ELCA Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/Living Earth Reflection: We have no such rightMary Minette, program director, Environmental Policy and Education http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/136http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/136<div class="ExternalClass82E8796276CB4582853673DC703BEA32"><p><span style="font-size&#58;16px;">June 2015</span></p><p><em>But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being</em>. – Job 12&#58;7-10</p><p>Last week, when Pope Francis released his <a href="http&#58;//w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">encyclical</span></a>, &quot;Laudato si,&quot; on care of creation, most of the media attention around the world focused on what he had to say about climate change and how Catholics might react to this message. However, Pope Francis addresses a broad range of issues affecting God's earth in his teaching document, and his call to care for God's creation is addressed to &quot;every person living on this planet,&quot; not just to those of the Catholic faith. This encyclical also reflects many of the same concerns and approaches as the ELCA's &quot;Caring for Creation&quot; social statement. </p><p><strong>One issue that is featured prominently in &quot;Laudato si&quot; is the protection of plants and animals from the threat of extinction. </strong>From the first chapters of Genesis to the end of the book of Revelation, the Scriptures that lie at the core of the Christian faith celebrate creation and our fellow creatures as a gift from God. God calls us into a relationship with our fellow creatures that is one of stewardship and care. God calls us to name &quot;every living creature&quot; – a responsibility that we are still fulfilling as new species are discovered. When God becomes angry with humanity for its corruption and plans to destroy the earth in a cleansing flood, God picks a righteous man, Noah, and tells him to save two of every living creature – a breeding pair – from the waters of the flood along with his own family. After the flood, God makes a covenant not just with humanity but with all creation to never again destroy the earth. And in the book of Job, God tells Job that his fellow creatures have much to teach him about the power of the creator and the connections between all of life.</p><p>The ELCA's social statement on caring for creation notes that <strong>&quot;humans, in service to God, have special roles on behalf of the whole creation. Made in the image of God, we are called to care for the earth as God cares for the earth.&quot; </strong>We are to name the animals, uniting us in relationship, and to love the earth as God loves each of us.</p><p>In &quot;Laudato si,&quot; Pope Francis argues that concern for our fellow creatures and concern for our fellow humans are deeply related&#58; &quot;A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings … . It follows that our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we mete out to other human beings.&quot;</p><p>Today, Earth is losing mammal species at 20 to 100 times the rate in the past – a rate so rapid it could rival the event that killed the dinosaurs. Since 1900, 69 mammal species are believed to have gone extinct, along with about 400 other types of vertebrates. Pollution, habitat destruction, hunting and poaching and increasingly climate change all cause God's creatures to vanish from the earth.</p><p>Pope Francis also describes this extreme rate of extinction in his encyclical&#58;</p><p><em>Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost forever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right. </em></p><p>Earlier this spring a number of media outlets shared pictures of <a href="http&#58;//www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/27/ol-pejeta-kenya-sudan-worlds-last-male-northern-white-rhinoceros"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Sudan</span></a>, the last male northern white rhino on our planet. Sudan lives in a nature preserve in Kenya surrounded by armed guards tasked with protecting him from poachers who want to kill him for his horn (powdered rhino horn sells for as much as $75,000 a kilo). He is 42 years old – rhinos typically live between 40 and 50 years – and so far, attempts to breed him with one of the four remaining female northern white rhinos have failed. </p><p>We are failing in our task of protecting God's creation and our fellow creatures, and by doing so we are failing ourselves and those who come after us. We have no such right. </p><p><strong>Learn more</strong></p><p>In 1973, Congress passed (and President Richard Nixon signed) the federal <a href="http&#58;//www.fws.gov/endangered/laws-policies/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Endangered Species Act</span></a> to protect our nation's native plant and animal species from the threat of extinction. For more than 40 years the act has protected species and their habitats and has dramatically increased populations of iconic species, such as the bald eagle and the grey wolf. Unfortunately, despite its successes, some would like to <a href="http&#58;//www.defenders.org/endangered-species-act/endangered-species-act"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">weaken</span></a> the protections of the act. This is why we must work to fulfill our call to protect all of God's creation.</p></div>06/25/2015ELCA Advocacy Update - June 2015ELCA Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/135http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/135<div class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><p><em>Lutherans are taking action across the country! Below you will find our monthy State Advocacy Newsletter. Share with your friends!</em></p><p>&#160;</p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​​​Washington, D.C.</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Advocacy Director, Stacy Martin</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/advocacy"><strong></strong></a><strong><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/advocacy">www.elca.org/advocacy</a></strong><a></a><a></a><strong></strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong></strong>&#160;</h3><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/ELCA%20ADVOCACY%20LOGO.jpg" alt="ELCA ADVOCACY LOGO.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;110px;height&#58;110px;float&#58;left;" />Report on Central America</strong>&#58; This month, <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Our_Communities_in_Crisis_Central_America_Report.pdf?_ga=1.152324913.920514201.1406729918"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">ELCA Advocacy completed a report</span></a> on the findings from a recent trip taken by ELCA leaders to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to better understand what drives so many children and families to flee their homes. This report, titled &quot;Our Communities in Crisis,&quot; takes a faithful look at the root cause of Central American forced displacement and the repatriation of children and families after the summer of 2012. The ELCA continues to be committed to lifting up the voices of our communities in Central America. Take action today by urging President Obama to speak out for the protection of those fleeing violence and persecution in Central America – <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=66134716"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">visit our Action Center</span></a> now to send a message to the president.</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Global Food Security Act</strong>&#58; Recently, members of the House and Senate reintroduced the Global Food Security Act – an act that will enhance international development programs and investments, such as Feed the Future. The Global Food Security Act will help institute a comprehensive strategy to promote global food security, strengthen existing monitoring and evaluation practices to ensure efficiency and accountability, and support initiatives, such as improving maternal and child nutrition. <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=65946646"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">ELCA Advocacy is taking action</span></a> to help promote food security by urging members of Congress to pass this legislation. Learn more about Feed the Future and our efforts to support responsible international development in our <a href="https&#58;//drive.google.com/file/d/0B009fXHpAM3EVXN6WFZCdVpSUXM/view?usp=sharing"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Global Food Security Act</span></a> fact sheet. </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72"><strong>Green Climate Fund</strong>&#58; ELCA Advocacy <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=65718626"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">announced its support of the Green Climate Fund </span></a>last month. This international initiative mobilizes support for developing nations struggling to combat the growing effects of climate change. The consequences of climate change fall hardest on our brothers and sisters throughout the world who are least able to adapt because they live in communities already struggling with poverty and hunger. The fund will help pay for developmental initiatives for marginalized countries, increasing their ability to adapt to new environments and expanding their capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You can learn more about the fund at our <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Green_Climate_Fund_factsheet.pdf?_ga=1.157942648.378179692.1424451403"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">ELCA Green Climate Fund Fact Sheet</span></a>. </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72"><strong>Financial debt in Nepal</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of organizations and faith communities of which the ELCA is a member, is spearheading an international effort to support Nepal's recovery efforts by cancelling the country's overwhelming debt. ELCA Advocacy joined Jubilee USA in urging the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to provide immediate debt relief to Nepal so that the government can redirect these funds toward recovery and rebuilding efforts. Take action on this issue by <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=66131626"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">visiting our Action Center</span></a>. </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;">____________________</p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;">New York, NY</h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Dennis Frado​, Lutheran Office for World Community</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72">&#160;</h3><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Peace Not Walls conference call with Presiding Bishop Eaton</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>LOWC joined other staff in planning for a conference call held on May 19 by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and Global Mission Area Program Director Cindy Halmarson with ELCA members with a keen interest in the Peace Not Walls campaign. It was an opportunity for those listening to hear about the Presiding Bishop's recent January visit to the region and her perspectives on the current situation there. </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>U.N. Post-2015 Development Agenda</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>The fifth session of intergovernmental negotiations for the Post-2015 Development Agenda took place between May 18 and 25 in New York. Just three more sessions are planned before the conclusion of negotiations in late July. Disagreements remain as to whether implementation of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals will involve &quot;follow-up and review&quot; (which most developing countries support) or &quot;monitoring, accountability and review&quot; (which many developed countries support). There appears to be emerging consensus that the High-Level Political Forum, created at the Rio+20 conference in 2012, will be the venue for follow-up activities once the agenda is adopted. Consensus has not yet been reached on the means of implementation for the goals or on the relationship of the findings of the August Financing for Development conference to the Post-2015 Agenda.