JRLC e-Xpress September 29

Poverty Worsens: Here's the stark picture from the just released ACS Census Data: In 2010, 11.6 percent of Minnesotans lived in poverty, up significantly from 9.5 percent in 2007. This average figure masks much higher rates of poverty within Minnesota‚Äôs communities of color. In 2010, 17.8 percent of Asians were living in poverty, as were 24.4 percent of Latinos and 37.2 percent of blacks. Poverty among American Indians increased from 30.7 percent to 39.5 percent. And, alarmingly, 15.2 percent of all children in Minnesota live below the poverty line. Read Brian Rusche's blog post on the matter.

iCAN Needs Sponsors!: Tomorrow is the last day of our iCAN Summer Fundraiser for individual and congregationsl sponsors. Help JRLC's children's network cross the finish line by making a donation today! We are getting close to our goal of $10,000 to support of legislative advocacy for Minnesota children living in poverty and crisis. CLICK HERE TO SPONSOR iCAN TODAY (every donation helps)! Also, Children's Sabbath is coming up! Here are new resources that will help you highlight children's issues in your congregation.

JRLC Seeks Your Input on our 2012 Legislative Goals: JRLC's Board and staff are seeking input into our 2012 Legislative Goals. Next year's goals are currently in draft form and we would be grateful for your ideas and reactions. Also you can take a quick poll on our homepage for an easy way to register your opinion!

2012 Day on the Hill will be Tuesday, March 20, 2012. Mark your calendar! The theme is "And What Does God Require?" (Deuteronomy 10: 12-13, 17-18)

Visit JRLC's improved website for events, media coverage, and regular blog posts by JRLC staff and board members.

JRLC e-Xpress July 20

Minnesota's collective nightmare is over. The legislature adjourned its special session this morning at 3:45 a.m. after quickly passing 12 bills and, now, Governor Dayton will sign the batch into law which will release state appropriations as early as tomorrow and Friday. The breakdown is over.

There are many more details to be parsed out, and the litany of budget cuts is long, but given the budget parameters determined by the Governor, the Speaker, and the Majority Leader its fair to say that vulnerable people were protected--but not without a lot of sacrifice.

First the good news:

  • No safety net cuts to General Assistance and MFIP, which is a huge success and is a direct result of all the lobbying we've been doing since January. There are some small eligibility changes to GA, but the programs are intact and grants to clients are basically funded at forecasted levels.
  • Eligibility for Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare is mostly preserved. Clearly the heath care system will creak and strain under the pressure of reimbursement rate cuts and some pieces of the reform will require many sacrifices, but the corner seems to have turned away from using an ax for surgery on the system. 

And now for the bad:

  • Child care programs were hit hard, both in terms of funding child care services and grant programs to ensure programs. The loss is over $800 million to child care providers statewide.
  • There was some strange legislating on the EBT cards (Electronic Benefit Transfer). The new law means that the food portion and the cash portion of public assistance grants will be split into two separate cards (costing more money to manage) so the state can restrict purchases of alcohol, tobacco, and tattoos with state-funded dollars.
  • The MFIP consolidated fund was reduced by $20 million over the biennium, greatly reducing what case management services counties will be able to offer.
  • Also, the Community and Child Services Act which funds county-based services to prevent or address neglect and abuse was reduced by $22 million

The revenue that allows much pain to be averted comes from borrowing, and this is bad public finance. We did not prevail on getting a progressive source of revenue into the Health and Human Services bill, but JRLC helped shape the debate about the human dignity and human needs of people on the margins of our community. 

To read Brian's detailed blog post on the Health and Human Services bill, click here.

JRLC e-Xpress January 27

Day on the Hill: Early-Bird Ends Soon. Register Today!
Monday January 31 is the last day to register for Day on the Hill with the early-bird discount; click here to register today! Join us on February 17th for this inspiring social justice event. Encourage others to come as well.

Legislative Session Off to Difficult Start
Already proposals are moving onto the House and Senate floors to cut needed help for struggling families via cuts to Renter's Credit, Emergency Assistance, and the Child and Community Services Fund. Proposals to eliminate the political contribution refund program and repeal handgun background checks would undo laws that JRLC was instrumental in passing years ago. Proposals for state-authorized gambling and a Vikings stadium are taking shape...and just to bring this all into high-definition, corporate tax cuts for businesses are on the table, even though we have a $6.2 billion revenue shortfall. Obviously we need the public to weigh in! Get your delegation geared up for Day on the Hill!

