October 2019 Update

by Regina Q. Banks, Director

POLICY COUNCIL MEETING AND PRIORITIES: The policy council of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy- CA met at the Luther Center in Glendale, CA on October 26, 2019 to discuss the legislative priorities of the ELCA and LOPP-CA, welcome new staff and plan FUNdraisers for the upcoming program year. It was a great meeting and much was decided. Look for updates soon. But set your calendars now for LUTHERAN LOBBY DAY 2020: Wednesday May 20, 2020. We will use this opportunity to again engage with legislators and staff on issues of concern to Lutherans across the state.

Our priorities for 2020 have shifted but continue to reflect a deep concern for the least and the last in our communities, and care for creation and justice in our golden state. We will continue to advocate for the elimination of Deep Childhood Poverty and accompany those who immigrate to and migrate within California. After listening to your concerns during our congregation visits and in consultation with our partners at Lutheran Social Services of Northern California, we are adding engagement with and for the unhoused to our portfolio of issues. And with the addition of Nicole Newell as our Hunger Advocacy Fellow, we are adding food and farming as a new policy priority for the 2020 legislative session. As the largest producer of food in the U.S., California is dominated by large farms relying on undercompensated migrant labor and extensive use of water throughout the driest of months. These farming systems are too often disconnected from the processing, distributing, eating and waste aspects of the cycle. In keeping with God’s call to care for creation and our neighbor, LOPP-CA seeks to promote equitable food and farming systems in California that support healthy communities, full bellies and the preservation of vital ecosystems. Our policy council has decided to continue to support our ministry and secular partners in the implementation of the Clean Safe Affordable Drinking Water Fund though take a less active role.

All of these issues and more will be discussed leading up to and during Lutheran Lobby Day 2020 on May 20, 2020. If these priorities are in your area of expertise or you are looking for ways to get involved with LOPP-CA, there are openings for synod representatives in Pacifica, Sierra Pacific and Southwest California synods. Contact us at regina.banks@elca.org to discuss your service.

SYNOD AND CONGREGATION VISITS: A sincere Thank You goes out to the pastors and members of Immanuel Lutheran Church, San Jose; Ascension Lutheran Church, Thousand Oaks; University AME Zion Church, Palo Alto; and Advent Lutheran Church, Morgan Hill for welcoming us into your worship experiences. We continue to delight in the varied ways that the Holy Spirit manifests in your families. Continue to invite us. We will continue to walk with you.

Thank you to Bishop Mark Holmerud and staff of Sierra Pacific Synod for their hospitality during the 2019 Professional Leaders Conference at Monterey Tides. LOPP-CA was offered primetime to talk about the church’s way forward through advocacy, and God is truly still working through contacts and connections made there. Similarly, a big thank you goes to Trinity Lutheran Women of the ELCA members for welcoming our Director Regina Q. Banks’ offer of the Sunday sermon on October 20th. This was her first sermon. She was humbled and blessed to take that journey with you.

September 2019 Update

LEGISLATURE ADJOURNS:
September 13 marked the end of the 2019 legislative year. Governor Gavin Newsome has until October 13, 2019 to sign or veto legislation in his possession. LOPP-CA is eagerly awaiting the final disposition of legislation we have been following this session. Please standby for word on all of our legislative priorities.

CLIMATE EMERGENCY SUMMIT:
LOPP-CA had a unique opportunity to engage with faith leaders across the world and spanning numerous traditions at the Climate Emergency Summit hosted by ELCA Advocacy in New York, NY. The summit was an extension of the United Nations General Assembly and provided an opportunity to turn a faith-based lens to the work of climate justice in our world.

HUNGER FELLOW WELCOME:
LOPP-CA is pleased to welcome Ms. Nicole Newell to our office as the 2019-2020 California Hunger Advocacy Fellow. Nicole Newell joins this year’s ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellows with a background in non-profit work, advocacy and teaching, both domestically and abroad. Her focus on food justice has led her to work in kitchens and on small-scale farms to develop context for sustainable food practices. With a BA in Practicing Theology from St. Olaf College, Nicole has a love for Lutherans and served with Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Washington, DC from 2015-2016. She grew up in Des Moines, IA but was born in Sacramento. Nicole is eager to bring her passion for the intersections of faith and justice to effect policy-level change in California. Please look for ways to invite Nicole into your policy ministries.

