Legislative Agenda Legislative Agenda by zic15018


									                                      Changing hearts and changing structures on behalf of social justice

                              Seeds of Justice            S o w e r s      o f    J u s t i c e

                                                                                 Legislative Agenda
                                                                                                       N e w s l e t t e r                        JANUARY, 2010

    Inside this Issue                                                                       Session 2010
                                                           Given the budget shortfall, Sowers of              leaving little time for our elected leaders
L EGISLATIVE A GENDA                                       Justice will be called upon to protect             to rectify this difficult situation.
                                                           funding for core safety net programs as a          According to Minnesota Human Services
Save General Assistance                                    first priority. In addition, we have the           Commissioner Cal Ludeman, GAMC
Medical Care ..............................1               opportunity to ensure that the state invests       serves “the poorest of the poor and the
                                                           in infrastructure and employment                   sickest of the sick,” including hundreds of
Comprehensive Immigration                                  opportunities in low-income communities.           Catholic Charities clients. While over
Reform ..........................................2         In the long haul, we hope to make the              30,000 Minnesotans are enrolled in
                                                           necessary policy shifts that successfully          GAMC at any give time, nearly 80,000
State Budget                                               move people out of poverty.                        access GAMC during the course of a year.
Crisis ..............................................2                                                        These GAMC enrollees live on $7,800 a
                                                           The top three priorities of the legislature        year or less. Most are men (60%), most
Housing and                                                will be to pass a bonding bill, deal with          struggle with mental illness (70%) and/or
Homelessness ..........................3                   the health care safety net for single adults,      chemical dependency, and many have
                                                           and balance the forecasted $1.2 billion            chronic physical disabilities (40%).
                                                           dollar deficit. All of this is with the
Child Care ...................................3            backdrop of a Governor preparing to run            With the health coverage provided by
                                                           for President, and a total of eight                GAMC, enrollees are able to maintain
Workers and                                                legislators vying for the Governor’s office.       housing stability, manage chronic and
Wages ...........................................3         Without further adieu, let’s jump in!              mental illnesses, and access other
                                                                                                              supportive services.
Protection for Low-Income                                  Save General Assistance Medical Care
Consumers .................................4                                                                  A solution for the GAMC crisis is
                                                           The struggle to provide health care for
                                                                                                              absolutely necessary, even in desperate
                                                           people living in poverty is a significant
Criminal Justice System                                                                                       economic times. A “new” and reformed
                                                           issue that will, in large part, define the
Reform .........................................4                                                             GAMC program must include a benefit
                                                           2010 session of the Minnesota legislature.
                                                                                                              set that will meet the needs of this
                                                           During the 2009 legislative session,
Ending Poverty by                                                                                             vulnerable population. First and foremost,
                                                           funding for General Assistance Medical
2020 ..............................................5                                                          any solution to the GAMC crisis must not
                                                           Care (GAMC) was line-item vetoed, then
                                                                                                              come at the expense of other programs
                                                           further unallotted by the Governor at the
                                                                                                              that assist those living in poverty.
On the Bonding                                             end of the 2009 session. As a result, the
Bill .................................................6    program will come to an end on March 1,
                                                                                                                Legislative Priorities:
                                                                                                                     Ensure continued health care
Justice for Immigrants —
                                                           Efforts by the Governor and Department                    coverage for individuals currently
Minnesota ..................................7
                                                           of Human Services to transition GAMC                      enrolled in General Assistance
M ARK Y OUR                                                enrollees onto MinnesotaCare are                          Medical Care.
                                                           unsatisfactory solutions because of the                   Support adequate funding to
C ALENDARS ...................8                            costs of premiums and copays, and the                     continue health care for this
                                                           $10,000 hospitalization cap. The                          vulnerable population.
                                                           legislature convenes on February 4, 2010,
                                                                                                                                              (Continued on page 2)

