WHEREAS criminologists concur that the death penalty does not effectively reduce the number of murders; and,

WHEREAS research indicates race, geography, money and other factors continue to make the implementation of the death penalty arbitrary and unfair;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Washington State Democratic Party, assembled as the 2014 convention, commend Governor Jay Inslee for suspending the use of the death penalty in Washington State; and,

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Democratic members of the Washington State Legislature be encouraged to support that moratorium and seek a permanent end to the death penalty in Washington State; and,

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Democratic Congressional representatives and senators be encouraged to support and lead efforts to end use of the death penalty in the United States and its territories; and,

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that we urge the Washington State Legislature to establish laws requiring all law enforcement agencies in Washington to record interrogations and to preserve evidence possibly containing DNA samples, and that criminal justice reform commissions be established to assure correct convictions and provide an avenue for exonerations when called for.

 

Minimizing Negative Effects of Coal and Oil Trains on Our Economy, Communities, Environment and Public Health

WHEREAS coal and oil producers east of Washington state are proposing to build export terminals on the western shores of Washington to receive coal train-shipped bulk cargo for export to the Pacific basin; and

WHEREAS Washington’s rail system’s most fuel efficient bulk shipping route follows the Columbia River and then from Vancouver, Washington to Vancouver, B.C. corridor, through most of Washington population and business areas; and,

WHEREAS Washington’s rail system, primarily owned by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and Union Pacific (UP) rail corporations, was not initially created for the projected loads and daily frequency of 16 to 18 (9 loaded, 9 returning) coal trains or more, each approximately 1-1/2 miles  in length, made up of 125-150 cars, depending on car size and type, constraining passenger rail travel and adversely affecting the transport of freight other than coal; and,

WHEREAS there is currently no cap on the number of trains possible, should the proposed terminal expand capacity in the future; and,

WHEREAS, for safety reasons, coal cars are open-topped, allowing, by BNSF admission, each car to lose between 500 pounds and one ton of coal dust en route, which degrades the ballast of the rail lines, and can be a cause of derailments; and,

WHEREAS bulk petroleum rail cars are subject to explosion and fire in derailment, endangering proximal life and property, against which most municipal fire departments are not equipped to fight, and which cause serious greenhouse gas and particulate pollution while burning, and further cause serious ground and groundwater pollution from spilled petroleum; and,

WHEREAS, while adverse effects of coal dust from mining and combustion on human health are well-documented, the effects of coal dust blowing and/or leaching from coal cars on human health and on local water safety are as yet unknown; and,

WHEREAS Washington State manufacturers and agricultural shippers are being priced out of the rail market by high-volume shippers such as BNSF giving preference to intermodal and coal contracts, squeezing out Washington’s industrial (lumber, wood product producers, manufacturers, waste management, and mining) and low-density agricultural product (apples, wheat, other fruit, potatoes) shippers, forcing them to consider other options of delivery like trucking, which could negatively impact the cost and quality for the consumer, increase air pollution, and even force businesses out of state; and,

WHEREAS increases in rail traffic have the potential to result in economic losses as a result of traffic delays, with adverse effects including increased risk of accidents, impacts to cities’ levels of service, decreased ability to provide effective emergency response times, and possible interference with the local freight delivery systems affecting the local economy; and,

WHEREAS both the means of transporting coal and the coal itself present potential air quality challenges due to diesel particulate matter emitted by the coal trains and ships, fugitive coal dust from the trains and from storage at the port site, and the toxins that blow over the Pacific to the West Coast of the US from coal combustion in Asia; and all are cause for concern with regard to regional air quality and the resultant health effect on humans who breathe that air; and,

WHEREAS transport of over 150 million tons of coal via uncovered train car across the Pacific Northwest poses a direct risk to already struggling orca populations from train cars emitting coal, and other toxic pollution heading into the Puget Sound and Columbia River Gorge will pour harmful chemicals into the ocean water upon which southern resident orcas rely,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Washington’s executive departments and Legislature make an immediate and concerted effort to eliminate or mitigate the increase in coal and oil train traffic through Washington; and,

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Washington’s executive departments and legislature create and fund an accident safety plan for rail traffic and pass the expense to the carriers in the form of required insurance fees per ton shipped.

