LEAN Seeks New Advisory Board Members

Are You Passionate About Social Justice? Join Us!

Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada (LEAN), a faith-based organization that represents Nevada’s ELCA congregations at the Nevada State Legislature by advocating for fair, equitable laws that protect and champion the state’s underserved populations, seeks to expand its volunteer Advisory Board before the next Nevada Legislature biannual session begins in February 2023.

Since its inception in the late 1990s as Lutheran Advocacy & Ministry in Nevada, and now as LEAN, the organization works with a contracted, registered “advocate” who follows each legislative session’s docket of potential bills, known as Bill Draft Requests (BDRs), and full-fledged proposed legislation through every stage of the legislative process. LEAN’s current advocate, Bill Ledford, is preparing for the 2023 session with direct and regular input from the organization’s Advisory Board, which meets monthly to set advocacy goals, discuss expected and introduced legislative bills and vote to either advocate for the passage or dismissal of legislation based on ELCA Social Statement guidelines. During off years, the LEAN Advisory Board continues to meet monthly to discuss general business and budgeting, event planning, and initiatives such as its recent “Living With Hunger” project. Supported solely by donations from the Grand Canyon Synod and Sierra Pacific Synod of the ELCA, and donations from congregations and individual believers,

LEAN has long built its advocacy foundation on Matthew 25 in the New Testament, specifically verses 35-40: “…‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” It has a 25-year-plus record of advocating for legislation that helps Nevadans who don’t have the voice or power to advocate for themselves, including minority and disabled populations, prison inmates returning to society, sex trafficking victims, the unsheltered, the hungry, the uninsured or underinsured, families in need and many others.

Time commitment is minimal for LEAN’s Advisory Board — one one-hour meeting per month maximum (with potentially fewer meetings in legislative session off-years), along with occasional participation in special advocacy events or fundraisers. There is no fee or cost to join the Board for a three-year term, with the option to stay on for an additional term. LEAN is interested in attracting a mix of rostered clergy and laypersons as potential Board members.

If you have a passion for advocacy work and making a difference for Nevadans from a faith-based perspective, please consider joining us. To volunteer or for more information, please send an email of inquiry to leanforjustice@gmail.com.

Living With Hunger Handbook

LEAN has long been a strong advocate for hunger awareness in Nevada and around the world. In that spirit, we have created a handbook for congregations to learn about what causes hunger, how families cope, and where they can seek help to create a stable, hunger-free future. This downloadable 20-page document offers five family role-playing scenarios for small group study, plus in-depth facts and figures about hunger in America and Nevada, study questions and much more. Download today and schedule a “Living With Hunger” educational event at your place of worship or small-group meeting venue.

LEAN Marks 2021 Session Successes

Supported Legislation Puts ELCA Social Statements Into Action

When the 2021 Nevada Legislature convened for its biennial, 120-day session in early February, the world was still in the throes of a deadly pandemic. Much of “normal” life was still months away. Most churches still worshipped online. Millions of Americans were out of work, in danger of losing their housing, and searching for the way forward. State legislators stared at huge fiscal holes, deep social fissures, and freshly exposed tears in the social safety net.

Thanks to a series of congressional stimulus packages, the fiscal alarms subsided as winter gave way to spring, which helped reorient Nevada’s assembly and senate toward addressing some of those rips in the fabric of society, many ignored for decades. And that gave the advocate and policy council for Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada (LEAN) plenty of opportunity to lend its support to legislation that would change Nevadans’ lives for the better.

Guided by the ELCA’s Social Statements and Social Messages, LEAN identified more than 30 active, sponsored bills to follow through the legislative process, with advocate Bill Ledford voicing support, strong support or opposition during virtual committee meetings – where the real “sausage” is made via amendment and debate – conducted via Zoom.

