In 2018, Indivisible groups sought ways to better coordinate not just as a federal movement, but to act as a single voice at the state level as well. Groups in 30 states built out statewide coordinating structures to share information, coordinate activities, and build partnerships. For example, in Illinois, groups strengthened the Indivisible Illinois network, creating a fellowship program to teach people about grassroots organizing. It also worked to protect the right to vote and successfully push for the Equal Rights Amendment ratification in May. In Texas, Indivisible groups came together in 2018 to plan out a strategy for the 2019 state legislative session. They held coordinating calls, built up their infrastructure, and provided policy information. But the largest statewide campaigns this year happened in two states -- Virginia and California.
Expanding Medicaid in virginia.
As new progressive legislators arrived in Richmond, Virginia Indivisibles were excited to push their new representatives to use their power. Their #1 priority? A long overdue expansion of Medicaid to 400,000 Virginians.
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When the legislative session opened in 2018, Indivisibles made it clear that they were here to stay, and demanded action to expand Medicaid. Indivisible groups partnered with organizations like the New Virginia Majority, the Virginia Commonwealth Institute, and SEIU VA to press the state legislature to include Medicaid expansion in the budget. Indivisible groups held four actions at the Capitol, getting the attention of local media and legislators. “They showed up,” State Representative Danica Roem told Rachel Maddow. “Our folks from Indivisible NoVa West came down, so many other folks, time after time after time.” This pressure created by Indivisible and our partners was so powerful, that legislators who had stymied this vote for five years switched their vote, which passed 61 to 31. And now after years of failed attempts, Medicaid has been expanded to 400,000 more Virginians.
Modeling a progressive future in california.
Represented at the federal level primarily by progressive champions, California Indivisibles looked for new opportunities to push for progressive change. They focused their strength on the state level and made California into the country’s model for progressive policies.
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Since the beginning, California has been a hub of Indivisible’s power and is home to the largest number of Indivisible groups. California Indivisibles looked to Sacramento for additional ways to flex their constituent power. With support from Indivisible’s organizing and policy staff, California groups formed CA State Strong, Indivisible’s California’s statewide policy group. Begun as a Twitter account in July 2017, CA State Strong is now an active coalition of 41 California Indivisible groups representing over 32,000 people.
Indivisible brought a coalition of Indivisible groups together and strategized on where their constituent power would have the most impact, focusing on passing five priority bills: AB 3131, which established stronger community controls over police spending; SB 822, the strongest state-level net neutrality bill in the country; SB 100, the most aggressive renewable energy portfolio standard in the country; SB 1421, which opens police misconduct records to the public; and AB 931, which would limit the cases when police can use deadly force. Of these five bills, four made it to the governor’s desk, and three became law.
Indivisibles also worked on defense, stopping AB 84, which would have allowed more corporate money in state politics, and AB 813, which would have given control of California’s energy grid to the federal government. Both bills were priorities of the governor. We worked in partnership with groups like the ACLU of California, Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Anti-Police Terror Project, American Friends Service Committee, 350 Bay Area, CA Clean Money, Common Cause, and the Courage Campaign to push for these progressive wins.
Indivisibles are pushing California to lead the way to the progressive future we want to see. And the success of our groups in California has helped us develop a model that we are rolling out nationwide in 2019 through our State Guide. We can’t wait to see their work replicated by Indivisibles across the country.
Indivisible groups also pushed for progressive change at the local level, changing their communities with their activism. They partnered with other community groups to stand for progressive values and build power -- everywhere.
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In Bensalem, Pennsylvania, Indivisible groups learned their township was going to sign up for 287(g), which deputizes local law enforcement to act as ICE agents. A county-wide coalition, led by Buxmont Inclusive & Progressive and a Bensalem community activist, decided to take action to protect their neighbors. They partnered with local branches of the NAACP, Make the Road, Juntos, the ACLU, the Bucks County Board of Human Relations, the Doylestown Immigrant Rights Action Group, and members of the Bensalem Latino community, to pack overflowing public hearings, voicing their strong opposition on behalf of vulnerable neighbors. They called local and federal representatives, met with local police, and held public rallies to keep up the pressure. As a result of their activism, not only did Bensalem township back off of implementing 287(g), but neighboring townships who had been considering the program also dropped it.
In Nashville, Tennessee, Indivisible Nashville and Middle Tennessee Indivisible joined the Community Oversight Board Coalition to support Amendment 1, which would establish an advisory and investigative body overseeing the Nashville Police Department in cases of police misconduct. The Coalition was formed by black mothers wanting to change Nashville’s long history of police brutality against communities of color. Indivisible groups joined groups like Black Lives Matter Nashville and the Nashville NAACP to push for the Amendment’s passage in November. Indivisible groups filled in gaps in the coalition, actively canvassing historically white neighborhoods and holding events to build support for the Amendment. The amendment passed overwhelmingly, with 59% of the vote.