“Government remains God’s gift because it is intended to do what churches, families, individuals, and businesses cannot do on their own: protect and coordinate the well-being of individuals, communities, and creation… Taking partisan stances is not the church’s role, but “politics” has to do with negotiating how the benefits and burdens of living in a society are shared… We Lutherans are grateful when government functions as God's gift .... this church affirms that government is indispensable for safeguarding and improving human life and creation.”
(From the ELCA Social Message, “Government and Civic Engagement in the United States: Discipleship in a Democracy)
In this Update:
Session Start & COVID Protocols
Lutheran Advocacy-MN Policy Priorities
Housing & Homelessness
Clean Energy & Climate Crisis
Homes for All Launch: The Crisis Stops Here
JRLC Final Housing Seminar
Session Lineup (priorities, predictions, etc.)
JRLC Day on the Hill
Session Start & COVID Protocols: The legislative session started yesterday (Monday, Jan. 31). All House committee meetings will be online, and House leaders are encouraging members to primarily participate in House floor sessions remotely. In contrast, most everything that the Senate does will be in-person, with the option for members to participate remotely.
Budget Surplus: A couple of weeks ago a new budget forecast surprised everyone with an anticipated $7 billion surplus. Although 2022 is a bonding year rather than a budget year, the legislature has the option to pass a supplemental budget.
Gov. Walz presented a $2.7 billion bonding proposal with numbers for affordable housing that make a good start toward the investment needed. House Democrats anticipate proposing a bonding bill closer to $3.5 billion, and we haven’t yet heard what Senate Republicans are planning.
Lutheran Advocacy-MN Policy Priorities
This is a very full agenda and includes many issues on which we need your advocacy, including meetings with legislators, email & calls in response to our action alerts, and more.
Affordable Housing & Homelessness:
Bonds for Housing: $400 million for Housing Infrastructure Bonds (HIBs) to create more affordable housing statewide; $100 million in Government Obligation Bonds for the preservation and restoration of public housing; $75 million in shelter dollars to create more shelter, especially in greater Minnesota. We also hope to create a new“deeper affordability” eligible use for Housing Infrastructure Bonds so that more housing can be created for the lowest income Minnesotans, and change Senior Housing HIB use so that up to 20% of units could be allowed for non-senior residents with disabilities.
Rental Reforms: Legislation to require 2-week notification before renters can be evicted, prevent eviction actions from appearing on renter records IF the court rules in favor of the tenant, & prevent “Source of Income” discrimination (meaning that tenants may not be turned away just because they receive a subsidy or voucher to pay part of their rent).
Local Housing Trust Funds: $9 million for communities to tap into for local affordable housing initiatives (with local contributions).
Pre-Weatherization: Provides funding for low-income households who have existing problems in their homes (lead paint, asbestos, etc.) that prevent access to weatherization funds, which makes homes more energy efficient.
Other: Although we may send action alerts on various other initiatives, the above issues are our greatest priorities. We will support as appropriate the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition initiative to change laws to allow religious worship bodies to create tiny home communities on their property. We will also be weaving into our education ways in which policies connected to racial discrimination have helped create the affordable housing crisis we face.
Clean Energy & Climate Crisis:
Bonding for Climate: Energy & efficiency projects, like solar, HVAC, & efficiency improvements for schools and public buildings.
Clean Energy Policy: Legislation to support significant increases in energy efficiency; ramp up electric energy sourcing from clean alternatives to fossil fuels, like wind, solar, and storage; & update the 2007 Next Generation Climate Act. We will work to accomplish these priorities in ways that increase equity, reduce discrimination, include rural communities, and protect workers/communities for whom livelihoods will change, while showing the health benefits and job creation inherent in moving to a clean energy economy.
Agriculture: This new area will involve mid-level (rather than full) engagement with issues around farmer resiliency planning (in face of droughts, floods, and other climate impacts), healthy soil initiatives, continuous living cover value chain development, and “Forever Green” funding, initiatives, & research for cover crops, and hardier/perennial options which work in the Upper Midwest.
Other Initiatives: Bonding initiatives that seek carbon sequestration through forest, prairie, and wetland preservation and restoration; $300 million for lead service line replacement.
Precinct Caucuses - Tonight Precinct caucuses are meetings run by Minnesota’s political parties. They are the first in a series of meetings where parties may endorse candidates, select delegates, and set goals and values (called party platforms) in a process leading up to state party conventions. Going to a caucus is a great way to show support for a candidate, raise an issue that’s important to you (which could eventually end up on your party’s platform), influence who the party will endorse for many offices. (Explanation borrowed from the MN Secretary of State website - Learn more about Precinct Caucuses).
Due to COVID precautions some caucuses will be held virtually this year (or by submitting documents). Use the Caucus Finder below to find information for your local area.
When: Tuesday, February 1, 2022
What time: 7:00 p.m.
Where: Some are in person & others virtual – see MN Secretary of State Caucus Finderfor your location
Homes for All Annual Launch: The Crisis Stops Here – Wednesday 2/2 Learn about the 2022 Homes for All legislative agenda, hear from those with lived experience of housing instability, participate in a call to action, and hear from our 2021 legislative housing champions. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, half a million Minnesota households were spending more than 30% of their income on housing. As the housing crisis persists, we need to take collective action for housing equity, preservation, affordability, and stability.
When: Wednesday, February 2, 2022
What time: 12:30-2:00 p.m.
Where: Zoom (get link by registering)
How to register: RSVP here
JRLC Housing Webinar Series – Thursday 2/3
Housing Webinars: Our partner, the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC), has been hosting a series of five webinars on topics related to affordable housing in Minnesota. Both those new to the issues and experienced housing advocates are welcome. The topic of the February webinar is “Legislative Solutions and Advocacy for the 2022 Session." You can learn more about the webinar series on the JRLC website.
When: Thursday, February 3, 2022
What Time: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: If you registered for a previous webinar, you should receive an updated Zoom invitation via email automatically. If you are new to the webinars, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for the zoom link.
Previous webinars are available here
Session Lineup for 2022 – Friday 2/4
Session Lineup, an annual event of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, is an opportunity to hear directly from the Governor’s office and legislators as they share their priorities for the upcoming session, identify issues they think will dominate the debate, and hear about issues of interest to the nonprofit sector. Although it is geared toward non-profit leaders, it always includes information helpful for advocates. Confirmed speakers include: Governor Tim Walz, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, House Republican Lead on Housing Finance and Policy Tama Theis, St. Cloud & Waite Park (R), House Capital Investment Chair Fue Lee, North Minneapolis (D), Senate Assistant Minority Leader Mary Kunesh, New Brighton (D), Senate Assistant Minority Leader Mary Kunesh, New Brighton (D), Senate Taxes Chair Carla Nelson, parts of Olmstead County & Rochester (R). Session Lineup will also feature the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and Minnesota Budget Project public policy teams.
When: Friday, February 4, 2022
What time: 10:00 a.m. - Noon
Where: Virtual/Live Online
Fee: $25 for MCN members / $45 for nonmembers
Registration & Payment: Link here
JRLC Day on the Hill – March (Now to be online)
Keynote presenter: Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, Executive Director, St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council and ordained clergy in Orthodox tradition. She will explore the theme, For Such a Time as This from the Book of Esther and its relevance for social justice advocacy today. Join advocates for training to understand legislative issues, reach to others and build relationships with lawmakers. Lutheran Advocacy-MN will again be a co-sponsor.
Thank you for your advocacy, and for the ways in which you will help us achieve our legislative goals this session! We appreciate each and every one of you!!
Tammy & Rachel