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that bulk carbon product shipping and any other use of trains exceeding 100 cars plus engines be contingent on requiring the railroad corporations to collaborate with all communities which are divided by rail tracks in ways that could hamper emergency services and peak commuter routes, and that the corporations be required to construct overpasses and under-crossings for road and rail traffic and to undertake other construction at their own expense, in order to mitigate the disruptions; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that bulk carbon fuel transport car structural specifications be reviewed, and state minimal standards be continually updated and enforced; and,

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Washington state standards be set and enforced for coal dust and diesel engine particulate and gaseous emissions; and,

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that coal storage science be the basis for creating Washington laws requiring state-of-the-art dust and fire control practices at terminals; and,

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the Washington State Democratic Central Committee urge our elected and appointed state officials to pursue a preventive and protective approach to managing bulk carbon rail shipping to protect the daily and long-term resources for all living things in Washington.

 

Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) Moratorium and Legislation

WHEREAS  hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas wells, also known as ‘fracking,’ presents unknown hazards to public and environmental health, particularly water and air quality; and,

WHEREAS fracking to create one well can require more than one million gallons of water; and may require up to six million gallons, as much as 60,000 people use in one day; and,

WHEREAS chemicals used in fracking are shielded from public scrutiny, so that  health and environmental effects are therefore beyond the reach of impartial scientific research, and,

WHEREAS  fracking was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act by Congress in 2005, in an amendment known as the Halliburton Loophole at the behest of then Vice President Richard Cheney; and,

WHEREAS fluids used in fracking, which flow back to the earth’s surface and may flow into nearby drinking water wells and bodies of water, not only contain unknown chemicals, but may also contain methane, radioactive substances such as uranium, radio, radon and thorium; and,

WHEREAS medical treatment of people exposed to chemicals used in fracking has been severely hampered by the unwillingness of fracking companies to identify the chemicals; and,

WHEREAS seismic activity in fracking areas has increased exponentially over 20th century seismic levels, including a 4.0 magnitude earthquake in 2011 in Youngstown, Ohio; and,

WHEREAS federal legislation has been proposed to repeal the oil and gas industry’s exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act and other environmental laws; to require that proprietary information on chemicals used in fracking be disclosed for medical diagnosis, treatment or emergency response; and that other measures to protect public and environmental health  be instituted; and

WHEREAS Representatives Derek Kilmer and Adam Smith are co-sponsors of H.R. 1921, the relevant federal legislation; and S. 1135, a companion bill, has been proposed in the Senate,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the other Washington members of Congress and senators be urged to join in co-sponsoring the legislation; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Governor Jay Inslee and Commissioner of  Lands Peter Goldmark  should direct the relevant State agencies to examine Washington’s readiness to protect public health and environment in the event of oil and gas industry interest in fracking; and

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that Governor Inslee declare a moratorium on fracking until federal safeguards are enacted, and State readiness has been documented.

 

Supporting Signature-Gathering for I-1329

WHEREAS the U.S. Supreme Court, in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (2010) and other recent decisions, enunciated the novel and unprecedented principles that corporations are entitled to political rights and privileges tantamount to those of individual human beings and that their use of money is a form of protected free speech; and

 WHEREAS those decisions and Citizens United in particular, invalidated campaign spending reform laws enacted by bipartisan majorities in Congress, and thereby unleashed an unprecedented torrent of special interest money into our political process; and,

WHEREAS  poll after poll has established that the American public supports overturning those misguided rulings, the continuation of which poses an increasing threat to a democratic republic of, by and for the people; and,

WHEREAS the corporations plank of the 2012 Washington State Democratic Party Platform begins with this statement “We believe that corporations, as artificial entities, are not entitled to the Constitutional rights of people. It’s time to restore responsibility and to limit the power of money to influence politics; and,

