Advocacy Update – May 2019

Minnesota Legislative Session:

Significant disagreements between the House and Senate bills meant negotiation meetings at all hours in the final official weeks of session. Committees kept meeting “unofficially” following the May 20 “end” and then the legislature kicked off Memorial Day weekend with a 21 hour special session!

Affordable housing came out better than every other issue & agency, though need still outstrips appropriations. Clean Energy had disappointing results. A session summary will be available on our webpage. Thanks for many calls, emails & visits with legislators!

Events &Presentations:

Minnesotans from five synods participated in the ELCA Advocacy Convening on “advocacy in the context of disasters enhanced by climate change” (April 29-May1, Washington, D.C.) The group had several good meetings, though there is more work needed with some of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation.

LA-MN Director, Tammy Walhof, presented on Lutheran Advocacy-MN to pastors from the SPAS South Metro at their Conference Meeting (May 2). Later (May 17-18), she did similar mini-sessions at their Synod Assembly, passed 300+ action alerts, and spoke in depth with several participants.

Tammy had many wonderful conversations at the SW Minnesota Synod WELCA Convention (May 3-4), and was able to give out 230+ action alerts after being allowed a brief announcement about decisions being made by legislators. LA-MN’s Lutheran Affordable Housing Event (May 6) was followed by a rousing Homes for All Rally in the capitol rotunda with hundreds of other housing advocates from across the state.

We’ve Got Until Midnight for Affordable Housing & Clean Energy!

Hey Friends – We can still make a difference until midnight! Tell your legislators to push their conference committee negotiators to act for Clean Energy and Affordable Housing. The language in the previous action alerts   is  still usable.  Find the content here:

Legis-2019-Update-SPASAssembly

What are the specifics?

AFFORDABLE HOUSING: This message language is a little more specific than the action alert, but either will work. Tell, tweet, or tag legislators: “We need a bonding bill. Please support #Bonds4Housing! More than half a million Minnesota families pay more than they can afford for housing, and that number is growing. Support the Homes for All agenda including #Bonds4Housing, $1 million for the emergency services program, and $5 million for the affordable #HousingTaxCredit. We need action this session for affordable homes. Thank you!”

CLEAN ENERGY: The discussions haven’t been going well for clean energy!! We know that legislation for 100% carbon neutral energy by 2050 is not going to be included, but tell legislators: “Include policy language on clean energy to move us faster to more renewables by 2030. Xcel Energy has pledged to get to 60% renewables by 2030, and the rest of the utilities should get close to that. Also support Clean Energy First, meaning that if carbon neutral energy is less expensive, it should be used before fossil fuels. Studies have shown that renewable and battery technology can easily handle 60% of our states electrical usage by 2030. Renewable energy is already significantly less expensive and batteries are predicted within 3 years to make even new renewable infrastructure less expensive than fossil fuels.” (This should be a no-brainer, but strong interests are pushing in the opposite direction).

After midnight, the bills go to the Reviser’s Office to make sure they are all in proper legal language & the legislators come back on Thursday for a 1-day special session to pass the final versions of all those major bills.

Legis-2019-Update-SPASAssembly

Ash Wednesday Reflections

Ash Wednesday Readings: Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

While learning Spanish, I was struck that the word in my Spanish bible for both righteousness and justice is the same: justicia! As it turns out, that is true in many languages, including Hebrew (tsedek). In each case, the words refer to right relationship. Right relationship with God; right relationship with our human and non-human neighbors; right relationship within and between people, communities, nations; and right relationship within and between all that God has created.

What a beautiful vision of how the world should be! Yet, we have not been faithful to God’s calls for right relationship. Where do you see the broken relationships in your community? Don’t just think about between individuals! Are all in our communities well? Do our various municipal, state, and federal government policies reflect a desire for of what is good for all, or do they only reflect the interests of a few? Where have things broken down in our nation? How have we broken relationships with God’s creation around us? Have we been eager to point out the brokenness we see elsewhere, but hypocritically neglected our own role in what is broken?

Take a moment this Ash Wednesday to reflect on all the different relationships and levels of relationships that should be “made right.” Pray for God to guide and lead you and all of us together into right relationship with God, with everyone and everything that God has created.

Advocacy Update – February 2019

Housing & the Governor’s Budget: Gov. Walz’s budget highlights housing as a critical issue facing Minnesota, calling for investments across the housing continuum from homelessness to homeownership. We appreciate that the governor gives the housing crisis the increased attention it needs! However, we must go beyond his proposals to even do more to meet the housing needs of students, families, employers, and communities across Minnesota. State investments must also include supportive services (in Health & Human Service budget).

