The following information on the Crime Bill was provided by NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws)
FROM: Rob Kampia, Chapter Coordinator
DATE: Wednesday, April 6 DEADLINE: Wednesday, April 13
RE: You have one week to tell the House Rules Committee what you think of the crime bill.
OVERVIEW & UPDATE
In November 1993, the U.S. Senate passed a cruel and thoughtless crime bill--without debate--which was then introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R. 3355.
In response, U.S. Representative Craig Washington introduced H.R. 3315, the "alternative crime bill." NORML supporters asked their U.S. Representatives to oppose H.R. 3355 and to support H.R. 3315.
On March 16 - 17, the House Judiciary Committee "marked up" (discussed and modified) and approved 13 miniature crime bills: one on mandatory minimum sentencing reform, one on "three strikes and you're out," one on death penalty crimes, etc. Many bad provisions were approved, but the bills could have been far worse--your phone calls might have made a difference! These 13 bills have been grouped together into what is now H.R. 4092.
On March 23-24, the House Rules Committee discussed which amendments to H.R. 4092 they would allow to be introduced and discussed on the floor of the House. (Members of the House offered a total of 176 possible amendments to the Rules Committee.) With only one day's notice, NORML supporters called and faxed the 13 members of the Rules Committee, asking them to "make U.S. Representative Barney Frank's amendment in order under the rule" (which would allow Mr. Frank to introduce his amendment on the House floor).
H.R. 4092 currently allows the death penalty for a number of new crimes, including the trafficking of large quantities of drugs--even when no death results. Mr. Frank's amendment (suggested by NORML) would exclude marijuana offenses from this provision.
The Democrats on the Rules Committee (comprising 9 of the 13 members) came up with an initial list of 26 amendments they would allow to be introduced on the House floor, but the Republicans vociferously disagreed, threatening to tie the House floor discussion in knots if the Democrats went ahead with it. The initial list did not include Barney Frank's amendment, but did include Representative Melvin Watt's amendment, which would strike the death penalty provision for all drug offenses when death does not result. We believe that the phone calls and faxes that flooded the offices of the members of the Rules Committee made a difference.
The Rules Committee will re-convene on Tuesday, April 12, to decide on a new list of amendments to which the Republicans can agree. This delay is bad news, because it will allow the Republicans to expand the list of amendments to include many of theirs. Hence, it is our job to prevent the Republicans from capitalizing on the delay by strongly supporting or opposing various amendments.
(Incidentally, there is no chance that Craig Washington's alternative crime bill will pass the House, and the Senate's version of the crime bill is not being discussed presently. Hence, it is useless at this point in time to say that you "support H.R. 3315" or "oppose H.R. 3355.")
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
1. Call or fax every member of the Rules Committee listed below, and say the following:
"I'm calling in regard to the amendments to the crime bill that the Rules Committee will be discussing on April 12 or 13. The bill currently contains a number of provisions that would increase the penalties for marijuana offenses. I oppose this, because locking up or executing marijuana offenders will not solve this country's violent crime problem."
"I ask that Rep. ______ vote to make the following amendments in order under the rule:" (In other words, to be "in order" for consideration on the House floor.)
#34 by Rep. Melvin Watt (which strikes the language providing the death penalty for drug kingpins when death does not result from the crime)
#64 by Rep. Barney Frank (which exempts offenses involving marijuana only from the drug kingpin death penalty provision)
#61 by Rep. Barney Frank (which removes serious drug offenses from felonies qualifying for the "three strikes and you're out" provision)
#162 by Rep. Craig Washington (which gives judges discretion on length of sentences by abolishing mandatory minimums)
"Also, I ask that Rep. ______ oppose all amendments that would increase penalties for marijuana offenders, including amendment #50, #51, #52, and #53, all of which are sponsored by Rep. Gerald Solomon." (Reader: Decide for yourself whether or not you want to tell Rep. Solomon's office this.)
Call or fax the 13 House members on the Rules Committee before April 13!
Committee member State Phone Fax
* Rep. Joe Moakley, Chair MA (202)225-8273 (202)225-3984 Rep. Butler Derrick SC (202)225-5301 (202)225-5383 Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson CA (202)225-5911 (202)225-0092 Rep. Martin Frost TX (202)225-3605 (202)225-4951 Rep. David E. Bonior MI (202)225-2106 (202)226-1169 Rep. Tony P. Hall OH (202)225-6465 (202)225-6766 Rep. Alan Wheat MO (202)225-4535 (202)225-5990 Rep. Bart Gordon TN (202)225-4231 (202)225-6887 Rep. Louise M. Slaughter NY (202)225-3615 (202)225-7822 * Rep. Gerald Solomon NY (202)225-5614 (202)225-6234 Rep. James H. Quillen TN (202)225-6356 (202)225-7812 Rep. David Dreier CA (202)225-2305 (202)225-4745 Rep. Porter J. Goss FL (202)225-2536 (202)225-6820
2. Call, fax, or visit your U.S. Representative's office and ask him or her to support/oppose any of the above amendments that could be introduced on the floor of the House. (The House will possibly be discussing H.R. 4092 as early as Thursday, April 14. More on this next week.) Also say that you prefer him or her to oppose the entire bill. (Do not say this to the Rules Committee.)
3. If you are the coordinator for a NORML chapter, please distribute these pages at any meetings you have before Tuesday, and call down your membership list to recruit people to make these calls. If you are not a chapter coordinator, please recruit a dozen friends instead.
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