Urban Abbey hosted three different Issue Cafes in the Month of February for leaders and community members learn more about relevant issues happening in Omaha.
Michael O’Hara from the Sierra Club (pictured left) spoke about the logistics of the city’s upcoming solid waste policy. Why do we need to care about the trash system? 1. It really affects the environment- methane outputs from landfills, trash trucks driving around, etc. 2. How many trash bins fit in your garage- we would like choices about what size and how many bins each household needs. The OTOC Environmental Sustainability Action Team urges citizens to contact their city council members to ask for community involvement in the planning process and for the council to be engaged and aware when reviewing and choosing a proposal. For talking points about how to contact your city council members, click here
Julie Kalkowski (pictured above) also came and presented about the importance of financial independence- and how that can actually affect your health. Julie has developed a Financial Hope program that is helps single mothers to become financially independent. Julie is currently recruiting 400 single mothers to join her program as part of a study about the effects of financial independence on health. Through Julie’s experience and expertise on financial independence she also encouraged the Predatory Lending Action Team to keep working to get limitations put on predatory pay day lending. Julie sees the affects of these debt cycles in her anti-poverty work. Want more information about Julie’s program, click here. To learn more about Pay Day Lending regulation, click here.
Jo Giles, Policy and Training Director for Strong Nebraska (pictured right), was OTOC’s guest speaker at the March 27 meeting of the Urban Abbey Series. The Coalition for a Strong Nebraska is a coalition of 85 non-profits who are committed to ending poverty through public policy engagement.
Ms. Giles biggest message was that non-profits can lobby. While the coalition does not lobby itself, it will train people in lobbying skills.
The discussion then turned to an overview of some bills being considered currently in the Unicameral in the areas of Property tax, Healthcare, Education and Civic Engagement. Ms. Giles noted that a big factor influencing the passing of a bill is the ability of the state to pay for it. As of Tuesday, Nebraska is experiencing a $200M budget shortfall.
Those bills that have a priority designation have the best chance of getting out to the floor. Sen. Vargas’s LB194 about Pay Day Lending has been named his priority bill, but has still not left the Banking Committee. We will have to wait and see if it will make it to the open floor.
For additional information on learning how to lobby, receiving a weekly update on legislation, or finding a tutorial on using the legislative website, look here.