Inside a week at the Minnesota Capitol

Minnesota Catholic Conference staff is often asked to describe a typical day at the office. Though every day is different, we are blessed that it is only the rare occasion on which MCC’s policy team spends the whole day behind a desk. This is how it should be, because public policy advocacy requires an entrepreneurial spirit and lots of relationship building —which is not much different from the dynamics of those who work in sales.

Fortunately, we get to pitch a good product that we truly believe in: public policy guided by the perennial principles of Catholic social teaching. This makes every day a blessing and an adventure.  And though our proposals can sometimes meet strong (and not necessarily rational or kind) resistance, we press on with hopeful spirits, knowing that today’s opponent might be tomorrow’s ally. It requires constant reminders to be civil, a great deal of patience and prayer and, admittedly, the occasional stiff drink. Here is a brief look at highlights from March 16-20:

Monday: An interview with Relevant Radio St. Cloud affiliate KYES; testify on religious liberty bill; work with legislative committee administrator to secure bill hearing; draft revised bill language; prepare with bill author for meetings with the legislation’s potential opponents; update Catholic Advocacy Network bill tracker with latest bills we support or oppose.

Tuesday: Restore the Vote MN legislative subcommittee meeting; secure committee hearing for Prenatal Trisomy Diagnosis Awareness Act; send out Catholic Advocacy Network communication encouraging members to attend a legislator’s town hall gathering; create legislation fact sheets necessary for upcoming committee hearings; correspond with national and global surrogacy awareness partners on recent United Nation discussions surrounding need to study surrogacy.

Wednesday: Emcee Restore the Vote MN coalition press conference; meet with emerging surrogacy awareness partners; correspond with coalition of churches and educational organizations opposing the imposition of property taxes on private schools and houses of worship (bill defeated!); interview with The Catholic Spirit about Gov. Mark Dayton’s supplemental budget proposal; arrange editorial board meeting with major media outlet on voter restoration legislation.

Thursday: Host Minnesota Non-public Education Day on the Hill to inform and train private school leaders to advocate for public policies that offer families more educational options; prepare with bill author for upcoming committee hearing; meet with Legislative Revisor’s office to discuss new bill language; prepare for upcoming hearing on surrogacy study commission bill with legislative allies.

Friday: Opportunity for All Kids education coalition weekly conference call; testify in support of surrogacy study commission in House Government Operations Committee; Minnesotans for Surrogacy Awareness coalition strategy meeting; meet with diocesan communications directors and newspaper editors to coordinate media opportunities; distribute Catholic Advocacy Network monthly e-update; meet with legislative allies to coordinate outreach and messaging for physician-assisted suicide committee hearing; correspond with policymakers about marriage and family legislation.

Saturday: Host a table at the Archdiocesan Men’s Conference.

This past week, MCC’s team had 50 meetings with legislators, not including meetings with their assistants or other legislative staff. Some days we feel like we are selling encyclopedias.

I have not listed the meeting preparation, scheduling and follow-up correspondence, or the daily business duties necessary to keep our wheels rolling. And while our small staff of five is busy, the work of witnessing our faith individually and in solidarity as Catholics never ends.

Ultimately, the success or failure of our efforts in many instances depends on your witness, your prayers and your personal follow-up with your legislator after we leave his or her office. Please join us in living your “faith in the public arena.” As Pope Francis says, “a good Catholic meddles in politics.”

Adkins is executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

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