SAVE THE DATE.
National Voter Registration Day is Sept 22.
Check out the Bus Project’s statement from this morning’s press conference with Congressman Earl Blumenauer. From New Motor Voter to Fresh Start Oregon and beyond, we’ve been working hard in Salem this session to win some important victories, and it’s great to see the rest of the country take notice.
July 20, 2015
FRESH START GOES NATIONAL: BUS PROJECT STATEMENT ON REPRESENTATIVE EARL BLUMENAUER’S SUPPORT OF MARIJUANA EXPUNGEMENT
Good Morning. My name is Aaron Brown, and I’m the Outreach Coordinator of the Oregon Bus Project. We are a nonpartisan organization working to empower and inspire the next generation of Oregon’s leaders through engagement with hands-on democracy, voter registration, leadership development and issue advocacy.
The Bus Project is proud to have launched the Fresh Start Oregon campaign this spring and to be sharing the stage today with the elected officials and community leaders who have stepped forward to support this important cause. Last year, we were honored to celebrate the overwhelming passage of Measure 91 to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana after working on the issue and discussing it with young voters last fall. However, we knew that despite our important victory in November, we hadn’t finished our work to ensure that our preexisting prohibition on marijuana wouldn’t continue to impact everyday Oregonians.
We were concerned that Black Oregonians in Multnomah and Lane Counties were more than three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana charges than White Oregonians despite ample evidence suggesting equal levels of use. Given our current economic climate, many Oregonians are already struggling to find reliable housing, employment, or funding for education, all of which are important prerequisites for our economic stability. That Housing, Employment and Education funding and access could be withheld from Oregonians attempting to get their lives back on track after a petty, nonviolent marijuana charge highlights exactly how our existing drug laws are not making our society any safer, are not making our communities healthier, and are in fact harming lives, families and communities across the state.
The Bus Project worked with community leaders to collect over 1800 signatures from Oregonians across the state in support of this campaign. We sent over 300 messages to our legislators in Salem and helped share the stories of Oregonians and their families who feel the impact of these laws every day, and we’re thrilled to see that both House Bill 3400 and Senate Bill 844 received bipartisan support. We applaud the leadership of Congressman Earl Blumenauer to encourage the rest of the country to follow Oregon’s groundbreaking example and work to ensure that petty marijuana crimes don’t continue to ruin countless Americans’ lives.
Outreach Coordinator, Oregon Bus Project
TL;DR – Not to brag or anything, but between the historic, first-of-its-kind victories for New Motor Voter and Fresh Start Oregon, the Bus Project had a pretty solid showing in Salem this year. And we got some big plans for 2016.
SESSION CONFESSIONS ARE BACK.
It’s that time of year again. Having officially put down the gavel and called “Sine Die,” (a Latin phrase that loosely translates to “Let’s Get the Heck out of Salem,”) the Oregon Legislature wrapped up for the summer. Turns out, the Bus Project had a couple substantial victories this year.
New Motor Voter: A historic victory to ensure a ballot in the hand of every eligible Oregonian.
We brought the fun to Salem early this session. House Bill 2177, an initiative to empower everyday Oregonians by making it easier for eligible citizens to get a ballot first pitched by the Bus Project five years ago, sailed through both chambers and arrived at the Governor’s Desk in early March. In an era in which states across the country are suppressing access to the ballot through onerous Voter ID laws and poll taxes, the Bus Project played an integral role in helping Oregon lead the nation and became the first state in the country to produce such sweeping legislation for voter enfranchisement. This landmark victory garnered national attention, landing Oregon on the editorial page of The Washington Post, The Rachel Maddow Show, DeRay McKesson’s twitter, and an op-ed in The Oregonian co-written by the Bus Project and Rock the Vote. New Motor Voter recently drew more attention when Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton included voter registration reform in a June stump speech, giving a particular shout out to Oregon’s recent victory. Thanks to New Motor Voter, Oregon will register more than 300,000 citizens to vote. It also has significant ramifications for our work moving forward; while we will continue to do significant voter registration drives among young Oregonians, it also allows us to spend more time educating voters about the ballot and the issues that matter to an increasingly diverse, youthful electorate. This is the future. The Bus Project is going to be pushing the implementation forward.
