News and Events from Nebraska Appleseed – October 2013

In this October edition of “Appleseed in Action”

  • 2013 Good Apple Awards a week away!
  • Government shutdown may affect public programs
  • Health care Marketplace now open
  • Oct. 12 immigration event
  • House passes drastic SNAP cuts that threaten Nebraska families and children
  • Tax Modernization Committee holds public hearings

2013 Good Apple Awards on Thursday, October 10 in Omaha

Join Appleseed on October 10 for an evening of live music, art, hors d’oeuvres, and a community awards ceremony at the 2013 Good Apple Awards – Appleseed’s annual fundraiser honoring outstanding advocates who stand up for justice and opportunity for all Nebraskans!

Tickets are going fast – so make your reservations today!

Thursday, October 10, 2013
6pm:  Social hour with heavy hors d’oeuvres and music by Manouche Moustache
7pm:  Program and awards ceremony
8pm:  Post-program social

Livestock Exchange Building Ballroom
4920 South 30th Street
Omaha, NE

Honoring

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Senator John Harms
JIM WOLF EQUAL JUSTICE AWARD

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Project Everlast
ROOTS OF JUSTICE AWARD

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Justice for Our Neighbors – Nebraska
SEEDS OF JUSTICE AWARD

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Justin Kemerling
MILO MUMGAARD EMERGING LEADER AWARD

Reserve your ticket today

We hope to see you next Thursday!


Government Shutdown could have consequences for Nebraska families with low incomes

NE_Appleseed_Icons_Congress-128As you likely know by now, Congress has not been able to come to an agreement to continue to fund many activities and programs.  That means on Tuesday, the federal government was shut down.

Although many public benefits programs will be able to keep operating because they currently are able to access funding from the prior year, an extended shutdown could jeopardize important services that help thousands of Nebraska families.

Programs like child care assistance, which helps low-income families maintain employment, will not receive federal funding to continue operating unless action is taken by Congress. Not only would that mean fewer children are in safe child care, it could also mean hard-working families are facing a job loss if a parent decides they must miss work to stay home to take care of their children.

Programs like this help Nebraska families continue to work toward getting back on their feet while being able to feed and provide safe care for their families.  It is vital our leaders in Congress come to a quick and reasonable resolution of this shutdown, otherwise there is a serious risk of harm for many low-income Nebraskans.


New health care Marketplace now open to allow Nebraskans to Get Covered

NE_Appleseed_Icons_AffordableCareAct-128Starting October 1, thousands of Nebraskans are now able to access health insurance, many of them for the first time through the new health insurance Marketplace. This is a historic opportunity to ensure thousands of people in our state can get the affordable health coverage they need.

With new plans under the Affordable Care Act:

  • People can no longer be denied coverage for preexisting conditions.
  • People cannot be kicked off their insurance plan when they get sick.
  • Insurers cannot discriminate on the basis of gender and can only charge limited higher costs on the basis of age instead of the large cost differences we currently see.

This means a more equitable health care system that works for everyone.

The plans’ benefits are clearly outlined in the Marketplace, but Navigators and Certified Application Counselors (CAC’s) also have been specially trained to help people understand their new coverage options and get enrolled. To meet with a Navigator, contact your local Community Action Partnership.

You can learn more about the health insurance options offered through the Marketplace by speaking with a CAC at a local hospital or Federally Qualified Health Center, or by comparing plans online at HealthCare.gov.  Organizations can learn more about resources to help their clients or constituents get enrolled through the Marketplace at Enroll-NE.org.

For your health care coverage to take effect beginning January 1, 2014, you must be enrolled in a plan by December 15, 2013.


October 12 National Day for Dignity and Respect Immigration Rally

Oct 12 NE Immigration Rally -jpgThis summer, Nebraska’s federal representatives heard loud and clear that Nebraskans want a common-sense immigration law that keeps our families together.

But the work is not done until Congress passes a law that includes a path to citizenship to keep Nebraska’s families, businesses, and communities strong.