Social Justice Awards
Please nominate yourself or someone you know for our annual awards to be given out at the Capitol Rotunda during Day on the Hill, Feb. 17th. The nomination form is simple and can be submitted online. Individuals, congregations/organizations, and Key Advocates are the three award categories.

Volunteers needed for Day on the Hill
We need as many as 30 volunteers for Day on the Hill this year! Please select from the following list, and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." mce_href="mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." style="">email Alison to indicate your preference:
  • Registration (arrive by 7:45am)
  • Clean-up - RiverCentre (arrive by 8:00am)
  • Clean-up Patrol - Capitol Building (arrive by 8:00am)
  • Greeters and Bus Ushers (arrive by 8:00am)
    Details provided upon sign-up, and volunteering waives your registration fees!

JRLC Makes Swing through Southwest MN, NE is next
Thanks to Lisa Kremer who helped organize our several visits to the SW MN communities of Slayton, Luverne, Fulda, Worthington, and Windom. Check out this article in the Fulda Free Press!
This weekend we are going to International Falls, Duluth, Grand Rapids, Little Falls, and St. Cloud.

JRLC e-Xpress June 22

Candidate Forums: Our good friends at the League of Women Voters have a great websitethat lets you know about local primary contests and the candidate forums scheduled for your district. Try it! And check out our suggestions for questions to ask of candidates.

Open House: Did you know JRLC moved down the hall to a new office suite? (Our address is still the same.) We'd like you to come and visit our new headquarters at our Office Warming/Office Blessing on Wednesday June 30, 3:30 to 6:00. There will be a short program at 5:00pm. If you'd like, please bring a donation to help us replace our very old printer!

iCAN: Our Interfaith Children's Advocacy Network, is having a summer fundraiser. Our goal is to raise $8,000 by August. Please check out the iCAN So! How Are the Children fundraising thermometer and give online here.

Volunteer Leaders: If you'd like to play a leadership role with JRLC in your legislative district or in your congregation, consider becoming an iCAN Key Advocate or a JRLC District Leader: contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." mce_href="mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." style="color: #1b57b1; text-decoration: none; font-weight: normal;" mce_style="color: #1b57b1; text-decoration: none; font-weight: normal;">Alison Killeen if interested!

Notable dates: The Jewish New Year observance, Rosh Hoshanah, and the Islamic End of Ramadan Eid Feast coincide this coming September 10th.....JRLC's Day on the Hill for 2011 is set for February 17th.

JRLC e-Xpress September 24

First, an invitation. Please join us and many other religious groups and faith leaders forMinnesotans Standing Together: A Multi-faith Prayer Service for Respect.  For this service Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and others will unite for a multi-faith prayer for respect for the many ways that citizens of the state profess their religious beliefs.

In this time of heightened religious divisions and heavy media coverage of religious bigotry, we invite you to attend this important community-wide, interfaith event.

The service is on Tuesday September 28, 2010 from 7:00 -8:00 PM at Central Lutheran Church (333 12th Street South in Minneapolis).  JRLC is co-sponsoring this event with 26 other groups.  Former Minnesota Governor Al Quie and JRLC Board member Rev. Peg Chemberlin will be among the speakers.  We hope to see you there. All clergy are invited to process. Complete information here.

Impartial Courts
Mark your calendar for an important forum at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs on the West Bank of the U of MN campus:

What:  Public Forum on the Threat to Impartial Courts in Minnesota
When: Thursday, November 18, 2010; program is 4:00pm to 5:30pm with reception following
Who:   Clergy and lay leaders interested in preserving fairness and justice in our state courts

More information to follow!

Ladders Out of Poverty Task Force
The legislature's Ladders Out of Poverty Task Force held its first meeting and elected two co-chairs, Sen. Michael Jungbauer and Rep. Morrie Lanning. The Task Force decided to subdivide into three working groups in order to focus on three topic areas: financial literacy, asset development, and community supports. You can follow proceedings and sign up for the Task Force's updates here.

Day on the Hill 2011!
Set your sights on a great day at RiverCentre and the State Capitol on Thursday February 17, 2011. Our theme is A Stronghold in These Times... (Psalm 9:9) and we are very pleased to announce that our keynote speaker will be former JRLC Board Member and former executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, Rev. David McCauley. Many of us heard Fr. Dave give a wonderful reflection at JRLC's recent Open House. Now we'll all get to hear more at Day on the Hill!