The Legal Connector


Vol. 4, No. 6                                                                                  July 2017

C4J News
Engaging in Public Policy

As advocates for people who are struggling to cope with poverty, homelessness, addiction, abuse, and other forms of oppression, our input into the decision-making process of our lawmakers is absolutely essential.  We are the ones best equipped to communicate to our legislators about these struggles and the barriers to overcoming them.

When I am out training human/social service providers through our Legal Liaison Program, I include information about not only the laws that govern our lives, but how those laws came to be through our legislative process--and how we, the public, can work to change them. Many people ask for more information on how to get involved in the law-making process; many others believe they are not allowed to do so.

In fact, nonprofits' are not banned from public policy advocacy; rather, only the amount of such advocacy is regulated depending on the funding source, and nonprofits must track how much of it they are doing to ensure they are compliant with their funders.  (If you have questions about what or how much public policy advocacy you are allowed to engage in, you should speak to your supervisor and/or the executive director of your organization; information at the  Alliance for Justice may also be helpful.)

What's more, only the advocacy we do in the course of our employment is regulated.  The advocacy we do as private citizens on our own time is not only freer, but our duty as people privileged to live in a participatory democracy.  And, we must never forget:  democracy is not a spectator sport.

In our current political climate, getting involved in public policy is now more important than ever.  So much of our work depends on the decisions our lawmakers will make within the upcoming months, and thus it is critical that we ensure our input is considered when those decisions are made.

Luckily for us, there are stellar organizations helping us to understand policy issues and to engage in these decisions.  One particularly excellent organization is the MN Council of Nonprofits (MCN), a statewide organization working to advance the interests of our nonprofit sector and the crucial work we do.  MCN is doing exceptional work on federal public policy through their "We Are Interconnected" campaign. There are several training opportunities coming up this summer to help learn more about how you can get involved, and I urge you to explore and attend one or all of these events.  Learn more at thMN Council of Nonprofits Calendar page or by contacting Rebecca Lucero, MCN Public Policy Director, at rlucero@minnesotanonprofits.org.

As Franklin Roosevelt said, "Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country."

Nicole Lindemyer , Executive Director 
Legal News You Can Use
Practical Information on Legal Issues and Resources
Some of What's In This Issue:
© Call for Justice, LLC. Note: The Legal Connector seeks to better inform the Minnesota nonprofit legal and social services communities of relevant developments that might impact their work in helping low-income Minnesotans connect with legal services. This publication may only be reproduced and used for noncommercial, personal, and/or educational uses. All other rights reserved. To the extent opinions are expressed in the TLC, they are solely opinions of Call for Justice, LLC. In the event we get something wrong or incorrect, let us know and we'll make the appropriate correction.
1. New Minimum Wage in Minneapolis
Minneapolis has become the first city in the midwest to adopt a $15 an hour minimum wage. The vote passed the city council on July 1, and Minneapolis now joins cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. to adopt the same wage. Read the Star Tribune article here.
2. Disparities Grow Between Income and Rent
The Minnesota Housing Partnership released a 2017 report on the price of housing compared to a minimum wage income. The report reveals that a full-time worker earning minimum wage could still not afford a one-bedroom apartment in a single county across the state. Read the full report here.
3. New Phone App Locates Free Meals
Summer can be difficult for those who regularly receive free meals through school. A new phone app called Summer Eats Minnesota has been introduced to show locations across Minnesota that provide free meals. The app will seek to provide fresh, nutritious food to communities statewide. Read the full article here.
4. Catholic Charities' Challenge to Feed the Homeless
Two nonprofits in St. Cloud are teaming up to collect money for buying food shelf groceries. Catholic Charities Emergency Services and Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless will match all donations throughout the month of July. Summer months are particularly straining for families who do not receive meals through school lunch. Read more here.
5. Northside Nonprofit Expands to St. Paul
Cookie Cart is a nonprofit in north Minneapolis where teens gain work experience and life skills. 100% of the profits from all cookie orders go to their youth employment program. Cookie Cart has recently expanded to a St. Paul location, where it is expected to open sometime in 2018. Read the full article here.
People, Places, and Things
News about events, personnel changes, and other items of interest.  Please send your news items to lynn.hu@callforjustice.org or nicole.lindemyer@callforjustice.org.
1. Call for Justice in Greater Minnesota
Call for Justice continues to travel around the state, conducting trainings on legal resources available to all income levels. The next upcoming trainings will take place in Grand Rapids and Pine City in the last week of July. If you would like to attend, or know of anyone who may be interested, please email Nicole at  nicole.lindemyer@callforjustice.org  or visit the website to see our  full schedule of events.
2.  Standpoint New Laws Training
Each year, Standpoint (formerly Battered Women's Legal Advocacy Project, or BWLAP) conducts statewide trainings on updates in the laws about domestic and sexual abuse. These New Laws trainings will occur over the course of two days, and provide information to those who work directly with survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. Topics and speakers will vary widely. For more information, visit the Standpoint website.
3. Free Trainings on Immigration Resources
Call for Justice is partnering with Volunteer Lawyers Network to present several immigration trainings throughout the Twin Cities metro. If you are a human service provider who directly serves the immigrant and refugee community, we invite you to attend. Dates of trainings will be August 8, August 29, and September 12. Registration is limited, so sign up today!
In Closing

If you have an announcement or legal update that you'd like to submit for possible inclusion in our July issue, please contact Lynn Hu at lynn.hu@callforjustice.org or Nicole Lindemyer at nicole.lindemyer@callforjustice.org by August 9th. We look forward to updating you again soon!
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