Today, we present our ELCA Advocacy Update for the month of January, and a preview of some of our advocacy priorities for 2016! Please read below for important information on ELCA Advocacy efforts in Washington, across the country and throughout the world. To read the full version of the update and for more information on advocacy efforts from our Lutheran State Advocacy offices, visit our blog

Advocacy Update - January 2016

ELCA Advocacy, Washington D.C.

Earlier this week, President Obama gave his final State of the Union address to Congress. As lawmakers across the political spectrum prepare their 2016 legislative agendas, we urge our elected officials to ensure that our nation’s public policies embody Biblical values of peacemaking, hospitality to our neighbors, care for creation, and concern for our brothers and sisters facing poverty and struggling with hunger. See a preview of some of ELCA Advocacy's policy priorities this year by clicking here! 

Lutheran Office for World Community, New York, N.Y.

A DISCUSSION ON ‘FORCED DISPLACEMENT, REFUGEES, AND MIGRATION’: On Dec. 16, Dennis Frado and Nicholas Jaech with the Lutheran Office for World Community participated in a public consultation on the discussion paper “Forced Displacement, Refugees, and Migration” produced by the Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM). This paper highlighted the current migration crisis, citing 230 million current migrants, which includes 59.5 million displaced persons. ICM, which is affiliated with the International Peace Institute, writes that this is the “biggest humanitarian crisis in the history of the United Nations.” 

Two days later, on Dec. 18, International Migrants Day was recognized at the United Nations. At this event, the Population Division of the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs reminded the audience of the connection between migration and the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals, referencing goal 10.7, which calls on countries to “facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.”

A U.N. BRIEFING ON EL NIÑO: On Jan. 7, the Lutheran Office for World Community attended a briefing on “The Humanitarian Consequences of El Niño and the Need for Urgent Action,” organized by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Various reports were made on the already damaging effects of the 2015-2016 El Niño – major droughts in Eastern and Central Africa, Central America, and the Pacific region, among others. As the rainy seasons return, the risk of flooding, landslides, and waterborne diseases significantly increase in these drought-ridden regions. Key messages issued by OCHA and other speakers centered on two actions: 1) an urgent response by the international community to address the current humanitarian needs caused by El Niño, and 2) investing in long-term risk and vulnerability reduction, which is critical and needs to be increased. For further analysis of El Niño’s effects by region, please click here.

Lutheran state advocacy efforts across the country

CALIFORNIA: California’s legislators reconvened Jan. 4 for the final year of its two-year session. Nearly one-sixth of them gathered that afternoon at Mercy Commons, a newer permanent supportive housing site, to launch a bi-partisan effort to generate new resources to address the state’s homelessness crisis. Defending California’s climate change laws and advocating for equitable investment of cap-and-trade funds, now growing into the billions, will continue to be a Lutheran Office of Public Policy priority. 

COLORADOOur priorities remain steadfast in the coming year: a better and more robust social safety net for those living on the margins, improved access to anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs for those who need them, a higher minimum wage that is commensurate with the actual cost of living, consistent shelter and support services for those without a home, an end to denial of dignity and needless taxpayer expense in the criminal justice system, and a higher standard of environmental protection that shows real care for creation. 

MINNESOTA: Continuing capital renovation will keep the capitol closed through 2016. The session will begin Tuesday, March 8, and will be only 11 weeks long. Access to legislators in St. Paul will be very difficult. Lutheran Advocacy-MN continues to build its network to be ready for nimble rapid action. Click here for one-page description of 2016 agenda. 

NEW MEXICO: The 2016 session of the New Mexico Legislature convenes on Jan. 19 at noon. Already more than 120 pieces of legislation have been filed in anticipation of the session and about 1,000 pieces are expected to be introduced. The Lutheran Advocacy Ministry New Mexico’s Policy Committee adopted our 2016 advocacy agenda at its November meeting and that agenda guides LAM-NM’s advocacy activity throughout the year. 

PENNSYLVANIA: Even as Pennsylvania begins 2016 six months into a budget standoff, LAMPa looks back on 2015 with gratitude for the opportunity to witness to the love of God and stand together for justice in the state capitol. Tracey DePasquale is serving as LAMPa’s interim director as Amy Reumann takes the reins at the ELCA Advocacy Washington office. In light of the temporary staff reduction, the policy council adopted a revised agenda for 2016 at its December meeting. Hunger and education funding remain top issues. 

VIRGINIA: On Wednesday, Jan. 20, the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy will host the 2016 “Day for All People,” an opportunity to learn about some key issues facing the Virginia Legislature and then speak to delegates and senators about those issues.Regional legislative public hearings are scheduled for Jan. 7 in Fredericksburg, Wytheville, Chesapeake and Richmond. The hearings will receive comments on the governor's proposed amendments to the 2016-18 biennial state budget. 

WASHINGTON: The Washington state legislature will begin its 60-day session on Monday, Jan. 11. Faith Action Network's (FAN) legislative agenda will have five policy “buckets." FAN's annual Interfaith Advocacy Day will be  Thursday, Feb. 4, in addition to two other sponsored legislative conferences around the state (in Spokane on Jan. 30 and in Yakima on Feb. 6). 

WISCONSIN: Top Highlights of 2015: LOPPW was the only Wisconsin group to hold a Safe Harbor rally to support legislation and funding to assist youth victims of sex trafficking. LOPPW worked with two synods to help initiate a hunger team in one, and a Care for God’s Creation team linked to ELCA World Hunger in the other. LOPPW also participated in the Region 5 hunger gathering in Dubuque, Iowa. LOPPW is a part of People of Faith United for Justice, a group that organized the 2015 statewide Advocacy Day focused on poverty. 

Find out all about the vast and incredibly important work of Lutheran advocates across the country by visiting our ELCA Advocacy Blog

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