Voting Options and Issues to Raise with Candidates

New ELCA Social Message on Government and Civic Engagement

Minnesota Voter Information

Voter Registration

Voting During a Pandemic

Election Help Needed/Get Involved

Candidate Contacts & Questions

New ELCA Social Message on Government and Civic Engagement


The 2019 Churchwide Assembly requested a new social message on government and civic engagement. The document titled “Government and Civic Engagement in the United States: Discipleship in a Democracy” was adopted in June of this year by the ELCA Church Council.

This offers a great opportunity for study and discussion by congregations, and can even work as a Zoom group discussion. There is a Study Guide, along with a Leader’s Guide for those facilitating groups. A Spanish translation is being prepared as well.

 Minnesota Voter Information
The Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office has very helpful information on their website. The picture below shows just what the top part of the page looks like. Much more information is available when you scroll down. https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/

Voter Registration
Although you may already be registered, you probably know people who are not yet registered! Think about the young adults in your life. Are they registered? Do you know any immigrants who have become Naturalized U.S. Citizens recently? What about low-income people or homeless with whom your church is engaged. People who have moved recently may not be registered yet under their current address. Give these folks a call, email or text them the link. Please be COVID safe while encouraging registration. Anyone may check to make sure their registration is current. Where to Register or Update Registration Online: https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/VoterRegistration/VoterRegistrationMain.aspx

Voting During a Pandemic
Many of us do not want to be at our polling place on November 3. Several states saw outbreaks of COVID-19 directly connected to lines at primary voting places. In Minnesota, we have various options.

  • Vote By Mail: Order an absentee ballot and vote by mail. Your ballot must be postmarked before or on Nov. 3, but don’t wait that long. Get it in as soon as possible! Order your ballot here: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/other-ways-to-vote/vote-early-by-mail/
  • Vote Early: Many cities and towns offer early in-person voting, and county election offices do as well. This is technically absentee voting, but the election judges present will make sure you do it properly & you have the certainty that it’s done! I voted last Friday, and felt confident with the health safety measures taken (mask up before going). https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/other-ways-to-vote/vote-early-in-person/
  • Multiple Ballots?: I discovered on Friday while voting early that apparently I had asked for a general election ballot at the same time as my primary ballot. Since I hadn’t remembered that I’d already asked for a ballot, I had considered submitting one of the three ballot request forms from various organizations that arrived to my home. It’s a felony to vote more than one time, and I got a sick feeling in my gut realizing that I had already requested a ballot! But, Minnesota’s tracking system will only allow one vote to be submitted, so using my driver’s license number, the election judges cancelled any other ballot request and I was instructed that if a ballot arrived, I was to destroy it. Even if I tried to submit it, it would not be allowed or counted, but DON’T test the system with multiple vote attempts.
  • Track Your Ballot: In tracking my ballot from Friday, that the system recorded it on Monday as “received and will be counted.” It also showed that my primary ballot, which I had sent by mail for the Primary Election was received and counted. Track your ballot here https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/AbsenteeBallotStatus.aspx
  • Voting In-Person on Election Day: Of course, if you choose not to vote early or by mail, you may still vote in person. Some communities are changing polling locations to be in a larger venue that allows for better distancing, so check your location in advance! (And wear your mask!!!) https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/election-day-voting/

Election Help Needed/Get Involved

  • Become an Election Judge: These are the people that staff the election process, whether for early voting or on election day. Many of the regular volunteers are retired, and are in higher risk categories for COVID-19. Are you healthy and young? Help is still needed!
  • Other Options: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/get-involved/

Candidate Contacts & Questions (Check their campaign websites for how to connect)

Candidates are trying to get your vote. They may be calling, stopping by, or holding online forums, which means you have the opportunity to talk with them & ask them questions. Be sure to mention that you are Christian, Lutheran, and an advocate with Lutheran Advocacy-MN. You can also email them!

Cover just one issue per email. With others you can divide up the issues for contacts because if you ask or write about all the issues at one time it may be overwhelming to the candidates. Mention that you will share their responses with others from your church, or family, or on social media. (Then don’t forget to share when you hear back!).

The following issues can be discussed with candidates for both the state legislature and for Congress. For each these issues, say something about why the issue is important to you, especially as a person of faith/Christian/Lutheran.

Housing Explain that we were in a housing crisis even before the COVID crisis hit. Now many renters are unable to pay their rent (as they’ve been out of work or working sporadically). In addition, there are many homeless across the state, and when the eviction moratorium ends, we will have significant cascading homelessness across the state. Ask them how they plan to work for more affordable housing statewide, and more safe shelter options.