&#160; A &quot;zero-draft&quot; of the outcome document, which would be considered at the late September U.N. Summit to the Adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda, is to be released on June 1.</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Visitors&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>LOWC has hosted a variety of visitors in recent weeks. These included Caroline Tveoy, Lutheran World Federation World Service Program officer for the Middle East and North Africa, based in Geneva, who stopped in New York to discuss the ELCA's Peace Not Walls campaign, while in transit to Haiti. The Manhattan Ministerium of the Metro New York Synod visited to learn about LOWC's work. The Rev. &#160;Joachim Tröstler of the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church is on sabbatical and was interested in comparing the linkages between ministry with migrants and congregational-based community organizing in Germany and in the United States and how the issues are handled at the United Nations. Lastly, a group of Upstate New York Synod participants in a Peace Not Walls-related visit to the Holy Land stopped by on their way to the region.</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span></p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>California</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.loppca.org/"><strong>www.loppca.org</strong></a><strong>​</strong><br></h3><p>&#160;</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Synod A</strong><strong>ssemblies&#58; </strong>LOPP-CA Director Mark Carlson participated in one day of the Pacifica Synod Assembly in Riverside, affording a chance for renewal and reconnection after missing last year's in Hawaii. Mark left early to return to the Sierra Pacific<strong> </strong>Assembly in Sacramento, where LOPP-CA and Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy in Nevada hosted a breakfast for about 55 people with California Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross on the topic of food, farming, drought and climate change. As Texas was devastated by floods, the Central Valley Flood Control Agency heard a report that the Sierra snowpack, which provides about one-third of California's water supply, is at 2 percent of normal.</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/1.jpg" alt="1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;250px;height&#58;226px;float&#58;right;" />Lobby days</strong>&#58; Mark teamed with Mark Lowry, a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Orange and executive director of the Orange County Food Bank, for legislative visits on Hunger Action Day, supporting repeal of the Maximum Family Grant aid limit for TANF/CalWORKS families, an increase in the minimum wage, &quot;breakfast after the bell,&quot; and simplification and expansion of tax credits for California farm product donations. Mark gave a prayer of thanksgiving at the interfaith service to open Immigrant Day at the Capitol, followed by lobby visits. He and a &quot;dreamer&quot; from Ventura County broke away to attend an event with state and local elected officials where solar panels were placed on the roof of a low-income homeowner in a &quot;disadvantaged neighborhood,&quot; using carbon cap-and-trade funds. </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;">UPCOMING – California Interfaith Power &amp; Light Lobby Day, June 17. LOPP-CA is the site host.&#160;&#160;</p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span><br></strong><strong></strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Colorado</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Colorado&#160;</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.lam-co.org/"><strong>www.lam-co.org</strong></a></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72">&#160;</h3><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;">The first legislative session of the 70th Colorado General Assembly is officially in the books. With control of the two chambers split between parties, it was a tough year for many groups to get their priorities passed, but LAM-CO had several important bipartisan victories. </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Child Support Pass-through</strong>&#58; Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado and several of its partners in poverty-related legislation were thrilled that Senate Bill 12 made it through both the Senate and House and is currently awaiting a signature from Gov. John Hickenlooper. The bill, which allows families receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits to also receive child-support payments that were previously withheld by county governments, is one of the measures that will directly benefit families living in poverty that survived this year's Legislature.</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Affordable housing</strong>&#58; Several late-breaking bills on affordable housing were quickly advanced through the House before being killed in the Senate. These bills would have used surplus funds from a state trust fund to invest in affordable housing construction and rent subsidy for low-income workers, as well as extending the life of the low-income housing tax credit.</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Other priorities</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>A measure to provide an affirmative defense for the crime of prostitution to minor victims of human trafficking was passed and signed by the governor. The House narrowly killed legislation that would have created paid family and medical leave insurance. A Senate committee defeated a bill to create a rural economic initiative grant program.</p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Illinois</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Jennifer DeLeon, Lutheran Advocacy Illinois&#160;&#160;</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacy.org/"><strong>www.lutheranadvocacy.org</strong></a></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72">&#160;</h3><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72"><strong>Legislative session</strong>&#58; We are at the end of the legislative session, and it seems like the Legislature will not pass a balanced budget by their May 31 deadline and that they will be called back for a special summer session. There is still time to act&#58; </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72">Budgets are choices. It's time for politicians to choose Illinois children, families and communities. Illinois doesn't have to make the deep cuts proposed in the governor's budget; we have a choice. Instead of painful cuts to vital programs for our children, families and communities, lawmakers and the governor must choose revenue. </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72">Act NOW! Tell lawmakers to choose to stand up for Illinois families and communities and prevent cuts by choosing revenue to close the budget hole. Do two things today&#58; </p><div class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72"><ul><li>Call your lawmaker tool free at <span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space&#58;nowrap;">844-311-CUTS </span>(<span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space&#58;nowrap;">844-311-2887</span>) and tell them to choose revenue to prevent cuts to children, families,and communities. </li><li>Click <a href="http&#58;//stage.capwiz.com/elca/il/issues/alert/?alertid=65778626&amp;PROCESS=Take+Action"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a> to send an email and for more information.&#160;</li></ul></div><p>We continue to work with Judith Roberts, director of Racial Justice, and we have submitted a criminal justice resolution at both the Metro Chicago Synod and Northern Illinois Synod assemblies , which calls on congregations to advocate for social justice and to support Lutheran Social Service of Illinois <a href="http&#58;//www.lssi.org/services-prisoner-family.php"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">prison and family ministry programs</span></a>. </p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​Minnesota</strong><br><strong>Tammy Walhoff, Lutheran Advocacy - Minnesota</strong><br><a href="mailto&#58;tammy@lcppm.org"><strong>tammy@lcppm.org</strong></a><strong>&#160;&#160;</strong><br></h3><p>&#160;</p></div><div class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>The legislative session is (sort of) over</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> Differing visions made &quot;final&quot; legislative negotiations difficult. Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed three budget bills, meaning the Legislature returns for a special session.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Health and human services</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> Despite a $1.9 billion surplus, hundreds of millions were cut from low-income programs. Nevertheless, intense advocacy efforts achieved moderate increases in some housing-related services. Notably, $2 million was added to base funding for homeless youth over two years.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Affordable housing and clean energy</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> Affordable housing, jobs, economic growth and energy were all in the same bill. LA-MN and Minnesota Interfaith Power &amp; Light presented their clean energy <a href="http&#58;//www.cleanenergyjobs.mn/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/FaithLeaderLtr-CleanEnergy2015-MEDIA-FINAL.