Fresh Start Oregon: Marijuana is legal now, and petty pot charges will cease to impact 50,000 Oregonian’s lives.
Despite the passage of Measure 91, many Oregonians were still saddled with the unsavory remnants of marijuana prohibition. For years, petty marijuana records prevented many Oregonians and their families from obtaining reliable employment, housing, and funding for education, all of which are necessary prerequisites for economic stability. These needlessly strict laws were also disproportionately enforced on disenfranchised communities; ACLU noted that in Multnomah County, Black Oregonians were three times more likely than White Oregonians to be arrested for marijuana despite equal rates of usage.
The Bus Project worked with Representative Lew Frederick, Representative Ann Lininger and Senator Ginny Burdick to secure the bipartisan passage of both House Bill 3400 and Senate Bill 844 as part of our Fresh Start Oregon campaign. These bills reduced a litany of petty marijuana felony convictions to misdemeanors, expungeable after three years (and only one year for Oregonians under 21). Our petition, signed by over 1800 Oregonians, represent a historic and important next step to ensure that Oregon’s new marijuana laws address past injustices and allow Oregonians and their families previously impacted by the War on Drugs to establish economic stability and opportunity. Our work was covered in Willamette Week, The Oregonian, Oregon Public Radio and KATU News even filmed one of our phone banks. Representative Ann Lininger credited the Bus for “helping [legislators] understand why it’s important to give people who have had a marijuana offense a fresh start.”
Yesterday, the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation announced in an article in Fusion Media that they believe the Fresh Start Oregon campaign is going to impact around 50,000 Oregonians. That’s a lot of second chances at housing, jobs, and education.
Nice work, team.
Other Highlights from a Productive Session:
In addition to these two major legislative victories that the Bus Project spearheaded, we were a part of a handful of coalitions that worked to make Oregon a better place to live this Legislative Session.
- The Bus Project wrote a letter of support for House Bill 2002, championed by our pals at the Center for Intercultural Organizing, to prohibit profiling by law enforcement agencies. It passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
- We testified in Salem on behalf of House Bill 2662, the Pay it Forward pilot project to provide a new funding mechanism for secondary education. The bill died in committee, but the Bus Project is excited to continue to engage in future initiatives to address the student debt crisis faced by young Oregonians.
- The Bus Project is a member of the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety, which helped pass Senate Bill 941, which mandated universal background checks for gun purchases.
- We wrote a letter in support of Common Cause Oregon’s Senate Joint Resolution 5 to institute campaign finance reform, which unfortunately didn’t make it to a vote.
- We are partnering with a host of organizations to talk to legislators in Salem about the direction and need to continue to push for urgent action on climate. As young Oregonians, we’re the ones that will most acutely feel the impacts of inaction. We have plenty of work ahead to prepare our region for a low-carbon future.
- The Bus Project was a part of the Outdoor School For All Coalition pushing to fully fund Outdoor School through Senate Bill 439. It passed almost unanimously.
- We’re also paying close attention to Senator Dembrow and Representative Hoyle’s bill Senate Bill 572. The State of Oregon would pay for postage for all ballots mailed. Although it didn’t move this session, we think this is a great concept that will remove an additional barrier to the ballot box among the hundreds of thousands of new Oregonians registered to vote through New Motor Voter.
As we announced this month, The Bus Project is excited to welcome Nikki Fisher to the family. Today marks her official start date as our new Executive Director of the organization. We’re kicking off her tenure with a Welcome Party for our beloved volunteers, supporters, and fans of the Bus Project to meet Nikki this upcoming Tuesday, July 14 at Cup & Bar.
Nikki’s unique blend of hard political campaign experience, ballot measure organizing, issue advocacy and engagement, and deep commitment to Oregon will help the Bus Project meet the needs of the New Motor Voters and the bold new progressive landscape Oregon is embarking upon. The Bus will build on Oregon’s new progressive era to pass social justice policies and develop a new generation of diverse leaders and candidates.
