California resisting hatred and authoritarianism and inspiring the nation to build a progressive society that is fair and just for all.
California StateStrong, a project of Indivisible, is a grassroots group that applies the principles of the Indivisible Guide to politics at the state level. We do this in a few ways. First, we use grassroots activism to influence our representatives in the California Senate and Assembly to sponsor and support legislation that directly resists the policies and actions of the current federal administration. We also promote and support progressive legislation that protects and enhances individual rights, equality and privacy; provides universal quality education and healthcare; enforces corporate responsibility; and protects the climate and environment. Lastly, we empower residents throughout California with the knowledge and tools with which they can engage and lobby their own state representatives.
California is the sixth largest economy in the world. Its state legislature has a Democratic supermajority in both houses. California has a history of leading the nation. With this level of economic might and political power, we can make progressive policy a reality, and this poses one of the most effective ways to resist the Trump agenda.
Unfortunately, citizen engagement in California state politics is almost non-existent. This is partly because the legislative process is confusing and the average resident doesn’t know how to get involved, so state legislators face almost no demands for accountability from their constituents. As a result, many politicians are more responsive to the energy, pharmaceutical, tobacco, agriculture and real estate lobbies, and progressive policy changes that we support are lost.
Because legislators are not used to hearing from their constituents, small numbers of calls can make a huge difference. If they know we are watching, they will listen to our voices. We believe that grassroots activism at the state level has the potential to make a big splash in California policy, potentially rippling out to influence the whole nation.
California StateStrong provides the knowledge and tools to enable that activism.
Bills That We Follow
We track certain bills through the legislative process to make our lobbying efforts as effective as possible. The bills that we follow must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- The bill resists the Trump agenda (for example: making California a sanctuary state, the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, protecting workers and students from ICE, protecting Planned Parenthood, etc.)
- The bill advances progressive goals (for example: bail reform, climate policy, universal healthcare)
In addition, we have identified these categories of bills that are most important to our goals:
- Climate and environment
- Conflicts of interest and corporate responsibility
- Criminal justice reform
- Economic justice and wealth inequality
- LGBTQ rights
- Privacy and civil rights
- Racial inequality
- Voting reform
- Women’s and reproductive rights
Engagement with Legislators and Legislative Committees
We are developing good relationships with our state legislators so that they understand our positions on important issues. We call their offices and meet with them regularly, attend their town halls, and invite them to speak and answer questions at our general meetings.
After bills are introduced, most of the work is done in legislative policy and fiscal committees. We maintain a database of upcoming hearings and votes so that we can lobby committees and committee members at the most effective time: right before they discuss and vote on the bills. We submit position statements to committees from our organization California StateStrong, and we are developing a tool that enables individuals to submit positions of support or opposition to committees.
Collaboration with Other Advocacy Groups
One of our most successful collaborations to date has been with Daily Action, a relatively young organization that, using text messages, issues a single daily call to action to their subscribers. They have issued actions on our behalf targeted to residents in districts of members of specific legislative committees hearing bills on cap-and-trade and internet privacy.
The Amplify app was developed by Indivisible San Francisco, and we are working with the developer to enable Indivisible groups across the state to be able to adopt state-level actions from California StateStrong.
Other Progressive Grassroots Groups in California
We have developed relationships with other progressive grassroots groups in California such as Courage Campaign, 350 Bay Area, ACLU, Health Access, American Friends Service Committee, EFF, Asian Law Caucus, Climate Hawks Vote, and many others. We continue to work on collaborating with the organizations on the front lines of the progressive fight in different topic areas.
California StateStrong Website
One of the initiatives that we are most excited about is this website! It will be a central repository for information about all state legislators and the bills that we follow and a place for California residents to find timely actions they can take to lobby their own representatives. The goal of the website is to enable a user to enter their address and for the website to return personalized actions on state legislation so that the user can make phone calls on a bill or fax a position statement right before it will be voted on by their personal representative in a committee or on on the floor of the legislature. The site is still under construction and we are building it to be scalable to other states, so stay tuned!