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">faith-leader letter</span></a> with 300+ signers to Gov. Dayton, conference negotiators, leadership and legislators. LA-MN also generated <a href="https&#58;//www.dropbox.com/s/i5tam19sz0k4n2x/LAMN-SampleLtr-AffordHousing-KidVersion%2815-feb14%29.pdf?dl=0"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">letters, cards, emails and calls</span></a> from key districts regarding <a href="http&#58;//www.mhponline.org/images/stories/docs/policy/state/2015/2015_H4A_Agenda_wTable.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">affordable housing</span></a>.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">Conference negotiations on the bill never occurred, but the chairs introduced replacement language in the final moments of session. <a href="http&#58;//youtu.be/jTru1m5R7yE?a"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Watch the House pass it</span></a> in the last two minutes, with the wrong bill number, amidst chaos! Energetic advocacy efforts prevented renewable energy and energy-efficiency roll-backs and cuts to housing. The bill was vetoed, so LA-MN and its partners hope more gains may be made.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Synod-related activities</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> Tammy Walhof, LAMN director, was the speaker for the Southeastern Minnesota Synod Creation Care Assembly and also led workshops. She had display materials at the Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly and stayed briefly before heading to the Northwestern Minnesota Synod Assembly, where she led workshops on affordable housing and advocacy.</p><p>Like Lutheran Advocacy-MN on <a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/pages/Lutheran-Advocacy-Minnesota/100113576746897"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Facebook</span></a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"></span></p><p>Follow Lutheran Advocacy-MN on Twitter&#58; <a href="https&#58;//twitter.com/LuthAdvocacyMN"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">@LuthAdvocacyMN</span></a></p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>New Jersey</strong><br><strong>Sara Lilja, Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry in New Jersey</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/logmnj?fref=ts"><strong>Visit us on Facebook!​</strong></a><br></h3><p>&#160;</p></div><div class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>New Jersey Advocacy is growing</strong><strong>! </strong>We have launched a new advocacy body, the Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry of New Jersey (LEAMNJ), headed by the Rev. Sara Lilja.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">The goal of LEAMNJ is to be a powerful public witness of faith through advocacy, representing nearly 80,000 people in 450 parishes in New Jersey, backed by the national Lutheran and Episcopal churches, reflecting more than 8.7 million people in the United States. It will shape and influence public policy in New Jersey and in local communities as that policy &#160;affects vulnerable populations, social justice issues and other priorities that reflect the common teachings and values of the partner groups.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">There is great excitement by all the partners for the promise of the combined new entity to have an impact on policy affecting the concerns of people in our neighborhoods and state.&#160; </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">&quot;As society has become more bifurcated into seemingly separate worlds of those with means and those without, we come together to forge a strong voice to express the commitments of our faith traditions in advocating for policies leading to a just society,&quot; said Lilja. She added, &quot;I'm proud to lead this charge on behalf of our new partnership and to grow the expression of compassion and social justice by means of education and advocacy through congregations throughout the state.&quot;&#160;&#160;</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​New Mexico</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Ruth Hoffman, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico&#160;</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacynm.org/">www.lutheranadvocacynm.org</a></strong></h3><p><br>&#160;</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/2.jpg" alt="2.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;110px;height&#58;121px;float&#58;left;" />&quot;We are Church&#58; Better Together&quot;</strong><strong> </strong>That &quot;the church&quot; is much more expansive than each individual congregation was highlighted over and over at the 2015 Rocky Mountain Synod Assembly in Salt Lake City, Utah, May 1-3. &quot;Our form and structures may change, the extent of our actual usefulness to God may wax and wane, but that God can and does work in and through us – this is a promise,&quot; said Bishop Jim Gonia, addressing the assembly.&#160; </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">The state public policy offices in Colorado and New Mexico, which are an integral part of the ministry of the Rocky Mountain Synod, were an active part of the Synod Assembly. Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico and Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado had displays about their work and activities. Directors Ruth Hoffman and Peter Severson presented an advocacy toolkit during an interest dinner. Additionally, they served on the Committee on Reference and Counsel, which reviewed proposed resolutions and memorials for consideration by the assembly.</p><p><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/3.jpg" alt="3.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;140px;height&#58;93px;float&#58;right;" />Affordable housing</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>Director Hoffman is a member of the State Housing Trust Fund Advisory Committee. At the committee's most recent meeting, several low-income housing projects were recommended for funding. The projects included those at Santo Domingo Pueblo, Silver City in southwestern New Mexico and in Albuquerque.</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​Ohio</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Nick Bates, The Faith Coalition for the Common Good&#160;</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="mailto&#58;nick@oneohionow.org"><strong>nick@oneohionow.org</strong></a></h3><h3>&#160;</h3><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Ohio budget&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>The Ohio Legislature continues to focus its time on Ohio's two–year budget (HB 64). This budget accepts a new normal of higher poverty and fewer resources. The biggest component of the budget is another tax shift increasing taxes on many while cutting the income tax to benefit the wealthiest Ohioans.&#160; </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">The Faith Coalition for the Common Good is an ecumenical coalition formed to advocate through the budget process for increased state funding for food security and affordable housing (and other services to help low-income Ohioans), and expanded resources for education. All of these things are possible if Ohio foregoes the proposed $5.6 billion in tax cuts.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">The coalition organized a panel on March 18 in front of the Finance Health and Human Services Sub-Committee. The Rev. Gregory Kenderick (The United Methodist Church) facilitated the panel of individuals who have experienced poverty. About 60 people from the faith community showed up to support this panel's testimony. The testimony focused on the importance of public investments that help people transition out of poverty. The Ohio House Finance Committee is currently receiving amendments to the budget. We also submitted testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee opposing the proposed income tax cut.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">The budget bill will move to the Senate in late April and to the governor's desk by June 30.</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Pennsylvania</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Amy Reumann, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania&#160;</strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;"><h3><strong>Tracey DePasquale, Associate Director</strong></h3></div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/"><strong>www.lutheranadvocacypa.org</strong></a></h3><h3>&#160;</h3><p>May and June are busy months at LAMPa as synods gather and the General Assembly gets down to business around the budget. Director Amy Reumann spoke on hunger at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod Assembly and staffed an interactive booth at the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod Assembly where attendees made video messages for lawmakers on education funding. </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">LAMPa staff members have also been attending briefings by Gov. Tom Wolf, Budget Secretary Randy Albright and Secretary of Planning and Policy John Hanger and are engaged in planning events around the state to raise support for a fair and adequate education funding formula.&#160; </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">Reumann and Tracey DePasquale, associate LAMPa director,<strong> </strong>met with Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg representatives to debrief about collaboration on our 2015 Lutheran Day at the Capitol <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/get-involved/lutheran-day-at-the-capital/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">(see highlights)</span></a> last month and agreed to partner again in 2016, with a common thread of faith and science.&#160; </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/4.jpg" alt="4.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;220px;height&#58;124px;float&#58;right;" />Reumann and the Rev. Bruce Osterhout, policy council member, attended a protest against family detention at the Berks County immigration detention facility. Osterhout also wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the Reading Eagle.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">LAMPa hosted a call on theology and water for our creation care team, featuring Dr. Gil Waldkoenig of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg. <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/issues/care-for-creation/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Listen to a recording.