                         Catholic Charities’ Office for Social Justice, 328 West Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102   651-291-4477   www.osjspm.org
                               Legislative Agenda
     Comprehensive Immigration              State Budget Crisis
     Reform                                 According to State Economist
     The Hispanic Pew Forum                 Tom Stinson, Minnesota faces a
     estimates that at least twelve         never-before-seen “structural
     million undocumented immigrants        budget deficit” that reaches far into
     live and work in the United States     the future. The latest proof of this
     today. The motivations pushing         is reflected in the state’s latest
     immigrants to risk unauthorized        economic forecast. The November
     entry into America are varied, but     Economic Forecast reveals a $1.2
     most come with the hope of             billion deficit for the current budget
     reuniting with family members          biennium (ending June 30, 2011).
     already here or to find work that      The forecast for the next biennium
     will provide support for their         (2012-13) is projected to be $5.4
     family back home.                      billion.

     The existing immigration system        More than a decade of tax rebates
     has resulted in a growing number       and tax cuts, and an economy unable
     of persons in this country in an       to yield a sufficient revenue stream
     unauthorized capacity, living in the   have left Minnesota in bad shape.
     shadows as they toil in jobs that
     would otherwise go unfilled. The       Shrinking revenues come while the
     Catholic Church believes that          needs of the state are increasing.              In the End, we will
     current immigration laws and           Investments in several basic
                                            programs have not kept up with the
                                                                                            remember not the
     policies undermine human dignity,
     keep families apart and force          needs: public schools, transportation           words of our enemies,
     immigrant communities into             and other public works, early
     isolation.                             childhood programs, job training and            but the silence of our
                                            higher education, and health care.              friends.
     Legislative Priorities:
                                            Because Catholic Charities values
        Pass immigration reform that
                                            both the individual and the common                  -Martin Luther King, Jr.
        includes the following principles
                                            good, we must ensure that needs for
        from the U.S. Catholic Bishops:
                                            food, shelter, health care, and
             Broad based legalization       physical safety are met. We also
            (permanent residency) of        must ensure the state has the
            undocumented residents of       resources it needs to meet the social,
            the United States.              educational and infrastructure costs
            A family-based immigration      necessary to create a healthy state.
            system that allows family
            members to reunite with         Safety net programs for low-income
            loved ones in the United        people cannot bear the burden of the
            States.                         current $1.2 billion deficit. Many
                                            programs benefiting low income
            A fair employment-based
                                            individuals and families have been
            immigration system that
                                            cut in recent years in order to
            provides legal pathways for
                                            balance the budget.
            migrants to come and work in
            a safe, humane, and orderly
                                            Legislative Priorities:
                                                As the state faces this current
            Restoration of due process
                                                economic crisis and budget
            protections for immigrants.
                                                shortfall, adequate revenue must
                                                be included as part of the budget
                                                solution.           (Continued on page 3)

