Action Alert: Judiciary Committee Taking Up HEA Drug Provision 9/10/04

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As you may know, earlier this week DRCNet sent an action alert to subscribers living states which have Senators who sit on the Judiciary Committee. The alert concerned the Higher Education Act drug provision, a law that delays or denies federal financial aid to students because of drug convictions, and which DRCNet has worked since 1998 to repeal. The Committee had scheduled a vote on this past Thursday.

As often happens in Congress, the vote has been delayed -- which means there is still time to write, fax, call or visit your Senator's office if you haven't already. The vote will take place -- soon -- on a bill, S. 1860, whose main purpose is to reauthorize the Office of National Drug Control Police. The bill is certain to pass, and includes as part of it a change to the Higher Education Act to scale back the financial aid penalty to only apply to people who were in school and receiving aid at the time of their offenses.

This is good, but not good enough. Please scan the following list to see if you have a Senator on the Judiciary Committee, and to get his or her contact information if so. Then please call and/or fax your Senator today to urge that the Higher Education Act's drug provision instead be repealed in full.

Alabama: Jeff Sessions (R-AL), (202) 224-4124, (202) 224-3149
Arizona: Jon Kyl (R), (202) 224-4521, fax (202) 224-2207
California: Dianne Feinstein (D), (202) 224-3841, fax: (202) 228-3954
Delaware: Joseph Biden (D), (202) 224-5042, fax: (202) 224-0139
Georgia: Saxby Chambliss (R), (202) 224-3521, fax: (202) 224-0103
Idaho: Larry Craig (R), (202) 224-2752, fax: (202) 228-1067
Illinois: Richard Durbin (D), (202) 224-2152, fax: (202) 228-0400
Iowa: Charles Grassley (R), (202) 224-3744; fax: (202) 224-6020
Massachusetts: Edward Kennedy (D), (202) 224-4543, fax: (202) 224-2417
New York: Charles Schumer (D-NY), (202) 224-6542, fax: (202) 228-3027
North Carolina: John Edwards (D), (202) 224-3154, fax: (202) 228-1374
Ohio: Mike DeWine (R), (202) 224-2315, fax: (202) 224-6519
Pennsylvania: Arlen Specter (R), (202) 224-4254; fax: (202) 228-1229
South Carolina: Lindsey Graham (R) (202) 224-5972, fax: (202) 224-1189
Texas: John Cornyn (R), (202) 224-2934, fax: (202) 228-2856
Utah: Orrin Hatch (R), (202) 224-5251, fax: (202) 224-5251
Vermont: Patrick Leahy (D), (202) 224-4242
Wisconsin: Herbert Kohl (D), (202) 224-5653, fax: (202) 224-9787
Wisconsin: Russell Feingold (D), (202) 224-5323, fax: (202) 224-2725
You can also contact your Senator online, using a web site we've set up for this purpose, http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com/senate/ -- there is a prewritten letter there, which we encourage you to edit. Our online grassroots lobbying system will direct your letter to your Senator, if you live in one of the states listed above. Also, please write us at [email protected] to let us know that you've taken action and to report back to us on any potentially important information about this vote that you learned. Thanks for your help on this important issue.

Last but not least, please visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com for further information on this issue and the ongoing campaign to repeal this bad law. Some talking points for your phone calls:

  • Over 150,000 people have been affected by this law, all of whom had already been punished by the criminal justice system.
  • The vast majority of Americans convicted of drug offenses are convicted of nonviolent, low-level possession.
  • The HEA drug provision represents a penalty levied only on the poor and the working class; wealthier students will not have the doors of college closed to them for want to financial aid.
  • The HEA drug provision has a disparate impact on different races. African Americans, for example, comprise 13% of the population and 13% of all drug users, but account for more than 55% of those convicted of drug possession charges.
  • Access to a college education is the surest route to the mainstream economy and a crime-free life.
Again, visit http://www.RaiseYourVoice.com to write to Congress and get involved in the campaign! Students, visit http://www.ssdp.org to learn about Students for Sensible Drug Policy, an organization playing a leading role in this effort.

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Issue #353, 9/10/04 They're Back! Two DEA Raids on California Medical Marijuana Operations in Two Weeks | Push for Medical Marijuana Legislation Underway in New Jersey | CRCM Makes Final Court Bid to Get Marijuana Regulation Initiative on Nevada Ballot | DRCNet Book Review: "My Cocaine Museum," by Michael Taussig (2004, University of Chicago Press, 360 pp., $22.50 HB) | Action Alert: Judiciary Committee Taking Up HEA Drug Provision | Newsbrief: Pittsburgh Gives Preliminary Okay to Continuing Needle Exchange Program | Newsbrief: German Drug Deaths Down, Government Cites Harm Reduction Policies | Newsbrief: Initiative Fails to Make Ballot in Arkansas, Another Gets Kicked Off Ballot in Tallahassee | Newsbrief: MPP Sues Minneapolis over Medical Marijuana Ballot Access | Newsbrief: Denver Post Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: Canada's National Post Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: US and Philippines in Joint "Narcoterrorism" Exercises | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar
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