</span></a> LAMPa is partnering with the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania and Moms Clean Air Force, with whom we are working on common policy initiatives. </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">LAMPa continues to promote the Pennsylvania School Breakfast Challenge and has facilitated cooperation between state hunger partners and the Pennsylvania State Education Association. </p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Virginia</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Charles Swadley</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><a href="http&#58;//www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org/">www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org</a></strong></h3><h3>&#160;</h3><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><a href="http&#58;//www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/VICPP_AnnouncementsMay2015.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy</span></a> organized and hosted a &quot;Consumer Finance Reform and Regulation&quot; policy discussion call with Sen. Mark Warner on Monday, May 18, attended by more than 40 faith leaders from across Virginia. VICPP also recruited participants to the National Faith-Based Partnerships teleconference held by Director Richard Cordray of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on May 21.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">VICPP hosted a &quot;Faith-Based Partnerships to End Child Hunger in Virginia&quot; webinar on May 27 with Dorothy McAuliffe, the first lady of Virginia, regarding engagement with the Virginia Kid Hungry program attended by more than 75 faith leaders and supporters from across Virginia. <a href="http&#58;//www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ThisIsTheAmericanDreamArticleFaquierTimesFridayMay1.png"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">An article was also published in the Fauquier Times</span></a> on May 1 about the VICPP's Northern Piedmont Chapter's very successful community forum, &quot;Fact vs. Fiction&#58; Unmasking the Truth about Immigrants in Virginia's Workforce.&quot; The forum was attended by more than 100 people on April 28 at Lord Fairfax Community College. </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><a href="http&#58;//www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015NoVaRedistrictingForumFlierFinalJune4.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">The Northern Virginia Chapter is hosting a &quot;redistricting&quot; event</span></a> on June 4 at George Mason University-Arlington that the NoVa Chapter is co-organizing with the university, the League of Women Voters and OneVirginia2021. The VICPP Richmond Chapter is hosting a Healthcare Access Forum with political and faith leaders on June 30 at 7 p.m. at the Weinstein Jewish Community Center. The forum will include excerpts from the Remote Area Medical film about providing medical and dental services to those in poverty and without insurance in rural areas, such as Wise County, Virginia. The forum is in partnership with Bon Secours.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">VICPP's Annual Policy Priority Survey is out and all supporters are invited to participate using this <a href="https&#58;//www.surveymonkey.com/r/VICPP2015Survey"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">link</span></a> to assist in developing our 2016 Policy Priorities. </p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Washington</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Paul Benz, Faith Action Network&#160;</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.fanwa.org/"></a><a href="http&#58;//www.fanwa.org/"><strong>www.fanwa.org</strong></a></h3><h3>&#160;</h3><p><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/5.jpg" alt="5.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;260px;height&#58;195px;float&#58;left;" />Legislature&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>May 28 was the last day of our first special session. Legislators were working that week and budget negotiators are getting closer to resolving differences for all three budgets (operating, transportation and capital). FAN is active with the Washington United for Fair Revenue coalition, which sponsored a &quot;call-in day for revenue&quot; on May 28. Hundreds of advocates called their legislators from around the state saying, &quot;The wealthy and big corporations do not pay their fair share into the state budget to help meet the critical needs of our state.&quot; FAN's key policy bill remains the state voting-rights act. If the state Senate agrees to this, our state would join three others (California, Florida and Illinois) having a state voting-rights act to better enfranchise the disenfranchised communities of color.&#160; </p><p><strong>Congressional issues&#58; </strong>FAN has four issues in Congress that we are focusing on&#58; Trade/Trans-Pacific Partnership, Child Nutrition Reauthorization, I-VAWA International Violence Against Women Act, and the Green Climate Fund. FAN is working with our allies here in Washington state and with the ELCA Washington, D.C., office to better engage our advocates and their members of Congress on these issues.</p><p><strong>Organizing summits&#58; </strong>This is the time of year for FAN's four regional summits. At these we continue to build relationships with our advocates, review our legislative agenda, and build toward creating next year's agenda through table conversation by legislative district. By the time you read this, two summits will be completed (Spokane and Vancouver), and Seattle and Yakima will occur in June.</p><p><strong>ELCA and denominational assemblies&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>FAN has had a presence (displays, podium time, and networking) at all three ELCA synod assemblies, as well as the annual conference of the regional United Church of Christ. We will also have a presence at The United Methodist Church's June annual regional conference.</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Wisconsin</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin&#160;</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a target="_blank" href="http&#58;//www.loppw.org/"><strong>www.loppw.org</strong></a></h3><h3>&#160;</h3><p><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/6.png" alt="6.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;240px;height&#58;179px;float&#58;left;" />Synod assemblies</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>LOPPW's Advisory Council member Eric Larson, from the<strong> </strong>Northern Great Lakes Synod, manned a display table at his assembly. He provided post cards for the ELCA's campaign supporting child nutrition and the WIC Reauthorization Act at the LOPPW display table and the synod hunger team's table. The director led a workshop at the East Central Synod Assembly and will lead workshops at the other four synod assemblies.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </p><p><strong>Proposed state budget&#58;</strong><strong>&#160; </strong>LOPPW is working with a coalition of secular and faith-based nonprofits, called Better Choices, to make better state budget choices known.&#160; LOPPW has helped organize two press conferences&#58; On May 4, Bishop Mary Froiland <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=7V7cK4cYBuI"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">spoke on a panel in Madison</span></a>. On May 14, Bishop Rick Hoyme and ELCA member and professor James Boulter spoke on a panel in Eau Claire. Bishop Hoyme discussed prioritizing those who are most vulnerable in the budget. <a href="http&#58;//www.loppw.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/45/files/2015/05/Media-Advisory-BETTERCHOICESEAUCLAIREPRESSADV-5-13-15.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Boulter focused on protecting our environment.</span></a> LOPPW also posted a statement on <a href="http&#58;//www.thewheelerreport.com/wheeler_docs/files/0508lopp.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">revenue estimates</span></a><strong>, </strong>which were lower than some lawmakers had hoped for </p><p><strong>Human trafficking</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>The Joint Finance Committee approved $2 million for youth victims of sex trafficking.&#160; Two Democrat legislators are trying to secure co-sponsors for a safe harbor bill. LOPPW has helped to target possible co-sponsors. The director visited with a Republican legislator who has agreed to be one of the co-sponsors.&#160; </p><p><strong>Living-wage coalition</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>LOPPW joined a coalition of faith-based and secular organizations to strategize advocating for a higher minimum wage in Wisconsin.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>What advocacy efforts are going on in your synod or state? We want to hear about it!</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Contact us at </strong><a href="mailto&#58;washingtonoffice@elca.org"><strong>washingtonoffice@elca.org</strong></a><strong> ​​</strong></h3><p><br>&#160;</p></div>06/05/2015Let’s put food banks out of businessErin Haugen, Legislative Internhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/134http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/134<div class="ExternalClassFFF9D1C9318444469A0EC4741BAC157B"><p>Imagine your congregation without a food shelf. Imagine it without regular food drives. Imagine it without free community meals.</p><p><img alt="Erin1.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/Erin1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;250px;height&#58;188px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" /><img alt="Erin3.JPG" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/Erin3.JPG" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;240px;height&#58;34px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />At first, it might make you nostalgic for the afternoons you've spent packing grocery bags for the pantry with your fellow congregants, or maybe sad for the loss of evenings spent chatting with those who show up for a free supper. But looking beyond those memories, you'll see a community, a state, or maybe – dare we dream it – an entire nation where no one is hungry. While testifying before Congress, Sherri Tussler from the Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee, Wisconsin explained why we should dream of a day when these ministries are gone – &quot;The day we don't need food banks is the day we end hunger in America.&quot;</p><p>According to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2013 (most recent data available), <a href="http&#58;//www.ers.usda.gov/media/1565415/err173.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">17.5 million households</span></a> faced food insecurity at some point during the year. Living in those homes are 15.8 million children failing to receive consistent, quality nutrition. You know these children. You see them walking into the school when you drop your own children off. You watch them play football at the high school on Friday nights. You share in communion with them on Sundays. </p><p>So how do we put food banks out of business? Churches are often hubs where families can go to receive assistance, whether its bags stocked with groceries, free meals throughout the week, or through some other hunger-based ministry. The ways that congregations reach out in their communities to provide food for those in need are incredible examples of how people of faith live out God's call to love one another. However, congregations can't end hunger on their own. Bread for the World <a href="http&#58;//www.bread.org/ol/2013/engagement/downloads/churches-and-hunger-fact-sheet.