Jefferson County Legislative Call-in Party

Earlier this month the Jefferson County Chapter of KFTC partnered with Network Center for Community Change (NC3) to host a Legislative Call-in Party focused on House Bill 70, the bill that seeks to restore voting rights to former felons who have paid their debt to society. KFTC members joined  NC3 members at their office to call the Legislative Message Line (1-800-372-7181) and leave messages for their senators and all senators asking them to recede to the House version of HB70. Members also took to social media to encourage their friends and family to do their part to support HB 70.

KFTC staff member Beth Bissmeyer sent a message to the group via Facebook after she had to wait to leave her message for state legislators: "Y'all must be tearing up those phone lines. This is the first time I've ever had to wait to leave a message. Still off in under 4 minutes. Make those calls!" 

After calling Frankfort, callers switched their focus to contacting their local council members and urging them to support the local Ban the Box legislation. This legislation requires Louisville Metro Government and its vendors to remove the question, "Have you been convicted of a crime?" from the job application process prior to the conditional offer of employment. The Jefferson County Chapter signed on to support this legislation in 2013 and it was set to receive its first Metro Council hearing just two days after the Call-in Party. Stephanie Kaufman, a member of NC3 and KFTC, had the opportunity to speak directly to Tom Own, her Metro councilman. Councilman Owen vowed to support Ban the Box when it came up for a vote just a few days later.

The group ended the evening drafting letters to the editor voicing their support for HB 70 and writing thank you notes to state legislators and local council members who have long supported Kentucky's returning citizens.  They also wrote postcards to state senators urging them to support House Bill 70 in its original form and restore voting rights to nearly 250,000 Kentuckians. These postcards were hand delivered the next day to each senator's office during KFTC's Economic Justice lobby day. 

Two days after the Legislative Call-in Party, the Louisville Metro Council unanimously passed Ban the Box; joining 14 states and 32 cities and counties in enacting legislation that provides a fair interview process to all job applicants. Several Jefferson County Chapter members participated in a Ban the Box press conference, organized by Kentucky Jobs with Justice and CLOUT, prior to the Metro Council meeting to show their support for this important legislation. 

The KFTC/NC3 Legislative Call-in Party was the first time that many participants had ever contacted their elected officials. It was a truly empowering experience for many. Eliot Zellers, a social work student at the University of Louisville said, "The opportunity to turn years of political rants and hastily-crafted Facebook arguments into something concrete was not only empowering, but so much fun. We made phone calls, found out what district we live in, got to discuss politics, and had pizza provided by the generous Pam Newman! And look what happened next: the Metro Council passed Ban the Box unanimously, just two days later. Democracy works only when you work it."


Now it's your turn to support HB 70 and other bills that you care about.  The Legislative Message Line (1-800-372-7181) is open 7AM to 11PM Monday through Thursday, and 7AM to 6PM on Fridays. Restore the Vote! 

 

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