Nikki joins the Bus after serving as Senator Sara Gelser’s Chief of Staff in the historic 2015 legislative session and her Campaign Manager in the 2014 election. Before her foray into candidate politics, she ran the Eugene Office for Oregon United For Marriage, and spent four years running field and advocacy with the ACLU of Florida.
The Bus Project is fresh off of an exciting legislative session, in which we championed historic, first-of-its-kind victories for voting rights and criminal justice reform. It’s a great time to Get On The Bus; come down to Cup & Bar, meet Nikki and come learn about what the Bus Project will be tackling this upcoming election cycle.
This event is free and open to the public. RSVP on facebook so we can plan appropriately.
Can’t make it next week? We’ll miss ya! But you can still donate today and show your support for our recent legislative victories, our new Director, our inspiring class of PolitiCorps students or our exciting plans for 2016. Thanks for your help!
See you next Tuesday,
– Amy, Aaron, Nikki, and the rest of Team Bus
Got 60 seconds this afternoon?
As you’ve maybe read about in The Oregonian, (they’ve written about our bill twice this week!), the Bus Project’s push to expunge petty pot crimes has directly led to some legislative victories.
We called over 1000 Oregonians who signed our petition and as many as 200 messages were delivered to our legislators asking for a commitment to expunge petty pot crimes, which would reduce institutional barriers to housing, education and employment and begin to rectify the War on Drugs. Our Phone Bank made the local news, too.
With 3400-A passed through both chambers with bipartisan support and signed by the Governor yesterday, we have an opportunity for one final success in a legislative session already filled with some big victories.
This morning, Senate Bill 844 passed out of chamber, and is heading to a vote in the House as early as tomorrow. This legislation would reduce the amount of time an Oregonian under the age of 21 has to wait to expunge their misdemeanors related to nonviolent marijuana crimes. This bill will provide a desperately needed leg-up to many Oregonians who are victims of our War on Drugs and are having difficulty obtaining education, housing and employment with these irrelevant records that shouldn’t ruin people’s lives.
Think about how much more you’ll enjoy this warm summer day knowing you reminded your legislator that you want to see fairer and more just criminal reform laws in Oregon. Look up your legislator and tell them why you think we should expunge these records and let working Oregonians and their families get on with their lives.
Who: You, hopefully!
What: Taking just one minute to call your friendly Representative and Senator (look ’em up here!) and ask for support for Senate Bill 844.
What’s that? It’s a bill likely going for a vote tomorrow (Friday!). It’d make it easier for young Oregonians to clean their records of petty marijuana crimes.
Why: Because Oregon made history when we legalized marijuana, but many families are still caught up in the ramifications of a misplaced criminal justice system, and past marijuana charges shouldn’t continue to ruin young Oregonians lives. This legislation is part of the Bus Project’s #FreshStartOregoncampaign.
How can I help? Look up your legislator and leave them a friendly message asking them to support #FreshStartOregon and to VOTE YES on SB 844. They’ll be happy to hear from you! You can also SHARE our facebook post or RETWEET us as well to help spread the word.
In January, the Bus Project brought on Nathan Howard as our Interim Executive Director for a short-term contract to support the Bus through an opportunity-filled legislative session and keep the organization strong while the board started a strategic planning process. We’ve achieved our audacious 6-year goal of making voter registration automatic and our strategic planning process is fully underway.
As we create plans for the future, the time is right to announce that after undertaking a national search, we have found our amazing new Executive Director: Nikki Fisher!
Oregon’s civic landscape is about to change forever, with over 300,000 new voters from New Motor Voter, and we have a new leader for that new landscape. Nikki Fisher has the right skills and experience to bring those new voters into the process and take them from first-time participants to lifelong social justice voters.
Nikki’s unique blend of hard political campaign experience, ballot measure organizing, issue advocacy and engagement, and deep commitment to Oregon will help the Bus Project meet the needs of the New Motor Voters and the bold new progressive landscape Oregon is embarking upon. With her talented organizing team of Amy and Aaron, the Bus will build on Oregon’s new progressive era to pass bold social justice policies and develop a new generation of diverse leaders and candidates.
