JRLC Action Alerts

Conference Committee to Decide on Child Care Funding

May 4, 2015 -- Ask legislators to make child care a priority!

Affordable, accessible child care allows parents to work and children to thrive. But thousands of Minnesota families are placed on waiting lists for months, even years, for child care assistance because current funding is inadequate.

Legislators have a chance to take an important step forward by providing needed funds this year. But it will all come down to priorities as the MN House and MN Senate work in conference committees and conduct their final negotiations. It’s time to make our voices heard -- ask the MN House to follow the Senate’s lead and provide critical funding for child care assistance in the final budget.

Call or email your legislators today and this week—let them know that kids can’t wait any longer. Ask them to support the MN Senate’s $19 million increase to Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance and include this increase in the Health and Human Services Omnibus Conference Report. This investment will end the wait for 700 of the Minnesota families currently on the waiting list.

Health and Human Services Conference Committee Members (click on names for contact information)

Sen. Tony Lourey, Co-Chair
Sen. Kathy Sheran
Sen. Melisa Franzen
Sen. Jeff Hayden
Sen. Julie Rosen
Rep. Matt Dean, Co-Chair
Rep. Tara Mack
Rep. Nick Zerwas
Rep. Joe Schomacker
Rep. Joe McDonald

These 10 legislators will have a key role in final decisions concerning child care. It is critical that we them know we’re counting on them to include the Senate’s $19 million increase to Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance in the Health and Human Services Conference Report.

Restore the Vote

April 22, 2015 -- Please contact your MN State Senator and urge him or her to support the Restore the Vote provisions in the Omnibus Judiciary Bill. The bill will be heard on the Senate floor, and we expect the vote to occur sometime around noon Thursday, April 23rd.

Call or email your MN State Senator: "Please support the Restore the Vote provisions now in SF 878 (Latz)."

Restore the Vote allows people with felony convictions to vote once they leave correctional facilities and re-enter our communities. Without this reform 47,000 Minnesotans living and working in our communities are denied the right to vote every Election Day. Nineteen other states, including North Dakota, already allow for this community reintegration policy.

We originally expected Restore the Vote (SF 355, Champion) to be part of the Senate Elections bill, but this time of year things change quickly. We will need a strong showing of bi-partisan support on the Senate floor so that the Senate's position is upheld in conference committee. (Despite strong bi-partisan support, House leadership did not allow Restore the Vote to receive a House committee hearing and the provisions do not appear in any of the House omnibus bills.) Contact your State Senator by early Thursday!

Additionally, please plan to participate in the Restore the Vote Action Day at the Capitol next week on Wednesday, April 29. You are encouraged to come to the Capitol to visit lawmakers and to rally on the South Lawn at noon. If you can't make the trip to St. Paul we will be sending ideas on how to participate from anywhere in the State.

Raise MFIP Grants

April 14, 2015 --Please contact your Minnesota House member and urge state legislators to raise the MFIP Grant! MFIP, the Minnesota Family Investment Program, provides basic economic assistance for children and their parents working toward full-time paid employment. All parents enrolled in MFIP must be working, job searching, pursuing education or job training.

The basic grant for a family of three is $532 per month and hasn’t been increased since 1986. Increasing the MFIP basic grant—using our federal TANF block grant funds—would make a significant difference to low-income children and striving workers. Raising the MFIP grant is key to fighting childhood poverty.

An additional $100/month would help families:

  • GET STABLE. A modest income boost is correlated with stronger education, health, and developmental outcomes for children. An additional $100 per month would help families cover basic expenses, including housing and transportation.
  • GET SKILLS. An additional $100 per month will help parents enrolled in school, certificate classes, and job-training programs pursue these activities.
  • GET TO WORK AND GET AHEAD. Workforce professionals cite transportation as the top barrier to employment for parents enrolled in MFIP. An additional $100 per month would help parents afford transportation to job interviews, work, and employment activities.

Tell your MN House member: Please raise the MFIP grant. Pass HF 869 (Franson) and SF 734 (Hayden), and raise grant levels by $100 per month by using federal TANF funds for their intended purpose.

Legislators are deciding their budget priorities right now. The StarTribune endorsed the MFIP grant increase in their lead editorial on Sunday. This is the time to voice your support for working families making their way out of poverty and gaining financial security.

Thank you for being part of JRLC's Legislative Network and let us know if you get a response from your legislators!

Child Care Funding: Kids Can't Wait

April 6, 2015 -- Affordable, accessible child care allows parents to work and children to thrive. Child care is a big part of family budgets, and is essential to building a stable workforce and growing economy. But thousands of income-eligible Minnesota families have to wait months, even years, for child care assistance because current funding is inadequate. The clock is ticking as families are place on waiting lists.

Call or email your legislators today—let them know that kids can’t wait any longer.

Ask your state senator and state representative to support Senate File 1199 (Hayden)/ House File 1057 (Franson), which provides the funds needed to make child care affordable for the over 5,500 families on the waiting list for Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance and increases reimbursement rates so childcare providers can afford to accept families receiving assistance.

Legislators are deciding their budget priorities this week. This is the time to voice your support for affordable child care and help working families make their way out of poverty and gain financial security.

Thank you for being part of JRLC's Legislative Network and let us know if you get a response from your legislators!

Stop the Payday Loan Debt Trap!

stopdebttrap

Payday loans are small-dollar, high-interest loans requiring full payback on the borrower’s next payday. They carry triple-digit annual interest rates, are due in full on a borrower’s next payday, require direct-debit access to a borrower’s bank account, and are made with little or no regard for a borrower’s ability to repay the loan. Because of these features, borrowers often cannot both repay the payday loan and meet their other obligations without having to quickly re-borrow, pulling them into a vicious debt trap.

In Minnesota, a typical payday loan is $380 and carries an APR of 273%, and is re-borrowed an average of TEN times (or twenty weeks) in a year. By the end of those twenty weeks, an individual will pay $397.90 in charges for a typical $380 payday loan. Payday loans don’t solve financial pressures; they make them worse.

CALL or WRITE YOUR LEGISLATORS and ask them to support payday lending reform! Key points:

  • More often than not, payday loans lead borrowers right into a debt trap
  • Stop the payday loan debt trap by capping the number of payday loans issued to a single borrower to four loans per year
  • Require payday lenders to use basic underwriting standards
  • Close the loophole that allows some lenders to evade our payday lending law

Want to learn more? Check out JRLC's fact sheets and issue paper on payday lending:

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