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">reported</span></a> that one in 20 bags of food assistance comes from a charitable organization – the rest comes from Federal nutrition programs. </p><p>These Federal nutrition programs are incredibly important. While we do the best we can as churches and communities to combat hunger and provide food for our neighbors, we still face need beyond our capacities. As we continue to care for our communities, it's also important for us to ask Congress to support policies that provide ample assistance for our nation's hungry children. Funding for important child nutrition programs will run out unless Congress reauthorizes them. <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=65539626"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Visit the ELCA Advocacy Action Center</span></a> and call on Congress to&#58;</p><ul><li>increase funding for child nutrition programs like Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, the National School Lunch Program, and the Summer Food Service Program; </li><li>invest in expanding access to these programs in rural and Native American communities; </li><li>continue supporting the use of these programs to access nutritious foods as determined by scientific recommendations; </li><li>and address climate change, as it contributes heavily to the rising cost of nutritious food.<br><br>Imagine your congregation without a food shelf, food drives, or free community meals. Reauthorizing child nutrition programs brings us one step closer. </li></ul></div>06/02/2015Living Earth Reflection: Protecting the Waters of the United StatesMary Minette, program director, Environmental Policy and Educationhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/133http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/133<div class="ExternalClassC5FC30FE8CAF4D7DB4C7FB2212273347"><p><span style="font-size&#58;13pt;">​May 2015</span></p><p><em>&quot;But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.&quot;</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;right;">Amos 5&#58;24</p><p>Water as a metaphor flows through scripture, perhaps because of the essential role water plays in sustaining human life and the abundance of God's creation. Water is also central to our spiritual lives. In the waters of baptism we begin our journey as Christians; the water that makes possible both the bread and wine of Communion.</p><p>So how does the scriptural significance of water relate to our calling to seek justice for our communities and protect that which plays a central role in creation? </p><p>For more than four decades, the federal Clean Water Act has protected our nation's waters, including the smaller streams and wetlands that feed into larger rivers and lakes. But many of these bodies of water are still under threat from pollution.&#160; </p><p>In recent years two Supreme Court cases created uncertainty about whether smaller streams and wetlands merit the full protection of clean water regulations, and ordered the Administration to resolve this ambiguity. This week, the EPA issued a new clean water rule that protects small and seasonal streams and wetlands that connect to larger bodies of water, which we rely on for drinking, fishing and other uses. Under the new rule, many of the streams and wetlands that were historically covered under the Clean Water Act will again be covered. The rule carefully defines &quot;waters of the United States&quot; to clarify that all bodies of water with a clear connection to larger watersheds are protected, but also allows for case-by-case evaluation of streams and wetlands with less certain connections to downstream bodies of water.</p><p>The new rule has <a href="http&#58;//www.nytimes.com/2015/05/23/us/politics/obama-set-to-strengthen-federal-role-in-clean-water-regulation.html?_r=0"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">drawn criticism</span></a> from groups that argue that it will regulate irrigation ditches and puddles, and that it will cause economic harm to landowners, who will be required to ask permission before using their land in ways that may affect water quality. The EPA has <a href="http&#58;//www2.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule/ditch-myth"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">responded to these concerns</span></a> and attempted to reassure groups worried about the economic impact of the rule<strong>--</strong> that these impacts are overstated and that the benefits of the rule outweigh the economic costs. Such conflicting points of view about economic impacts are nothing new; nearly every new environmental regulation proposed in the last 30 years has had to overcome arguments that these rules are overreaching and economically harmful. In the midst of such conflict, how is God calling us to be stewards of Creation?</p><p>As Lutherans we believe that we stand at the foot of the cross, and are called to acknowledge our own sin and brokenness. But we are also set free from sin and captivity by the love of God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, so that we can be loving servants, caring for our neighbors and seeking justice for all the earth. </p><p>What does justice for creation look like? To quote from the ELCA social statement <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Caring-for-Creation?_ga=1.68422360.814924114.1429201593"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">&quot;Caring for Creation&quot;</span></a>&#58; &quot;When we act interdependently and in solidarity with creation, we do justice. We serve and keep the earth, trusting its bounty can be sufficient for all, and sustainable.&quot; Justice for creation includes four principles—participation, solidarity, sufficiency and sustainability.&#160; Within this framework of justice, the principles of sufficiency and sustainability speak most directly to the need to balance economic interests against protection of the earth to meet the needs of current and future generations. </p><p><strong>Take Action</strong></p><ul><li>Learn more about the proposed rule and the Clean Water Act on from our <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Waters%20of%20the%20United%20States_Backgrounder.pdf?_ga=1.86185243.209186557.1424464280">ELCA Waters of the United States resource</a>.</li><li>Write your U.S. Representative today at the <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=65346101">ELCA Action Center</a>, and ask them to oppose efforts that prevent the EPA and Army Corps from protecting small streams and wetlands—your voice will make a difference!</li></ul></div>05/27/2015Join me in prayer and action this Mother's DayThe Rev. Corrine Denis, Lutheran Campus Center of Winona, Minn.http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/132http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/132<div class="ExternalClass78505B1B7EA94946A2BAC6337343AEC0"><p>​</p><p>I write&#160;on this Mother's Day to speak out about an issue that is close to my heart&#58; childhood hunger in the United States. I speak not only as a campus pastor who witnesses the results of childhood development in the college students I serve, but also as a mother who has benefitted from the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)– one of our country's child nutrition programs that plays a critical role in helping reduce childhood hunger.</p><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">I&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">was in my final year of seminary when I gave birth to my first child. Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, provided a food pantry on campus for students and families, aware of the financial challenges. However, my family and I could not rely on boxes of cereal and bagels from Panera to get us through. Thankfully, we were able to receive assistance from WIC, which allowed for a more balanced diet and extra protein for me to nurse my daughter. The produce allowance was extremely limited, and I had more tuna than I knew what to do with.&#160;</span><strong style="line-height&#58;1.6;">While I am grateful that my child was supported by one of our country's child nutrition programs, my own experience also showed me that these programs do not go far enough to truly ensure that our children have access to nutritious food.</strong><br></p><p><strong>In a nation of great wealth and resources, no child should ever go hungry.</strong>&#160;Children who face hunger are also forced to face a lifetime of challenges, including low birth weights, diminished immune systems, emotional and developmental growth delays, educational delays, greater hospitalization, decreased earning potential as adults, and higher life-long health costs.&#160;</p><p>This year, Congress must renew funding for our federal child nutrition programs in order to ensure that our nation's children have adequate access to nutritious food where they live, play and learn. These programs include WIC, as well as the National School Lunch Program and the Summer Food Service Program.</p><p><a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=65539626"><strong style="font-size&#58;14.6666669845581px;">Please join me this Mother's Day in calling for an end to childhood hunger in the U.S. by urging Congress to strengthen our nation's child nutrition programs!</strong></a></p><p><span style="font-size&#58;1em;line-height&#58;1.6;">As we take a moment to celebrate motherhood, let us also pray that God gives strength to all parents who</span><span style="font-size&#58;1em;line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;strive to give their sons and daughters a healthy and happy childhood.​</span></p></div>05/10/2015ELCA Advocacy Update - May 2015ELCA Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/131http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/131<div class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72"><p></p><p></p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​​​Washington, D.C.</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Advocacy Director, Stacy Martin</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/advocacy"><strong>www.elca.org/advocacy</strong></a></h3><p><strong>​Earth Day 2015</strong>&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=65346101#sthash.VBliv0Wa.dpuf">ELCA Advocacy took action</a> on Earth Day to support clean water in our communities. The Environmental <strong style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"></strong>Protection Agency is working on a rule to protect streams and wetlands that connect to larger watersheds. This rule will ensure the high quality of the water that communities across the nation depend on for drinking, washing, swimming and fishing, while <a href="http&#58;//www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-03/documents/cwa_ag_exclusions_exemptions.pdf">avoiding increased regulations</a> for groundwater and farmland. Learn more about efforts to care for God's creation and protect clean water on our <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Waters%20of%20the%20United%20States_Backgrounder.pdf?