SYNODICAL AND CONGREGATION VISIT THANK YOUS:
A sincere “Thank You” goes out to the pastors and members of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran in Simi Valley for their warm welcome this month. This congregation made a special effort to include Advocacy in their “Gods Work. Our Hands.” Day of Service observance, and it was truly special. Please consider adding an advocacy component to this and other special occasions in your ministry.

Similarly, Sierra Pacific Women of the ELCA offered a warm and sisterly welcome to their annual retreat September 18-20 at the beautiful Bishop’s Ranch retreat center in Healdsburg, CA. The majestic scenery was a great backdrop for worship, work and rejuvenation. Congratulations to the new board of SPWELCA, and we at LOPP-CA look forward to working together closely.

August 2019 Update

LEGISLATURE BACK IN SESSION:
Fiscal committees had until August 30 to hear and pass the remaining fiscal bills to the floors of the respective houses. The remaining two weeks of session, until September 13, are reserved for floor sessions. This first year of a two-year session adjourns at midnight on Friday, September 13, 2019. Please look out for time-sensitive alerts about ways to support our advocacy as measures move from the floor of the legislature to the governor’s desk for signature.

LOBBY DAY PARTICIPATION:
LOPP-CA has had an exciting month supporting our ministry partners and advocacy allies in their lobby days and advocacy actions. Just a couple of highlights:

On Wednesday, August 21st we participated in Building The California Dream Alliance (BCDA) lobby day. BCDA unites more than 60 organizations in a broad progressive coalition in an ambitious agenda to uplift families and expand opportunities for all Californians. We worked on stronger protections for striking and locked out workers, more robust safeguards for student borrowers, greater securities for our undocumented siblings and much more. Go to http://cadreambuilder.org to find out more about BCDA and our participation.

California Interfaith Power and Light (CIPL) envisions a stable climate where humans live in right and just relationship, interconnected with a healthy, thriving, natural world. They work toward this goal through education, advocacy, direct action and conservation. Their lobby day was Wednesday, August 28th and together we advocated for “Complete Streets” (safe use of our community streets for walkers, bikers, public transportation, and private vehicles), Smog Checks for Big Rigs, the protection of our state lands from would-be fossil fuel extractors, and plastics use abatement. LOPP-CA would be glad to help you register to become an IPL congregation.

PARTNERSHIP WITH FARMING HOPE:
LOPP-CA is excited to announce collaboration with Farming Hope, a non-profit community organization providing transitional employment and training in the culinary industry to unhoused and low-income people in our community. They are a recipient of an ELCA World Hunger grant and Executive Director Jamie Stark was well received at the hunger leaders gathering this summer in Minneapolis, Minn. Initial discussions were had over brunch on August 24th with representatives of Lutheran Social Services of Northern California, ELCA World Hunger and the office of Bishop Mark Holmerud, ELCA Sierra Pacific Synod. To find out more about Farming Hope visit them at https://farminghope.org and have a bite at their commercial kitchen site Manny’s at 3092 16th Street in San Francisco.

MISSION SUPPORT LETTER:
Be on the lookout for a letter going to congregations asking for additional mission support. The work we do here at LOPP-CA is dependent upon you and your congregation’s generosity. Please consider blessing our ministry with an additional gift today. Instructions can be found in the mail, or at our website: lutheranpublicpolicyca.org.

CONGREGATION VISIT THANK YOU: 
A sincere thank you goes out to congregations that have welcomed LOPP-CA into their Sunday worship experiences recently. They were truly blessed times in the Lord, and we look forward to coming back soon. Specifically, Faith Lutheran Church in Marysville, Calif.

August 2019 Update

SUMMER RECESS:
The Legislature for the state of California is in Summer Recess and slated to return August 12. Fiscal Committees will have roughly 3 weeks, until August 30, to hear and pass the remaining fiscal bills to the floors of the respective houses. The remaining two weeks of session, until September 13, is reserved for floor sessions. This first year of a two-year session adjourns at Midnight on Friday, September 13, 2019.

SUMMER LEGISLATIVE VISITS:
Summer is an excellent time to meet with federal, state and local policy officials while they are back home in their districts. LOPP-CA would like to highlight just such an opportunity taken. Lutheran Church of the Master in Sacramento, CA hosted a beautiful community meeting with elected officials on the Sacramento City Council and command representatives from the Sacramento City Police Department and local social service agencies to address the homelessness issue in their South Land Park community. Pr. Linda Boston and Councilman Steve Hansen did a great job of engaging the nearly 100 participants who came out on a hot Wednesday evening on July 24th. It is a beginning to their local advocacy and LOPP-CA has vowed to walk with them. Is your congregation interested in beginning an advocacy project? Contact us and we would be proud to walk with you.

