Minnesota

MCC Testifies Against Welfare Reform Legislation

MCC Testifies Against Welfare Reform Legislation; MCC to Testify in Support of EITC Next Week. Continue reading…

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More Life Bills

The legislature has been hopping! Two more bills regarding life issues are being heard on Tuesday, March 15.
To read about and take action on House File 201, a bill to limit abortion funding in Minnesota,
click here.
To read about and take action on House File 998, a bill to ban human cloning in Minnesota,
click here.
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Act Now to Protect Life

To take action on this issue, click here.
House File 936, a bill that would prevent fetal pain by prohibiting abortions at or after 20 weeks of gestation, will be heard in the House Committee on Health and Human Services Reform this Wednesday at 2:30 PM.  The bill allows for exceptions to this prohibition when abortion is necessary to save the life or avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the mother.  There is a wealth of evidence that shows that a developing unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by 20 weeks after fertilization.  Please take action to protect unborn children from experiencing painful deaths by contacting your House Representative to voice your support of H.F. 936.
 
For more information about Catholic Church teaching on abortion, please visit
http://www.usccb.org/prolife/tdocs/index.shtml.
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MCC Action Alert

To take action on this alert, click here!
The Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) has worked for many years on expanding school choice options for parents regardless of where they fit on the economic strata by trying to promote legislation at the state capitol that helps remove barriers to school choice. 
House File 273, which provides enrollment options for students in persistently low-performing schools, will be heard this week in two House Education Committees at the state legislature. MCC supports this bill because it provides private school scholarship assistance to low-income students who are enrolled in persistently low-performing public schools. This bill helps remove barriers and increase opportunity, quality and achievement in K-12 education by providing options to low-income families who otherwise have very limited educational options.
Likewise, this measure offers alternative solutions for helping solve the distressing achievement gap for disadvantaged children.  As a just society, it is a moral imperative to provide educational options to children when they are not experiencing success in a persistently low-performing school.  Catholic Social Teaching instructs us that access to quality education is a basic right for all people.  This education scholarship legislation would create options for the poor by providing more choices for parents whose incomes might otherwise leave them with few options for choosing the educational program that best suits their family’s needs and values.  At its core, this bill addresses a social justice issue and empowers parents, as the primary educators of their children, to choose the school that best fits the needs of each of their children.
We urge you to take immediate action! To contact the key members of the House Education Reform and Education Finance Committees, fill out the email message below!  Follow this link to read a summary of HF 273 http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/bs/87/HF0273.html… .
Thank you, in advance, for being an advocate for children with limited educational options!
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Legislative Agenda

Click here to view the MCC’s 2011 Legislative Agenda
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MN Nonpublic Schools’ Legislative Day

Register Now for the MN Nonpublic Schools’ Legislative Day!
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Fr. David McCauley Announced as New Interim Executive Director of MCC * Fr. David McCauley Announced as New Interim Executive Director of MCC

I write today to share with you that I have been named to serve as Interim  Executive Director of the MN Catholic Conference.  Archbishop Nienstedt visited with me  last week, to inform me of the resignation of former Director, Christopher Leifeld, and asked if I would step in for a time to allow the Board of Directors the opportunity to conduct a nation-wide search for a new director.    My appointment  became effective on Friday, October 1.
Many of you will remember me as Director of the Conference from 1995 – 2001.   Questioning my sanity in saying yes has moved on to a sense of excitement at being here.  I look forward to sharing a mission once again with those of you with whom I worked in the past, and the opportunity to meet and be with those who have come to be our friends since 2001.
I wish all the best for Chris in his new endeavors, and ask your patience with me as I  find my way around once again.
With all good wishes and offering peace to you, I am
 
Sincerely yours,
(Rev.) David McCauley
Executive Director (interim)

Minnesota: Poverty up, median income down, racial disparities persist

The Census released results from the 2009 American Community Survey on Tuesday morning - and the numbers do not look good for Minnesota (read our press release).
Poverty increased. The overall percentage of Minnesotans living in poverty rose to 11 percent in 2009, a significant increase from pre-recession levels. Some people in Minnesota saw a particularly strong increase in poverty between 2007 and 2009, including Latinos (four percentage point increase), children (two percentage point increase) and white non-Hispanics (one percentage point increase). Remember, in 2009, a family of three would have had to earn less than $18,300 to be considered living in poverty.
Median household income fell. Demonstrating that the effects of the recession were felt by most families, Minnesota’s median household income fell by two percent between 2008 and 2009, after adjusting for inflation. Although it dropped by about $1,000 to $55,616, Minnesota’s median household income remained higher than the national level ($50,221).
The racial disparities are stunning. Even though non-Hispanic whites experienced a significant increase in poverty and a significant decline in median household income, Minnesota’s communities of color are the ones who are really being left behind. Demonstrating the impact of the historic lack of access to educational and employment opportunities, Blacks, American Indian and Latino communities experienced much lower median household incomes and much higher rates of poverty in 2009.
The numbers are dramatic – 35 percent of Blacks and American Indians in Minnesota fell below the poverty line in 2009. Latinos (26 percent) and Asians (17 percent) also had a significantly higher poverty rate than non-Hispanic whites (eight percent).
In 2009, the median income for Black ($26,930), American Indian ($33,930) and Latino ($38,751) households in Minnesota was also significantly lower than the median income in non-Hispanic white households ($57,979). While non-Hispanic white households had a median income well above the national median in 2009, Black households in Minnesota fell below the median income for their counterparts nationally.
Where do we go from here? In a recession, the pressure builds as the need for public services increases while state revenues are falling. We know that the state continues to face large budget shortfalls, but reducing or eliminating state services to balance the budget will not help us move forward from this recession. Continuing cuts in services means more job losses, a greater strain on remaining public services and higher poverty. It leads to a cycle where families can’t get help when they need it most.
But we can help our communities recover from the recession, and that means raising revenues to help balance the budget and maintain investments in education, health care and job training. We also need to be building a strong economy where we can reverse the disparities in our state and give everyone the opportunity to succeed.
-Christina Wessel
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Executive Director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference appointed to Governor’s Council

