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.
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.
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
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.
By Sheila Freed
On August 7, Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada met at the Nevada State Senate for a role-play called ULegislate. It was great fun, and in typical Lutheran fashion, the group questioned authority.
ULegislate is a learning experience in which participants play the roles of Senators and have floor debate on actual bills that passed in the 2017 Session. On two of the three bills that were up for debate, LEAN voted the same way that the Legislature did. However LEAN voted down the third, and the reason was quite Lutheran. The bill, Senate Bill 322, requires every pupil in Nevada to pass a civics test before graduating high school. This is a concept we can all support, and LEAN did. However the bill has several exceptions, and the group did not like that. We Lutherans embrace the “priesthood of all believers,” and take seriously the notion that all believers are equal before God. So the majority voted no, in hopes that the bill would return in a more acceptable form.
Participants learned the rigid protocol of Senate business, and that much of the legislative process happens not on the chamber floors, but in committee meetings and legislators’ offices. Here is where advocacy comes in. Our paid Advocate meets with legislators individually to present the moral arguments on selected bills, with particular reference to the ELCA Social Statements. Individual parishioners can do the same, either in person or by email, phone call, or letter. The LEAN Advocate also testifies at committee hearings on selected bills.
The Senate staff was helpful and accommodating. They even made a video for us!
It’s great fun to watch, for several reasons. First, you will learn some facts you may not know, and hear some arguments for and against the bills that you might not have thought of. You will hear a bit of Bob Marley quoted! You will see people you know and those you don’t, so a roster of participants is included here. LEAN is excited that people came from Las Vegas to participate, and that new people from both north and south were there.
“Senators” participating in ULegislate were: Chad Adamik, Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Family, Carson City; John Biggs, Pastor of Saved by Grace, Pahrump; Veralyn Combs, member of Holy Cross, Reno; Ed Cotton, member of Community Lutheran, Las Vegas; Diane Drach-Meinel, Pastor of Christ the Servant, Las Vegas; Sonja Dresbach, member of Faith, Reno; Sheila Freed, member of Good Shepherd, Reno; Timothy Johnson, member of Lord of Mercy, Sparks; Bill Ledford, LEAN Advocate; Diane Ludlow, member of Holy Cross, Reno; Shaun O’Reilly, pastoral intern at Lord of Mercy, Sparks, Mike Patterson, retired pastor, Gift of Grace, Fernley; Barbara Peterson, member of Holy Cross, Sparks; Thomas Rasmussen, member of Saved by Grace, Pahrump; Pennie Sheaffer, member of Lord of Mercy, Sparks; Scott Trevithick, Pastor, Holy Cross, Reno; Ashlynne Valdez, member of Lord of Mercy, Sparks; Vic Williams, member of Good Shepherd, Reno. “Secretary” of the Senate was Allan Smith, former LEAN Advocate. If you want to learn more about LEAN, please connect with one of these folks.
ULegislate was just the first in a line-up of events designed to engage parishioners as LEAN moves into the 120-day 2019 Legislative Session. Watch for “Pencils for Pupils” in January, followed by the LEAN kickoff lunch on February 4, the session’s first day.
LUTHERAN ENGAGEMENT and ADVOCACY in NEVADA is the new LEAN, and we now have a Policy Council in place. The Policy Council has set out for our Advocate, Allan Smith, LEAN’s advocacy agenda for the remainder of the legislative session.
Two priorities carry over from the 2015 session, and both have to do with economic justice. They are “payday lending” and minimum wage. LEAN continues to be interested in these, based on the ELCA Social Statement, “Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All.” (The new LEAN, like its predecessors, takes its policy positions from the Social Statements.)
Assembly Bill 163 provides significant new protection for people who use so-called payday lenders. These short-term, high interest loans often start a downward spiral of endless debt, because when the borrower can’t pay, lenders simply give them another loan. AB 163 requires lenders to evaluate the borrower’s ability to pay before making a loan. AB 163 also restricts a lender’s ability to “cure” a defaulted loan with a payment plan.