_ga=1.123864008.378179692.1424451403">ELCA Waters of the U.S. fact sheet</a>. </p><p><strong>Summit of the Americas</strong>&#58; On April 10 and 11, leaders from across the Americas met in Panama City for the convening of the seventh Summit of the Americas. During the triennial event, government leaders discussed plans for advancing international collaborative efforts, working under the theme &quot;Prosperity with Equity&#58; The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas.&quot; In anticipation of the event, <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=65026246#sthash.2sxsVugG.dpuf">ELCA Advocacy released a statement</a> urging government leaders to address the root causes of migration and violence in Central America through engaging with nongovernmental organizations, faith and affected communities. Shortly after the conclusion of the event, the Rev. Stephen Deal, ELCA regional representative for Latin American and the Caribbean, visited with lawmakers in D.C. to discuss the immediate need for protection of family and children through responsible investment in Central America.</p><p><strong>Ecumenical Advocacy Days</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> Advocates gathered in Washington, D.C., last month for the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days. This year's theme was &quot;<a href="http&#58;//advocacydays.org/2015-breaking-the-chains/">Breaking the Chains&#58; Mass Incarceration and Systems of Exploitation</a>.&quot; Participants learned about the historical and theological foundations of problems in contemporary criminal justice systems as well as racial and economic exploitation systems around the world. During the conference, advocates met with their members of Congress to encourage criminal justice and sentencing reform. Several workshops and skills sessions were led by Lutherans, and the musical offerings at worship services were provided by <a href="https&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Mission/Glocal-Events">ELCA Glocal musicians</a>. Lutheran attendees also had a denominational gathering, where they learned about the ELCA strategy on HIV and &#160;AIDS and ELCA actions to challenge racial injustice. </p><p><strong>International Violence Against Women Act</strong>&#58; In March, the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) was reintroduced in the House and Senate. The legislation combats gender-based violence by increasing legal protections, victims' access to health care, and opportunities for women around the world. The ELCA recognizes that violence against women is still a prevalent and pressing problem in modern society, with nearly one-in-three women expected to face abuse in their lifetime. &#160;Lutherans can take action to address violence against women at our <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=65087626#sthash.ZBKsx5Bz.dpuf">ELCA Action Center</a> and learn more about this issue on our <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/International%20Violence%20Against%20Women%20Act_Information.pdf?_ga=1.129765519.209186557.1424464280">ELCA I-VAWA fact sheet</a>. </p><p><strong>Coming to D.C.</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>Is your congregation or youth group interested in learning more about advocacy? Consider a visit to Washington, D.C., to learn how we, as a faith community, make a difference in public policy and advocacy! Email <a href="mailto&#58;washingtonoffice@elca.org">washingtonoffice@elca.org</a> to learn more!</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;">____________________<br></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"></p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>New York, NY</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Dennis Frado​, Lutheran Office for World Community</strong></h3><p></p><p><strong>Promoting tolerance and reconciliation&#58; </strong>The <a href="http&#58;//www.un.org/pga/about-the-president/">president</a> of the General Assembly, in conjunction with the <a href="http&#58;//www.un.org/sg/biography.shtml">secretary-general</a> of the United Nations and the U.N. <a href="http&#58;//www.unaoc.org/">Alliance of Civilizations</a> convened on April 21-22 a debate on &quot;Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation&#58; Fostering Peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism.&quot; The debate provided an opportunity for member states and faith leaders, along with other stakeholders to share experiences and to address key issues and challenges relating to the promotion of tolerance and reconciliation with the aim of fostering peaceful and inclusive societies and countering violent extremism. LOWC attended the debate. More information can be found <a href="http&#58;//www.un.org/pga/hltd-promoting-tolerance-and-reconciliation/">here</a>.</p><p><strong>U.N. post-2015 development agenda&#58; </strong>LOWC followed the fourth session of intergovernmental negotiations for the post-2015 development agenda between April 21 and 24 at U.N. headquarters in New York. At this session it was a joint meeting of the negotiators for this process with the participants in the process for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. The session focused on means of implementation, the global partnership for development, and coordination between the two processes. A summary can be found <a href="http&#58;//www.iisd.ca/vol32/enb3217e.html">here</a>.&#160; Other resources can be found on the ACT Alliance <a href="http&#58;//www.actalliance.org/what-we-do/issues/post-mdg">Post 2015</a> page and this news <a href="http&#58;//www.actalliance.org/stories/act-alliance-joins-religious-and-faith-based-organisation-leaders-committing-to-end-extreme-poverty-by-2030">release</a>.</p><p><strong>Security Council reform&#58; </strong>A number of initiatives have added momentum to reforming the Security Council. Among member states, an earlier effort of the &quot;Small Five&quot; (Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Singapore and Switzerland) has evolved into a greater number of countries joining the <a href="https&#58;//www.eda.admin.ch/missions/mission-new-york/en/home/working-methods-of-the-security-council.encoded-Show=1&amp;print=1.html">Accountability, Coherence, and Transparency group</a>, convened by Switzerland. They have outlined several proposals during the past few years. Recently, the chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform, Courtenay Rattray, permanent representative of Jamaica, put forward a <a href="http&#58;//centerforunreform.org/?q=node/630">framework document</a> for further discussion. Meanwhile, a new grassroots-oriented group, <a href="http&#58;//www.electthecouncil.org/">Elect the Council</a>, has been formed to solicit public input toward electing new members of the council in the context of council expansion. LOWC has been participating in these initiatives.</p><p><strong>Women, peace and security&#58; </strong>On April 15, LOWC monitored the U.N. Security Council's open debate on sexual violence in conflict. It was based on the secretary-general's <a href="http&#58;//www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2015/203">annual report</a> on conflict-related sexual violence. The report also focused on non-state actors and extremist groups and sexual violence directed against LGBTQ people. Zeinab Hawa Bangura, special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict, and representatives of almost 70 member states emphasized that 2014 was marked by an increase of harrowing accounts of conflict-related sexual violence. Recommendations included&#58; acting on early warning signs, sanctioning perpetrators, identifying better treatment and counseling for survivors, better training and sensitization for U.N. peacekeepers, and monitoring the security situations in conflict-affected countries.</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;text-align&#58;center;">____________________</span>​</span></p><div style="text-align&#58;center;"></div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>California</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.loppca.org/"><strong>www.loppca.org</strong></a><strong>​</strong><br></h3><p></p><p><strong>Recent events&#58; </strong>April highlights include a visit from a group from the public ministry class at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary to the Capitol.&#160; Although legislators had returned to their districts, the group was blessed with thoughtful discussion with the communications director for a state senator, a Lutheran woman just elected to her congregational council. LOPP-CA coordinated the Northern California tour for the Rev. Joseph (&quot;Strength for the Struggle,&quot; 2014) and Joyce Ellwanger (Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, synod anti-racism training, Sacramento program). At the last minute, LOPP made connections so that they could participate in a Southwest California Synod Justice Team meeting in Glendale and be introduced at an Assembly floor session, where they were welcomed by the three legislators who had been to Selma for the 50<sup>th</sup> anniversary of Bloody Sunday.&#160;&#160; </p><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/CA1.jpg" alt="CA1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;380px;height&#58;281px;" /><br></p><p><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/CA2.jpg" alt="CA2.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;380px;height&#58;274px;" />Legislation&#58; </strong>Bills are moving through their policy committees. Those supported by LOPP-CA include an expansion of the state low-income housing tax credit, a permanent source of funds for housing in the form of a fee on property recordings other than home sales (similar to the Homes and Jobs Act prominent in 2014 updates), a commitment to provide preschool for all 4-year-olds from low-income families by 2017, a requirement that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050; creating an Earned Income Tax Credit; and a new DISCLOSE Act illuminating top funders of ballot measures.</p><p><strong>Upcoming events&#58;</strong> The Southwest California, Sierra Pacific and Pacifica synod assemblies and the festive Immigrant Day at the Capitol on May 18.