WHEREAS in the “We call for” enumerations, the Platform states “A constitutional amendment to establish that corporations shall not be considered as “persons” for purposes of political activity and to reverse the pernicious ruling that money equals speech . . . . ; It further states: We oppose the Supreme Court precedent that corporations are people; and,

WHEREAS the former Republican State Chair serves as a board member of Citizens United and the Republican majority in the Washington State Senate has thwarted any effort to act on a resolution to Congress calling for a constitutional amendment; and,

WHEREAS WAmend (Washington Coalition for a Constitutional Amendment) filed an initiative which the Washington Attorney General and Secretary of State approved for circulation for signatures as Initiative 1329, the summary of which reads: “This measure would state that recent rulings by the United States Supreme Court that address limits on government power to regulate political contributions necessitate amendment of the federal Constitution. The measure would urge Washington’s Congressional delegation to propose amendments to clarify that constitutional rights including rights to free speech, apply only to natural persons and not to corporations and to authorize federal and state government to limit, and require disclosure of political contributions and expenditures.”

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Pierce County Democratic Party support the gathering of signatures on Initiative 1329 petitions and urge our fellow Democrats and other friends and associates to help collect signatures to place it on the 2014 fall ballot.

 

END FEDERALLY-SANCTIONED MASS RAIDS AND PUNITIVE MISTREATMENT OF NON-CITIZENS IN PRIVATE DETENTION CENTERS

WHEREAS mass sweeps of alleged non-legal residents by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the United States have increased dramatically under the Administration of Barack Obama; and

WHEREAS many of the alleged non-legal residents have been incarcerated in privately-owned prisons, run under contract with ICE; and

WHEREAS alleged non-legal residents who have been incarcerated mainly include people who do not pose criminal threats, who have strong ties to this country, and who have often been arrested and incarcerated for minor infractions such as broken tail-lights on card; and

WHEREAS the alleged non-legal residents have been arbitrarily mistreated, put into solitary confinement at the whim of their private jailers, prevented from telephoning family members at the whim of those same private jailers, transferred to other private prisons at long distances from their families; and

WHEREAS many of the people detained and incarcerated have been found to be legal residents of the U.S., and

WHEREAS individuals have been held for as long as seven (7) years without opportunities to validate claims to remain in the U.S. legally or their pleas to have their cases heard by any reasonable adjudicator; and

WHEREAS more than 5,000 American children throughout the U.S. are currently in foster care while their families are held by ICE-sanctioned prisons; and

WHEREAS private detention centers are owned by profit-driven corporations who benefit directly by keeping prison beds occupied, and by providing minimal food, medical care, recreational opportunities and opportunities for contact between detainees and their families; and

WHEREAS Congressman Adam Smith has shown his recognition of the deplorable situation in the Northwest Detention Center owned by the GEO Corporation, and has shown interest in alleviating the deplorable conditions to which detainees are subjected;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Pierce County Democratic Central Committee urges President Obama to abandon quota-based enforcement and incarceration drive by the urge to fill more than 30,000 detention beds every day;

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that ICE require bond hearings before immigration judges for people who have been held longer than six months; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the solitary confinement and other abusive conditions for detainees be ended; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the President direct the nation’s immigration enforcement resources against gangs, guns, violent criminals and other genuine threats; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Washington Congressional delegation no longer support funding any program which enables private profit-making corporations to make money by incarcerating people under punitive conditions; and

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that The Pierce County Democratic Central Committee Convention calls on President Obama and members of the Washington Congressional delegation to begin making these changes immediately.

 

Supporting Employees Right to Paid Sick Leave

WHEREAS it is estimated that about 40% of private sector workers do not have access to paid sick leave, including 70% of workers earning the lowest 25% of wages; and

WHEREAS, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department’s annual survey on employee benefits, 98% of accommodation and food service employers and 93% of retail employers in Washington did not provide paid sick leave to all employees in 2012; and

WHEREAS employees should not be forced to work when sick, either because of employer practices or family finances; and

WHEREAS there are public health and other consequences when sick workers spread illness to their coworkers and customers, and when sick children left at school or daycare because their parents could not get off work; and