Following are eleven LEAN-supported bills that passed both legislative chambers and have either been signed into law by Gov. Steve Sisolak, or are awaiting his signature, plus one important senate resolution that LEAN heartily endorsed – and one bill that went down to defeat with LEAN’s stated opposition. They are organized under four specific categories tied directly to the Statements. These bills highlight the good work LEAN is doing on behalf of Nevada’s ELCA congregations, and provide the opportunity for parishioners to discuss them, pass them along or use as inspiration to get involved in current community social concerns, and  when the 2023 session approaches.

HUNGER, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Assembly Bill 62 (Passed) – Increases support for savings accounts for low-income citizens

AB 185 (Failed) – Rescinds minimum wage increases voted on last session (Opposed by LEAN)

Senate Bill 209 (Passed): Allows workers to use sick leave for any medical reason

SB420 (Passed): Establishes mechanism for creating a state public healthcare option

VOTER ACCESS

AB321 (Passed) – Establishes permanent law allowing for mail-in ballots in every election

AB422 (Passed) – Creates a modern centralized voter registration database, helping assure accurate information across all agencies and assuring both voter access and legal eligibility

JUSTICE REFORM 

AB158 (Passed) – Lessens penalties of minors offending via alcohol and cannabis, and moves policy from punishment to counseling

AB186 (Passed) – Prohibits Police quotas for citations and arrests, and personnel evaluations based on such

AB396 (Passed) – Restricts cases of police “justifiable homicide” to uniform standards

SB50 – (Passed) — Restricts the legal conditions allowing for no-knock warrants

RACIAL AND GENDER JUSTICE & EQUITY

AB157 (Passed) – Penalizes public use of calling police to infringe on others’ rights

SB327 (Passed) – Adds language to anti-discrimination laws to include racial hair styles

SCR5 (Passed) – Urges certain actions to address the public health crisis in Nevada (systemic racism)

To read either the full text of each piece of legislation, or its digest, click on the live link for each bill.

Video: Learn How To Engage With Nevada Legislature

On Jan. 28, LEAN advocate Bill Ledford led an informative Zoom session on how to use public online tools to follow legislation making its way through the 2021 Nevada legislative session, and the best ways to stay in touch with the lawmaking process and reach out to your assemblypersons and senators. Special guest, Bishop Deborah Hutterer of the Grand Canyon Synod, talks about the importance of keeping engaged with government on behalf of our fellow citizens, as Christians and Lutherans.

Watch the complete video of the presentation here:

Join LEAN For Nevada Legislature Primer

Zoom Event Shows How To Connect With Lawmakers, Follow Bills

Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada (LEAN), a statewide faith-based organization that advocates for just and fair legislation and public policy for all Nevadans, will host a special Zoom workshop as the 2021 Nevada Legislature prepares to open its bi-annual session on February 1. “Connecting with the Nevada Legislature 101:  Advocating for our Neighbor as Lutherans” takes place on Thursday, January 28 at 2 p.m.

LEAN speaks at the Legislature through its Advocate, Bill Ledford, on matters that affect the most vulnerable in our state and in relation to the ELCA statements about social justice as decided by its board members. LEAN also strives to educate parishioners on the issues and on ways to be engaged, effective citizens. 

Bishop Deborah Hutterer of the Grand Canyon Synod

In this workshop, participants will:

• Hear from our Bishop Deborah Hutterer of the Grand Canyon Synod, on calling Christians to speak publicly on behalf of “the least of these my brothers and sisters.”

• Learn how you can find your way around the Nevada Legislature website

• Learn where to find potential new laws being presented this session 

• How to effectively communication with legislators

• Grow in seeing how the ELCA Social Statements guide LEAN’s advocacy efforts

Click here to join this engaging event on Zoom.

Meeting ID: 850 3440 4792
Passcode: 629332
If calling in by phone, click here to find your local number.  

Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada is a partnership effort of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), through the Division for Church in Society (the Division) and the Grand Canyon and Sierra Pacific Synods.