URGENT ALERT

Hello Friends –

Unfortunately, legislators have little to show for both their regular session and the first legislative session, except for a couple of COVID-19 Emergency Bills!

Now they are coming back for another Special Session on Monday. Right now, leaders from both chambers and both parties are negotiating, trying to come up with agreements so that a bonding bill can still pass. Last Special Session was several individual legislators gumming up the process for various individual bills or issues, to force the rest of the legislature to do their individual bidding (whether in the area they blocked or somewhere else). Leaders do not want that to happen again, although the potential is still possible! Our intel suggests that senate leadership is refusing to take up anything other than bonding.

You’ll notice that the Action Alert looks familiar! That’s because housing is still probably the main (only?) item that will be able to get bipartisan support in both chambers and pass. Given both COVID-19 and the economic recession, housing assistance, an eviction moratorium/grace period, and more affordable housing/rehabbed housing that’s affordable remain extremely important!!!

Even if you’ve contacted your legislators and/or legislative leaders before on these very issues, we need you to do it again!!

ACTION ALERT

WHAT IS NEEDED?

1)   At least $100 million in housing assistance (available from federal funding) designated to address COVID related concerns and job losses

2)   Changing the rental eviction moratorium to align with federal policy, and a grace period for rental payment (especially important if the rental assistance isn’t designated)

3)   $225 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds, with $25 million of it designated just one time for shelter use (especially important with distancing needed during the pandemic, but was needed ever before COVID)

4)   $100 million in Government Obligation Bonds to address Public Housing (including rehab or rehabilitation of apartment units)

HOW TO TAKE ACTION

Email your legislators AND their leadership. You might need to cut and paste into a web form if they don’t allow constituent emails directly to their email (because they get spammed so much). You only need a few sentences. Don’t worry about trying to say everything. Most important is that you personalizer it!!)

Your Senator (and Representative): Find out who they are & their emails by clicking here

Sen. Paul Gazelka (MN Senate Majority Leader)
https://www.senate.mn/members/member_email_form.php?member_id=1169

Sen. Susan Kent (MN Senate Minority Leader)
https://www.senate.mn/members/member_email_form.html?member_id=1215

Rep. Melissa Hortman (MN Speaker of the House): rep.melissa.hortman@house.mn

Rep. Ryan Winkler (MN House Majority Leader): rep.ryan.winkler@house.mn

Rep. Kurt Daudt (MN House Minority Leader): rep.kurt.daudt@house.mn

TALKING POINTS (Choose a point or two from each section below or create your own. NOTE: Faith language is especially important with some of our more difficult legislators & leaders!!)

  • Introduction
    • Share who you are, where you are from (town/city & church, if appropriate)
    • Mention you are Lutheran, and an advocate with Lutheran Advocacy-MN (that can be in the closing, intro, or body of your email).
  • The “ask”
    • See “What is Needed” above in yellow
  • Personalize why you care
    • Are there any shovel ready projects you are aware of your community? Mention them
    • Mention what you or your church are already doing to address housing needs in your community
    • If you are a young person, mention what grade you are in. Mention if you know any kids from school whose family needs housing that doesn’t cost too much.
  • General Information (NOT NEEDED unless you want more than what you’ve said to personalize the email. Don’t choose more than 1-2 & put them in your own words)
    • More than 580,000 families were paying too much for housing, even before the health emergency
    • The COVID virus has increased how vulnerable people are, including in the area of housing.
    • State bonding is an important tool that helps the more housing be built.
    • We want some of the housing bonds to help build both new housing, and some new shelters across the state.
    • Building more apartments and homes helps create thousands of new jobs.
    • Building more housing means there is more money circulating in local communities. That helps the depressed economy.
    • There are already many housing projects ready to be built across the state. They just need the funding.
    • God wants us to protect people who are vulnerable (including families with children, people who lost their jobs, people who are sick & can’t work)
  • Closing (Summarize and/or use something like the following in your own words)
    • Minnesota will thrive when everyone has a place to call home
    • Bonds for affordable housing will strengthen Minnesota’s Housing Continuum in every corner of the state.
    • Thanks for public service
    • Please support significant funds in bonds for housing!

