If you’re not able to be in St. Paul on Thursday, March 9, you can still make your voice heard at the Capitol. Follow the instructions below to support the advocacy efforts of your fellow Catholics. This is our moment. Let’s go!
Identify your lawmakers.
We will be meeting with state senators and state representatives. You can find out who your state lawmakers are (and how to contact them) using the Minnesota Legislature’s district finder.
Know what bills we’re supporting (and which one we’re opposing).
The Catholics at the Capitol bill guide and talking points are below. Familiarize yourself with the bill numbers and issues so that you can use them in your phone call or email to your lawmaker.
- Expanding Educational Opportunity
SUPPORT: Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credits (HF 386 [Kresha] / SF 256 [Chamberlain])
What it does: The bill creates tax credits for individuals and organizations that donate to scholarship granting organizations. Low- and middle-income students (up to $89,000 for a family of four) are eligible to receive those scholarships. The bill also creates a refundable tax credit for low-income families (household income of less than $53,000) to apply toward private school tuition expenses.
- Parents are the first educators of their children and should have the opportunity to choose a school where their child can thrive. No child’s educational opportunity should be limited by her income or zip code. We must remove financial barriers that impede choice in education.
- Non-public schools are essential partners in helping to close the state’s achievement gap. In many cases, they outperform neighboring public schools with comparable student populations.
- Education choice helps everyone. In 2015, the Nation’s Report Card, comparing state-by-state progress in reading and math, indicated that Arizona, which has the longest-running opportunity scholarship tax credit, made the most progress in reading and third most progress in math.
- Fostering Family Economic Stability
SUPPORT: Boost Minnesota Family Investment Program Assistance (HF 1603 [Pierson] / SF 806 [Hayden])
SUPPORT: Remove MFIP Marriage Penalty (HF 1453 [Hamilton] / SF 1165 [Benson])
What they do: The Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) cash grant increase (HF 1603/SF 806) will increase by $100 the monthly cash assistance available to families in poverty (currently capped at $532/mo for a family of three). Removing the marriage penalty (HF 1453/SF 1165) will create an 18-month transition period after a couple marries before their MFIP benefits cease (normally, the new combined household income would make them ineligible). Upon amendment, removing this penalty will apply to all married households with a combined income under 275 percent of the federal poverty guideline, which is $66,825 for a family of four.
- Increase cash assistance to struggling families, and make MFIP more marriage friendly.
- The MFIP cash grant has not increased since 1986, nor kept up with inflation, and families on the program continue to fall behind. We cannot use 1986 dollars to overcome poverty in 2017.
- Family stability is important for child well-being. We need to encourage people with children to form the marriage bond, which is a strong indicator of positive outcomes for children. Right now, MFIP’s structure discourages marriage by making household income the test for eligibility.
- Both pieces of legislation have strong bi-partisan support.
- Protecting Life and Advancing Care
OPPOSE: Legalize Assisted Suicide (HF 1885 [Freiberg] / SF 1572 [Eaton])
SUPPORT: Care Advisory Committee (HF 345 [Zerwas] / SF 112 [Housley])
What they do: Legislation has been introduced to legalize assisted suicide. The legislation lacks sufficient safeguards that could allow for elder abuse and harm to vulnerable persons. It also undermines the practice of medicine and creates economic incentives that could endanger those with disabilities and anyone who needs costly treatments. Instead, Minnesota should be embracing policies that advance care, such as the Palliative Care Advisory Committee (HF 345/SF 112), which would convene people knowledgeable in palliative care, including patients, to advise the full Legislature about ways palliative care access and delivery can be improved in our state.
- Assisted suicide is wrong for a state with some of the best healthcare in the world. Let’s create a state where no one feels that the only option they have is to end their life.
- Reject assisted suicide and instead embrace policies that advance quality care, such as better palliative care.
- Incredible progress has been made in palliative care, but there is a big gap in the training of healthcare professionals, as well as in access. We need to improve palliative care in Minnesota, and an advisory committee at the Minnesota Department of Health can recommend the best policies to the full Legislature in a time of limited resources.
- Palliative care is not just for the dying or those in hospice; it focuses on pain and symptom management for people at all stages of life.
Send your message!
Email or call your legislator. Tell them that, although you couldn’t make it to Catholics at the Capitol, you are a Catholic who cares deeply about Minnesota, and wanted to add your voice in support of the concerns raised by your fellow Minnesota Catholics.
- No need to cover all three of the issues above. If you only want to focus on one or two, that’s fine.
- It is important to include bill numbers of legislation you are asking your lawmaker to support or oppose.
- Be cordial and polite, and thank your legislators for their service!
Thanks for supporting our advocacy. Catholic voices count. Let’s make ours heard!