WHEREAS the City of Seattle has successfully implemented its ordinance, adopted September 1, 2012, requiring employers with more than four employees to allow all employees, whether full or part-time, permanent or temporary, to accrue paid sick leave and paid safe time for use when an employee or family member needs to take time off work due to illness or a critical safety issue; and

WHEREAS preliminary reports show no evidence of widespread negative economic impacts, and Seattle and the surrounding metropolitan area are still recovering at a stronger pace than the state, or the US as a whole; and

WHEREAS the experience of the State of Connecticut, the first state to require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees (2012), shows minimum negative effects from the new requirements, according to a preliminary survey by The Center for Economic and Policy Research; and,

WHEREAS the State of Washington House of Representatives passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) requiring employers with more than four full-time employees to provide paid leave for specified medical reasons relating to the employee’s or a family member’s health; and.

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we, the Pierce County Democratic Central Committee, call for legislation requiring employers with more than four employees to provide a means for their employees to accrue and use sick leave; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that said sick leave may be used for matters relating to the employee or a family member’s health; reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking; or the closure of an employee’s place of business, or a child’s school or place of care due to public health emergencies; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the sick leave would cover work absences for the employee, their children, spouses, parents, grandparents and parents-in-law; and

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that we, the Pierce County Democratic Central Committee, urge our elected state officials to enact into law the required accrual and availability of paid sick leave for specified reasons.

 

Supporting Public Employees Right to Collective Bargaining and Protecting Pensions

WHEREAS unionized public employees at all levels of government provide essential public services, without which the quality of life enjoyed by State of Washington residents would be greatly diminished; and

WHEREAS public employees provide critical services to people of all income levels, including individuals and families who might otherwise not be able to afford them; and which are generally not profitable for the private sector, and

WHEREAS Washington State has recognized the importance and value of laws that ensure workplace safety and the right of working people to bargain collectively, and has the most progressive minimum-wage law in the nation as approved by voters;

WHEREAS the State of Washington is home to more than 350,000 public employees working for the State, cities, counties, ports, school districts, community colleges, universities and public utilities, who have collective bargaining rights under public-sector collective bargaining statutes;

WHEREAS many public employees throughout the nation have lost their jobs and have voluntarily accepted reduced wages as a way to try to maintain the level of public services during our nation’s recent Recession;

WHEREAS the State of Washington is in recovery from said Recession, and public employees who previously have taken furloughs, reductions in pay and other concessions to help preserve jobs and continue public services to the residents of Washington State, should be commended for their dedication and contribution to that recovery;

WHEREAS all working men and women in both public and private sectors deserve honor and respect for the work they do and should be empowered to perform their jobs efficiently and creatively with high-quality customer service; and

WHEREAS we condemn, the ongoing efforts of political leaders in Wisconsin and other states to curtail the rights of public employees to bargain collectively, and to threaten and/or jeopardize public employee pensions;

WHEREAS we condemn, the ongoing efforts by some members of the Washington Legislature who attempt to erode worker’s rights and the right to bargain collectively, and have threatened to diminish, demolish and/or destroy public employee pensions;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we affirm our support for public employees and the services they provide; that we support the right of public employees to organize and to bargain collectively; and oppose efforts to erode pension or benefit rights; and

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that our Washington State legislators and Governor Jay Inslee should do everything possible to defend public employees collective bargaining rights and pension and benefit rights.

 

To Protect Citizens Privacy Rights from the National Security Agency and Other Federal Agencies

WHEREAS the President’s Panel on Liberty and Security was appointed by President Barack Obama in the wake of disclosures by Edward Snowden that the United States government has engaged in massive spying, without Court orders, on United States citizens and others communicating with U.S. citizens; and

WHEREAS the President’s Panel on Liberty and Security has recommended 46 actions which the President and Congress should take to end the current massive illegal search of personal communications records and prevent future abuse of Constitutionally-guaranteed rights; and

WHEREAS the recommendations include these: The Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) be a Senate-confirmed position; that civilians be eligible to hold that position and that the President seriously appointing a civilian as the next NSA Director; that the NSA should be clearly designated as a foreign intelligence organization and missions other than foreign intelligence collection should be re-assigned elsewhere; and that the head of the military unit, US Cyber Command, and the NSA Director should not be a single person;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Pierce County Democratic Central Committee urges President Barack Obama to enact those principles through his executive powers immediately, and that the Washington State delegation to Congress to enact the recommendations into law.