Chris Leifeld, Executive Director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, was appointed by Governor Tim Pawlenty to the Governor’s Council on Faith and Community Service Initiatives on September 2, 2010. Mr. Leifeld will serve on the Council until April 4, 2011. Read the press release from the Governor’s Office here.
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Minnesota Bishops Release Immigration Statement

Minnesota Bishops Release Immigration Statement
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Minnesota Catholic Conference Supports Impartial Judiciary

The Minnesota Catholic Conference supports legislation that would ensure an impartial judiciary for the courts of Minnesota. Representative Steve Simon has authored such a bill, H.F. 224. Chris Leifeld, Executive Director of MCC, wrote a letter in support of this bill on April 21, 2010. In his letter, Mr. Leifeld states:
Access to courts without regard to economic or social standing is necessary to safeguard freedom and human rights. Every citizen deserves, when needed, access to a fair court system and a hearing before a fair and impartial judge.
You can read the full text of the letter
here. 
To read the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition’s (JRLC) position paper on impartial judiciary,
click here.
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Action Alert from Minnesota

Action Alert: Act Now to Save Minnesota’s Social Safety Net
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Minnesota Catholic Bishops Urge Legislature To Support A Reformed General Assistance Medical Care Program

Saint Paul – In a February 18, 2010 letter to members of the Minnesota House of Representatives, the Minnesota Catholic bishops urged lawmakers to support a reformed General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) program that “not only guarantees accessible and quality care to our neighbors with the greatest needs, but does so in a way that safeguards human life and dignity.” The bishops continued, “when we deny health care for any human person, we ignore their human dignity. And when we ignore their human dignity, we fail to recognize and value human life itself.”
GAMC is an essential state-funded health care program that annually provides basic care to 77,000 of Minnesota’s poorest and most vulnerable adults. It is scheduled to end on April 1, 2010. The majority of Minnesotans receiving GAMC have as their only income the $203 per month they receive from General Assistance payments. One-third of Minnesotans enrolled in GAMC are homeless, more than half suffer from mental illness or chemical dependency, and nearly one-third live with a chronic medical illness. The bishops stated that the focus of GAMC reform efforts must be “providing accessible health care coverage to our neighbors in need.”
The Minnesota House of Representatives is expected to vote on a reformed GAMC program (House File 2680) during today’s 11:00 a.m. floor session.
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Pohlad Family Announces Commitment to Urban Catholic Schools

Minneapolis, MN, December 17, 2009 – The Pohlad family today announced a major commitment to keeping urban Catholic elementary schools affordable for young people from economically-disadvantaged families. Through the Minneapolis Foundation and the Catholic Community Foundation, a total of $1 million in tuition assistance will be distributed to nineteen Catholic schools for use during the 2009-2010 school year. The Pohlads plan to continue this million dollar funding each year through 2013-2014.
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Health Care Reform: A Catholic Ethical Perspective

091001 Health Care Reform

Third Annual Midwest Catholic Conference Education Meeting


The Third Annual Midwest Catholic Conference Education Meeting took place July 9-10, 2009 at the Michigan Catholic Conference offices in Lansing, Michigan.  In attendance were 23 participants, presenters and guests who discussed a wide range of topics including early childhood learning, charter schools, parental choice in education, special education and marketing strategies. Representing the Minnesota Catholic Conference was Pete Noll, Education Director. Catapult Learning, Mindstreams/A+ Educators, ACE Consulting at the University of Notre Dame and The Friedman Foundation sponsored events and provided participants with valuable updates on services and programs.
Anthony Picarello, USCCB General Counsel participated in the meeting via videoconference and provided information on recent court cases of interest to attendees.
The Friedman Foundation highlighted its promotion of school choice in general terms before focusing on the recent success of a tax scholarship program in Indiana.
The first such meeting was hosted by the Minnesota Catholic Conference in December 2006.  A planning committee has been formed to organize the summer 2010 meeting.

NASCCD Meets

The National Association of State Catholic Conference Directors (NASCCD) meets twice a year to discuss the challenges that Conferences face in state capitols throughout the country.  On July 26-28, 2009, the NASCCD met in Chicago, Illinois at the Archbishop Quigley Pastoral Center.  Over 40 states were represented, including Minnesota, with the Minnesota Catholic Conference represented by its Executive Director Christopher Leifeld.  Also in attendance by teleconference, was Nancy Wisdo, Associate General Secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and USCCB staff.  Topics included state issues such as budget challenges and education, and federal issues including healthcare reform and immigration.  The next NASCCD meeting will be in Washington DC in December 2009.    
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Minnesota: Working for the Common Good

Read the MCC’s latest publication of our newsletter, Working For The Common Good.
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Governor Pawlenty's Proposed Unallotments Harm the Poor and Vulnerable Among Us

Prior to the announcement of Governor Pawlenty’s unallotment plan, the Minnesota Catholic bishops wrote a letter to the Governor urging him not to “impose even greater hardships on those among us who are struggling to live.” In the June 12 letter, the nine Catholic bishops stated, “we are compelled to speak with and for those among us who voices are not always heard, and whose lives are oftentimes devalued. We are gravely concerned that our state’s unbalanced budget for FY 2010-11 will be resolved by further eliminating critical services for Minnesotans with urgent needs. We fear that additional spending reductions to beneficial health care and human services programs will have detrimental consequences for those who are poor and vulnerable, and ultimately to our state.”

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