Showing posts from June, 2018

Governor Wolf signs the 2018-2019 Budget

There were few surprises in this year's Pennsylvania budget (other than the fact that it finished up early). We've compiled our usual list below of line items affecting low-income families and the people we serve. To see the full budget, visit the PA Office of the Budget.

As you can see below, most line items that we follow stayed level or increased in funding. While the Governor's budget "zeroed out" (removed funding) from a few, all programs that we watch regained their funding in the legislature.

Taking action on public benefits

The Senate is expected to take up the Farm Bill this week, with a vote likely tomorrow. S. 3042 protects current SNAP benefit levels and eligibility rather than adding burdensome requirements (including additional work requirements) to the law.

At the same time as SNAP is being debated in Congress, rules changes are rumored from the Administration. These changes could mean that immigrants would not be eligible for green cards if they or their children use benefits such as Medicaid, CHIP, or even the ACA marketplace - even though the immigrants in question have entered the country legally and are legally allowed to use the programs.
Take Action:  Call your Senators at 202-224-3121 to share your thoughts on S. 3042. Here's a sample script: "Hello, my name is _________ and I am a constituent of Senator __________. My zip code is __________. I am calling today in support of S. 3042, the Farm Bill, as it is currently written. Please support this bill but do not allow any amendments …

Judge rules that families must be reunited. But there is more to do.

Last night, a federal judge in California ordered that children separated from their parents as part of the zero-tolerance immigration policy be reunited with their families within 30 days. Children under five must be reunited even sooner, and all parents must be able to contact their children by phone within ten days.

This action is good, but the work of reuniting children and protecting families is far from over. You can find our previous posts on this topic here and here. For the latest on what we can do, see below.
Families Belong Together Rally. Rallies will be happening across the country on June 30. The main rally will be in DC, but you can learn about all rallies at your elected officials. Dial 202-224-3121 to reach any member of Congress. The American Immigration Lawyers Association has tools that you can use.Here is a sample script: Hello, my name is _____ and as a constituent, I urge the _____ to use Congress' oversight authority to ke…

More on what we can do to stop family separation

(Updated June 19, 2018)

Here are more resources to help you take action against the separation of family members entering the United States (read our post from last week for the original information). Thanks especially to Families Belong Together for your comprehensive list of information.

**Here's what's happening. The Guardianput together a Q and A that you can read here. According to this article, migrant families crossing the border illegally, even if they are seeking asylum, may now be criminally prosecuted under a new policy put in place this April. If the families come with children, the children are separated from their parents while the parents are held in federal jail. Children then wait to be reunified with their parents or to be sent to relatives or sponsors. According to The Guardian, this wait can take weeks or months. News reports from this weekend show some of the facilities for children and a copy of the handout given to parents when their children are removed…

Pennsylvania SNAP Vote on Monday!

From our friends at the Coalition Against Hunger:

We know we've been calling on you in recent months for your help with the federal Farm Bill, and we’re grateful for your impactful action. Now, we need your help on a horrible SNAP bill that will be voted on in the Pennsylvania Senate on Monday.

HB 1659, which already passed in the PA House of Representatives, would bring SNAP work requirements to ALL "able-bodied adults without children" (those age 18-49) throughout Pennsylvania - even in areas of high unemployment. HB 1659 will require spending millions of STATE dollars for monitoring and compliance in order to turn away FEDERAL SNAP funds that help those struggling to put food on the table.

Call your State Senator (click here to look up his/her phone number) and say:

“I urge you to vote no on HB 1659. It is bad for people who are trying their best to make ends meet; bad for communities; and, does nothing to help people find jobs.”

Our partners at Hunger-free PA als…

What we can do for migrant families

In the past few weeks, we've learned more about immigration policies in the United States that are separating children from their parents at the border. The United Nations is calling it a human rights violation and reports that several hundred children have been separated from their parents since October 2017. According to the UN, the practice is illegal and needs to stop immediately.

Take Action: Contact your member of Congress: The American Immigration Lawyers Association has a call and email script you can use available here.Sign a letter from the ACLU asking for family separation to stop.Help to end family detention here in Pennsylvania: Learn more from the Shut Down Berks Coalition

What's in the latest version of the Farm Bill?

After the House rejected a Farm Bill last month that would add work requirements and make other changes to SNAP, a new version may be coming up for a vote this week in the Senate.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the new bill will give states the opportunity to try new methods of helping SNAP recipients find and keep jobs, but it will not add any work requirements. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) reports that the bill will reduce paperwork for some households (although they are also concerned that states will no longer receive bonuses for improved SNAP participation and payment accuracy).

A committee vote on the new Senate bill is expected this week, after which the bill will move to the floor. Senators try to add harmful work requirements back to the bill once it comes out of committee. Meanwhile, House leaders have scheduled another vote on their Farm Bill for June 22.

Take Action:

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has talking points on the…

Stop Payday Lending in Pennsylvania!

HB 2429, which would allow predatory payday lending in Pennsylvania, is scheduled for a committee vote on Wednesday, June 6.
Pennsylvania currently has one of the strongest laws against payday lending in the country. If passed, HB 2429 would weaken the law by creating loopholes that payday lenders can use to charge exorbitant rates. Under this law, lenders could charge interest of up to 300%. You can read more about the proposed legislation here. You can also read a policy brief about "credit services" lending here.

Research from the U.S. Department of Defense and experience of other states show that payday loans are damaging enough to require a 36% annual rate cap on fees and interest for payday loans made to active duty military families. Payday loans hurt our communities and should not be given a foothold in PA.

Take Action:
Please take a moment to contact members of the House Commerce Committee and ask them to oppose this bill. The Stop Predatory Payday Loans in PA Coalit…