 Clean Energy Legislation: Legislation has been introduced creates a set of renewable and carbon-free energy targets for Minnesota’s utilities to meet between now and 2050, with 100% carbon-free energy the eventual goal. It allows flexibility if meeting the targets significantly effects energy costs or reliability, and allows modification for future unknowns like new technology, environmental impacts, or obstacles to building energy infrastructure. (The bill defines “renewable” energy as electricity produced from solar, wind, small hydroelectric facilities, hydrogen and biomass. “Carbon-free” energy is defined as electricity produced without emitting carbon from sources like nuclear energy which aren’t renewable).

 Clean Energy & Climate Action Day: Join students, neighbors, families, people of faith! Engage in opportunities throughout the day to learn, share, meet with legislators and let them know you want action on clean energy. Participate in action stations, inter-faith worship, and a rally in the Capitol Rotunda. Stay for the day or come when you can. Register at: http://bit.ly/MNEnergyDay

  • WHEN: Wednesday, March 13, 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • WHERE: Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, 105 University Ave. W., St. Paul 55103

The 2019 Legislative Session is Here!

We’re so excited that session has begun!  Committees have been announced, legislators and constitutional officers have been sworn in, and now it’s time for us to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

In the coming week we will post our legislative priorities here, but in the meantime, please take a look at the legislative committees whose work coincides with LAMN’s priorities: hunger and poverty, care of creation and welcoming the stranger.  If any of these committee members are your legislators, now is a great time to write them a letter, set up a meeting or give them a call to encourage them to support affordable housing, protect God’s creation, and ensure that no Minnesotan lacks food, safety or the means to lead a dignified life. 

Don’t know who your legislators are? Enter your address on this page to find out!

Minnesota House Committees

(New members indicated in bold)

Housing Finance & Policy Division

Committee Chair
Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL) District: 66A
Vice Chair
Rep. Michael Howard (DFL) District: 50A
Republican Lead
Rep. Tama Theis (R) District: 14A
Members
Rep. Robert Bierman (DFL) District: 57A
Rep. Peter Fischer (DFL) District: 43A
Rep. Bob Gunther (R) District: 23A
Rep. Hodan Hassan (DFL) District: 62A
Rep. Kaohly Her (DFL) District: 64A
Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL) District: 61A
Rep. Brian Johnson (R) District: 32A
Rep. Tony Jurgens (R) District: 54B
Rep. Jeremy Munson (NR) District: 23B
Rep. Nels Pierson (R) District: 26B
Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL) District: 27B
Rep. Duane Sauke (DFL) District: 25B

Health and Human Services Policy Division

Committee Chair
Rep. Rena Moran (DFL) District: 65A
Vice Chair
Rep. Kelly Morrison (DFL) District: 33B
Republican Lead
Rep. Debra Kiel (R) District: 01B

Members
Rep. Tony Albright (R) District: 55B
Rep. Jeff Backer (R) District: 12A
Rep. Kristin Bahner (DFL) District: 34B
Rep. Heather Edelson (DFL) District: 49A
Rep. Peter Fischer (DFL) District: 43A
Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL) District: 45B
Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL) District: 26A
Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL) District: 60A
Rep. Alice Mann (DFL) District: 56B
Rep. Anne Neu (R) District: 32B
Rep. Nels Pierson (R) District: 26B
Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL) District: 64B
Rep. Kristin Robbins (R) District: 34A
Rep. Joe Schomacker (R) District: 22A
Rep. Jennifer Schultz (DFL) District: 07A

Health and Human Services Finance Division

Committee Chair
Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL) District: 26A
Vice Chair
Rep. Alice Mann (DFL) District: 56B
Republican Lead
Rep. Joe Schomacker (R) District: 22A

Members
Rep. Patty Acomb (DFL) District: 44B
Rep. Dave Baker (R) District: 17B
Rep. Robert Bierman (DFL) District: 57A
Rep. Hunter Cantrell (DFL) District: 56A
Rep. Mary Franson (R) District: 08B
Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R) District: 18B
Rep. Barb Haley (R) District: 21A
Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL) District: 51B
Rep. Rod Hamilton (R) District: 22B
Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL) District: 41B
Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL) District: 60A
Rep. Rena Moran (DFL) District: 65A
Rep. Jeremy Munson (R) District: 23B
Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL) District: 60B
Rep. Liz Olson (DFL) District: 07B
Rep. Jennifer Schultz (DFL) District: 07A
Rep. Nick Zerwas (R) District: 30A
Ex-Officio
Rep. Lyndon Carlson, Sr. (DFL) District: 45A