&#160;</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;text-align&#58;center;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;text-align&#58;center;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;text-align&#58;center;">____________________</span>​</span><br></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;"></div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Colorado</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Colorado&#160;</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.lam-co.org/"><strong>www.lam-co.org</strong></a></h3><p><strong>Child Support Pass-through</strong>&#58; Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado and several of its partners in poverty-related legislation were thrilled that Senate Bill 12 made it through both the Senate and House, and is currently awaiting a signature from Gov. John Hickenlooper. The bill, which allows families receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits to also receive child support payments that were previously withheld by county governments, is one of the only measures to survive this year's split-party-control legislature that will directly benefit families living in poverty.</p><p><strong>Other legislation</strong>&#58; Several late legislative victories include a bill to extend the life of low-income housing tax credits, as well as a measure to provide an affirmative defense for the crime of prostitution to minor victims of human trafficking. The Colorado House narrowly killed legislation that would have created a paid family and medical leave insurance program for the 88% of Colorado workers currently without access to paid leave during serious illness or the birth of a child. Also defeated in Senate committees were bills to create a state affordable housing investment fund and a rural economic initiative grant program.</p><p><strong>Urban Servant Corps</strong>&#58; LAM-CO hosted 13 volunteers from Urban Servant Corps for a day at the Capitol on Friday, April 10. The volunteers, who live in intentional community in Denver and work for a variety of social service organizations, learned about the legislative process, met with State Representative Beth McCann, and toured the Capitol.</p><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/CO1.jpg" alt="CO1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;380px;height&#58;222px;" />​<br></p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;text-align&#58;center;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><p></p><div style="text-align&#58;center;"></div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Illinois</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Jennifer DeLeon, Lutheran Advocacy Illinois&#160;&#160;</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacy.org/"><strong>www.lutheranadvocacy.org</strong></a></h3><p>More than 100 people gathered to speak out for justice and compassion for all people in Illinois at Lutheran Day 2015. Participants met with legislators. The day concluded with a prayer service followed by the presentation of the Paul Simon Courage in Public Service Award given to state Sen. Dan Kotowski and posthumously to State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who also had served in the state Senate and House of Representatives. Thanks to the event's sponsoring organizations&#58; Advocate Health Care, Bethesda Lutheran Communities, Bethel New Life, Concordia Place, Holy Family Ministries, Lutheran Advocacy Illinois, Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois and Lutheran Social Services of Illinois.</p><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/IL1.jpg" alt="IL1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;380px;height&#58;251px;" />The main legislative issue of the day was the Earned Income Tax Credit, which lets low-and-moderate income working families keep more of their earnings to help pay for things that keep them working, like child care and transportation. The tax credit also reduces the number of children living in poverty and improves kids' chances of success as adults.&#160; By helping low-wage workers keep more of their incomes, the tax credit increases consumer spending, which then boosts local economies across Illinois.</p><p>Lawmakers can lift working families and boost local economies by doubling the tax credit in Illinois. <a href="http&#58;//salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50920/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=10927">Click here</a> to let your lawmaker know the time is now!​</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;text-align&#58;center;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​Minnesota</strong><br></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Tammy Walhoff, Lutheran Advocacy - Minnesota</strong><br></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="mailto&#58;tammy@lcppm.org"><strong>tammy@lcppm.org</strong></a><strong> &#160;</strong><br></h3><p></p><p><strong>Legislature&#58;</strong> With three weeks left, the Minnesota House and the Senate have been passing budget bills, often working past midnight. Due to committee changes and different visions, bills from the chambers are radically different. </p><p><strong>Housing and homelessness&#58;</strong> House actions cut $20 million from affordable housing and $1.5 billion from services important to people being stably housed. Homeless youth would get $1 million more per biennium but not permanently if the House gets its way. Lutheran Advocacy-MN has been sending letters to legislators.</p><p><strong>Clean Energy and Jobs Campaign&#58;</strong> The campaign asked LA-MN Director Tammy Walhof to be the faith-based speaker at a House hearing. Despite much testimony, the committee (and full House) voted to roll back Minnesota's Renewable Energy Standard and cut the energy efficiency program. LA-MN with Minnesota Interfaith Power &amp; Light created a <a href="http&#58;//www.cleanenergyjobs.mn/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/FaithLeaderLtr-CleanEnergy2015-MEDIA-FINAL.pdf">faith-leader letter</a> for Gov. Mark Dayton in support of the Clean Power Plan and clean energy. Walhof's connections were key to securing more than 300 signers, including bishops and executives from various denominations and 187 pastors. </p><p><strong>Payday lending&#58; </strong>Lutheran Advocacy-MN participated in a public event in front of a payday-lending business next to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Exodus Lending (alternative option) was launched by Holy Trinity at the event.</p><p><strong>Synod-related activities&#58;</strong> The Minneapolis Area Synod now has a very engaged Eco-Faith Network. &#160;Tammy Walhof was a speaker for the Northeastern Minnesota Synod Creation Care Retreat. She was also able to make new connections at the Saint Paul Area Synod Assembly and Luther Seminary events with Larry Rasmussen.</p><p><strong>Social media&#58; </strong>Follow Lutheran Advocacy-MN on Twitter&#58; <a href="https&#58;//twitter.com/LuthAdvocacyMN">@LuthAdvocacyMN</a></p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;text-align&#58;center;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;"></div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>New Jersey</strong><br></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Sara Lilja, Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry in New Jersey</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/logmnj?fref=ts"><strong>Visit us on Facebook!​</strong></a><br></h3><p><strong>Congregational efforts&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry has been focused on three areas of congregationally oriented work this past month&#58;</p><ul style="text-align&#58;left;"><li><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Released a </span><a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzIMgd0003k&amp;feature=youtu.be" style="line-height&#58;1.6;">human trafficking video</a><br></li><li><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Gathered leaders to begin to craft the church's response to the heroin crisis in New Jersey</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;</span><br></li><li><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Formed a coalition of leaders to develop public policy that will address race and poverty in the state</span><br></li></ul><p><strong>Legislation&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>We continue to work on legislation surrounding earned sick days, background checks for people who have been convicted of domestic violence, and reforming the use of solitary confinement.</p><p><strong>Budget&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>Our advocacy efforts continue to address the state budget. In New Jersey, tax subsidies and credits to businesses have resulted in 4 billion fewer dollars in state revenue. The consequence is residents who are vulnerable and struggling economically are suffering at greater rates.&#160; &#160;</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;text-align&#58;center;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><p></p><div style="text-align&#58;center;"></div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​New Mexico</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Ruth Hoffman, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico&#160;</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacynm.org/">www.lutheranadvocacynm.org</a></strong></h3><p></p><p><strong>Legislative session victories&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>For legislation passed in the final three days of a legislative session, the governor has 20 days after the end of the session to sign, veto or line-item veto<strong> </strong>bills<strong>. </strong>LAM-NM encouraged Gov. Susana Martinez to sign SB 42 and not to line-item veto<strong> </strong>language in the state budget bill relating to the state Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. SB42 requires the Human Services Department to make sure that when someone who is Medicaid-eligible is released from jail, they have Medicaid coverage immediately. The governor signed SB 42 into law and also did not veto language in the budget bill that increases the monthly TANF cash assistance by 5 percent and adds another annual clothing allowance for TANF children.</p><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/NM2.jpg" alt="NM2.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></p><p><strong>Interim committees set to begin</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>Much legislative work happens in the &quot;interim,&quot; which is the time between sessions. Interim committees have been appointed and are made up of members of both the Senate and the House. These committees meet from May until December. LAM-NM follows several interim committees closely, including the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee and the Legislative Finance Committee.</p><p><strong>Ecumenical partners&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>LAM-NM Director Ruth Hoffman spoke to three groups at Central United Methodist Church in Albuquerque. She talked about the importance of our ecumenical and full communion partnership and presented a summary of LAM-NM work during the 2015 legislative session.