Archive for the ‘Wellstone’ Category

The one silver lining of the Wall Street bailout legislation that was just passed and signed into law by the President is the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. It has been a long journey that has finally come to an end. 



“This bill is a major achievement, one I know my dad would be proud of,” said David Wellstone. “This bill will go a long way to ease the pain and suffering of those with mental illness and addiction, and I am proud to have been part of this effort. It’s a great day.” David Wellstone is the co-founder of Wellstone Action, an organization that has been mobilizing support for the bill.


Read the Wellstone Action announcement here.


Peace & solidarity,



Read Full Post »

My last post was about the Wellstone mental health legislation and it’s passage in the House. Now it seems to be stalled and is in danger of not becoming law unless the Senate moves it foward.

David Wellstone and Wellstone Action sent out this urgent appeal:



Our last hope is in the Senate.


Washington is very busy today, working to address our current economic crisis.  We have to pull out all the stops to make sure they get the message – the Wellstone bill must be passed into law before they adjourn.


As I told you late last week, while both houses of Congress passed mental health and addiction parity legislation, procedural differences mean that it won’t get sent to the President’s desk unless the Senate acts now.  To read more, click here.

Call your Senators NOW: 1-866-parity4


Congress must not go home without final passage of the Wellstone bill. We’ve come too far to fail now.  Send a bill to the President’s desk and get it signed into law!




David Wellstone and the team at Wellstone Action!


Make the call!

Peace & solidarity,


Read Full Post »

It is about damn time!

The House passed the Wellstone parity legislation 376 to 47. A Bluestem Prairie has nice coverage of the story. As Ollie Ox pointed out, the only member of the Minnesota delegation to vote against this important piece of legislation was Rep. Michelle Bachman. Maybe if there was an amendment allowing drilling for oil  in ANWR she could have supported it.

It has been a long while since I featured a Big Dooker of The Week and I really have other things I could be doing right now, but Rep. Bachmann has outdone herself this week with this vote and her attempts to link drilling for oil in ANWR to the Wall Street bailout legislation.

Congratulations Michelle, you are our Big Dooker of The Week.

Peace & solidarity,


Read Full Post »

An email from David Wellstone alerts us to the possibility of a compromise and final vote on H.R. 1424,  the ”Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2008”. From the Wellstone Action website is this description of the bill:

The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act is legislation that would end the practice of insurance companies discriminating against people suffering from mental illness. Sponsored by Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Wellstone’s friend Representative Jim Ramstad (R-MN), the bill would compel insurance companies to treat mental illness the same as physical illness, given the overwhelming scientific evidence that mental illness is a disease every bit as real and serious as physical illness. This practice is often referred to as “mental health parity.”

David Wellstone had this to say:

…the final touches are being put on a compromise between the House and Senate, and we believe that a bill could go to the President’s desk next week.  But, if it doesn’t happen then, it’s likely we’d have to start all over again with the new Congress next year.

The Senate and House have passed different versions of the legislation and have been working on settling their differences since the House passed its version in March of this year. 1st District Congressman Tim Walz was a co-sponsor and supporter of this legislation. Representatives John Kline (R-MN2) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN6) were both in the NAY column, continuing their tradition of voting against the best interests of their constituents.

A favorable editorial in the July 5th Minneapolis StarTribune praises the Wellstone family and Congressman Jim Ramstad for their efforts on the bill and concludes their remarks with this:

Many business groups have long opposed coverage parity, saying costs could drive up premiums substantially. But one estimate by the Congressional Budget Office concluded the impact would be relatively small: a 0.4 percent premium increase for group health insurance. In addition, the federal employees’ health plan has had a parity policy since 2001; one study found no significant cost increase as a result. Part of the explanation likely lies in the value of treating mental conditions early and avoiding expensive complications and hospitalization later.

Many states already have laws in place that provide some protection for patients struggling with mental illness or addiction. Minnesota has one of the strongest. A federal law would not preempt those laws. What it would do is make sure no one falls through the cracks. Mental disorders are one of the most devastating diagnoses families can face. Their health insurers should work with them –not against them — at this difficult time.

A final call-in day to members of congress will is scheduled for Wednesday, July 9. Stay tuned for details on the call-in!

David Wellstone testifies before Congress in March of this year:





Peace & solidarity,


Read Full Post »

Wellstone Action today announced a redesigned website. The new site incorporates a resource library for organizing tools, a blog, photo and video library, an alumni hub plus many of the old features including a training calendar for Camp Wellstone. Wellstone Action has been around since January of 2003 when it was founded to honor Paul and Sheila Wellstone.

