The Miracle Mile Democratic Club hosted its annual “Miracle” awards ceremony on Sunday to honor lawmakers and groups for their progressive values over the past year.
“If you see the people who are getting awards, one thing that runs through them is courage,” said Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles).
State Senator Ben Allen, 26th District, was honored as the group’s rookie of the year. The club said they were impressed with his controversial bill on vaccinations, SB 277, which was recently signed by Governor Brown.
Lieu introduced Allen, whose districts overlap by approximately 70-80 percent. Lieu explained that Allen’s vaccination bill, over which he received death threats about, took out two exemptions that allowed a lot of parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.
“That’s dangerous, not just for their children, but other children that they interact with,” Lieu said. “A lot of people in our district were very passionately opposed. Getting that through the legislature and to the governor is a tremendous accomplishment for his first year in office. This is just the beginning.”
Allen said he appreciates that people “who believe in science” supported his bill, and now it needs compassionate implementation.
“There are a lot of people out there who are scared,” Allen said. “A lot of people are confused. There are a lot of people who have legitimate problems with vaccines. We wrote this bill very carefully to give doctors a lot of discretion to be able to give medical exemptions whether there’s any medical or scientific reason to not give [vaccinations], we want to make sure that option is there with them.”
Lieu said he and Allen not only share constituents, they also share similar ideas on some of the pressing issues facing government.
“We both share a view, which is that there’s a thousand issues [we] deal with every day, but only one can kill us as a species, and that’s climate change,” Lieu said. “We both believe that we have to do something about climate change now, or else our children and grandchildren are going to have some severe problems.”
Allen called on the attendees to support climate change legislation that state government will decide soon – SB 350, which calls for 50 percent reduction in petroleum use by 2030, and SB 32, which calls for decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.
“Short of the next presidential election, nothing is more important for our environment than these two bills,” Allen said. “Nothing is happening in Washington. It’s a place where good ideas go to die. We have a special opportunity to put California at the front of the global conversation on climate change.”
Allen called for support to help other democrats to make the “right” decision on climate change.
“Help them to be able to look their grandchild in the eye 30 or 40 years from now when they ask, ‘where were you when your time came and you were asked to do right for the future of humanity and the future of the planet and the environment?’”
Lieu said he and Allen both also agree that transportation and roads are areas that need improvements.
“We all know we need to fix the roads,” Allen said. “Especially Wilshire Boulevard. I take my life in my hands on some stretches of the road. But we also need to get some money into public transit.”
The club also honored former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis. In 2013, Davis held a successful 11-hour filibuster of a bill that would have imposed additional abortion restrictions in Texas, and gained national attention. Every speaker at the event thanked Davis for being a passionate leader.
“I remember being in the state senate on a particularly long day and I was sitting there on the floor and then I looked at my phone and my Twitter feed starts to fill up about this politician in Texas who’s doing this filibuster and I started reading more about it,” Lieu said. “I started showing it to colleagues and we started following the stories and it was a very inspirational evening for us to see what Wendy did and how she was able to change the conversation.”
Other speakers told Davis she had inspired women to join political movements and occupations with her filibuster.
The club auctioned pairs of sneakers that looked like the sneakers Davis wore during the filibuster, which led to a break in the speaking as Councilman David Ryu, 4th District, pushed his bids into the hundreds of dollars. Those who were bidding eventually made agreements to share available pairs of shoes.
Citing progressive actions of former Chief Justice Earl Warren and Justice Anthony Kennedy, and using the shoes symbolically, Davis encouraged everyone to step into other people’s shoes and they will be able to do the same.
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