The following policy areas are drawn from LAMPa’s 2014 stakeholder survey, with the input of our Bishops and approval of our Policy Council, revised to reflect temporary staff constraints. We retain our top tier issues as our primary area of engagement and will monitor and work on ongoing priorities and remain flexible in response to legislative opportunities as they arise.
TOP TIER ISSUES
1. IMPROVE ACCESS TO HEALTHY, AFFORDABLE FOOD
STATE FOOD PURCHASE PROGRAM FUNDING — The State Food Purchase Program is the Commonwealth’s most significant source of support for the efforts of Pennsylvania food banks, community food pantries and other providers of essential nutritional assistance. LAMPa will engage Lutherans in advocating for $21 million for the SFPP in the 2016-2017 budget, as well as $5 million for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) as a separate line item.
CREATING FRESH, LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS — Building on the success of the past year that saw the establishment of the governor’s Food Security Partnership and appointment of an Advisor on Food and Nutrition Programs, LAMPa will continue to work in an advisory role with the Partnership. We will also educate, and conduct resource development and advocacy with LAMPa stakeholders toward ensuring affordable fresh food systems in local communities.
2. IMPROVE EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES FOR PENNSYLVANIA STUDENTS
BASIC EDUCATION FUNDING — LAMPa will work through the Campaign for Fair Education Funding to ensure that Pennsylvania adopts and maintains an adequate and equitable system of funding public education by 2016. Every public school must have the resources necessary to enable every child to meet state academic standards, be prepared for post-secondary success, and become productive, knowledgeable, and engaged adults
PROMOTE TRAUMA-RESPONSIVE EDUCATION — In 2015 LAMPa was successful in presenting a case for trauma-responsive education to the Basic Education Funding Commission, which included in its final report recommendations to the Department of Education for development of protocols for assessing trauma in students. We will continue engagement with the policymakers around this while engaging LAMPa stakeholders to inform and advocate.
ADDITIONAL POLICY PRIORITIES
1. HUMAN TRAFFICKING
PROMOTE SAFE HARBOR LEGISLATION — More than 100,000 children are exploited through prostitution in the U.S. each year. Adults manipulate these children, often with illegal drugs. As a consequence, children are charged with prostitution, drug possession, loitering, and other offenses related to prostitution. LAMPa will work with our network, particularly with Women of the ELCA throughout Pennsylvania, for legislation, such as SB851, that will divert sexually exploited children from the justice system into more appropriate human services.
2. PROMOTING HOUSEHOLD FINANCIAL STABILITY
OPPOSE PREDATORY PAYDAY LENDING — Bills to legalize payday lending have been introduced, and defeated, over the past several years. Payday loans are a predatory product that charge triple-digit interest rates and entice borrowers into a debt trap. LAMPa will continue to oppose any efforts to introduce predatory payday lending and the weakening of Pennsylvania’s strong consumer protection laws.
MONITOR ANTI-POVERTY INITIATIVE — LAMPa will continue dialogue with lawmakers engaged in the Empowering Opportunities: Gateways Out of Poverty Initiative, informing LAMPa’s network about pending legislation.
3. CARING FOR CREATION
HELP PA DO ITS PART FOR CLEAN AIR AND WATER — LAMPA will educate, equip and promote advocacy among Lutherans regarding Pennsylvania’s Clean Power Plan as part of our overall ELCA advocacy strategy around climate change.
4. ENGAGING ALL CITIZENS
IMPROVE ACCESS TO THE VOTE — For the 2012 presidential election, Pennsylvania ranked 29th out of all 50 states in participation, according to data from the U.S. Elections Project. LAMPa will work with non-partisan partners and engage Lutherans to advocate for updating Pennsylvania’s election system to ensure all of our citizens have an equal opportunity to make their voices heard. Pennsylvania can learn from successes in other states, where reforms have been tested and proven. Potential reforms include optional vote by mail, early voting, youth voter pre-registration and same-day voter registration.