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  • in reply to: Module 4: Putting it Into Action/Local Project (Due Aug 9) #47321

    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    Same for me! I forwarded you the email that I sent to Doug Hartman, Senator Bob Casey’s Legislative Aid, Doug Hartman. I got a general response back thanking me for my email. I have a photo of me from an event with Senator Casey that I’m trying to dig up to email back go him as well!

    in reply to: Module 3: Influencing (Due Aug 2) #47320

    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    I really like Krista’s idea! Power in numbers, and I’m sure our issues broadly overlap with other rare disease groups.

    I am struggling with my own answer to this question in general and will work more to develop an idea, but I know I’d like to focus around insurance specifically.

    in reply to: Module 2: Elections (Due Jul 26) #47137

    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    I completely agree with Michael. The rules around absentee balloting differ from state to state. For example, in my home state of Kansas, anyone can apply for an absentee ballot for any election. In Pennsylvania, however, you have to provide proof that you will be away. This additional step – and adding any steps to the process – all prevent turnout. My county in Kansas also has early voting, where people can vote up to two weeks in advance in-person at their convenience. Making absentee and early voting easier are two ways to increase turnout. A few other policies that encourage turnout:

    1) Mandatory voting
    2) Online voting
    3) Election day is a national holiday
    4) Prohibiting voter restrictive policies like voter ID laws
    5) Increasing polling place accessibility (distance, open more hours of the day, etc.)
    6) Automatic voter registration

    in reply to: Module 1.2: Civic Engagement (Due Jul 19) #47046

    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    This is a difficult question to me, because I’m relatively new to the bleeding disorders advocacy community and haven’t been very active with my local chapter before this year. Based on what I know, the Eastern PA chapter is VERY active in state-wide advocacy and has regular meetings with the state insurance commissioner and the staff of federal elected officials. I believe that there are two areas in which we could improve 1) we could do better at working to inform elected officials who may not necessarily support the ACA about what our community stands for and 2) we could include in our advocacy more HTC staff members and maybe even doctors, if that’s possible. Whether or not they can do direct advocacy doesn’t necessarily matter, because I think that just keeping doctors and medical professionals abreast of what we are doing is an admirable goal.

    I’ve shared my advocacy work with my doctor and she has been incredibly receptive and interested. (:

    in reply to: Module 1.1: Civic Engagement (Due Jul 12) #46975

    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    Lack of knowledge
    Solution: High school (and beyond!) civics classes, reading newspapers and investing in good, fair and balanced news outlets. Developing an understanding about the processes and laws around these processes, especially related to voting, public protesting, etc., can make civic engagement much less scary.

    Lack of representation: People might feel that they don鈥檛 want to engage in civic life if they don鈥檛 think that their elected officials represent their interests. Similarly, if people of color and immigrants can鈥檛 see elected officials who represent their identities, participation in civic life may seem unproductive.
    Solution: This feeling of being self-defeat can help by working with an interest group (like HFA) because it鈥檚 easier to see your opponents as being surmountable if you have others you work with. Power in numbers!

    Fear of employer retribution: Many workplaces have policies for how and when employees can protest. If people have a contract with their employer, they not only have to fulfil the requirements of the law, but also need to follow the stated policies.
    Solution: Passing and enforcing Just Cause legislation, which requires sufficient cause to terminate an employee, can be a solution to this.

    Voting barriers: Voting regulations, like voter ID laws or for example, modern day poll taxes like this example from Florida can affect public participation in the electoral process.
    Solution: Protecting the right to vote for disenfranchised communities is essential to creating a strong, ethical society that is representative of everyone.

    in reply to: Module 4.3 State Government (Due June 28) #46813

    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    I would like to know more about the makeup of the PA Assembly, and know more about the types of legislation that the body has supported over the past few years. In my experience working for the Kansas statehouse, I know that the vast majority of non-budgetary legislation comes from constituent and interest group grievances, rather than using an incremental, evidence-based approach. So I鈥檓 interested to hear how legislators in PA receive ideas for legislation, what they鈥檝e tried to focus on, and how they鈥檝e been able to harness the energy and knowledge of their electorate.

    in reply to: Module 4.2 State Government (Due June 21) #46787

    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    Michael covered quite a few options, but to add to that, citizens can give testimony in-person or submit written testimony about specific pieces of legislation. The state representative I worked for the Kansas Legislature always said that when constituents directly contacted her via social media, email, phone or at constituent events like coffee meetings, that was the most impactful.

    Citizens can also lobby formally with a specific organization, company or interest group or advocate informally. Youth can often be legislative pages to experience the process and young adults/college students can intern.

    in reply to: Module 4.1: State Government (Due June 7) #46742

    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    In a smaller environment, you can evaluate policies using more specific data points and then pivot away more quickly from the policies that aren’t working as well. In addition, policy roll-out can be quicker on the state level; this flexibility allows for more flexibility and innovation.

    In response to Michael, I think the West Coast is able to pass more progressive policies in large part because of the similar ideologies of the members of the legislative bodies. When you’re on the same page about your priorities, governing gets more interesting because you can try out new methods of addressing various policy issues, versus if you are constantly battling another party.

    in reply to: Module 3.3 Checks & Balances (Due May 31) #46699

    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    I do not consider myself a watchdog, simply because I don鈥檛 know that I鈥檓 as intimately informed with local issues as I鈥檇 like. I personally believe that a government watchdog needs to have the following elements:

    – Connected within government
    – Constant vigilance
    – Understands pressure points and keeps up-to-date with all issues
    – Isn鈥檛 afraid to make difficult decisions or call out those in power

    Here in Philadelphia, I work for a few political organizations that I would consider 鈥渨atchdogs鈥. Because of their collective power, organizations are able to hire people with many different skills and experiences to keep a watch on the government. The Committee of Seventy is well-connected within city and state government and intimately understands the processes and levers that it needs to pull to make change. It has a good-sized board and officers within the organization that develop policy platforms and keep abreast of local political news.

