LAMPa Policy Council Sets 2019 Priorities & Elects New Officers
The Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania (LAMPa) Policy Council met on December 6, 2018, to set their agenda priorities for the upcoming term of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Following a thoughtful, engaging and lengthy conversation among those present the following priorities were identified: Hunger; Creation Care; Poverty; and the 2020 Census.
Hunger continues to be a central focus of LAMPa as everyone acknowledges the intersections between hunger, health, housing and poverty. LAMPa, along with synods and congregations, ELCA Advocacy, and partners will continue to provide education, resource development and advocacy on how to get fresh foods to local communities. LAMPa will continue to advocate for additional funds in the upcoming Pennsylvania state budget for the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) and the Pennsylvania Agriculture Surplus System (PASS).
LAMPa will continue to equip congregations to press for improvements to school breakfast programs in their communities, as well as raise the visibility of the effectiveness of school breakfasts at the state level. In addition, LAMPa will assist congregations and hunger leaders in establishing summer feeding programs for children in high-need underserved areas.
Creation Care was deemed an additional priority for the coming year, as we seek to protect all of creation, especially the most vulnerable. LAMPa will work to promote emissions standards to mitigate climate change, including equipping congregations to make sound choices regarding their own practices, such as energy consumption. This includes working to secure funds to adequately monitor and police such emissions, as well as promoting energy efficiency and development of clean sources of energy.
In this work, LAMPa will encourage sustainable development across Pennsylvania, but particularly in areas whose economies currently depend upon fossil fuel extraction, and support efforts to create resiliency among the most vulnerable populations – frequently of low income and racial minorities – who face the brunt of the effects of climate change here and around the globe.
Poverty is another one of LAMPa’s priorities for the coming year as we seek to promote household financial stability. We will continue to oppose predatory payday lending which continues to regularly cycle into the Pennsylvania legislative process. LAMPa will seek to safeguard benefits and access to benefits for Pennsylvanians such as SNAP, WIC, energy assistance and other programs that lift thousands of families out of poverty.
LAMPa will work with synods, congregations, ELCA Advocacy and partners to ensure all will be counted in the 2020 Census. In addition to determining how over $600 billion per year in federal funds will be allocated to the states, it also determines each state’s representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, and an undercount could cost Pennsylvania millions of dollars as well as one or more seats in the House, and one or more electoral votes in Presidential elections.
Conducting an accurate census has always been a difficult task. We face significant new obstacles for the 2020 count: less federal funding, a shift away from in-person counting to a largely online count, and of particular concern to immigrant communities, a proposed question about citizenship.
The Policy Council tasked the staff with continuing to monitor legislative issues throughout the year and share information and alerts to be acted upon as appropriate.
Two outgoing policy council members were recognized during the meeting for their faithful service to the LAMPa Policy Council. The Rev. Deborah Jacobson and the Rev. Scott Schul each served two successive terms on the policy council. Upper Susquehanna Synod Bishop Barbara Collins was also recognized for her faithful year’s service. Each year a different bishop serves on the council representing one of the seven synods in Pennsylvania. Newly elected officers for 2019 include: Chair – the Rev. William Osman; Vice Chair – the Rev. Sarah Rossing; Secretary – the Rev. Karl Runser; Treasurer – Ms. Diane Casey; and Member at Large – the Rev. Titus Clarke. Thank you to the entire LAMPa Policy Council for their continued input, support and advocacy.