The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, provides an occasional “Inside the Capitol” update during the state legislative session.
By Minnesota Catholic Conference
Politics — the great conversation about how we order our life together — should focus first on meeting the needs of the most vulnerable among us (cf. Matthew 25).
Thousands of well-meaning proposals have been introduced by legislators. Limitations on time and resources mean priorities must be set. As House and Senate committees held hearings to decide those priorities, Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) advocated for two important proposals that would show a “preferential option for the poor and vulnerable.”
Like any basic element of life, health care sustains us, is necessary for development and should be accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, undocumented immigrants in Minnesota are unable to obtain any health insurance, including MinnesotaCare, a state-subsidized health plan designed for low-income people above the poverty line. MCC offered testimony in support of legislation (H.F 4307/S.F. 4013) that would make eligibility for MinnesotaCare available to undocumented, noncitizen children under the age of 19.
Among other reasons, expanding MinnesotaCare to this population makes practical sense as a matter of prudent stewardship of resources. Currently, the undocumented population is only able to receive care in emergency rooms, where it is legally required — the most expensive settings of our health care system. This eligibility expansion would allow undocumented children to receive care in a less costly primary care setting, as well as access preventative health care.
Ministry to the homeless
Minnesota’s Emergency Services Grant Program helps shelter providers to better respond to the homelessness crisis. The grants assist those serving the homeless, such as Catholic Charities, as they guide their clients to the services they need to overcome chronic homelessness, such as employment counseling, medical care, substance abuse and psychological help and transitional housing.
State funding of the program was minimal in the past, so that even with the significant investments made last year, the need is still far greater than the available resources. Therefore, MCC is advocating for a supplemental appropriation for the program (H.F. 3294/S.F. 3143).
In many instances, those who suffer from chronic homelessness find themselves in that situation because of a nexus with substance abuse, mental health and a lack of connection with friends or family — not to mention unstable employment. Shelters, nonprofits and charitable organizations cannot meet the financial need only through their philanthropic resources. They must be assisted by state dollars to continue their efforts to find creative ways to combat chronic homelessness. Ongoing homelessness in a state with such fiscal abundance remains a scandal.
Lawmakers are attempting to make Minnesota the land of anytime, anywhere gambling by allowing sports betting to be available through mobile apps. We must not unleash a new source of addiction and deprivation just so a privileged few can have a bit more fun watching a ballgame. Call your state legislators and ask them to oppose H.F. 778/S.F. 574, the sports betting bill. You can also visit our Action Center to find ways to get engaged on this important issue: https://www.mncatholic.org/actioncenter.