    I’d like to become more of a watchdog, or at the least, use the information from other watchdogs to inform my work, opinions, and actions.

    in reply to: Module 3.2: Checks & Balances (Due May 24) #46657

    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    This is my favorite topic we鈥檝e discussed, because even after my research, I don鈥檛 know where I stand.

    On one hand, like we discussed last week, the Executive Order allows the president to outweigh the will of the Legislative Branch and may overcome congressional gridlock. On another hand, I do believe that Congress has the largest powers to check the other branches. Congress has significant powers to check the President (as discussed in previous weeks) and the Supreme Court.

    To be honest, I had heard the least about Congress鈥檚 power to check the Supreme Court. I don鈥檛 feel that this is an area that is discussed in the public realm. Again, History.com comes in handy with this interesting article that includes how FDR tried to change the makeup of the Supreme Court.

    in reply to: Module 3:1: Checks & Balances (Due May 17) #46554

    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    I found this question to be one of the most difficult for me to express an opinion on, because I really knew very little about executive orders before doing research for this.

    I still have a few remaining questions that I hope to do some additional research into. First, I wonder how a president decides whether to pursue an executive order, rather than other options like a proclamation or administrative order (this article from the American Bar Association was helpful). Do they wait until they have attempted to get legislation through Congress and it has failed before attempting an Executive Order? Or do they take more immediate action because the item is timely and needs immediate action. In reviewing a list of past Executive Orders, many of them do seem largely administrative and some even mundane, but I can see that the system could be abused. For example, if the representatives of the people have spoken and denied legislation on a topic, I don鈥檛 necessarily believe that a President should pursue it.

    An article from the National Constitution Center really lays out how circuitous Executive Orders are. It says, 鈥渨hile an executive order can have the same effect as a federal law under certain circumstances, Congress can pass a new law to override an executive order, subject to a presidential veto.鈥 So an Executive Order is essentially an unbalanced action, which while not always abuse of power, does not seem to align with our intended system of checks and balances.


    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    The purpose of a Congressional hearing is to gather information or inquire about a particular topic from people who are in-the-know. This includes: acquiring information about presidential nominees, obtaining opinions about legislation, conducting an investigation, evaluating the actions of a particular government department.

    Deciding what hearings occur and who presents in them seems like a significant power and I believe it is our responsibility as voters to stay abreast of what occurs in congressional hearings.

    I found two interesting articles that I thought I鈥檇 share:

    This Is What Happened Last Time a Cabinet Nomination Was Rejected (Time, 2/3/17): This article specifically mentions the role that a congressional hearing had on the nomination process.

    The Greatest Hearings in American History (Politico Magazine, 6/7/17)


    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    In relation to healthcare policy, there are a few committees that make immediate sense 鈥 Veterans affairs, Ways and Means, and Oversight and Reform. However, I would also throw in the Judiciary committee because of its potential impact on the ACA.

    The Ways and Means committee has a subcommittee on Worker & Family Support, which I can see having a bearing on families struggling with balancing having a bleeding disorder. The VA committee has a subcommittee on Health, which 鈥渉as legislative, oversight, and investigative jurisdiction over the Veterans Health Administration including medical services, medical support and compliance, medical facilities, medical and prosthetic research, and major and minor construction.鈥

    Source here.


    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    Bills have a lot of complexity that make them difficult to pass, separate from simply agreeing on the foundational policy ideals that the bills mean to support. There are many steps in the process whereby congressional representatives can put stop gaps in on certain bills, and also where people can give public comments or testimony. When a bill fails, I don鈥檛 always believe that it is about a disagreement about the big picture ideology, but it is rather about the law within the bill or whether various parts of the bill support all policies.

    When I worked for the Kansas Legislature, I sat in on the House Judiciary Committee, which gave me an appreciation for just how intricate law is. Once, the committee passed a bill and then had to backtrack because they realized that they had accidentally made something legal that they really didn鈥檛 want made legal. The law has a lot of loopholes and it takes a well-informed mind to understand all of a bill鈥檚 parts. If there is a loophole or error in a bill, that is a chink in the legal armor, so to speak, that I would hope our representatives are working to fix.

    There is a great YouTube channel called Crash Course that provides educational videos about various topics. I really recommend How a Bill Becomes a Law and Congressional Committees, if you want to delve deeper!


    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    Why do you think it is important to stagger elections in the Senate?
    Staggering elections in the Senate allows for a continuation of key processes during elections. If all Senators were running for office at the same time, they would be beholden to the campaign schedule, rather than serving their constituents. In addition, institutional knowledge retention is vital on the Hill: even if many people are re-elected, it is important to maintain key committee chairmanships and staffing, which can be overhauled if Senators are not re-elected.

    Do you agree or disagree that voters regularly vote our representatives who they believe do not represent their district? Why or why not?
    I think the key word in this question is 鈥渂elieve鈥. I agree that voters regularly vote out representatives who they believe do not represent their districts, but I hold that voters often re-elect people who do not actually serve their interests. People who care and vote will continue to be engaged in civics, but it is those voters who are unengaged, disenfranchised, or who do not see any candidates on the ticket who represent them, who may decide not to vote out lacking incumbents.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 22 total)

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