Action Alert: Still Time to Contact Judiciary Committee Members About HEA Drug Provision 9/24/04

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Last month, 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 initially scheduled a vote relevant to the issue a few weeks ago.

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 Policy. 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 Then please call and/or fax your Senator today to urge that the Higher Education Act's drug provision instead be repealed in full.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 drug convictions are for simple, 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.

-- END --
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Issue #355, 9/24/04 Editorial: The Moral Choice is Clear | With New Sentencing Legislation Pending in Congress, Church Leaders Urge an End to Mandatory Minimums | Patients, Doctors, Supporters Head to Washington to Demand Rescheduling of Marijuana as a Medicine | For Second Year, John W. Perry Fund Helps Students with Drug Convictions Afford College | DRCNet Interview: Michael Badnarik, Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate | DRCNet Book Review: "Patients in The Crossfire: Casualties in The War On Medical Marijuana," by Americans For Safe Access | Action Alert: Still Time to Contact Judiciary Committee Members About HEA Drug Provision | Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Signs Syringe Access Bill, Vetoes NEP Bill | Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bill Barring High School Drug Testing | Newsbrief: New Jersey Needle Exchange Bill on Fast Track, Passes First Hurdle | Newsbrief: Former Child Actor Macauley Culkin Busted for Drugs in All-Too-Typical Cave-In to Police Search Request | Newsbrief: Montel Williams Show Brings Medical Marijuana Issue to the Masses | Newsbrief: Bush Warns of Canada Drug Threat, Whistles Past Afghan Opium Fields | Newsbrief: Guatemala Seeks More Anti-Drug Money from United States | Newsbrief: Decades of Colombian Drug War Brings... New, More Efficient Drug Organizations | Newsbrief: Narc Hates Free Publicity | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: British Drug Policy Think Tank Says Government Abandoned Planned Heroin Maintenance Expansion | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar
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