In October, thousands of people across the country will hold rallies and actions calling on Congress to take action to update our immigration laws.  Nebraskans will add their voice to this strong chorus on Saturday, October 12.

Join groups from across the state in Omaha on Oct. 12 for a families march and rally to demand common-sense immigration laws with a clear and attainable process for citizenship at 3:00 p.m.

What: National Day for Dignity and Respect rally

Where: Omaha (exact location TBA)

When: Saturday, October 12, 3:00 p.m.

Participants are invited to wear their favorite red Husker gear as we show that Nebraskans from across the state believe NOW is the time to fix our outdated immigration laws and stand together for a better Nebraska future.


House of Representatives passes $40 billion cut to food assistance program

NE_Appleseed_Icons_FoodSecurity-128On September 19, the U.S. House of Representatives’ passed a bill that proposes staggering cuts to food assistance that may harm thousands of Nebraskans struggling to afford enough to eat.

The “Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act,” (H.R. 3102) is an alarming bill which would slash $40 billion in food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps provide meals for 180,000 people in Nebraska, many of them children.

The bill passed 217-210.  Nebraska Rep. Jeff Fortenberry voted against the cuts while the state’s other two congressmen voted in support.

“SNAP helps Nebraskans feed their families when they face hard times. The bill approved in the House today jeopardizes these families and our communities by making drastic cuts to SNAP which has been proven to fight hunger in Nebraska,” said Nebraska Appleseed Executive Director Rebecca Gould. “We thank Rep. Jeff Fortenberry for voting against this harmful measure, however we are very disappointed Nebraska’s other two congressmen voted to remove critical food assistance to so many families that are struggling to put food on the table.”

These damaging cuts to food assistance come at a time when many Nebraskans are still fighting food insecurity.  Data released in September in a report from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) shows 20.3 percent of Nebraska households with children (about 1 in 5) and 12.3 percent of households without children (about 1 in 8) can be classified as facing food hardship.

We ask that you call Nebraska’s U.S. Senators and ask them to protect SNAP so all Nebraska families will be able to put food on the table.


Tax Modernization Committee holds public hearings across the state

NE_Appleseed_Icons_StateCapital-128Last week, the Legislature’s Tax Modernization Committee held three of five public hearings to gather input from Nebraskans on the future of our state’s tax system.

Nebraska Appleseed is following this discussion with great interest because our state’s tax system affects every Nebraska family, and changes in tax policy can have big implications especially for families that make low incomes.

Here’s an update from the discussion in the three hearings last week in Scottsbluff, North Platte, and Norfolk:

  • Nebraskans recognize funding key investments like schools, hospitals, and roads and bridges is very important.  Several testifiers raised the possibility of increasing state aid to our local communities in order to preserve and maintain these essential areas.
  • Nebraskans are focused on property taxes much more so than income taxes. The vast majority of testifiers at these hearings asked the committee to consider ways Nebraska can reduce its reliance on property taxes.  One suggestion to reduce property taxes while still maintaining a responsible state budget is to broaden our sales tax base to include services, which could make our tax system more progressive and accurately reflect today’s economy.

Appleseed supports the Tax Modernization Committee’s efforts to include public input in its proposals for our tax system.  We believe Nebraska’s tax structure should:

  • Allow us to invest in things Nebraska families rely on like top-notch neighborhood schools, safe communities, and well-kept streets and roads.
  • Encourage the creation of jobs and focus on investments that actually boost the economy.
  • Ensure a progressive structure that does not force middle-class and low-income families to pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than the wealthy.

Thanks to those of you who were able to attend one of these hearings last week.  There are still opportunities for you to make your voice heard.

The Tax Modernization Committee will hold two more public hearings in October:

  • Thursday, October 17 – Metro Community College, South Omaha Campus, Omaha, 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.
  • Friday, October 18 – State Capitol Building, Room 1113, Lincoln, 10:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Please contact Jeff Sheldon at Nebraska Appleseed if you’re willing to speak at a hearing or would like information on how to submit a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

Your help with this effort will go a long way toward protecting and strengthening our state’s vital investments in education, health care and safe communities.

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