Network Connection
March 2019
Greetings Community Action Network!
Although we are already nearing the end of the first quarter of 2019, the year still feels pretty fresh and new for many of us. I try to start each year with the resolution to learn something new in the coming months. In 2018, it was belly dancing.

All I have to say about that experience was that I did, in fact, learn something new—that moving my upper and lower body to percussion music at two different speeds is much harder than it looks. (Think back to those attempts as a kid of patting your head while rubbing your stomach!)

This year, the subject of my resolution chose me. I had to kick it off by learning very quickly about the Missouri State Legislature, which in comparison to last year’s belly dancing classes, might sound boring. I would counter that and say this General Assembly has been anything but. In fact, we’ve been knee deep in advocacy efforts since the first part of January, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. I know Jess Hoey, our Director of Public Affairs and Community Engagement, is great at keeping the network abreast of our advocacy work. She’ll discuss those details later in this newsletter, but I wanted to talk in more general terms about how much Missouri CAN does behind the scenes to advocate on behalf of Missourians living with low incomes and you, our Community Action Agencies.

You may not realize that Missouri CAN staff have spent and continue to spend numerous hours researching each piece of applicable legislation, their fiscal notes, collecting data to support our position, writing testimony, and spending time at the Capitol testifying for what has now been multiple hearings. And, according to advocates who’ve been working in Jefferson City for many years, the number of bills put forth this session that require action is unprecedented. Keeping in mind, however, that we are often the voice for those who cannot be there in person to advocate for themselves, we feel a great sense of duty to act on what we determine is in the best interest of low-income residents of our state and for our agencies who work tirelessly to help those families, seniors, and persons with disabilities live a better life.  

So, even though giving testimony, sending letters, and making phone calls sometimes feels like moving a boulder up a hill, I know we are educating Missouri Senators and Representatives about the issues important to this network, and there truly has been some productive dialogue and confirmation of support at times.

I believe true change happens slowly. Just know that we are pushing for long-term change for impoverished Missourians and each of the 19 CAAs here at Missouri CAN. 
In Community, 
Dawna Fogarty
Executive Director, Missouri CAN
Advocacy - A voice for low-income Missourians
Developing Movement Makers: 2019 Network Advocacy Day

On Tuesday, March 26 our Network will hold its 2019 Advocacy Day at the state capitol building in Jefferson City. As Missouri CAN aims to strengthen our advocacy initiatives and grow advocates both within and outside our Network, this year’s theme is “Developing Movement Makers”. We’ll begin the morning with a rally in the rotunda of the capitol building, followed by exhibits from CAAs on the third floor and agency visits with state legislators.

The rally will feature keynote speaker  Tara Raghuveer , an organizer and researcher whose work has focused on housing, immigration, and voting rights. A Kansas City native, Tara has studied eviction in the five-county KC metro area for five years. She has been featured in multiple national media outlets and has also written for  TIME  and  VICE . Her research on eviction and poverty in Kansas City is cited in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book  Evicted . Tara graduated from Harvard College, where she served as student body president. She is an Australian-born, Indian-American immigrant who came to the US with her family in 1995.

Registration for the event is $200 per agency; an unlimited number of staff, Board members, community partners and program participants may attend for that $200 fee.  Register for the event here. A successful advocacy day includes the participation of all 19 agencies, and we hope to see you there!
Legislative Action Related to the Five Elements of Poverty

The 1st session of the 100th Missouri General Assembly is on track to be one of the busiest legislative sessions for anti-poverty organizations in recent history. Unfortunately, our Network and many other advocacy organizations are in the position of opposing multiple bills that could be detrimental to low-income Missourians. Read on to learn more about this critical legislation and what you can do to stop it.
Food and Nutrition
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP at the State Level

Senate Bill 4 , sponsored by Senator David Sater of District 29 in Southwest Missouri, would modify the law relating to work requirements for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). If passed, this legislation would impose harsh work hour tracking on SNAP recipients. 

Missouri CAN and multiple other statewide groups testified in opposition of this bill in late January. The bill has since been placed on the informal senate calendar for perfection and has remained there for the past month. It is great news that the bill has not yet moved to the senate floor for debate; this is in large part due to the many calls, emails and visits to senators that anti-hunger advocacy organizations around the state have made in opposition of this bill and its many harmful effects. Many thanks to the agencies within our Network who encouraged their Board and staff members to make calls. If the bill moves to the senate floor for debate, calls will again be necessary. Missouri CAN will alert agency Advocacy Points of Contact should additional calls be needed.

