Do you find policy intimidating? Do you wonder what the issues are? Do you wonder how to get involved?
Minnesota’s legislative session begins February 12, 2024. The legislative session is a particularly important time to have your voice heard by our state policy makers. This is a time during which bills are proposed, discussed, and passed (or not). It’s a busy and high stakes time.
How do I know what to pay attention to during the legislative session?
The first thing to do is reflect on the impact of policies on folks in our communities. Daily Work job seekers and case managers navigate a variety of systems that are influenced by policy. Whether it is applying for assistance such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), navigating public transportation, or working through immigrant policies to gain work authorization, they are consistently overcoming systemic barriers in pursuit of their goals. We must ask ourselves what is getting in the way of people meeting their employment goals.
An additional resource can be local social service and advocacy organizations. Several organizations publish a legislative agenda that outlines the specific bills they are paying attention to and that have an impact on the work they do. Here are a few examples:
- The Advocates for Human Rights
- The Arc Minnesota
- Catholic Charities Twin Cities
- Children’s Defense Fund - MN
- Homes for All
- National Association of Social Workers (NASW) - Minnesota Chapter
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota (NAMI-MN)
- OutFront Minnesota
What can I do?
You have a story to tell - find your voice and tell it. Whether it is your own story of how policy impacts your life or the many stories you hear from job seekers, these stories need to be told and can be the catalyst for change. You can write letters, make phone calls, or attend action days on the hill. Once the legislature is in session, priorities are identified, and some agencies will provide boilerplate letters so that you can just fill in your representative’s name , add your personal details and comments, and then send the email. You can also get on mailing lists so that you can stay up to date with advocacy opportunities.
“All advocacy is, at its core, an exercise in empathy.” - Samantha Power