May 7 Warheads to Windmills webinar Breakout Session: Citizens’ Commission on Nuclear Weapons and Climate Change in Massachusetts – Kathleen Hamill

During this session, participants discussed the current campaign for a Nuclear Weapons and Climate Commission in Massachusetts.  Such a commission would study, investigate, and advise on how to best protect the people of MA from nuclear weapons and climate change.  It would examine how the Commonwealth can transition from nuclear weapons research and production to green technologies instead.  

With a view towards action, please:

  1. Ask your MA state representative to support and co-sponsor bill H.738, and use this link to write a personalized email.   
  • Sign up here for Mass Peace Action’s Nuclear Disarmament Lobby Day at the MA State House on May 23, 2023 from 11:00am-2:00pm.

Kathleen Hamill explained the current campaign strategy for the Commission and its focus on building support for bill H.738/S.1488, whose lead sponsor is Representative Lindsay Sabadosa­­­ in the House and Senator Jo Comerford in the Senate.  And bill H.738 is currently sitting with the MA legislature’s Joint Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Management headed by House Chair William Driscoll and Vice-Chair Steven Owens.

Participants in this breakout session #5 discussed how to build support for the campaign and get the Commission bill H.738 out of committee.  Among others, these questions were considered and discussed:

  • What happened to the previous bill for a Citizens Commission on Nuclear Weapons in the last legislative session?  How far did that bill advance?  
  • What obstacles and pushback did the previous version of the Commission bill face and why (lack of awareness, etc.)?  What can we learn from past experiences at the MA State House about lack of transparency? What can we learn from the clean election referendum of 1990’s?
  • What is the best strategy now for getting more support for the current Commission bill H.738 from House leadership including the four division chairs in the State House?  Note that Rep. Ruth Balser, Third Division Chair, is already a co-sponsor of H.738.
  • Which specific representatives in the MA House are most likely to support the Commission bill?  How can we focus our grassroots advocacy efforts on these representatives?  How can we increase the number of co-sponsors for the Commission bill?
  • What about divestment from weapons companies? How does that factor into the Commission campaign strategy? How have representatives of weapons (and fossil fuel) companies swayed MA legislators away from supporting H.738 and what can we expect from special interests going forward?
  • Why have so few climate bills gotten out of committee in the MA State House in recent years?
  • How can we best engage in a coalition with statewide advocacy groups such as Mass Power Forward and others?

Participants discussed the questions above while sharing experiences and suggestions.

The main focus of the breakout session was how to strategize and take action now to advance the Commission bill and campaign.

Submitted by Kathleen Hamill and Lynne Hall