From the website:

Wellstone Action is a national center for training and leadership development for the progressive movement. Founded in January 2003, Wellstone Action’s mission is to honor the legacy of Paul and Sheila Wellstone by continuing their work through training, educating, mobilizing and organizing a vast network of progressive individuals and organizations.
I have had the opportunity to know a number of graduates of Camp Wellstone and have seen the positive results of their training. There is also a ton of information about campaigns and elections available on the site.
Here is a video that is featured on the banner of the home page and has some great clips (including one from 1984 at 4:49) of the late Senator Paul Wellstone.
Peace & solidarity

Read Full Post »

Legislation also known as “mental health parity” is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, March 5. From the Wellstone Action website is this description: 

The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act is legislation that would end the practice of insurance companies discriminating against people suffering from mental illness.  Sponsored by Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Wellstone’s friend Representative Jim Ramstad (R-MN), the bill would compel insurance companies to treat mental illness the same as physical illness, given the overwhelming scientific evidence that mental illness is a disease every bit as real and serious as physical illness.  This practice is often referred to as “mental health parity.”

In an report filed by the AP  the late Senator’s son had this to say:

I cannot emphasize enough how historic this vote will be,” said Wellstone’s son, David Wellstone, in a letter to activists. “For five years, I have heard promise after promise that Congress will pass mental health parity legislation in my father’s honor.”

and from the same AP report is this from Representative Ramstad:

We’ve waited 12 long years, and we’re finally getting a vote in the House to pass landmark legislation ending discrimination against people who need treatment for mental illness and chemical addiction,” Ramstad said in a statement released by his office.

Representative Tim Walz(D), from the 1st congressional district of Minnesota and my congressman, is one of 273 cosponsors of H.R. 1424. Is your congressperson on the list?

Contact congress and say thank you to those who are supporting this legislation and encourage those who are not to reconsider.

Peace & solidarity,


UPDATE March 4 2008: Received this email from Wellstone Action:

Call today!  I’m making my 9th trip out to Washington because millions of American lives, and a critical part of my father’s legacy, are at stake.  After all the years and all the promises, we need to pass mental health and addiction fairness legislation out of the House. 

I know it’s been a long campaign, but we need you to call one more time.

Call your Member of Congress TODAY and ask them to vote YES on the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act (HR 1424).

Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121ask to be connected to your Representative

Let us know you called by sending us an email at info@wellstone.org

Thank you.  I’ll be in Washington today and tomorrow having last-minute face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and watching the action on the floor on Wednesday.  Your calls will be critical grassroots backup to my visits!


End Update

Read Full Post »

Five years ago on October 25 the labor movement, the State of Minnesota, and the nation lost a great friend and Senator in a tragic airplane crash in northern Minnesota. Sheila Wellstone, his wife and a strong voice on the issue of domestic violence, was also lost along with their daughter, Marcia Wellstone Markuson. Friends and confidants Tom Lapic, Mary McEvoy, and Will McLaughlin also perished.

I remember the day clearly as I was working and a coworker came up to me and asked if I had heard that the Senator’s plane had crashed. I couldn’t believe it and I did not want to believe it. I could think of nothing else the rest of the day and as soon as I punched out I raced to my car to turn on the radio. The news announcer confirmed what I didn’t want to hear. Senator Wellstone had been killed in an airplane crash. It was a long tearful drive home. Our lives would change forever.

I had been blessed to have many opportunities to meet the Senator and his wife Sheila. It was always exciting and energizing. I was always impressed with his decisions to take stands on controversial issues despite the political fallout. Paul Wellstone’s courage on the Iraq War resolution is something we see little of today.

The last time I saw Paul and Sheila Wellstone was in early August of 2002 at the Minnsota AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention in Duluth, Minnesota. It was a happy and exciting time. As usual, Paul had energized the delegates and we were eager to go out and work hard on his re-election.

I had an opportunity to take these pictures at a poolside rally for Senator Wellstone. Please excuse the quality as I had an older digital camera at the time and it was hard to capture the Senator standing still. Click on the pictures for a larger image. For additional information and pictures about Senator Wellstone and his wife Sheila go to the Wellstone Action online archive.