HUNGER LEADERS’ GATHERING 2019:
LOPP-CA participated with ministries across the country (and touching locations across the globe) in the Hunger Leaders’ Gathering hosted by Central Lutheran Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota July 18-21. The Hunger Leaders’ Gathering is a conference of ELCA World Hunger Grant recipients. ELCA World Hunger Grants amount to LOPP-CA’s single largest funding source and a source of ministry support and guidance. It was a blessing to get together with fellow recipients and World Hunger staff to share best practices and network. Standby for word on new initiatives from California!

MISSION SUPPORT LETTER:
Be on the lookout for a letter going to congregations asking for additional mission support. The work we do here at LOPP-CA is dependent upon you and your congregation’s generosity. Please consider blessing our ministry with an additional gift today. Instructions can be found in the mail, or at our website: www.lutheranpublicpolicyca.org

CONGREGATION VISIT THANK YOUS:
A sincere thank you goes out to congregations that have welcomed LOPP-CA into their Sunday worship experiences recently. They were truly blessed times in the Lord, and we look forward to coming back soon. Specifically, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (Fairfield) Pr. Karen Stetins Sr. Pastor, Peace Lutheran Church (Grass Valley) Rev. Bill Wong Interim Pastor and Lutheran Church of the Master (Sacramento) Pr. Linda Boston Sr. Pastor.

July 2019 Update

BUDGET GAINS AND LOSSES:
During our Lobby Day last month we advocated for a Medi-Cal (California’s low-income health care program) expansion that would cover all income-eligible people independent of immigration status. We, and our allies, were partially successful in spurring an expansion that will cover those up to age 26.  We also talked to legislators about the establishment of a clean, safe and affordable drinking water fund. The Legislature agreed and chose to finance the measure with cap-and-trade funds as opposed to the governor’s proposed new fee on polluters. Finally, the Legislature approved a significant expansion to the California Earned Income Tax Credit. This is a tent post for the End Child Poverty coalition to which we belong and was a huge win. Unfortunately, the expansion will not include those who file taxes with an ITIN, whose filers are primarily undocumented workers. Thank you to everyone who came to Lobby Day, made calls, wrote e-mails and prayed. We got both some significant wins and a clearer roadmap of the work ahead!

WORLD REFUGEE DAY ACKNOWLEDGMENT:
June 20thmarked U.N. World Refugee Day. LOPP-CA acknowledged the day with partners such as St. Paul Lutheran Church of Lodi, Calif; Organizacion de Trabajadores, Fuerzas Unidas and others in a march and prayer circle for the reunification of families being callously held in US detentions. We prayed together and then marched to the U.S. General Services Administration building in Sacramento where we prayed for the employees and our policy makers.

SECOND-MILE GIVING:
Thank you so much to everyone, congregations and individuals alike, who participated in the Sierra Pacific Synod’s second-mile giving support of LOPP-CA in June. We are humbled by your generosity.

June 2019 Update

LUTHERAN LOBBY DAY 2019 WAS A HUGE SUCCESS:
About 105 Lutherans from throughout our diverse state gathered in Sacramento on May 29 to talk to policy makers about childhood poverty, a MediCal expansion to cover undocumented adults and water justice. We assembled at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sacramento to hear the gospel preached by the Rev. Amy Reumann, director of ELCA Advocacy, commune together and learn advocacy tips and strategies before heading to the Capitol for scheduled meetings. We met with 52 (of 120) state legislator offices in four hours! Some were short, uplifting meetings of like-minded people; others were more contentious. But all participants had a meaningful day putting faith into action.

LOPP-CA would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who helped make the event a success. We’d especially like to highlight Bishops Guy Erwin of Southwest California, Mark Holmerud of Sierra Pacific and Andy Taylor of Pacifica Synod who attended and committed themselves and their staffs to highlighting the role of advocacy in the life of the church. St. John’s and its pastor, the Rev. Frank Espegren, who were a study in hospitality for the day; and our ministry partners throughout the capitol community that made the vision for the day come to life. It was truly a blessed time in the Lord, and it’s not too soon to plan to join us next year!