2 - January, 2010
                                                          Legislative Agenda
                                Housing and Homelessness                About 30,000 low-income children
                                                                        are in child care with the support
                                The 2010 session of the Minnesota
                                                                        of the state’s Child Care Assistance
                                Legislature will focus on the
                                                                        Programs (CCAP). As of August
                                creation and passage of a bonding
                                                                        2009 another 7,000 families are
                                bill, which presents unique
                                                                        on waiting lists. Until 2003,
                                opportunities for the construction
                                                                        CCAP was a national model,
                                of affordable and supportive
                                                                        but today thousands of working
                                                                        families cannot use CCAP because
                                                                        of multiple barriers including
                                Catholic Charities supports the
                                                                        below-market reimbursement rates
                                Minnesota Housing Finance
                                                                        and long waiting lists.
                                Agency (MFHA) in its advocacy
                                for $30 million in funding for
                                                                        Legislative Priorities:
                                non-profit bonds. This funding
                                mechanism has allowed MFHA the              Maintain current levels of
     It will be necessary       flexibility to develop new and              funding for the Child Care
  above all to abandon a        innovative projects, and freed              Assistance Program.
                                funding streams from the larger             Maintain current co-pay rates
   mentality in which the       capital improvement process. Non-           and current eligibility
                                profit bonds also allow non-profits         requirements.
    poor—as individuals         to own as well as manage housing
                                properties.                                 Reimbursement rates for child
    and as peoples—are                                                      care centers/homes either
considered a burden, as         Additionally, Catholic Charities            maintained at current levels or
                                supports $10 million in bonding             modestly increased.
irksome intruders trying        that will go toward the much-
                                                                        Workers and Wages
to consume what others          needed rehabilitation of public
                                housing throughout the state of         Working with community partners,
        have produced ..        Minnesota.                              Catholic Charities is focusing on
                                                                        two campaigns to help bring hiring
                                Legislative Priorities:                 equity to publicly funded projects.
     Economic Justice for All       Support funding for $30             To truly combat poverty, it is
                        #24         million in non-profit bonds for     necessary to build wealth in
                                    the construction of affordable      low-income communities through
                                    housing.                            training that leads to jobs that
                                                                        support families.
                                    Support $10 million in funding
                                    in the Capital Investment bill      Working with HIRE Minnesota
                                    for renovation of public            (Healthcare, Infrastructure, and
                                    housing.                            Renewable Energy), Catholic
                                                                        Charities wants to create pathways
                                Child Care                              out of poverty in the emerging
                                Strong families and quality child       green jobs sector, as well as on
                                care settings prepare our children to   construction crews on state
                                be successful in school and in life.    highway, road and bridge projects.
                                By helping low wage families pay        This year’s bonding bill will invest
                                for child care, Minnesota               up to $1 billion in public
                                strengthens families and makes it       infrastructure. This “jobs bill” can
                                possible for low wage workers to        potentially put thousands of
                                stay in the workforce. This is the      Minnesota workers to work. An
                                primary way Minnesota ensures           equitable inclusion of low-income
                                that low-income parents can afford      Minnesotans in the workforce
                                to choose structured, quality early     funded by public dollars is as
                                                                                                  (continued on page 4)
                                childhood programs.
                                                                                                       January, 2010 - 3
                               Legislative Agenda
     important as is the training that will   Checking accounts can be
     get new workers into the                 problematic. As a result, the
     employment ranks.                        traditional short-term credit
                                              associated with banking isn't an
     HIRE has been working with the           option when financial crises, such as
     Minnesota Department of                  home and auto repairs, health care
     Transportation to reverse their 17-      bills, or other financial needs arise.
     year failure to meet their own hiring    Instead, the solution is "payday
     goals on transportation projects for     lending" institutions.
     people of color and women. The
     Department is committed to making        A small number of lenders make the
     real progress on this issue in the       vast majority of payday loans in
     coming year, and we will continue        Minnesota. In 2008, 32 licensed
     working with them on this important      companies made 231,000 loans to
     anti-poverty campaign.                   Minnesota consumers. While
                                              allowable interest rates for payday
     Government and private industry          loans are already exorbitantly high
     should also consider an emergency        (up to 390% APR), some companies
     jobs program that would spur new         have discovered a loophole in the
     employment opportunities in the          law that permits them to charge
     state. This kind of investment not       significantly higher rates for exactly            Solidarity ties us
     only buoys personal finances but         the same loan, raising interest rates
     stabilizes communities. Minnesota        as high as 2,145% APR.
                                                                                                together. It helps us
     met great success when it created                                                          see each other as
     the Minnesota Emergency                  In collaboration with other
     Employment Development program           economic justice advocacy                         members of one
     (MEED) in 1983. This began as a          organizations, Catholic Charities                 family—where an
     two-year $70 million wage subsidy        will advocate for policies that close
     program to create temporary jobs in      the loophole and require all payday               injustice to one is a
     government and nonprofit agencies        lenders follow the rate structure                 blow to all and
     and permanent jobs in the private        established by the Legislature for
     sector.                                  payday loans under the 1995                       progress for those in
                                              Consumer Small Loan Act.                          need strengthens the
     Legislative Priorities:
                                              Legislative Priorities:                           whole community.
          Include hiring equity language
          in the bonding bill that includes       Support the passage of reform
          the economically disadvantaged.         legislation that limits the                                  - Bishop
          Pass policy language to ensure          interest rates, fees, and penalties                 Joseph M. Sullivan
          that the Department of                  at payday lending institutions.
                                                                                                        1988 Labor Day
          Transportation meets previously
          established goals of hiring         Criminal Justice System Reform                                 Statement
          people of color and women on        Ex-offenders who are released from
          public projects.                    incarceration at the completion
          Invest in an emergency jobs         of their criminal sentences face a
          program.                            lifetime of collateral sanctions -
                                              unintended social and community
     Protection for Low-Income                punishments that continue long after
     Consumers                                their sentences have been
     People living in poverty seldom use
     traditional banking institutions.        Nowhere is this more challenging
     With little or no money to save,         than in the area of juvenile
     savings accounts are unnecessary.                                  (Continued on page 5)

