Sending Office: Honorable Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) is introducing a
suite of six pieces of legislation titled ‘A Just Society’. This legislative package works to address the extreme economic inequality and poverty plaguing our country.
We invite your offices to be original co-sponsors on any piece of the package.
Attached are summaries of each bill as well as more in-depth section-by-section analysis.
Please contact Ariel Eckblad at Ariel.Eckblad@mail.house.gov by
COB Friday, October 4, 2019 to be added as an original or get more information.
The various bills update the federal poverty line, expand tenants’ rights, extend federal programs to the formerly incarcerated and all immigrants, expand labor rights to put workers first, and compel the United States of America to join the international
community in ratifying the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.
- A Just Society Recognizes & Eradicates Poverty: The Recognizing Poverty
Act directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to, in collaboration with the Bureau of the Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, contract with the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) to propose a new official poverty guideline.
This guideline would account for costs related to geographic variation, health insurance, child care, and “new necessities” such as internet access. This would ensure the accuracy of our current poverty measure, which determines eligibility for much of the
social safety net including—Medicaid, Food Stamps, Family Planning Services, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the National School Lunch Program.
- A Just Society Creates a Place to Prosper: The
Place to Prosper Act protects low -income tenants and rein in corporate landlords by, among other things—creating an access to counsel fund for renters facing eviction, imposing a 3 percent national cap on annual rent increases, and imposing disclosure
requirements on the nation’s largest landlords.
- A Just Society Is Merciful: The Mercy in Re-entry Act ensures that notwithstanding any other provision of law, an individual may not be denied any Federal public benefit solely on the basis that the individual
was convicted of a criminal offense (whether under Federal, State, tribal, or foreign law).
- A Just Society Embraces Our Immigrants: The Embrace Act
ensures that notwithstanding any other provision of law (including title IV of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996), an individual may not be denied any Federal public benefit solely on the basis of the individual’s
- A Just Society Uplifts Our Workers: The Uplift Our Workers Act directs the Department of Labor (DoL), in collaboration with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to create a “worker-friendly score” – similar
to LEED certification – for federal contractors. This score would consider factors including, but not limited to, paid family leave policy, scheduling predictability policy, guaranteed $15 minimum wage, and union membership. Thereafter, DoL and OMB are to
provide federal agencies with recommendations on how to evaluate – and give systemized preference to – “worker-friendly” contractors as it makes contracting decisions.
- A Just Society Guarantees the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of All:
This resolution directs the Senate to give its advice and consent to the ratification of the U.N. Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This Covenant recognizes the right to just and favorable conditions of work, the right to form trade
unions, the right to adequate food, clothing, housing, and the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
Statements of Support
“The [‘Recognizing Poverty Act’] …presents an updated, comprehensive, research-based poverty measurement framework that reflects the changing nature of basic needs and people’s lived experiences. Any robust agenda for economic justice must shrink poverty,
and we must be able to measure that progress. This proposal represents an important step forward in how we do that,” said
Indivar Dutta-Gupta, Co-Executive Director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality.
“There is a housing crisis in this country. Too many people are without a home, and too many of us are living every second terrified that we’ll lose the struggle to keep a roof over our head. A just society is built on everyone having a safe, affordable
and stable place to call home,” said Jennifer Epps-Addison, Network President and Co-Executive Director of the Center for Popular Democracy. “Through deep investment in affordable housing, tenant protections like rent control, and reining
in corporate landlords, this bill builds toward an economically, socially and civically healthy country. We were proud to work with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on this visionary housing bill that centers the priorities of tenant leaders and low-income
homeowners with the solutions they need to have a home to thrive.”
“Our research has found that people with criminal histories face a wide-ranging and often insurmountable host of barriers, including access to public benefits, education, housing, and voting, well after they have finished their sentences. These collateral
consequences disproportionately impact people of color, creating a cycle of harm to their communities. While most states have moved in recent years to pass laws that mitigate some of these consequences, the federal government still maintains its own set of
barriers. It’s time to change the law, stop punishing people after they have served their sentences, and restore their full access to society,” said
Hayne Yoon, Government Affairs Director of the Vera Institute of Justice.
“When all Americans have support to meet their families’ basic needs, we are stronger and healthier as a nation. Removing barriers to health care or food supports ensures that immigrant families have an opportunity to get ahead and that children are set
on a path to a brighter future,” said Jackie Vimo, a policy analyst at the National Immigration Law Center. “This bill is an important measure to ensure that we are a country that welcomes our immigrant family members and neighbors working
to build a better life, not one that is rigged in favor of the wealthy.”
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