  • Hunger Explain that the economic downturn has increased hunger and it is only increasing. Some of that responsibility is with the federal nutrition programs, as administrative rules have been working to limit access to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). What will they do to address and prevent hunger in our communities?
  • Renewable Energy Explain that renewable energy (wind and solar) are significantly cleaner and are now less expensive than fossil fuels which include fracked gas and coal. With increasing storage options and grid management, electric stability and consistency can be maintained with renewable, clean energy. Minnesota arrived at the goal of 25% of electrical energy from renewable sources many years ahead of schedule. Ask candidates
    1. What they will do to speed up the transition to a clean economy;
    2. How they will ensure that Minnesota & the U.S. will not get left behind in the manufacture of clean technologies, as many other countries are transitioning much faster to the energy economy; and
    3. What they will do to help workers currently engaged in fossil fuel extraction or energy development to transition to the clean energy economy? (The transition is occurring and fossil fuel related jobs are being lost at increasingly rapid speed. The options are to help workers transition, or leave workers behind!)
  • Climate Change We have several state legislators and some members of Congress who still deny the reality of climate change. You can talk about renewable energy with these candidates/legislators without getting into climate change. However, we do need to move them into reality! Point out that megafires in California, increased intensity and numbers of hurricanes and tropical storms are symptoms of the changing climate! So are the severe floods and droughts that Minnesota farmers experience with increasing regularity! Ask the candidates what they plan to do to slow climate change, and how they will help Minnesota communities, workers, and farmers adapt to changing conditions.
  • Racial Divisions The divides between the ways that people act or treat others based on race is very appropriately in the spotlight once again! So are the ways that our systems and institutions favor some and discriminate against others. Mention some examples about how Minnesota has one of the biggest racial equity gaps. Think of examples in your community and/or borrow from state information or this article from the Star Tribune. Ask what the candidate will do to reduce and eliminate disparities.

Once again, my post has gotten long, despite coming back to it various times to try to shorten it. However, I hope it is helpful, and that you can use it be an informed voter who shows up, and who helps others be informed and participate as well!

Take care! Don’t forget to pray also for safe and smooth elections! May God watch over, protect, and bless both our voting process and all voters (regardless of party affiliation) in the midst of this odd 2020 pandemic year.

Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advocacy Update – August 2020

Minnesota

Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota (LA-MN) lutheranadvocacmn.org

 

SPECIAL SESSION #2: A carefully negotiated bipartisan $1.8 billion bipartisan bonding/tax bill failed the supermajority needed by six votes in the House of Representatives.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt has been holding bonding as leverage to force an end to the governor’s COVID emergency powers. House & Senate leaders hoped that a bipartisan bill could help House Republicans defy the Minority leader (we know of some who wanted to vote for the bill). However, the bill went down on a House party-line vote, despite Senate passage with broad bipartisan support.

Watch for mid-August’s Special Session when we get to do this all over again!

AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Given bonding bill defeat, Housing Infrastructure Bonds and Public Housing bonds were unable to move forward. Although amounts never made it to the levels we were advocating, $100 million was included for housing infrastructure and $16 million for public housing (significantly higher than where the Senate had been).

We appreciate our advocates’ efforts to increase housing bonds, push leaders to bipartisan agreement, and thank several leaders from both parties for their diligent work.

COVID EMERGENCY & HOUSING: Gov. Walz announced $100 million of CARES Act federal funding will be used for housing assistance. Nevertheless, if Congress doesn’t reinstate extra unemployment funding, many Minnesotans will default on rent. (Please see ELCA Advocacy’s alerts on those federal negotiations!).

CLEAN ENERGY: Several small(ish) projects that could help the transition to clean renewable energy also don’t pass without bonding.

POLICE REFORM: A bill banning most chokeholds, requiring intervention to prevent excessive force by fellow officers, and outlawing “warrior training” passed despite huge differences in positions. Various legislators want to come back to deeper racism dismantling within policing structures, and we hope to engage these concerns.

[LA-MN Director: Tammy Walhof / 651-238-6506 (call/text) / tammy@lutheranadvocacymn.org. Website: www.lutheranadvocacymn.org]

VICTORIES/ACTION still needed (Special Session #2)

Some Good News. . .

And Still Lots of Work to Do!!!

Action Alerts are under the victories!

We still need your action!!

 LOTS OF WORK NEEDED IN COMING WEEKS/MONTHS:

1)      On racism and policing reform! The chambers are not even close to being unified on an approach and are not likely to get close anytime soon! The House recognizes systemic problems baked into systems that cause things to go array, while the senate is insisting the problem is several bad cops in Minneapolis and a few in St. Paul. They suggest that outside of the Metro, there are no problems & no reforms are needed. This will need work in the weeks and months ahead!!!

2)      On renewable energy & climate change! Once again, house & senate ended regular session very far apart on these issues, and at best there may be some smallish renewable projects for communities in the bonding bill. Bigger action needs work in the months to come!

VICTORIES & WORK NEEDED IN SPECIAL SESSION #2 ON HOUSING

(House and Senate return to the current Special Session on Monday)

WIN #1: This week, Gov. Walz, Lt. Gov. Flanagan, and the Housing Commissioner announced that $100 million of the federal CARES funds to Minnesota will be used for Housing Assistance! This is a huge win, and something we (and you) have been advocating for since March! WhooHoo!!! On August 10, the money will be released and people can start applying. Money may be used for current and back rent, utilities, insurance payments, manufactured homes, and more. As it becomes available, information will be posted at http://www.mnhousing.gov/covid19housingassistanceprogram. Although it will not be administered through the program where our Homes for All Coalition thought it would best be housed, we will continue to monitor the program development and the funding organizations chosen to distribute funds. (NOTE: Organizations or Agencies wishing to distribute the funds must have a proposal to MN Housing by next week Wednesday, July 22).