Thanks so much for your action and your concerns for justice in God’s world!

Tammy

Action Alert – Affordable Housing in MN

Hello Friends –

As the legislative special session seems to be coming to a close, we need your helpPlease check the Action Alert below, connect to the Homes for All link, and send your personalized email to state lawmakers! 

Homes for All legislator email links:
…posted on the H4A blog here and direct Link here: click here

 

We are in living in unprecedented times! We’ve been hearing that a lot, and changes in our routines make it obvious daily. However, full comprehension the waves of change we are experiencing is less understood. I’ve included a fuller discussion below the Action Alert. We’ll need to come back to many of those issues in the weeks and months to come!! [Meantime, if you’d like to watch/listen to/read “My Heart is Broken: A Modern-Day Psalm of Lament” it was posted a couple of weeks back on our Facebook page.“My Heart is Broken” video link: …(link here)]

Quite honestly, it doesn’t look like much will be accomplished in this special session, especially in the areas related to our agenda. In policing reform, while the House is working on transformational legislation, the Senate is mostly looking for tweaks or reforms to the status quo. Clean energy and climate could have a role in the types of projects in the bonding bill, but today it is looking unlikely that House and Senate will agree regarding a full bonding amount and spending priorities, much less that a two-thirds majority will be achieved, particularly as Rep. Kurt Daudt (House Minority Leader) has pledged to prevent his caucus from passing the major bonding bill until the Governor’s Peacetime Emergency Executive Order has been ended.

The one area where some things could still happen before the Senate’s promised adjournment tomorrow is in housing issues. There are some COVID-related housing concerns that could still be addressed, and the senate seems intent on putting housing bonds into it’s own bill (separate from other bonding) which could be something that gets negotiated yet with the House. However, the senate is proposing bonds at at very low dollar levels, particularly compared to the extreme need and to our Homes for All original & revised requests. It is also possible that the senate may decide to keep working awhile longer, and there is discussion that another Special Session may be called in July.

Hence, the need for this action alert. Please know that action tonight could still have a significant impact on what happens yet tonight or tomorrow!!!

ACTION ALERT

What is Needed?

1)      $100 million in housing assistance (available from federal funding) designated to address COVID related concerns and job losses;

2)      Changing the rental eviction moratorium to align with federal policy, and a grace period for rental payment (especially important if the rental assistance isn’t designated)

3)      $225 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds, with $25 million of it designated just one time for shelter use (especially important with distancing needed during the pandemic, but was needed ever before COVID)

4)      $100 million in Government Obligation Bonds to address Public Housing (including rehab or rehabilitation of apartment units)

How to Act?

Send an email via the Homes for All system which will automatically send to your senator and representative. The message language there is very general. Please use your own words or borrow from the above “What is Needed” listMost importantly, share why you care and/or your own experiences with housing, what your church does to help address housing concerns, or the housing situation in your community(statewide we have a severe lack of affordable housing).

Homes for All legislator email links:
…posted on the H4A blog here and direct Link here: click here

Action Alert – Dream & Promise Act (federal)

“As we journey together through the time God has given us, may God give us the grace of a welcoming heart and an overflowing love for the new neighbors among us” –ELCA social message, “Immigration” (1997).

Background

Legislative Congressional action is critical to provide permanent legal protection to Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders who are living in a state of uncertainty about their ability to remain in the United States, the only home many have ever known. The ELCA has long called on members of Congress to pass legislation to protect DACA recipients, young people also known as Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. as children. These young people are members of our congregations and our communities who enhance our national life with their presence and contributions.  Your action is needed today to stand beside them by supporting the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6), that passed the House on June 4, 2019.

After the Trump Administration terminated the DACA program on September 5th, 2017, life changed for those nearly 800,000 now young adults who have benefited from the program. Since first initiated on June 15, 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, has kept families together and offered a newfound sense of hope and opportunity. The program has provided these young adults with not only protection from deportation but also unlocked other benefits such as their ability to get a driving license and work legally in this country.