Nikki joins the Bus after serving as Senator Sara Gelser’s Chief of Staff in the historic 2015 legislative session, where she helped Sen. Gelser pass landmark laws protecting domestic workers, campus sexual assault survivors, and LGBTQ Oregonians. Before that, she served as Sen. Gelser’s campaign manager, where she led hundreds of volunteers to knock on over 100,000 doors and win!
Before her foray into candidate politics, she ran the Eugene Office for Oregon United for Marriage, and spent four years running field and advocacy with the ACLU of Florida. Though she did spend a little time in Florida for college and ACLU-ing (we forgive her), she was born and raised in Portland, a proud graduate of David Douglas, and does all kinds of Portland things like hiking, biking, running, and brunching.
New Motor Voter is a transformative social justice reform that will change the landscape of Oregon democracy, and we are thrilled to have Nikki leading the Bus to engage and educate these new voters!
Nathan and the Board of Directors are supporting Nikki as she hits the ground running later this month and invite you to connect with her to share your ideas and feedback. We’re planning a welcome party for Nikki in mid-July; keep your eyes pealed for an invitation.
It’s a truly exciting time to be on the Bus.
Amy Sample Ward
Bus Project Foundation Board Chair
Bus Project Board Chair
The Bus made great strides this year to engage, empower and educate young leaders, and we’ve got a strong crew to jump into summer organizing and host the 11th anniversary of PolitiCorps Summer.
Here’s a quick lowdown on what we’re currently working on:
- PolitiCorps kicked off today! Bus Project Leadership Development Coordinator Amy Kessler has brought together a mighty impressive cohort for our annual summer fellowship program, and they’re gearing up for ten weeks of registering voters, talkin’ civic engagement, and picking up the skills necessary to be the next generation of Oregon’s leaders.
- Last week, the Bus Project and our trusty volunteers called over 1000 Oregonians to lobby their legislators in support of our #FreshStartOregon campaign to expunge obsolete nonviolent marijuana charges. We made the local news, and Rick Steves (yes, that Rick Steves) gave our expungement bill a shoutout in the Oregonian. Help us get to 2,000 signatures and sign our petition.
- We’re in the early stages of stitching together plans to coordinate with our partners and ensure that our historic New Motor Voter legislation will empower hundreds of thousands of Oregonians to participate in upcoming elections. Stay tuned.
- Thanks to your generosity, the Bus Project’s Membership Drive last week was a resounding success. We picked up dozens of new monthly donors who will help us fund all of our work to get young Oregonians registered and ready to vote and, ultimately, go change the world. Thanks for your support.
Amy Sample Ward, Bus Project Foundation Board Chair
Joe Baessler, Bus Project Board Chair
TL; DR: Volunteer with us and help us win the Fresh Start Oregon campaign. Details on our facebook page.
You’ve been waiting patiently for your chance to volunteer and help us win the Fresh Start Oregon campaign, and now, the time is finally here.
Back in April, the Bus Project launched the Fresh Start Oregon campaign, to ask Salem’s lawmakers to expunge all the nonviolent marijuana charges. This common sense policy acknowledges that the failed war on drugs has had devastating impacts to our communities, and that a single pot charge shouldn’t be enough to ruin the lives of young Oregonians.
1700+ signatures, some press coverage and plenty of lawmaking shenanigans later, Representative Ann Lininger has introduced an amendment to HB 3100 that will fulfill exactly what our campaign was hoping for: A Fresh Start for all Oregonians. Now, it’s time for us to make sure our legislators know how important this bill is to Oregonians across the state. By expunging these records, Oregon could set a standard to be followed by the dozens of states likely to legalize marijuana in the years ahead.
It’s time to make a ruckus, and that’s where you come in.
Swing by the Bus Project HQ (333 SE 2nd, Portland OR, 97214) on Thursday, June 11th at 5:30, as we phonebank our petition signatures and encourage them to contact their legislators to support this amendment. We’ve collected a *lot* of signatures, and we need a *lot* of folks to show up to make sure our elected officials in Salem hear from us.
RSVP on facebook so we can plan appropriately, and invite your friends.