 

Calling for a Code of Ethics for Justices of the Supreme Court

WHEREAS some members of the U.S. Supreme Court have resisted the idea that their associations past and present could have any effect on their judicial fairness; and

WHEREAS said justices have appeared as speakers at events sponsored by extreme partisans and which events appear to have an overt political purpose; and

WHEREAS justices of the Supreme Court often hold investments in corporations that may come before the Court; and

WHEREAS any appearance of bias as well as actual bias has a corrosive effect on public perception of the character of the Court; and

WHEREAS the Code of Conduct for United States Judges applies to all other federal judges and the justices of the Supreme Court are not formally bound by any code of conduct; and

WHEREAS Congress has the authority to regulate the administration of the U.S. SupremeCourt;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell should co-sponsor the Supreme Court Ethics Act of 2013 (S. 1424) and that the Washington State Congressional Delegation should co-sponsor the House companion bill (H.R. 2902).

 

Opposing Secret Negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or “Fast Track”

WHEREAS international trade in goods and services is a vital part of the economy for Washington State and its 2nd Legislative District, providing revenue and jobs; and,

WHEREAS free trade agreements can therefore benefit Washington State; and,

WHEREAS the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed large Free Trade Agreement that could continue to grow and add member nations; and

WHEREAS,  however, the TPP apparently is being negotiated without public disclosure or input regarding its provisions, particularly those governing labor, environmental, consumer protection, and financial regulations; and,

WHEREAS  information that has been leaked regarding proposed TPP provisions suggests that those provisions could prevent the U.S. from enforcing its own laws protecting, among other things, the environment, workers, children, consumers, and the financial system, as well as threatening to harm the environment and people of other signing countries with less-protective laws than the United States; and

WHEREAS the people of Washington State and its 2nd Legislative District have the right to be informed about proposed laws (including treaties) that will affect their lives and, through their elected representatives, to shape those proposed laws; and

WHEREAS the proposed provisions of the TPP currently being negotiated have not been made public; and

WHEREAS the U.S. administration has sought Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or “fast track” from the U.S. Congress, which would allow only a “yes” or “no” vote once the provisions of the TPP are finally revealed, without the opportunity for Congress (our elected representatives) to amend the TPP’s provisions;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED  that the Pierce County Democratic Convention and the Washington State Democratic Party oppose secret negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, oppose Trade Promotion Authority for the TPP, demand that the proposed provisions of the TPP be made public, and demand that U.S. residents be provided an opportunity to make changes to those provisions via their elected representatives; and,

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the Pierce County Democratic Convention and Washington State Democratic Party will submit a copy of this resolution to Washington State’s Congressional delegation and to President Obama requesting action consistent with this resolution.

 

Resolution to Protect the United States Postal Service

WHEREAS the United States Postal Service is a vital component of this country’s economic and communications infrastructure, handling and delivering 160 billion pieces of mail and generating more than $65 billion in revenues annually, while receiving no taxpayer funding; and

WHEREAS the mailing industry, which employs 8 million Americans, generates over $1 trillion in annual revenues and represents approximately 7% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), depends on the U.S. Postal Service’s invaluable mail processing, retail service and delivery networks six days a week; and

WHEREAS the U.S. Postal Service is the only private company or federal agency required by Congress to pre-fund future-retiree health premiums for 75 years into the future, and to do so within a 10-year period, thus entailing a crippling $5.5 billion annual payment which has led to service cuts; and

WHEREAS states that vote almost entirely by mail, such as Washington, are especially dependent on full and reliable mail service for timely exercise of their voting franchise; and

WHEREAS the Postal Service is the second largest employer of U.S. Veterans, who comprise over 22% of its present workforce; and