4 - January, 2010
                                                       Legislative Agenda
                             offenders, who frequently face          number of Minnesotans living in
                             impediments toward education,           poverty. It would give
                             housing and employment long after       policymakers information about the
                             transition back into society. It is     effectiveness of competing
                             important that we reform the ways       proposals and assist them in
                             in which juvenile records are           making informed choices.
                             controlled and accessed, so as to
                             maximize the ability of juveniles to    As a start, it is recommended that
                             reach their full potential as           policymakers call for poverty
                             adults.                                 impact statements on a limited
                                                                     number of proposed bills in the
                             Legislative Priorities:                 next couple of years, in order to
                                                                     allow a real and credible
                                 Make felony-level charges for
                                                                     methodology to be developed.
                                 16-17 year olds public data
        Charity is the           only if the final adjudication is
                                                                     Legislative Priorities:
                                 felony level, rather than a plea
Samaritan who pours              agreement.                              Pass the Ladders Out of
   oil on the wounds                                                     Poverty Task Force legislation.
                                 Restrict the public access to
                                 juvenile records.                       Pass the Poverty Impact
        of the traveler                                                  Statement.
        who has been         Ending Poverty by 2020

               attacked.     In January 2009, after lengthy          Conclusion
                             deliberations, the Legislative
         It is Justice's     Commission to End Poverty by            Thus concludes the 2010 Office for
                             2020 issued its final report. One of    Social Justice legislative agenda.
  role to prevent the        the cornerstones of the report          The list is long, and the issues
                             includes a recommendation to help       complex and sometimes daunting.
                attacks.                                             From housing to healthcare to ex-
                             low-income Minnesotans
                             accumulate and retain assets and        offender reentry to hiring equity;
                             increase their financial literacy.      from wage subsidies to pay day
       -Frederic Ozanam                                              lending to child care - our issues
 Founder of St. Vincent de   This cornerstone, the Ladder Out of     are often intrinsically linked in the
                             Poverty Task Force, would be led        lives of those struggling to make
             Paul Society
                             by elected officials and executive      ends meet.
                             branch representatives. Its task
                             would be to increase opportunities      These formidable challenges also
                             for low-income families to build        share a common need - a need for
                             wealth, expand the utilization of the   people of conscience to use their
                             Family Assets for Independence in       place and privilege in society to
                             Minnesota (FAIM); reduce or             provide justice for the poor and the
                             eliminate predatory financial           vulnerable. These issues will only
                             practices in Minnesota; and provide     advance with prophetic voices
                             financial literacy information to       speaking courageously, overcoming
                             certain low-income families.            personal fear and doubt that their
                                                                     voice actually matters. When we
                             A second recommendation is that         stand shoulder to shoulder our
                             Minnesota develops a tool that will     power for justice is bold.
                             measure the impact on poverty that
                             emerging legislation might have.        Please join Sowers of Justice from
                             These statements would be a means       across the archdiocese as we call
                             for the legislature to determine        for justice this legislative session.
                             whether proposed legislation would
                             increase, decrease or maintain the                                 OSJ Staff

