State Advocacy Spotlight: California
May 2, 2014
California's unprecedented drought – continue to receive attention from the Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California (LOPP-CA), as legislators and stakeholders contentiously negotiate a multi-billion dollar general obligation bond proposals for the November election ballot, which would invest in water efficiency, supply, reliability, and watershed and ecosystem health. As compromise remains elusive and a late June deadline looms, one legislative author has a daily countdown posted on his Capitol door, stating the remaining number of days to "'AQUAPOCOLYPSE".
Water from far Northern California rivers is pumped out of the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta and transported via aqueducts to Southern California. Massive pumps in Kern County, near Interstate 5, push water over the Tehachapi Mountains in Los Angeles. Debates over the amount and timing of water transfers, and end uses of water, are part of the perpetual “water wars” in California.
LOPP-CA director Mark Carlson was one of four presenters for an Earth Week webinar on The Sacredness of Water, produced by DC-based Creation Justice Ministries, offering a perspective on the drought. One subtext of the water debates and choices underway involves low-income, disadvantaged rural and urban communities in California that lack safe drinking water (other than expensive bottled water), because of groundwater contamination by agricultural or industrial chemicals. LOPP-CA is a co-host, with other partners, in the gala premier of the documentary film Thirsty for Justice – The Struggle for the Human Right to Water, at the California Museum Theater on May 14. http://ejcw.org/thirsty/
The Spanish translation and dvd reproduction for this film, making it accessible to many of those who are affected by the lack of clean water, are partially funded by ELCA World Hunger. One segment of the film addresses the lack of clean water for drinking and hygiene for people who are homeless.
Immigration Day at the Capitol – May 19
Immigrant Day at the Capitol is when LOPP-CA seeks to engage Lutherans in standing with California's diverse immigrant communities in celebrating their gifts and advancing their policy concerns, which this year will include access to health care for all.
Hunger Action Day – May 21
The Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California is working with the Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network, LEVN, to participate in this annual Capitol advocacy day focused on poverty and hunger. LEVN is a program of The Belfry, the Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry at the University of California at Davis. LEVN participants, similar to the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, are placed for a year with various Sacramento-Davis area social service agencies and non-profits, including Lutheran Social Services of Northern California (focus on youth and young adults aging out of foster care), the Alchemist Community Development Corporation (farmers' markets and SNAP nutrition outreach), and People Reaching Out (SNAP outreach). Last year, LOPP-CA organized an initial "Day at the Capitol" for LEVN participants and staff that included meeting with legislators.