Following are updates shared from submissions in late January of state public policy offices (sppos) in the ELCA Advocacy Network last month. Full list and map of sppos available.
Lutheran Office of Public Policy (LOPPCA) – (lutheranpublicpolicyca.org)
Regina Banks, Director
California is facing an ongoing budget deficit, which could range from $38 billion to $58 billion for fiscal year 2024-25, per the existing analyses from various sources. This will have a significant impact on policy efforts in the state. LOPPCA is working with our partners and coalitions to prevent major cuts to critical programs that affect the most vulnerable. Significant cuts exist in the Governor’s proposed budget, which include programs surrounding climate change, affordable housing, and economic safety nets.
Emerging policy priorities apart for LOPPCA in 2024 include housing and homelessness, immigration services and support, and climate change.
Hunger Network in Ohio (HNO) – www.hungernetohio.com
Deacon Nick Bates, Director
Veto joy was short-lived.
As we have always said, stories are sacred. Governor DeWine (Republican-Ohio) spent his Christmas holiday talking with families with LGBTQIA+ youth, psychologists, doctors and social workers. He heard the stories and stood with gender non-conforming youth and their families in receiving gender affirming care. We spoke with Channel 5 in Cleveland and Spectrum News Ohio about the joy that LGBTQIA+ Ohioans have during this season of joy. Sadly, the Ohio House of Representatives returned from their holiday early to override the veto, despite growing bi-partisan opposition to legislative overreach and overriding the nuanced and long-discussed decisions of doctors, parents, youth, and case workers.
JOIN US FOR MONTHLY ADVOCACY AFFINITY GROUP!
In 2024, we will begin a monthly advocacy meeting on zoom for advocates across Ohio. This will be at 7pm on the second Thursday of each month. Come and lift up your issues, ask questions, and learn from policy experts and one another. Register at www.hungernetohio.com/events
Texas Impact – Texas Impact
Scott Atnip, Outreach Director
Theyear 2024 was a long year for advocates in Texas with the Texas Legislature’s 140-day biennial regular session, an impeachment trial and four thirty-day special sessions focused on creating a new public school voucher program and harmful immigration policies. Thanks in part to incredible advocacy from the faith community, the voucher bills failed, but a harmful immigration bill making immigration a state crime was signed into law two weeks before Christmas.
Texas Impact is organizing a series of “Texas Faith Votes” events and other advocacy and civic engagement events across the state in January and February to prepare for an important election cycle.
Three members of the team joined other ELCA and faith advocates at COP28 and provided great content for advocates and congregations.
The Texas Impact Weekly Witness podcast covered it all and is preparing for incredible speakers and content in 2024.
Faith Action Network (FANWA) – fanwa.org
Elise DeGooyer, Executive Director
The 2024 State Legislative Session Began!
The 2024 Washington state legislative session convened January 8th in Olympia, and is a short 60-day session, ending on March 7. More than 600 bills had already been introduced in both chambers before the session began, with hundreds to follow. With an unprecedented speed of bills being introduced, FAN advocates have been busy preparing for the upcoming Interfaith Advocacy Day (IFAD) on February 8th at the State Capitol. FAN staff offered an online session to give an overview of our multifaceted legislative agenda as a multi-faith, multi-issues organization. Close to 100 people attended our legislative preview. Some of the bills from the agenda include Extreme Wealth Tax, Healthy Free School Meals for All, Clean School Buses, Housing Stability for Tenants, and more. We also hosted two online Advocacy 101 sessions for both new advocates and those wanting a refresher for legislative advocacy. During this time of policy committee hearings, we are encouraging our network to sign in support for bills, submit testimonies, and write letters to their legislators. We are grateful to our Policy Engagement Director Kristin Ang (pictured below) and volunteer lobbyist Trevor Sandison (ELCA member) for representing FAN in Olympia throughout the session, and to our coalition members who testify and help inform us on facts and talking points for each bill.
The session in the State House Legislature opened with prayers by Imam Omar Kaddoura and Rabbi Seth Goldstein (pictured below) from our network along with the Squaxin tribe. Amid complex policy discussions, we remember to take a pause and ground our advocacy in multi-faith values and our responsibilities of being good stewards to our world.