What You Can Do:
  • Be “at the ready” to mobilize your Board and staff members to make calls and send emails to senators opposing the bill. Background about SNAP and SB 4 can be found on the Missouri Budget Project website, including the economic impact of SNAP and the estimated detriments of SB 4.
  • Learn more about this issue from The Urban Institute and The Hamilton Project, including why work requirements are harmful, and share this information with colleagues and community partners. Encourage them to raise their voices against harmful cuts to SNAP access. 
SNAP at the Federal Level

In December, the House and Senate passed a compromised version of the Farm Bill that does NOT include the work tracking requirements originally proposed in the House version of the bill. Many advocates celebrated this victory, as the Farm Bill that was passed includes strong provisions for SNAP. Shortly thereafter, however, the USDA announced a new plan to impose work requirements through an Executive Order, essentially bypassing the legislative process. The public now has 60 days to comment on the proposed rule until April 2, 2019. For more background, we encourage you to  read this Washington Post article about the proposed changes and  review data compiled by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

What You Can Do:
In addition to SB 4, Missouri CAN has testified against (or provided written testimony against) the following bills this legislative session:
  • HB 474 – Modifies provisions for families receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), removing the possibility of cash access using an EBT card
  • HB 899 – Modifies the time frame to appeal landlord actions against tenants from 10 days to 5 days
  • SB 76 – Requires some MOHealthNet (Medicaid) participants to comply with work and community engagement requirements
  • SB 208 – Modifies provisions relating to the Senior Citizens Property Tax Credit, eliminating the credit for renters
Fortunately, it’s not ALL bad news at the capitol this legislative session. A bill to establish an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has once again been filed, and Missouri CAN recently testified in support of this bill.  HB 291 was voted out of committee in late February and is now awaiting official scheduling on the House calendar.
Network Capacity - Helping you help others
Registration for the 2019 Missouri CAN Annual Conference is now open!

Reserve your spot today for this engaging professional development opportunity on May 21-23, 2019 at Hilton Kansas City Airport in Kansas City, MO.

This year's conference includes 25 conference sessions, 2 pre-conference sessions, a special guided tour session, and two exciting keynote speakers: Doug Luffborough and Mark Shriver—author and son of Sargent Shriver!
Outstanding Community Service Award Nominations Due March 31

We are looking forward to honoring your volunteers, community partners, donors, and all other outstanding community service persons at the upcoming Annual Conference! Return your nomination form to Brian Valentine by March 31 for your agency's Outstanding Community Service Award recipient to be recognized.
Poverty Simulation Facilitator Training Opportunity

Come experience the Community Action Poverty Simulation as a participant, plus learn tips and tricks to conduct a successful simulation.  Registration will open April 16 . If you are a current employee of a Missouri Community Action Agency, there will be no cost for this training if you register before the early-bird deadline on May 28.

  • July 22-23, 2019
  • University Plaza Hotel, Springfield, MO 

More information to come! 

If you have any questions, please contact Evan Melkersman.
History of Community Action

The History of Community Action course from Missouri CAN is vital to understanding the context of the work we do for low-income families and for communities. It includes video modules, selections from  American Idealist , and additional readings to provide a robust understanding of the Community Action movement.

Log into your Moodle account or create an account today to brush up on Community Action History.
Missouri CAN Capacity - Helping us help you
Have you met Anne?

We are glad to have Anne Bloemke on staff. She is the SkillUP Project Manager, with responsibility for project implementation and communication with agencies. If you do any work with SkillUP, you're likely to meet Anne.
...or Kathy?

Missouri Community Action Network is excited to welcome Kathy Cebuhar to the Missouri CAN staff as a new Accounting Assistant. Kathy assists the Finance and Operations team as well as the Training and Programs team through her accounting work for the SkillUP program.
Upcoming Events for Missouri Community Action Network
Professional Alliances continue as we head into spring, and we have our big event—Advocacy Day—just around the corner. Here's what you can look forward to in March:
MCAN On the Road: Agency Visits in February

Jessica Hoey traveled to CAASTLC on February 11 to talk with the agency’s Board of Directors about Missouri CAN initiatives, including the value of associate membership and our Network’s involvement in advocacy at the state level.

Chad Courter visited NECAC on February 21 where he met agency staff and learned about LIHEAP and CSBG programs and how the data works within the MIS system.
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