</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;text-align&#58;center;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><p></p><div style="text-align&#58;center;"></div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​Ohio</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Nick Bates, The Faith Coalition for the Common Good&#160;</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a></a><a><strong>Email&#58;&#160;nick@oneohionow.org</strong></a></h3><p style="text-align&#58;justify;"><strong>Budget focused on poverty&#58;</strong> The Faith Coalition for the Common Good thanks House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and the House leadership for a budget bill that recognizes — if not fully addresses — the safety, education and public health needs of a growing number of Ohioans. &quot;While specifics on the plan are still emerging, we appreciate acknowledgement in the House that a lot of people are still hurting,&quot; said&#160;the Rev. John Edgar&#160;of the United Methodist Church for All People.</p><p style="text-align&#58;justify;">With a state poverty rate at 16 percent, and some counties nearing 32 percent, more must be done beyond $2.75 million of additional support for food insecurity. Congregations operating food pantries look to the Senate to add an additional $2.75 million to maintain adequate emergency supplies.</p><p style="text-align&#58;justify;">We are pleased about a smaller reduction in Ohio's income tax, yet we remain concerned that our tax policy continues to focus on cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy.&#160;We recommend strategies, such as a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit&#160;and smart public investments in health care, public assistance and affordable housing.</p><p style="text-align&#58;justify;">We also applaud efforts to invest in Ohio's future through education — particularly rural, low-income school districts. &quot;The Faith Coalition is impressed with the focus in the House on helping all Ohio's children overcome challenges to poverty by receiving a better education,&quot; said&#160;Tom Smith of the Ohio Council of Churches. &quot;Theirs was an open budget process that we hope is followed in the Senate.&quot;</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;text-align&#58;center;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><p></p><div style="text-align&#58;center;"></div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Pennsylvania</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Amy Reumann, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania&#160;</strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;"><h3><strong>Tracey DePasquale, Associate Director</strong></h3></div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/"><strong>www.lutheranadvocacypa.org</strong></a></h3><p><strong>Lutheran Day&#58; </strong>150 people attended Lutheran Day in the Capitol on April 27.&#160; Held in conjunction with the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg's Academy Week, the day began with a keynote by the Rev. Dr. Kristin Largen, acting dean, whose remarks established a theological framework for the day. After workshops and worship, advocates traveled to the Capitol for legislative visits on housing and education funding.&#160; </p><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/PA1.jpg" alt="PA1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;380px;height&#58;250px;" /><br></p><p>Bishop James Dunlop, Bishop Ralph Jones, Bishop Claire Burkat, the Rev. Scott Schul and Associate Director Tracey DePasquale urged passage of a fair education funding formula at an afternoon press conference. As advocates lined the steps inside, the Rotunda the broke into a beautiful and spontaneous chorus of the Doxology – a true Lutheran Day highlight!</p><p>DePasquale made a presentation to a stewardship class and presented workshops on trauma-responsive education during Academy Week.&#160; </p><p><strong>Payday lending&#58;</strong> Our director, Amy Reumann, met with Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on proposed federal payday-lending rules and their impact on Pennsylvanians and led a predatory lending training for <a href="https&#58;//urbanseedscdfi.org/">Urban Seeds</a> in Philadelphia. </p><p><strong>Hunger&#58;</strong> We celebrated the end of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program asset test and participated in meetings of the Pennsylvania Food Security Coalition and School Breakfast Challenge workgroup.</p><p><strong>Education&#58;</strong> We successfully advocated within the statewide school funding coalition for reworking the campaign's proposal after analysis showed it could continue to drive racial disparity in resources for schools. </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Civil rights&#58;</strong> Staff participated in a press conference and lobby day supporting amending the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act by adding sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories.</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;text-align&#58;center;">____________________</span>​</span></strong></h3><p></p><div style="text-align&#58;center;"></div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Washington</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Paul Benz, Faith Action Network&#160;</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.fanwa.org/"></a><a href="http&#58;//www.fanwa.org/"><strong>www.fanwa.org</strong></a></h3><p><strong>Legislative issues&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>The 2015 Washington state 105-day legislative regular session ended on Sunday, April 26, with no agreement on its three budgets (operating, transportation and capital). The main disagreement &#160;is over whether there should be new revenue in the operating budget to meet the critical needs of our state that have been drastically cut over the past several sessions. Another way to look at this stalemate is that there are different perspectives on what the &quot;critical needs&quot; are and the role of state government in meeting those needs. Funding for three food programs are in this scenario (Emergency Food Assistance Program, State Food Assistance, and Breakfast after the Bell).&#160; Another food related proviso is funding for a pesticide-drift notification pilot project.&#160; </p><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/WA1.jpg" alt="WA1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;383px;height&#58;287px;" /><br></p><p><strong>Policy successes&#58; </strong></p><p>HB 1449 – Oil train safety notification and funding</p><p>SB 5863 – Pre-apprenticeship programs and jobs for women and communities of color in transportation contracts</p><p><strong>Faith-based organizing&#58; </strong>May 4 is a People's Hearing on the Need for Revenue at the state Capitol. FAN has been collecting signatures on the need for revenue in the budget and will deliver them on the day of this hearing to the budget negotiators and the governor. The regional United Church of Christ annual conference was held in Spokane in April. FAN led workshop presentations on the state budget and economic inequality.<strong> </strong>The ELCA Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod Assembly was held in the Tri-Cities in April. There was a resolution urging congregational engagement on climate change and energy savings, as well as a memorial urging the ELCA to include climate change in the events for the 500<sup>th </sup>Anniversary of the Reformation. FAN also met with members of the Islamic Center of the Tri-Cities and their Imam Mohamed El-Sehmawy.</p><p><strong>Fundraising&#58; </strong>The Seattle Foundation sponsors GiveBIG Day, an annual day to encourage online giving to local nonprofits where the foundation's partners give a small match to what is raised by each nonprofit that participates. FAN and hundreds of others participate and use this opportunity to raise needed dollars to sustain our programming.&#160;</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;text-align&#58;center;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;"></div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Wisconsin</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin&#160;</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.loppw.org/" target="_blank"><strong>www.loppw.org</strong></a></h3><p><strong>Advocacy Day&#58;</strong> LOPPW worked with<strong> </strong>Wisconsin Council of Churches, Faith Voices For Justice, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Madison Area Urban Ministry, Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Jewish Federation of Madison, Wisconsin Jewish Conference, and WISDOM to organize an Advocacy Day on April 29. About 750 people attended the event to learn about threats to Wisconsin's safety net programs (drug testing, changes to BadgerCare and long-term care programs, criminal justice reform, driver's licenses for people who are not documented, and public transit issues including preserving/expanding funding and keeping transit funding in the state budget). LOPPW's director explained safety net programs during the plenary and at a workshop, co-led by staff from the Wisconsin Council of Churches, discussed an alternative state budget and expanding Medicaid (BadgerCare) with federal dollars.</p><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/WI1.png" alt="WI1.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;380px;height&#58;294px;" /><br></p><p><strong>Public hearing&#58;</strong> On April 30, LOPPW together with the Wisconsin Catholic Conference and Wisconsin Council of Churches, testified on drug testing. <a href="http&#58;//www.loppw.org/files/2015/04/Drug-testing-Religious-groups-letter.pdf">Click here</a> to read the statement.</p><p><strong>Better choices&#58;</strong> LOPPW is working with a coalition of secular and faith-based nonprofits, called Better Choices, to make state budget choices better known. The Wisconsin Budget Project, an initiative of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, developed an <a href="http&#58;//www.loppw.org/files/2015/04/Better-Choices-for-the-Wisconsin-Budget.pdf">alternative budget</a>, which would allow us to save and improve our valued safety net programs and keep funding for our schools. We are currently planning press conferences around the state. South-Central Synod of Wisconsin Bishop Mary Froiland will be one of the speakers at our first press conference in Madison on May 4.&#160;&#160;</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;text-align&#58;center;">____________________</span>​</span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;"></div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>What advocacy efforts are going on in your synod or state? We want to hear about it!</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Contact us at </strong><a href="mailto&#58;washingtonoffice@elca.org"><strong>washingtonoffice@elca.org</strong></a><strong> ​​</strong></h3><p><br></p></div>05/07/2015