There are three measures dealing with minimum wage. Senate Bill 106 calls for a gradual increase of seventy-five cents per hour every year until the minimum wage reaches $12.00 per hour. Senate Joint Resolution 6 also gets to $12.00 per hour, but on a different timetable. Assembly Bill 175 began as a straightforward increase of the minimum wage, raising it one dollar per hour every year to reach $15.00. Recently AB 175 has morphed into something quite different. As amended, the bill refers to the Nevada Constitution, which allows a minimum wage of one dollar per hour less if health insurance is provided by an employer. The amendment defines the kind of health plan required to qualify as “health insurance.” The amendment significantly raises the standard, and by doing so, gets at employers who offer a “bare bones” plan and pay wages at the lower rate. This may be a legislative maneuver to make employers, who argue that a higher minimum wage kills jobs, to either pay more on the health care side or agree to the proposed wage increase.
Increasing the minimum wage has been proposed in the past, and like this session, it has encountered resistance. Rev. Mike Patterson was the LEAN Advocate in the 2015 legislative session. He spent time with Assemblyman Ira Hansen, one of the most conservative people in the Assembly. Mike was able to convince Mr. Hansen that apart from the moral considerations, an increase in the minimum wage makes economic sense. Mr. Hansen concluded that many low wage workers qualify for public assistance in the form of subsidized food, housing, medical care, and other. In true conservative fashion, he questions the role of government in such programs, and calculated a “breakeven” point of $15 to $17 per hour to shift these costs to employers. Assemblyman Hansen actually made a chart showing his figures and submitted it to his committee colleagues in support of the original 2017 bill. Advocacy works!
Advocate Allan Smith is in Carson City, speaking on behalf of the poor as well as others who suffer injustice. To express your opinions on AB 163, AB 175, or any other bill, go here. Or start with the Legislature home page, then click on “Share Your Opinion on Bills” in the upper right corner.
Lutheran-Episcopal Advocacy in Nevada has been working to get parishioners involved in the legislative process. We’ve spread the word about how easy that is by using the Legislative website. But a visit to Carson City is fun and educational. The building itself is impressive, and visitors can watch the Senate and Assembly in session, or visit a committee hearing, or simply prowl the halls and visit legislators’ offices.
Beginning April 6, there is another great reason to visit the Legislature.
Always Lost, a Meditation on War is a memorial to those lost in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since September 11, 2001 will be on display until April 22. This exhibit has been all around the country since its unveiling in spring 2009, but it has local roots. It was begun by three professors at Western Nevada College in Carson City. The description below is from the WNC website, where there is much more information about Always Lost.
Components of the Exhibition
In its entirety, the Always Lost: A Meditation on War art/humanities exhibition consists of several components:
- The “Wall of the Dead” depicts the faces and names of U.S. military war casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11, currently numbering over 6,000 dead. As casualties continue to mount, the Wall continues to grow.
- The Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of Iraq War combat photographs (Breaking News Photography, 2004) by photojournalists David Leeson and Cheryl Diaz Meyer, who were embedded with Marine units in Iraq in 2003. The twenty photographs are on loan to Western Nevada College courtesy of The Dallas Morning News.
- Ninety pieces of literary work, which includes prose and poetry by Northern Nevada writers along with historical and contemporary sayings on the subject of war (the “meditations”).
- Interviews and photographic portraits of three Western Nevada College student veterans, representing the thousands of military personnel returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
- The story of Specialist Noah Pierce, who took his own life after completing two combat tours in Iraq, representing the thousands of veteran suicides. Included in the exhibition is Pierce’s poetry about his combat experiences, found after his death. Approximately eighteen veterans commit suicide every day (Army Times, April 22, 2010). [In 2015, the figure is up to 22 per day.]
The exhibit will be in the second floor Atrium of the Legislative building. It will be open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is free to everyone.