Energy and Climate Finance & Policy Division

Committee Chair
Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL) District: 63B
Vice Chair
Rep. Jamie Long (DFL) District: 61B
Republican Lead
Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R) District: 16A

Members
Rep. Patty Acomb (DFL) District: 44B
Rep. Dave Baker (R) District: 17B
Rep. Robert Bierman (DFL) District: 57A
Rep. Greg Boe (R) District: 47B
Rep. Michelle (Shelly) Christensen (DFL) District: 39B
Rep. Pat Garofalo (R) District: 58B
Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL) District: 51B
Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL) District: 61A
Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL) District: 67A
Rep. Shane Mekeland (R) District: 15B
Rep. Jason Rarick (R) District: 11B
Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL) District: 36A
Ex-Officio
Rep. Lyndon Carlson, Sr. (DFL) District: 45A

Minnesota Senate Committees

Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Finance

Committee Chair
Sen. Torrey Westrom (R) District: 12
Vice Chair
Sen. Mark Johnson (R) District: 01
Ranking Minority Member
Sen. Kari Dziedzic (DFL) District: 60

Members
Sen. Rich Draheim (R) District: 20
Sen. Kent Eken (DFL) District: 04
Sen. Nick Frentz (DFL) District: 19
Sen. Michael Goggin (R) District: 21
Sen. Andrew Lang (R) District: 17
Sen. Dan Sparks (DFL) District: 27
Sen. Bill Weber (R) District: 22

Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Policy

Committee Chair
Sen. Bill Weber (R) District: 22
Vice Chair
Sen. Michael Goggin (R) District: 21
Ranking Minority Member
Sen. Foung Hawj (DFL) District: 67

Members
Sen. Gary Dahms (R) District: 16
Sen. Kent Eken (DFL) District: 04
Sen. John Hoffman (DFL) District: 36
Sen. Jason Isaacson (DFL) District: 42
Sen. Mark Johnson (R) District: 01
Sen. Andrew Lang (R) District: 17
Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL) District: 06
Sen. Torrey Westrom (R) District: 12

Health and Human Services Finance and Policy

Committee Chair
Sen. Michelle Benson (R) District: 31
Vice Chair
Sen. Scott Jensen (R) District: 47

Members
Sen. Jim Abeler (R) District: 35
Sen. Rick Draheim (R) District: 20
Sen. Chris Eaton (DFL) District: 40
Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL) District: 62
Sen, Mary Kiffmeyer (R) District: 30
Sen. Matt Klein (DFL) District: 52
Sen. John Marty (DFL) District: 66
Sen. Andrew Mathews (R) District: 15
Sen. Carla Nelson (R) District: 26
Sen. Julie Rosen (R) District: 23
Sen. Melissa Wiklund (DFL) District: 50

Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy

Committee Chair
Sen. David J. Osmek (R) District: 33
Vice Chair
Sen. Andrew Mathews (R) District: 15
Ranking Minority Member
Sen. John Marty (DFL) District: 66

Members
Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL) District: 61
Sen. Michael Goggin (R) District: 21
Sen. John Hoffman (DFL) District: 36
Sen. Eric Pratt (R) District: 55
Sen. Julie Rosen (R) District: 23
Sen. David Senjem (R) District: 25
Sen. Erik Simonson (DFL) District: 07

Advocacy Update – January 2019

Homes for All: Lutheran Advocacy-MN (LA-MN) continues to be deeply engaged in the Homes for All Coalition (H4A), since high housing costs and lack of affordable housing are primary causes of Hunger. The coalition includes 215+ endorsing organizations. We are part of smaller group that work on the nuts and bolts of the legislative agenda. Tammy Walhof (LA-MN Director) meets 1-3x/week with the H4A Policy Team to discuss strategy, while Amy Shebeck (our Communication/Administration Coordinator) meets regularly with the H4A Communications Team and manages coalition social media.

 On January 17, H4A held a Legislative Kickoff which included awards for House and Senate Housing Champions. February 20th, H4A presented our ambitious agenda to the Housing Finance & Policy Division, chaired by Rep. Alice Hausman, and held a press conference with Rep. Hausmann (DFL) and Sen. Carla Nelson (R). Check our website for links to the H4A agenda, 1-pagers, & updates, as well as our LA-MN sample letter to legislators.