Delegates to the 2002 MN AFL-CIO convention wait poolside for Senator Wellstone. Can you find Paul in the crowd?


This was a familiar sight as Senator Wellstone energizes the crowd!


Alan Netland, President of the Duluth Central Labor Council enjoys a moment with the late Senator Paul Wellstone. Netland now also serves as the President of the Northeast Area Labor Council.


Sheila and Paul Wellstone with Alan Netland at the 2002 MN AFL-CIO convention in Duluth.


Peace & solidarity,


Read Full Post »

Wellstone Action posted this video of the late Senator Paul Wellstone on their site as part of their effort to promote the September 23  rally to end the war in Iraq. The rally will be 1:00 PM Sunday, September 23, in St. Paul on the steps of the Capitol. Since I will be working my regular job or re-roofing my garage I will be there in spirit only.

Senator Wellstone took a courageous stand with his vote. It is tragic that more of his colleagues did not join him.

Peace & solidarity,


Read Full Post »

I received this notice in my in-box today. I wrote on this topic last week and now is the time to take action if you care!


We need your help this Wednesday, May 2. As the bipartisan push for mental health fairness continues in the U.S. House of Representatives, Wellstone Action is joining national advocacy organizations and the offices of Congressmen Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Jim Ramstad (R-MN) to use National Parity Day this Wednesday as an opportunity to push Congress to finally support the Wellstone bill for mental health fairness.

The bill, supported by a bipartisan group of representatives, is a new version of legislation that Paul Wellstone championed for over a decade in Congress. With bipartisan support and new leadership in Congress, chances for passing the Wellstone bill are better than ever. But we’ve been through this before, only to see the bill get held up by opponents in Congressional committees. If we are serious about finally passing the Wellstone bill and honoring Paul Wellstone’s legacy, now is the time to raise our voices. The Wellstone bill is awaiting action in several House committees and unless it passes through these committees and sent to the House floor in the next two months, chances for its passage in 2007 are slim.

Here’s how you can help. On Wednesday, call the national parity hotline (1-866-PARITY4) and ask to be connected to your member of Congress. The message to your representative is simple:

“I am calling to urge you to support the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act. This is a bipartisan bill that is co-sponsored by a majority of House members. It is common sense legislation that ends discrimination against people suffering from mental illness and addiction. The Wellstone bill is fair, just, and long overdue. Please support this bill and urge your colleagues to finally pass it out of the House this year.”

Thank you for your help in getting us to where we’re at today. Because of your calls and faxes, we exceeded our goal for recruiting co-sponsors of the Wellstone bill. We’ve kept the issue in front of Congress and let them know that we will not go away until we pass the bill. Now we need to keep the pressure up. The next two months are critical; your help on Wednesday will make a big difference!

Wellstone Action


Peace and solidarity


Read Full Post »

The past several days have been filled with violence. Notably, Virginia Tech and Baghdad.
Posted by PicasaI have a couple of thoughts about the discussions coming out of the Virginia Tech tragedy.
While many people are instantly drawn to the question of our gun culture and our gun laws I think we have an opportunity to seriously discuss our views on mental illness. Check out the NAMI website for information and to find out how your state measures up in a state by state analysis. It is also an opportunity to support passage of the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act . Originally introduced by the late Senator Paul Wellstone the legislation would require insurance companies to treat mental illness the same as physical illness. It is now being championed in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Jim Ramstad (R-MN). Introduced in the House on March 7, H.R 1424 has 256 cosponsors. The Senate companion bill, “The Mental Health Parity Act of 2007”, is sponsored by Senators Kennedy (D-MA), Domenici (R-NM), and Enzi (R-WY).
Check out the information and ways to take action at Wellstone Action.
Violence in Baghdad continues with horrific bombings claiming many more innocent lives. Presidential hopeful, Republican John McCain, has shown he is good at the BIG LIE when he made his infamous walk in the Baghdad market, cheerily buying carpets. wearing a baseball style cap (probably way to tight), and proclaiming the walk as proof that the surge is working. Never mind that he was surrounded by heavily armed U.S. troops with snipers on the roof tops and Apache helicopters hovering overhead. He should apologize to the men and women whose lives he put at risk for his photo-op and reimburse the taxpayers for this campaign event. The military officials who allowed it to happen should also be held accountable. He continues to show that he would be a frightening leader with his recent singing debut. McCain should seriously think about retirement while he can still salvage some respect.
peace & solidarity

Read Full Post »