                                                                                               January, 2010 - 5
                            Legislative Agenda

    The “Bonding Bill” is an opportunity for greater
         economic, social, and racial justice.
     Minnesota’s legislature runs in        bill provides an opportunity to
     two-year cycles. The second year       protect the environment. Will
     of the legislative session is called   bonding projects work to make
     “the bonding year.” In this            buildings more energy efficient?
     session, the legislature’s primary     Will projects be building new,
     job is to create a bill that borrows   when refurbishing and rehabbing
     funds for the development and          might be more environmentally
     infrastructure of our state, by        sound options?
     creating a bonding bill. Projects
     that get funded by the bonding bill
     typically include road and bridge
     projects, projects in the University
                                               "In what ways can we
     of Minnesota system, low-income        ensure that people living in
     housing projects, and other public
     projects that have regional               poverty and crisis are
     significance.                          supported by the projects in               The greatest
                                                 the bonding bill?"                        challenge
     What does the bonding bill have
     to do with promoting social, racial,                                              of the day is:
     and economic justice? As people                                                   how to bring
     of faith, we are called to put the     As people of faith, how do we get    about a revolution
     needs of the poor and vulnerable       involved in the bonding process?            of the heart,
     first. In what ways can we ensure
                                                                                 a revolution which
     that people living in poverty and      Building relationships with
     crisis are supported by the            legislators on the Capital                   has to start
     projects in the bonding bill?          Investment Committees in the            with each of us.
                                            House and Senate are important
     Primarily, we can ask questions of     ways of furthering the message of            -Dorothy Day
     our legislative leaders:               social, racial, and economic
                                            justice. We shouldn’t, on the one
     Who is getting the jobs that are       hand, support training programs to
     created by the bonding bill?           advance employment
                                            opportunities and then fail to
     While the emphasis of the              ensure that these programs lead to
     bonding bill is on the projects that   employment in the public sector.
     the bill funds, it takes people to
     build, repair, and refurbish our       Asking our legislators to support
     state’s infrastructure. How can we     projects and language in the
     make sure the bill provides for        bonding bill to support and
     hiring equity for low-income           promote the dignity of people
     people and people of color in our      living in poverty and crisis is a
     state?                                 critical advocacy opportunity!
     What are the environmental
     impacts of bonding projects?                             Adam Robinson
                                                      Public Policy Organizer
     We are called to be stewards of
     God’s creation, and the bonding

6 - January, 2010
                                              Congressional Agenda