May 2019 Update

ADVOCACY CONVENING:
California was well-represented at this year’s Advocacy Convening held April 29 through May 1 in Washington, D.C. The theme of this year’s event was “Prepared to Care: Our Advocacy in Light of Disasters Intensified by Climate Change”. The California delegation consisted of Bishop Guy Erwin of the Southwest California Synod, Debi Groon of Lutheran Social Services of Southern California, Wylie Cook a seminarian and board member of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy- California, and Regina Q. Banks, director of LOPP-CA.

The delegation discussed the ELCA’s commitment to disaster response and preparedness with congressional representative Gilbert Cisneros (CA-39), Doris Matsui (CA-06) and Brad Sherman (CA-30),  as well as senators Kamala Harris and Diane Feinstein. All of the meetings went very well and it was decided all of the offices were receptive to the ELCA Advocacy Ask.

LUTHERAN LOBBY DAY IN SACRAMENTO:
Washington was good practice for California’s first statewide advocacy event scheduled for Wednesday May 29th in Sacramento. You can still register for Lutheran Lobby Day at the State Capitol. Participants from D.C. will give an in-depth debrief. Information and a link to register can be found at www.loppca.org

April 2019 Update

LUTHERAN LOBBY DAY:
LOPP-CA is pleased to announce our first Lutheran Lobby Day at the State Capitol on Wednesday, May 29. Plan to join our bishops, clergy, members, and Rev. Amy E. Reumann, ELCA Advocacy Director, as we build relationships with legislators and policy-makers and fellowship with one another. We will gather at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sacramento at 8 a.m. and will progress to the Capitol together around 10 a.m. Our goal is to have every single Assembly district represented, so we need you there.

A block of rooms has been reserved at the Residence Inn Sacramento Downtown at Capitol Park (a block from St. John’s and two blocks from the Capitol building). Mention LOPP-CA when making your reservations to get our discount. We look forward to seeing you there.

Lobby Day Registration Link: https://community.elca.org/lutheran-lobby-day-at-the-capitol

SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGNS:
Our social media relaunches are underway! Please visit us on Facebook at Lutheran Office of Public Policy- California. We are sharing updates, articles and time-sensitive action items. Like, share and repost our content. The policy council has a goal of getting 5000 by the end of the year. You can help us meet our goal and stay up-to-date with the activities. Plans are underway for Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Watch this space!

March 2019 Update

BILL INTRODUCTION DEADLINE:
February 22, 2019 marked the final day for the California Legislature to introduce bills for the 2019 Legislative Session. The Senate and Assembly Desks remained open through the weekend to process the bill introductions. Nearly 2,600 bills were introduced this year, covering an extensive range of topics and subject-areas. Among the several bills introduced were no fewer than 17 that represent the End Child Poverty Plan recommendations. Many other bills were introduced with respect to LOPP-CA’s other legislative priorities of Water Justice and Immigration and Migration issues. The policy council will begin to narrow down bill priorities in the coming weeks. 

SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGNS:
The Communications Committee has heard your cry: Invest in LOPP-CA’s Social Media presence! We know that you are looking for LOPP-CA on social media platforms and we are preparing to meet you there. Please visit us on Facebook at Lutheran Office of Public Policy- California. We are sharing updates, article and time-sensitive action items. Like, share and repost our content. The policy council has a goal of getting 5000 followers by the end of the year. You can help us meet our goal and stay up-to-date with the activities. Plans are underway for Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Watch this space!

February 2019 Update

LOPP-CA HAS A NEW DIRECTOR:
The Policy Council of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy – CA is pleased to announce that Regina Q. Banks, JD has begun as LOPP-CA Director! She succeeds Mark Carlson whose successful tenure as Director sunsets January 31st.

ADVOCATING FOR IMPOVERISHED CHILDREN:
LOPP-CA acted with its partners in the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force in participating in the End Child Poverty in California Advocacy Day at the state capitol January 22nd. The event was very well received with over 90 legislator visits and a standing-room-only press conference with democratic state lawmakers.  Over 40 organizations came together for the event to support the final report and recommendations of the task force. Among the recommendations are a welfare grant increase beyond the governor’s budget proposal and targeted child tax credit that would also function as a rental subsidy.

LUTHERAN LOBBY DAY PLANNED:
LOPP-CA held its first policy council meeting of 2019 on February 2 at the Southwest California Synod offices in Glendale. Many new and exciting initiatives were planned and will be announced soon. But please mark your calendars now for Lutheran Lobby Day: Wednesday, May 29, 2019 in Sacramento. Issues discussed will include policy council issue priorities for 2019: Deep Childhood Poverty, Immigration and Water Justice.