Several lawsuits seeking an injunction have blocked the program’s termination, allowing current recipients to continue to renew their protections but cutting off new applications. With the Supreme Court debating the constitutionality of DACA and the rationality behind the Trump administration action to phase out the program since November 12th of 2019, we need to speak up alongside young adults who are American in all but how they entered the country.

Presently, DACA temporarily protects those qualified to apply from deportation and provides them with work authorization. While there are over 1.5 million eligible for this program, many did not even apply for DACA due to the difficult set of criteria and standards set by the government, including high application fees. When President Trump announced the ending of the DACA program in 2017, many young adults, known as Dreamers, rightly feared what would happen next. Now, they are awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court and what this means for their future.

While the U.S. Supreme Court deliberates, it is vital that we encourage the Senate to act to legislatively  pass H.R. 6  which includes a path to citizenship. Urge your Senators to stand in support of young adult immigrants by supporting legislative protection for DACA recipients generally and the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6) specifically.

Use the Action Alert to send your message.

Action Alert – HFA 3/20/2020

Hello Lutheran Advocacy-MN Advocates –

We need your help!! Minnesota was already in an affordable housing and homelessness crisis and now so many more individuals and families are at risk of losing their homes due to impacts of COVID-19.

Although we continue to support the Homes for All Coalition effort around a bonding bill for affordable housing, Minnesota needs to respond now to many emerging needs.

Please take action on the Homes for All alert, by filling out the form  It will automatically give you your state senator’s name. Please note that although there is wording there, it is vitally important that you use your own words!! The more emails a legislator gets that look exactly like hundreds (or even dozens) of other emails, the less likely they are to pay attention. (OR Instead of filling out the form, feel free to go to the senator’s website to find their email address or use the form on their site, but let me know so that we can keep tabs on how many & which senators are contacted).

Here is the URL in case your computer doesn’t link right away:https://secure.everyaction.com/S3FeeXUT0EaHW0H17j-xkw2

Here are some main points you can make in the form using your own words (in any order, not necessarily the order here):

1)      Urge senate leadership* to

  1. a)      Put forward an emergency housing relief packagethat includes
  • a moratorium on evictions & foreclosures,
  • financial assistance to help people pay for housing costs, &
  • help for small-scale landlords that are protecting tenants but not getting what they need to cover their operating costs;
  1. b)      Support a very robust bonding bill for affordable housingthat
  • Takes advantage of very inexpensive credit,
  • helps create much more affordable housing across the state, and
  • provides jobs to help economically recover after the health crisis ends.

2)      Talk about why you care about this issue.

3)      Talk about your role in the community & why it helps give you insight into the problem. [Are you a community leader? Pastor, deacon, business leader, local elected leader, teacher, other? Does that give you even more insight?).

4)      Talk about the housing crisis in your specific community or area, and ways that you envision the COVID-19 crisis impacting low-income people who are vulnerable (low wage workers off work due to virus, etc….).

5)      Thank them for their work to help Minnesotan’s through this crisis.

*[Note: If your senator is Sen. Gazelka or Sen. Kent, then don’t tell them to “urge leadership…”, tell them as leaders to take this action.]

Do you have kids at home? They can also send a message! The simple message is “Don’t let poor people lose their homes when they can’t get to work or make enough money.” A picture that you take of a picture they draw showing a family or a home can also be sent to the senators. It may not work to put the picture in the form, but if you go to your senator’s website, you can either get an email address or use the form on their website to send the picture(s) from the kids! Be sure to add the age and or grade level of the child!

For the Future:

This may be the first action alert of various, to prevent low-income people and families from becoming homeless, and to address the needs of those who are homeless. This week I’ve been on several calls regarding the impacts of COVID-19 on those most vulnerable! It’s staggering to realize what can happen! I was especially troubled by what folks in the most impacted county in the state of Washington shared in a nationwide webinar. One of them emotionally said, “You must prepare!! And no matter how ready you think you might be, you aren’t!! Homeless & low-income populations are SO vulnerable!”

The alert above only addresses a piece of what will be needed!

I’ll send a more detailed email next week with 1) various impacts of the virus in our communities, 2) ways we can act individually & as church networks, 3) the kinds of information we may need from you in your local communities so that we can help legislators understand the full picture, 4) major event cancellations, and 5) alternative virtual event options in a some circumstances.