Don’t live in Portland but still wanna volunteer? Send us an email.
See you Thursday!
– Aaron, Amy, Nathan, and Team Bus!
We’re just over halfway in our week of giving here at the Bus Project, and you’ve absolutely knocked our socks off with your generosity! Since Monday, we’ve raised over $1200 through monthly donations; your donations help ensure that the next generation of Oregonians are empowered to become leaders in their community to fight on issues like LGBTQ equality, climate change, and civil rights. Here are some examples to show you exactly what your dollars can help support when you give to the Bus this week:
At $100 a month you can ensure the Bus Project can provide a stipend, TriMet Pass, homestay, clipboard, sunscreen, Bus Project “Get On the Bus” Pin, “Vote F*cker” tshirt, and curriculum for one of our amazing PolitiCorps fellows!
2014 PolitiCorps class, looking snazzy as all get out.
At $50 a month you can support one of our massive GOTV canvasses; last year we knocked on over ten thousand doors across the state for the Safe Roads Campaign.
Give $50 a month to the Bus Project and you could sponsor one of these!
At $25 a month you can help personally pay for a Bus Trip down to Salem to ensure that a busload of the next generation of Oregon’s leaders are given the opportunity to testify at the state capitol! (Ben, our trusty Bus Driver, particularly likes this option)
Ben says, “Get on the Bus!”
At $10 a month you can provide snacks and refreshments for *five* phonebanks. In the last year, the Bus Project made phone calls for the Safe Roads Campaign, the Yes on 91 Campaign, and the Levy to Rebuild schools at the Reynolds School District. We’re also hosting a phonebank for the Fresh Start Oregon campaign Thursday, June 11th; click HERE for more details….
At $8.50 a month you can help cover the costs of distributing our Voters Guides to an entire college campus! Our Voters Guides were a hit last year, and helped new voters learn more about the issues on the ballot.
AND AT $5 a month, you can almost entirely cover the expenses for one of our famed “Brewhaha” events, in which we get young folks together to talk about contemporary issues. Last month, our Brewhaha featured Senators Steiner Hayward and Dembrow, who each had cat gifs in their slides.
Interim Executive Director Nathan Howard, throwin’ down on New Motor Voter
DID WE MENTION: ALL MONTHLY DONORS are also promised free drinks at all of our Brewhaha events.
What are you waiting for?
But seriously, everything we do – volunteer recruitment nights, voter registration drives, phonebanking shifts for important social justice initiatives, passing legislation for the biggest piece of voting rights in recent history – happens because of the the untold hours of volunteer support and generosity of our donors and Bus Drivers.
However you choose to support the Bus Project, know that you’re helping empower the next generation of Oregonians to become leaders in our community, to change the face of the electorate, to win on issues – climate change, education, civil rights – that matter. It’s an investment in a better Oregon, and we’re honored to have your support.
– Aaron, Outreach Coordinator at the Bus Project
Thank you so much for your continued support of the Bus Project. You’ve helped us accomplish great things, including passing the groundbreaking and nationally-renowned New Motor Voter law, launching our Fresh Start Oregon campaign and preparing for this year’s PolitiCorps class. Thanks to our legislative victory, the Bus Project is poised to reach out to as many as 400,000 (yep that’s right – 400,000!) new voters in Oregon.
This week is the Bus Project’s week of giving. Starting today, the Oregon Bus Project enters into a contest with our partners around the country. Our national partners have provided rewards up to $6000 for hitting our fundraising goals in the week of June 1st to June 8th.
That’s where you come in. We need your help.
Please consider becoming a Bus Driver and donating monthly to the Bus Project. For just $5 or $10 a month, the Bus Project can reach out to those 400,000 new voters. Plus, you get a free drink at Brewhaha events, and the pride that you’re ensuring the next generation of Oregonians are ready to take the reigns and better their communities through organizing across the state.
If you are a current monthly member, thank you for being a rock star! We hope that you will consider increasing your monthly donation by $3 (that’s just one extra cup of coffee each month) to ensure that we have enough clipboards and pens for every volunteer we recruit, for every pledge to vote they gather.
