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Lutheran Office for
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LOGA July 2003 Legislative Update
Low-Income Bills Move Through Congress
Many issues of concern to advocates for people with low-incomes are moving through Congress this summer. Three issues of concern to Lutheran Services in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are Medicaid, affordable housing, and the Faith-Based and Community Initiative.
Medicaid Funding Increase Becomes Law
Medicaid, the primary source of health care for low-income families with children, the low-income elderly, and persons with disabilities, recently received a funding boost. Persistent national and grassroots advocacy contributed to passage of legislation that will provide a $10 billion temporary increase in the share of Medicaid paid by the federal government. Every state will receive additional funds, ranging from $625 million in California to $8.6 million in Montana. The new federal dollars will be of great help to state budgets and will benefit Medicaid recipients and the organizations that serve them.
Action Needed to Create Affordable Housing
The National Housing Trust Fund is a proposal to create a dedicated funding stream to produce, rehabilitate, and preserve 1.5 million units of affordable housing in the next 10 years. Trust Fund legislation has been introduced in the House (H.R. 1102) and legislation is expected in the Senate soon.
ACTION NEEDED: Add your congregation or community organization to the list of over 4,200 endorsers of the National Housing Trust Fund! Access www.nhtf.org for information and opportunities for advocacy.
Update on the Faith-Based and Community Initiative
The faith-based community experienced a victory when the Charity Aid, Recovery, and Empowerment Act (S. 476) passed the Senate 95-5 on April 8. The bill restores funding to the Social Services Block Grant, authorizes $150 million for the Compassion Capital Funds, fund Individual Development Accounts, and allows additional tax incentives for charitable giving.
The House version of the CARE Act, H.R. 7, was introduced May 7. Unfortunately, it did not include Social Services Block Grant funding that provides support for social services ranging from employment programs to child day care. LSA continues to advocate for the inclusion of this vital source of funding in H.R. 7.
In other faith-based news, the House passed the Workforce Investment Act (H.R. 1261) with a section on preferential hiring. The language is also referred to as non-discrimination or employment discrimination language. Similar language has been added to the reauthorization of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and reauthorization of the Head Start program.
Energy Bill Moves Through Congress
Justice and sustainability lies at the heart of the ELCA’s concern for a national energy policy that protects the health and well-being of current and future generations. The 108th Congress appears to be moving away from those goals. In April, the House of Representatives passed the Energy Policy Act of 2003, HR 6. It contains a provision that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration and drilling. The House version of the Energy Policy Act does nothing to protect current and future generations from our excessive and increasing dependency on fossil fuels. Early in May, the Senate began to consider its own omnibus energy legislation, S 14. As passed out of committee, this bill moves us one step back from last year’s Senate energy bill by failing to include a renewable energy standard, a percentage of electricity that must be produced from renewable sources like solar power and wind.
ACTION NEEDED: Urge your Senators to support energy legislation that meets today’s needs without sacrificing our children’s future. A just and sustainable energy policy must work to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels by emphasizing conservation, investments in renewable energy sources like solar and wind, and by increasing vehicle fuel efficiency. These measures would cut down on harmful emissions that contribute to ground level ozone, pollution of our air and water resources and greenhouse gas emission that is fueling global warming.
…see: Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice (ELCA, 1993)