Thanks for being faithful advocates!! Please feel free to email, call or text me with questions!

ACTION ALERT

Hello Lutheran Advocacy-MN Advocates –

We need your advocacy today! We need legislative leadership to pass a COVID19 response package immediately that includes $50 Million of support for emergency shelters and $100 Million in rental assistance. [The various members of the Homes for All Coalition are pushing this alert through their networks, too! However, we are one of the few member organizations that have Greater Minnesota advocates. Most Great MN partners are service providers on homeless & housing issues, and don’t have advocates. YOUR voice is desperately needed!!]

Please take action ASAP due to unknown timelines at the legislature. (They may be coming into session on Thursday, but both chambers are “at the call of the chair” which could mean anytime. Meanwhile, leadership of both chambers are making LOTS of decisions behind the scenes…SO, act sooner rather than later).

Please click here to send your emails today! Remember that it is vitally important that you use your own words. Talk about why you think this action is important. Put the concerns into your local context. Hennepin and Ramsey counties have passed emergency funding to put homeless people into motels, but what about the rest of the state? And what about the renters everywhere across Minnesota!

Thank you! Your advocacy is always important, but especially so in this difficult health emergency!!!!!

Advocacy Update – February 2020

Faith Leader Housing Summit: Many Lutheran leaders participated in a Faith Leader Housing Summit through long-time advocacy partner, Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC). It was exciting to hear Gov. Walz talk about housing priorities!

Precinct Caucuses: LA-MN Advocates had the opportunity to bring resolutions to their caucuses on housing & homelessness, and clean energy! We hope that major parties will include  statements on the party platforms.

 “Clean Energy First” Legislation: Clean Energy First refers to prioritizing clean renewable energy over other sources, if more economically viable. Wind and solar energy have become the lowest cost option, but tweaks are needed to update current law. The Senate Energy & Utilities bill rolls back current statute and redefines clean renewable energy in ways that are not actually clean, but does include positive language regarding jobs and transition. LA-MN advocates have made many contacts with legislators to improve the bill, but action is still needed as most of the problems remain.

Housing: Many LA-MN advocates contacted legislative leaders to push for $500 million in affordable housing bonds. We appreciate feedback, and welcome the legislative responses advocates share with us.

Upcoming Events:

 Now the Green Blade Rises: The Easter Gospel for the Whole Creation

(2020 EcoFaith Summit) – Flier / Registration
Saturday, March 28, 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 418 8th Ave. NE, Brainerd, MN 56401

From the Upper Midwest? Join this event!! Includes worship that sings Easter for the whole creation; young activists sharing their motivations; breakout sessions; faces of the climate crisis; messaging on climate & difficult environmental issues; networking for musicians, students, creation care teams, church gardeners, youth leaders, preachers, public advocates, and more!

2020: Serving the Common Good
Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC) Day on the Hill – Info./ Registration
Wednesday, April 1, 8:30 a.m. – afternoon legislative visits
InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront, 11 E Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, MN 55101

 

 

Advocacy Update – December

2020 Agenda

Two Year Process: In 2020, Minnesota is in year two of the legislative biennium. Legislation introduced last session is still active. It does not need to be re-introduced, can be picked up again by committees, or if passed through part of the two chamber process can continue in that process. This means that legislation we addressed last year could still be passed.

2020 State Priorities: The LA-MN Policy Council decided early on that brand new issues should not be considered, but rather that work started on unfinished issues should continue.

1)   Affordable Housing, Homelessness & Related Services:  Although 2019 was not a bonding year, bonding for affordable housing was passed and was really the only issue that got significant attention from both parties and both chambers. However, the legislature was and remains behind on what needs to be passed to catch up with the statewide housing crisis.

For that reason, as part of the Homes for All coalition, we are calling for $500 million in bonding for the creation of new housing and rehabilitation of existing stock. While that may sound (including to legislators) like a huge amount of money, it is really only a down-payment on what is actually needed. Other states in similar situations with similar sized budgets have passed $900 million to $1.4 billion in bonding for housing. We will also be working to continue to address aspects from last year’s Minnesota Housing and Human Services agenda, and to make policy improvements to help bring tenants more rights in a system significantly weighted toward landlords. While these changes won’t impact good landlords, they will help prevent abuses by slumlords.

