Cross-posted at It’s Getting Hot in Here

Today, An Act to Create a Repower Massachusetts Emergency Task Force — written by Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF) and others in The Leadership Campaign — was released from the Senate Ethics and Rules Committee during the 6th Day of Climate Court Hearings for the Boston Common Sleep-out.

Each day last week, citizen-activists marched from the Court House after paying their court fees to the State House to show legislators the depth and breadth of support for the bill.  Well over 100 people faced the courts last week for sleeping out on the Boston Common after the park had formally closed (a misdemeanor trespassing offense).

After scores of people visited his and other key legislator’s offices indicating their support, Senator Frederick Berry, Chair of the Senate Ethics & Rules Committee (and Senate Majority Leader) released the bill from his committee and moved it along to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy.

“We are extremely thankful to Senator Berry for releasing our bill from committee, opening debate to legislators across the state and allowing us to focus our energy on gathering the votes needed to pass it this spring,” said Martha Pskowski, Hampshire student and Western Massachusetts Legislative Coordinator for SJSF.

The bill, introduced on December 7th in both houses of the State Legislature after 7 straight weeks of sleep-outs and lobbying, would create a Repower Massachusetts Emergency Task Force that would have a six-month mandate to evaluate the steps required to obtain 100% clean electricity by 2020, and issue a report with regulatory and legislative recommendations.

The Leadership Campaign, a coalition of groups in support of the bill – and the broader goal of 100% clean electricity – will now be turning its attention to show support to Senator Michael Morrissey and Representative Barry Finegold, Senate and House Chairs, respectively, of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy.

Further MA citizens will face the courts tomorrow and on Thursday as the court dates had to be spread out over the course of 10 days (the last two court appearances will be in May and September for students who had traveled abroad).

The next statewide sleep-out will occur on the Amherst Common on February 20th, followed by the Cambridge Common on March 28th, with a return to the Boston Common scheduled for April 21st (the night before the 40th anniversary of Earth Day).

“We’re very excited to be able to move forward with our bill, and are looking forward to working with community members, students, organizations, and businesses as we enter the next stage of the bill process.” said Jamaica Kelley, a graduate student of social work at Simmons and the State Legislative Coordinator for SJSF.

Participants in sleep-outs have included Bill McKibben, Dr. James Hansen, Green-Rainbow Party Gubernatorial Candidate Jill Stein, Rev. Fred Small, Rev. Jim Antal, and hundreds of inspiring students, faculty, and community members.  The leading organizations of The Leadership Campaign include the Mass Council of Churches, Unitarian Universalist Mass Action, Somerville Climate Action Network, and Students for a Just and Stable Future.