CONCERN: With the level of need, and the extra $600 in unemployment ending soon, a cascade of additional needs and housing challenges are expected. Remember that our state (along with much of the nation) was experiencing an extreme housing crisis even before COVID-19. Evictions in the thousands or tens of thousands are also likely when the Eviction Moratorium ends. Will $100 million be enough to prevent the looming increase in homelessness?

WIN #2: On Tuesday, Gov. Walz signed another Executive Order, approved by the Executive Council, to extend the Eviction Moratorium until the ending of the Peacetime Health Emergency Declarations in Minnesota. While this keeps people housed for the time being, it is a temporary solution. Hopefully, the Housing Assistance Funding (above in Win #1) will help keep people housed, if they’ve gotten behind on rent, and keep landlords in business. But longer term solutions are needed from the legislature!

WIN #3 on Bonding (but it’s not done yet!): The House introduced a bonding bill with $100 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds and $16 million on bonds for Public Housing Rehab. The Public Housing number is much better than the $2 million the senate was proposing by the end of the regular session! We believe these housing amounts are an agreement between the House and Senate Leadership, with participation from Senate Capitol Investment Committee leadership (i.e. Sen. Senjem, Rochester).

CONCERN: This agreement still needs a 2/3 vote from each chamber!! The House Minority Leader is still threatening that he will not allow his caucus to vote for any bonding until the governor’s emergency powers are ended. You may also remember that as part of the Homes for All Coalition, we have been working for $200 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds and $100 million in Public Housing bonds. Our original request this year was $500 million, because the size of the crisis is huge statewide!!! So, while this is a significant win if we can get it over the 2/3 vote, it is still significantly less than is needed to address the size of the crisis.

ACTION ON HOUSING:

1)   Send Thank You emails Sen. Gazelka, Rep. Hortman, Sen. Senjem, Gov. Walz, & Lt. Gov. Flanagan! (If desired, you may add your own senator. Who represents me? ).

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

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

Sen. David Senjem sen.david.senjem@senate.mn

Gov. Tim Walz & Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan https://mn.gov/governor/contact/

Tips & Talking Points:

  • Use your own words! Keep the whole email positive, even when talking about what is yet needed.
  • Thank themfor them for the commitment to $100 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds AND the $16 million in GO bonds (Government Operation bonds) for Public Housing rehab. The additional uses of bonding for single family housing, and for people in deeper poverty are good!
  • Thank them forgood bipartisan discussions and conversations on housing!
  • Remind themthis commitment does not include anything for shelters, especially important in this time of COVID-19 and physical distancing. Needs should not have to compete for funding – some additional funding should be put aside for shelters.
  • This commitment is a good investment in Minnesota’s housing needs, but is still far from the investment needed to move out of deep housing crisis.
  • Thank themfor the $100 million designated for housing assistance from the federal CARES Act (for COVID-19 relief)
  • Talk about the difference this will make to peoplein your community or church. Mention why this is important to you (Why do you care?). Faith language is especially important for several of these people.
    • God calls us to care for those who are most vulnerable!
    • Throughout the Bible, God lifts up the needs of the poor and the responsibility of the greater community to care for the poor.
    • The Biblical prophets were constantly reminding their leaders (the kings & princes) about their role in caring for the most vulnerable in their nations.
    • Mention you are Lutheran(and an advocate with Lutheran Advocacy-MN) – [What we hear is that legislators realize they are getting emails from people of faith, but don’t realize the bulk of those are coming from Lutherans. Several legislators are Lutheran or attend Lutheran churches in their communities).

 

2)   Email Rep. Daudt!  (If desired, you may add your own representative. Who represents me? ).

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

Tips & Talking Points:

  • Be courteous, but firm.
  • Use the bonding information from the above talking points, but take out all the “thank you” wording.
  • Any points you make about benefits your community will receive or about why you care are relevant (like they are in the thank-you emails above)
  • Faith & Lutheran language remains important (like above).
  • Point out that as soon as any emergency ends, the housing situation will get very bad, very quickly. He should not hold housing bonds hostage to end the COVID emergency.
  • If he is concerned about the emergency powers the governor is using, he should make sure there is legislation passed by the legislature to make sure all COVID emergency needs, including and especially in the housing sector, BEFORE trying to take emergency power away from the governor. (Add any reasons you see as relevant).
  • Thank Rep. Daudt for anything he may have contributed toward getting to the agreement for using $100 million in federal COVID CARES funding for emergency housing assistance.

As always, thanks so very, VERY much for your action now & previously! You can take some of the credit for the “wins” if you’ve been advocating to legislators!!!

Tammy

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

 

 

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