2)  Clean Energy, Clean Air, Climate, and Jobs: Minnesota surpassed early the Renewable Energy Standard set in 2007 of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025 for electric energy and 30 percent for Xcel Energy. Last year, the House of Representatives passed significant legislation for 100% clean energy by 2050, but it went nowhere in the Senate. Both chambers debated “Clean Energy First” provisions, which we support, with the idea that if clean energy (renewables and efficiency savings) are less expensive than energy from fossil fuels, they should be considered first. The senate version has lots of loopholes.

Much of our work on clean energy in 2020 will be focused on the senate – a) educating regarding remaining misunderstandings about the climate crisis, b) calling generally for 100% Clean Carbon Neutral Energy by 2050 and Clean Energy First (without debating every detail within the various 100% bills), and c) calling for transition provisions to help communities where fossil fuel jobs will be lost (while supporting the rapidly growing clean energy economy & jobs), and d) working for adaptation and resilience for those most impacted already by the climate crisis, especially low-income communities and farmers.

Federal Priorities: LA-MN will continue to partner with ELCA Advocacy to aggressively protect programs important for vulnerable people and our vulnerable earth, with special focus on protecting and welcoming vulnerable immigrants.

Advocacy Update – November 2019

STATE ADVOCACY UPDATE FORM

This form is to be used as a template for state public policy office updates each month.

Guidelines:  Describe advocacy actions taken, events attended/hosted, issues you are working on. For spacing and consistency reasons, we encourage you to avoid bullet points, but encourage you to divide your policy issues into separate paragraphs. Make sure to indicate if there is any information you provide which you would NOT like to have made public (on our blog). When you complete this form, please send to washingtonoffice@elca.org.

 

STATE: Minnesota (Tammy Walhof ) DATE: Dec/3/2019
UPDATE:
Immigration/Migrant Monday Replaced

As new executive orders continue to appear, immigration remains a key issue to people contacting Lutheran Advocacy-MN. LA-MN’s director, Tammy, made two presentations in November on immigration/asylum at the southern border. Despite the interest, weekly Migrant Monday postings on Facebook will be replaced by Monday or Tuesday postings about clean energy and climate change, and Thursday postings about affordable housing in preparation for the upcoming session.

Climate Bonding Proposals:
With Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP), LA-MN is considering principles for evaluating bonding projects based on how they impact harmful emissions to the atmosphere as legislation in the 2020 session. Those should be available soon for you to promote with your legislators.

The MEP Energy Cluster is also evaluating specific bonding proposals. Out of 25 possible options for the upcoming session, Lutheran Advocacy-MN hopes to focus on just a couple that help Minnesota transition to clean energy and fewer carbon emissions (possibly proposals related to making solar energy available for schools, improving solar accessibility to Minnesotans generally, or something related to agriculture/land use/cover crops).

Clean Energy & Carbon Pricing:
Clean Energy proposals are the most basic step to major cuts of carbon emissions. Unfortunately, by itself, clean energy doesn’t do enough – much more needs to be done (quickly) as devastating impacts of climate change are occurring more rapidly than scientists predicted.

Lutheran Advocacy-MN (including many of you) has been working for various proposals that would achieve

a)      50% renewable electric energy by 2030,
b)      100% renewable energy by 2050, or
c)       a carbon-neutral Minnesota by 2050.

Minnesota surpassed its 25% renewable threshold two years ago, and each of the last three years Xcel Energy has committed to larger proportions of renewable energy and dramatically reduced carbon emissions. However, Minnesota’s full legislature hasn’t passed legislation that 1) pulls other utilities into doing more, 2) addresses sources of emissions beyond the electricity sector, or 3) offers pathways to employment for people transitioning from jobs in industries related to fossil fuels.

