Network Connection
November 2018
Advocacy - A voice for low-income Missourians
Connecting with Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler

As a constituent of the 4th US Congressional District, Strategic Communications Manager Sarah Hackman had the opportunity to attend a "Coffee with Vicky Hartzler" event in Boonville on Wednesday, October 31. Hartzler's central Missouri office organized the event for the congresswoman to listen to constituents' concerns as well as give an update on her recent and ongoing work in Washington.

Missouri CAN had previously sent a letter on behalf of the Network to Hartzler's office urging her to protect and expand SNAP benefits as part of the Farm Bill negotiations. Sarah spoke individually with Hartzler sharing the importance of SNAP for Missouri families and children, and provided a copy of the previously sent letter, 2018 Poverty Report and "A Day in the Life" Fact Sheet.
2018 Farm Bill Negotiations to Renew

As shared in last month’s Network Connection, the Farm Bill authorized by Congress in 2014 expired on 9/30/18, as the Farm Bill Conference Committee did not come to a resolution on differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill prior to the deadline. This means that benefits related to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will stay intact – but only for the time being. The House will soon return from its recess now that mid-term elections have been held, and many advocates are hopeful that the conference committee will continue its negotiations to come to an agreement on the differing versions of the House and Senate bills.

Prior to the expiration of the bill at the end of September, conference committee members indicated that if a new version of the bill is not finalized by the end of December, programs like SNAP could be affected – in turn negatively affecting many folks served by Community Action Agencies around Missouri.

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler is the only Missourian serving on the conference committee, making her an ideal legislator to reach in our Network’s advocacy efforts for a strong version of the Farm Bill that protects SNAP. The letter our Network submitted to the congresswoman in August asked her to consider the Senate version of the Farm Bill, which includes strong provisions for SNAP – unlike the House version, which would implement stringent work-tracking requirements for SNAP recipients and likely reduce or end benefits for many of the folks served by Community Action.

With Farm Bill negotiations to renew soon, we encourage you to reach out to Rep. Hartzler to follow up on our Network’s request. If you need assistance in your advocacy efforts, please feel free to contact  Jessica Hoey , Missouri CAN’s Director of External Affairs. For more detailed information about the 2018 Farm Bill, check out this article from  Harvest Public Media .
Changes Proposed to Community Reinvestment Act

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is a United States federal law enacted in 1977 to prevent “redlining” and to encourage commercial banks and savings associations to help meet the needs of borrowers in all segments of their communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

Regulations under the CRA are currently being considered for reform. To ensure the CRA remains a vital component of helping low- to moderate-income (LMI) folks move toward self-sufficiency, members of our Network are encouraged to post comments about potential changes to the CRA. The  National Community Reinvestment Coalition offers much guidance on this issue, and suggests that comments include one of the four points below:

  1. The original intent of the CRA was to encourage banks to meet the needs of the communities they operate in, and specifically the needs of LMI neighborhoods. The modernization of the CRA should not come at the expense of losing the CRA’s focus on LMI communities. 
  2. Bank branches are critical for helping LMI people obtain home loans, small business loans, and basic banking services. If CRA exams dropped branches from consideration, the amount of lending and banking services in LMI neighborhoods would decrease significantly.
  3. The architects of CRA sought to combat redlining and to keep banks from using the deposits made by persons from low-income neighborhoods to only lend to persons in more affluent neighborhoods. While tax credits and other federal programs might encourage investments in infrastructure, CRA has historically and should remain targeted on access to credit and financial services for LMI borrowers and communities traditionally underserved by the nation’s financial system.
  4. If the OCC’s “one ratio” formula is put into place, banks may have an incentive to make larger grants to programs that are easy to finance such as one-hour introduction counseling courses offered on a large scale but not more complicated and in-depth counseling programs that are labor intensive and significantly help folks with lower incomes improve their creditworthiness. As a result, the overall quality of counseling will likely suffer. 

Missouri CAN will be submitting a formal letter of comments on behalf of Missouri’s Community Action Agencies, but individual agencies are still encouraged to submit comments separately as well. Comments must be submitted no later than November 19. Instructions for submitting comments can be found on the website of the Office of the Federal Register.
Missouri Voters Overwhelmingly Pass a Raise to State Minimum Wage
In a huge victory on November 6, the  Raise Up Missouri Campaign  celebrated the overwhelming support of its measure that proposed to raise the minimum wage to $12/hour over a period of several years. Nearly 62% of Missouri voters supported Proposition B, which will kick off with a minimum wage increase to $8.60 per hour beginning in 2019.
The increase in the minimum wage is a key component of our Network’s public policy priorities , the first of which relates to Economic and Family Security. As one of the Five Elements of Poverty, our commitment to providing economic and family security for all Missourians includes a living wage. The passage of Proposition B will help ensure a brighter future for low-income residents throughout our state.
For more information about the multiple ballot measures considered by state voters during the 2018 mid-terms--including Missouri’s-- check out this piece from Vox.
Network Capacity - Helping you help others
In Case You Missed It

We released our Fiscal Year 2019 Training and Technical Assistance calendar at the beginning of October. Download the calendar here to see what's on the horizon and mark your calendars! As always, please share any training or technical assistance requests that arise throughout the year with the Missouri CAN Training and Technical Assistance team. We are here to equip you with the training and tools you need.
Missouri CAN Capacity - Helping us help you
Farewell and Congrats

Training Manager Chris Small has taken a new position and is no longer with Missouri CAN. However, you'll still see Chris around the Network as he is the new Executive Director of Community Action Partnership of North Central Missouri. Congratulations, Chris! We're excited for your continuing work in Community Action.
Upcoming Events for Missouri Community Action Network
We're grateful for the strong network of Community Action in our state! The Missouri CAN office will be closed for a couple holidays. Here's what to expect during November:
Visit the Missouri CAN website for a full calendar of upcoming events.
MCAN On the Road: Agency Visits in October

Chris Small attended the Ozark Action, Inc. all-staff meeting on October 8 in West Plains. Chris highlighted Missouri CAN programs and services available to staff members in all our agencies, as well as discussed benefits available as a member of Missouri Community Action Network.

Brian Valentine and Dawna Fogarty attended Community Action Agency of St. Louis County's 50th Anniversary event on October 11. Happy Anniversary, CAASTLC!
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