                              Justice for Immigrants - Minnesota
                          The Catholic Church, under the        With just two weeks until her
                          leadership of the U.S. Bishops and    removal date, we received word
                          fueled by lay Catholics, is once      that Sara’s visa had been
                          again at the forefront of the push    renewed! Through prayer and
                          for humane immigration reform.        action, we made a difference.
                          As an immigrant church in this
                          country, and with a grounding in      While this was an incredibly
                          the gospel, we call for policies      meaningful victory for Sara’s
                          that keep families together,          family and our advocacy
                          recognize the inherent human          community, our thoughts quickly
                          dignity of all people, protect the    turn to the millions of immigrants
                          rights of workers and are true to     who continue to live in the
Is your small faith       spirit of who we are as a people, a   shadows. Federal immigration
group seeking a           church, and a country.                reform is likely to take center
                                                                stage in the first months of 2010,
guided reflection for     To this end, Catholic                 and we expect debate to be at its
Lent?                     organizations across the state have   height this spring. Our time is
                          come together to form the Justice     now.
Check out                 for Immigrants-Minnesota (JFI-
www.osjspm.org            MN) campaign for humane               The Campaign's primary
                          immigration reform. A wide            objectives are to:
to get more               range of religious orders, diocesan   1) educate the public about
information about the     justice offices, advocacy                Church teaching on migration
five part                 organizations, local parishes, and       and immigrants
lectionary-based          individuals are merging efforts to
                          build a powerful movement.            2) create political will for
reflection series                                                  positive immigration reform
that connects our         JFI-MN kicked off our efforts in      3) enact legislative reforms
faith, spirituality and   November with gatherings in              based on the principles
commitment to             several dioceses across the state.       articulated by the bishops.
ending poverty.           We heard from Sara Avendano
                          and her family, who was facing a      This past January 3, the
                          December 4th expiration of her        Minnesota Catholic Bishops held
Order now!                humanitarian visa. Within weeks       a statewide Immigration Sunday
                          she would be separated from her       in parishes across the state.
                          husband and six U.S. born             JFI-MN will build on this energy
                          children, one of whom has autism.     and continue to take our message
                                                                to both the pews and the
                          JFI-MN members from across the        politicians, but we need your help.
                          state took action. Catholics from
                          urban, suburban and rural             For resources or to sign up for the
                          Minnesota collected nearly 1,500      JFI-MN campaign, please visit
                          "Keep Sara's Family Together"         www.jfimn.org
                          postcards in less than two
                          weeks. Archbishop Neinstedt and
                          Senator Franken both personally
                          appealed to the Department of                              Patrick Ness
                          Homeland Security on behalf of                   Public Policy Manager
                          Sara. It was a powerful showing.

                                                                                         January, 2010 - 7
                                                      Sowers of Justice                                                   Nonprofit Org.
                                                      Office for Social Justice                                           U.S. Postage
                                                      328 West Kellogg Blvd.                                                   PAID
                                                      St. Paul, MN 55102                                                  St. Paul, Minn.
                                                                                                                         Permit No. 6085

      Sow for your selves just ice,
      r eap t he fr uit of f ait hf ul love;

      B r eak up f or your selves
      a new f ield, for it is
      t ime t o seek the Lor d,
      unt il t he Lor d comes
      and r ains down just ice
      upon you.

                              Hosea, 10:12
                                                       Recycled paper and
                                                       printed with soy-based ink.

                                                MARK YOUR CALENDARS
 Immigration Sunday                                                                  Legislative Briefing
 January 3, 2010                                                                     January 25, 2010               7:00 p.m. –8:30 p.m.
 All parishes are invited to participate                                             Hayden Center—Saint Paul
 Visit www.jfimn.org for more information
                                                                                     Parish Leadership Institute
                                                                                     Systemic Change and Advocacy
 Parish Leadership Institute
 Biblical Roots of Justice and Catholic Social Teaching
                                                                                     January 26, 2010               6:30 p.m.– 8:30 p.m.
 January 12, 2010                              6:30 p.m.– 8:30 p.m.                  Hayden Center—St. Paul
 Hayden Center—St. Paul                                                              Journey to Justice -
                                                                                     JustFAITH Workshop
 Legislative Briefing                                                                January 30, 2010                           9:00 a.m.
 January 19, 2010                              7:00 p.m. –8:30 p.m.                  Saint Patrick’s—Edina
 Corpus Christi—Roseville
                                                                                     Save GAMC Rally
 Parish Leadership Institute                                                         February 4, 2010            11:30 a.m.– 2:00 p.m
 Faith and Politics                                                                  Minnesota State Capitol—St. Paul
 January 20, 2010                              6:30 p.m.– 8:30 p.m.
 Hayden Center—St. Paul                                                              JRLC’s Day on the Hill
                                                                                     March 25, 2010
 Legislative Briefing                                                                Visit www.jrlc.org for more information
 January 21, 2010            7:00 p.m. –8:30 p.m.
 St. Joan of Arc—Minneapolis

8 - January, 2010

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