Creation Care: Check out Green Tips on our Facebook page every Friday! (Thanks for providing that great information Laura Raedeke, Nisswa). At the legislature, the Energy & Climate Division (committee) have been holding hearings 2x/week to lay the groundwork and educate for upcoming legislation. We’re working closely with partners and legislators on various clean energy ideas – Your action will be needed soon!

Upcoming events that LA-MN helps sponsor:

  • Feb. 7 – Day on the Hill with JRLC (Joint Religious Legislative Coalition)
  • March 13 – Clean Energy & Climate Action Day at the Capitol

Homes for All’s Legislative Kickoff – Reflection from Lori Haaland

Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota is an endorsing member of Homes for All, a coalition of over 200 affordable housing advocates, social service providers, developers, and more. For the 2019-2020 legislative biennium, Homes for All has proposed its most ambitious agenda ever, an expansive vision for the future of Minnesota’s housing continuum that addresses everything from homelessness prevention to emergency shelter to rental assistance and affordable home ownership. Follow this link to learn more about the legislative agenda.

LA-MN supporter Lori Haaland attended one of Homes for All’s session kickoff events and offers her thoughts below:

On January 8, I attended Homes for All’s Metro Kickoff and it was a delight. It was wonderful to see the Minnesota state legislators and some of their staff honored as partners who actively support the mission of the group assembled.  They are critical partners, as are all the people working together to find effective ways to support affordable housing and end homelessness.

Two speakers stood out for me. First, a regional director of a nonprofit in northern Minnesota shared how geographical differences can affect housing; although affordable housing needs are the same across the state, the offerings of service to meet needs may look different depending on the location.

Second, a young Liberian man who had experienced homelessness shared his moving personal story, demonstrating that the work of Homes for All is critical and can effectively make a difference in peoples’ lives.  He described how his life has been, and continues to be, richly blessed with the fruits of those working to meet the needs of the homeless.

It was a very powerful event and I observed the diverse backgrounds of the attendees were – all of whom share a contagious, genuine passion around the issues of housing and homelessness in our whole state. I look forward to actively supporting the Homes For All agenda!

Merry Christmas!

My soul proclaims your greatness, O God, and my spirit rejoices in you, You have looked with love on your servant here, and blessed me all my life through. Great and mighty are you, O Holy One, strong is your kindness evermore. How you favor the weak and lowly one, humbling the proud of heart.

You have cast the mighty down from their thrones, and uplifted the humble of heart. You have filled the hungry with wondrous things, and left the wealthy no part. Great and mighty are you, O Faithful One, strong is your justice, strong your love, as you promised to Sarah and Abraham, kindness forevermore.

  – Mary’s Song (Magnificat) from Luke 1:46-55, from Holden Evening Prayer  by Marty Haugen

When you read the end of Luke 1, do you find yourself breaking into a song of praise like that of Mary? While deeply personal, Mary’s hymn of praise is also prophetic and political. She continues in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets, who called the people back into right relationship with God, with one another and with all of God’s creation. Mary describes a world of wholeness in which the powerful are not lifted above the powerless, and no one goes hungry while others have their fill—a wholeness to which Jesus, the child inside her, is the key.

At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of God’s love in human flesh: Jesus, the Messiah, who has come to heal our broken relationships. We see a glimpse of this in Luke 4, when Jesus announces his ministry as good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and letting the oppressed go free. Jesus has come to make us whole again!

As Christians we are called to show and share love, just as Jesus has shown his love to us. We are called to be God’s hands, feet and voices in the world. We are called to love our neighbor and work as God’s instruments of healing wherever brokenness is found, whether that involves homeless people in need of shelter, children impacted by pollution, families struggling with hunger, refugees seeking asylum, or anywhere where our neighbor or our shared creation suffers.

Join Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota as we answer God’s call to be instruments of healing. Help us work for justice and right relationship in our communities and God’s creation. Encourage elected leaders to promote policies that work toward justice in our government and our society. We need you in God’s work!

Prayer: God of love, help us to reflect your light in a world that sometimes seems dark. Wonderful Counselor, teach us how to be your instruments of justice, peace, healing, and love in this time and in this place. Prince of Peace, grant us your peace, and may a song of praise to you always be on our lips.

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