Voting is the first step in ensuring that young people participate in their democracy and make their voices heard.
It is through the gamechanging New Motor Voter law that we can lead the way for the nation and make registering to vote more accessible than ever. Your contributions are what keeps the Bus able to empower young voters and encourage them to become politically engaged.
Oregon is now in a unique position; we’ll be the first state to have an election with nearly the full state registered to vote. With your help, we can ensure all these newly registered voters are getting those ballots in the mail. Please consider giving to the Bus Project this week!
With much love,
The Bus Family
We had a wonderful evening last Thursday to celebrate our #newmotorvoter victory and to talk about what lies ahead for voting enfranchisement for the Bus Project and our partner organizations. Tremendous thanks to Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward and Senator Michael Dembrow for speaking with the Bus Project and the Center for Intercultural Organizing, Common Cause Oregon and the Oregon Student Association. A big thanks also to our gracious hosts at Cup & Bar, and to our presenters for the gratuitous photos of cute cats throughout the slideshows highlighting the next steps for voting rights. We’ll have another Brewhaha in a few weeks; keep your eyes pealed!
New Motor Voter: Success! You probably already knew that. But it’s a pretty big victory, and it’s worth reiterating that many young Oregonians will have better access to the ballot thanks to New Motor Voter. It’s arguably the country’s biggest voter enfranchisement bill in decades, and similar policies are now being proposed in Illinois and California. We’re laying the groundwork for a great 18 months of reaching out to young voters leading up to the 2016 elections; send us a message if you want to help us ensure all these newly registered voters get to the polls. As a sign of thanks, we’ll also send you a nice .gif of VoteBot dancing.
Fresh Start Oregon: Ongoing! While House Bill 3372 died in committee, we’ve been closely working with legislators who are currently working to include similar language into a new bill currently being debated in Salem. This is in no small part due to the overwhelming response from Bus Project volunteers like you. When 1700+ Oregonians demand that marijuana charges should no longer ruin lives, our legislators listen. We’re eager to see this bill through to success, and we’ll be announcing volunteer opportunties soon (potentially in the next week), so stay tuned! Have you signed the petition yet? And if so, can you share it with your friends?
OTHER BILLS WE ARE WATCHING
Many of these great causes are going down to the wire, and could greatly use your support:
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM: As we learned at the Brewhaha last week, Oregon is only one Senate vote away from passing a bill to allow Oregonians to vote on campaign finance limits in 2016. SJR 5 would empower everyday Oregonians to participate more fully in the political decision-making process by eliminating the influence of big money on elections. We’ve endorsed the bill and we encourage Bus supporters to go sign the petition circulated by our pals at Common Cause Oregon.
ACTION ON CLIMATE: Oregon Climate‘s been kicking butt and taking names in Salem. Thanks to their work, there’s two bills being discussed to price carbon, and there’s a forthcoming hearing on a bill to implement their cap and dividend bill. We’ll be sure to share details as their available. Here’s how to get involved!
ENDING PROFILING: Across Oregon, people are targeted based on their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, language, housing status, sexual orientation, or gender identity – in the streets, in our schools, and in our own neighborhoods. That’s obviously no good. The Bus Project encourages you to sign the petition circulated by the Center For Intercultural Organizing in support of House Bill 2002.
PAY IT FORWARD: Student debt is crippling the ability of the next generation of Oregonians to afford higher education. The Bus Project testified in March to support the Pay It Forward bill, which would allow students to attend public universities debt-free by promising to pay a share of their future income after graduation. Learn more about how you can support Pay It Forward.
OUTDOOR SCHOOL: Nothing quite defines growing up in Oregon quite like that week spent in the woods with Outdoor School. If you send a quick letter, we can help ensure funding for a full week of Outdoor School for every 5th and 6th grader in the state. Seems like a worthy use of 60 seconds, yeah?
Inspired by all the cool work we’re doing, and lamenting you can’t volunteer with us? That’s okay. Donating $50, $20, even $10 helps us keep VoteBot well-oiled, clipboards in the hands of our PolitiCorps Fellows, and our volunteers well-fed.
Consider throwing a few bucks our way, so we can do more of this: