United Methodist Women Issue Priorities 2016–2020
Invitation to Engage
Members of United Methodist Women! You are invited to engage actively in four priority justice issues throughout the 2016–2020 quadrennium. These include:
Criminalization of Communities of Color
Maternal and Child Health
This letter was written in November 2016:
Greetings! We are asking for your support in disseminating this Call to Action on the Water Protectors in Standing Rock, North Dakota. United Methodist Women General Secretary Harriett Jane Olson has just returned from a visit to Standing Rock with other United Methodists, in support of action by the Dakota Sioux to protect water from a planned oil pipeline and to affirm Native American sovereignty and treaty rights.
We are particularly concerned about potential violence this weekend. The Sheriff’s office and North Dakota governor have called for one camp to be vacated by this Saturday, November 5.
Based on recent actions by militarized police, including on Thanksgiving weekend, there could be violent repression of the encampment. Calls to the White House, the Army Corps of Engineers and
Sheriff’s office are urgently needed, as well as other actions. The post on the UMW website gives background information, links regarding UMC and UMW engagement, and ways that members can take
action now. http://www.unitedmethodistwome
Deb Williams, United Methodist Women Program Advisory Group member and a member of the UMW Act of Repentance Working Group comments,
“Once again we have reached a crossroads in our treatment of Native American people. United States history is replete with documented mistreatment and deception in the government’s dealings with native peoples. Let’s not allow this issue to become another incident in that long history. The moral issues require a peaceful solution to this protest rather than letting it become yet another sad and violent moment in the legacy of our country.”
United Methodist Women’s response reflects our priorities on racial justice; climate justice including right to clean water; challenging criminalization of communities of color; and economic inequality, including corporate accountability.
(VICPP is Virginia Interfaith Council on Public Policy)
We believe that economic inequality undergirds a multitude of injustices including climate change to mass incarceration to exploitation of low-wage and undocumented workers. Economic inequality also disproportionately affects people of color. We believe that a better Virginia is possible, and we support policies and programs that positively respond to the needs of lower-income individuals, families, and communities in Virginia. These include eliminating predatory lending, eliminating and preventing hunger in children, increasing the minimum wage, and refunding the Virginia earned income tax credit to poor working families.
Many working families are falling behind. Our partner, the Commonwealth Institute, cites that one in ten Virginia workers made less than $8.29 in 2013. And low-wage workers in Virginia have endured stagnant wages even with our improving economy. Virginia’s low-wage workers earn 17 cents for every $1 high-wage Virginia workers bring home. That figure has decreased from 27 cents in 1979. Some policymakers believe that the minimum wage benefits only teenagers. Actually, close to 90% of minimumwage earners are 20 or older, and about half have at least some college education. Most are working full-time (at least 35 hours/week). Close to 300,000 Virginia children have at least one parent who would benefit from increasing the minimum wage.
VICPP has a robust history of support for consumer finance protection. We have consistently supported a 36% annual percentage rate (APR) cap on interest rates for both payday and car title lenders. We also support other legislation designed to either cap fees or limit the number of loans offered by predatory lenders. At the federal level, we are strongly in support of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) and its work to ensure that payday and predatory lenders are properly regulated. Virginia passed positive payday loan reforms in 2008 in the Payday Lending Act. These protections have made payday loans somewhat less onerous, but payday loans have largely been replaced by triple-digit car title loans and largely unregulated open-end loans that range from 250-360 percent. These loans lock borrowers in a vicious cycle of debt.
According to Virginia’s State Corporation Commission, in 2014, Virginia-based payday lenders have annually made more than 440,000 loans totalling more than $170 million to more than 137,000 borrowers. The borrowers take out an average of more than three loans a year to stay afloat at an average annual interest rate of 289 percent. Virginiabased car title lenders also issued more than $206 million in loans in 2013, up from $180 million in 2012, to more than 150,000 borrowers, with an average APR of 216 percent. More than 17,000 borrowers had their car repossessed and more than 13,000 had their car sold. VICPP supports efforts to eliminate all forms of predatory lending and the development of affordable alternatives.
Proper nutrition is vital to the healthy social, cognitive, and physical development in children. Kids who do not get enough healthy food to eat are more likely to struggle and are less likely to grow up to be successful and productive citizens. More than 320,000 children in the state were at risk of hunger, or food insecure. VICPP has joined the efforts of two partners whose work aims to eliminate hunger in children: the Virginia No
Kid Hungry program and Virginia Hunger Solutions. Launched in 2011 by the Virginia Poverty Law Center, the Virginia No Kid Hungry program brings together a public-private partnership that includes the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Education and several corporate
partners to work to- wards ending childhood hunger in the Commonwealth. e campaign is increasing awareness and participation in the Summer Meals program and the At- Risk After-school Meals program. The Center supports the governor’s inclusion of funding for Universal Breakfasts in his latest budget proposal.
VICPP and Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare, the Center’s healthcare program, continues to focus on ensuring that all Virginians have access to highquality, affordable health care. When lower- and moderate-income people gain health coverage, the burden of paying health-care bills is eased and they are able to focus on other pocketbook issues. In addition, the burden of paying for non-insured Virginians is eased on health care providers and those with insurance whose coverage helps subsidize the uninsured.
In Virginia, approximately 400,000 Virginians would benefit from using available federal Medicaid dollars to provide access to care. These individuals are in the “coverage gap,” because they do not earn enough to purchase health insurance in the Healthcare Marketplace, and they currently do not qualify for Medicaid in Virginia. The majority of these individuals are working, but have jobs where health insurance is not a benefit. Further, they do not earn enough to purchase health insurance through the insurance marketplace. Right now, Virginia’s Medicaid program does not extend to childless adults between the ages of 19 and 65. Federal funds will pay for 100% of the cost of coverage through 2017, and over the next few years until 2020 when the federal match drops to 90% and will free up millions of dollars annually for other state budget needs. Closing the coverage gap will help safety net providers, including hospitals, stay in business.