WHEREAS rural communities, many of which do not have access to the Internet, remain dependent on the Postal Service for vital communications and for the shipment and receipt of goods; and

WHEREAS many Americans, particularly senior citizens, depend on the Postal Service for receipt of their prescription drugs;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Pierce County Democratic Central Committee   urges our U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to support postal-reform legislation that would stabilize Postal Service finances by reforming or eliminating the unique requirement of pre-funding future retiree health benefits, and thereby (1) secure the continuation of six-day mail delivery, (2) strengthen and protect the Postal Service’s invaluable mail processing, retail service and delivery networks that together comprise a vital part of our nation’s infrastructure, and (3) retain door-to-door service for over 30 million households and businesses; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution be sent to the President and Vice President of the United States, the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, the Postmaster General, and the Washington State Democratic Party.

 

Enact the USA Freedom Act to End Illegal Searches of Private Communications and Restore the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

WHEREAS the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable search and seizure, and

WHEREAS the National Security Agency (NSA) has willfully violated the 4th Amendment by collecting massive information from personal communication, mostly without reasons nor by first seeking permission available through FISA procedures, and

WHEREAS the NSA has falsely claimed that such mass spying programs stopped 54 terror incidents but has only been willing to admit to a single valid case where a San Diego cab driver was convicted of sending $8,500 to a Somali terrorist group, and

WHEREAS the federal Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLB)and the President’s hand-picked Surveillance Review Group have found that the massive phone records program added no unique value to the many surveillance programs already in existence, and

WHEREAS the PCLB has determined that the NSA did not get any information it could not have acquired using targeted surveillance, and

WHEREAS the mass spying by federal agencies was hidden from the American public and from the Congressional intelligence committees responsible for legislation protecting the United States from terrorists, while continuing to be responsible for protecting us against  government threats to American democracy,

WHEREAS the USA Freedom Act has been proposed to end wholesale US government spying on Americans, and is co-sponsored by Washington members of Congress Suzan del Bene, Rick Larsen and JimMcDermott,

THEREFORE be it resolved that the mass collection of Americans’ records be ended and substituted by reasonable limits to the Patriot Act Section 215 and other relevant sections; and

THEREFORE BE IT  FURTHER RESOLVED that Congress also amend the 2008 FISA Amendments Act to require that government agencies get court orders before using information about Americans collected during foreign intelligence operations; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that communications providers be allowed to disclose the number of surveillance orders they receive, that the information be published, and that significant FISA court opinions should be made public; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a public advocate position be created to advise the secret FISA surveillance court; and

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, Congressman Derek Kilmer, Congressman Denny Heck, and other members of Congress join the other 21 U.S. Senators and 134 members of Congress in co-sponsoring and working for passage of the USA Freedom Act.

 

SUPPORTING INCLUSIVENESS IN YOUTH GROUP MEMBERSHIP AND LEADERSHIP

WHEREAS  We recognize that no youth can grow into the kind, caring and trustworthy adult we all want our citizens and future leaders to be in our participatory democracy without learningand practicing respect for all of his or her fellow citizens; and,. 

WHEREAS It is difficult to teach and to learn respect for all if an entire group of people are excluded from membership for the nature of their birth; and.

WHEREAS  any organization has the right to exclude individuals for failure to adhere to the standards of that organization, the exclusion of entire groups teaches participants discrimination rather than respect; and,

WHEREAS we also recognize the difficulty of any organization, especially the Boy Scouts of America, to change its membership standards when those standards are determined by hundreds of other organizations, each with their own standards for membership; and,

WHEREAS that difficulty of changing standards has now been overcome for youth membership in the Boy Scouts of America,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Pierce County Democratic Party welcome, encourage and offer our support for the efforts of all organizations, especially private membership youth organizations, to become more inclusive; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED  that we commend the Boy Scouts of America for opening their membership to all youth regardless of sexual orientation, and

THEREFORE, BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the Pierce County Democratic Party encourages a similar change in standards for adult membership in the organization and offers our support for their efforts to extend that same inclusiveness to adult leaders.