 Nationwide, many organizations, climate scientists, politicians (Democrat & Republican) and others are calling for a price or tax on carbon emissions (conservatives usually prefer “carbon pricing” language). In November, Tammy was engaged in events and conversations about the shape those proposals might take in Minnesota. She’s gleaned a checklist of criteria for proposals. It will be posted for your perusal and feedback. In addition, within a few days a new talking points guide should be on the website for Christmas cards to, or meetings with, legislators in December.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP):

Thanks to those everyone who submitted comments to the USDA proposed rule change. Whether you commented this most recent time, or one of the other times in 2019 the administration proposed changes (while setting the comment period at minimum allowed), your help to prevent cuts to SNAP which would result in millions of seniors, children, disabled, and other people being eliminated from the program is GREATLY appreciated!

Urgent Action Alert to Gov – Affordable Housing Bonds

Tell the governor to go big and bold in his 2020 bonding request by including $500 million for affordable housing in their proposal!!

 

ACTION: Call or email the Governor

MAIN MESSAGE POINTS:

  1. Tell them who you are & where you’re from
  2. Tell them “Please go big and bold and include $500 million in your 2020 bonding proposal for affordable housing!”

ADD A REASON OR SAY WHY YOU CARE:

 (Choose just 2-3 from below or use your own. Try to use your own words.)

  • [Share about the housing situation in your community]
  • [Share what your church is doing to try to help address the crisis]
  • “Churches and community groups can’t do everything that is needed. The state needs to step up in a bigger and bolder way.”
  • “Each $1 invested in state bonding additionally leverages more than 3 times that much in private, non-profit, and other funding.”
  • “I’m a Christian (Lutheran) and God calls all of us to work together to make sure those who are most vulnerable have what they need.”
  • “Justice and compassion for those most vulnerable are themes throughout the Bible. In those passages, leaders are called by God to do what is right.”
  • “More than 580,000 Minnesota households pay more than they can afford on housing.”
  • “Households that spend too much of their income on housing often cut family food budgets, forgo necessities like gas to get to work, or cut medicine needed to maintain their health.”
  • “State bonding is a vital tool that provides housing of all types across the state, creating stability for our most vulnerable populations, including seniors, children, and those with disabilities.”
  • “In addition to creating much needed housing, state bonding funds help create jobs & economic development in communities across the state.”
  • “Housing is a statewide issue. The shortage of affordable housing is a concern of both small and large communities – rural, small town, urban, & suburban communities.”
  • “Affordable housing concerns have always been bipartisan in Minnesota! We can solve this when we acknowledge the scope of the need and work together as One Minnesota to meet the needs across the whole state.”
  • Although $500 million sounds like a lot of money, compared to other states, it’s not actually that much. Massachusetts just passed $1.8 billion for housing bonds.

BACKROUND: Governor Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan are in the process of creating their proposal for state bonds which they will present in the new year. The state legislative bodies (House & Senate) will work from that initial proposal to determine final bond amounts in various areas.

The Homes for All Coalition, of which Lutheran Advocacy-MN (and you, through us) are a part, believes we need to go really big and bold this year!!

Each year, some resources get allocated to housing, the legislature feels like they are addressing the need, and then wonder why we keep asking for more and talking about Minnesota’s housing crisis. Unfortunately, the truth is that although what we have accomplished each year is significant, it still only touches the tip of the iceberg of need throughout Minnesota.

In addition, Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH) has always made up the bulk of rental property across the state. However, in recent years that supply has been (and is being) decimated as investors buy older buildings where rent is less expensive, evict the residents, renovate the apartments, and turn the property into luxury rentals. Or they buy manufactured home parks for some other development purpose, once again evicting people! (Some who own their manufactured home will learn that there is either no place to move it, or that it is too old to be moved). The numbers of people being evicted from housing each year just because property changes hands are by themselves more than what the state can provide in new or renovated affordable homes/units, because the level of state funding just isn’t enough.

We need a bold ask for housing bonds because the need is so great!!! And we need a big, bold ask to help people throughout state government and the state legislature feel the urgency of the tremendous need in our state!

THANKS for your calls or emails, and all that you do for vulnerable people!!

Tammy

Advocating for Justice and Care for All of God's Creation