Monday, January 27, 2014

Faithful Advocacy in Action

Written by Jessica Zimmerle
Earth Ministry Outreach Coordinator
Dear friends,

As we settle into the new year, we take time to reflect upon our past, learn from our experiences, and look forward to what we will accomplish in the year to come. January is a brisk month when we can embrace the opportunities for growth, adventure, and hope that come with this fresh start as we begin to put our resolutions into action. It is also a good time to ponder how we carry out our values in our daily lives. An excellent way to do so, and to put our faith into action, is by advocating for safe policies that benefit our communities as well as the environment.

Here at Earth Ministry and Washington Interfaith Power and Light, we have kicked off the new year with great enthusiasm for faithful advocacy during the Washington State Legislative Session. Each week, Earth Ministry staff and members are heading down to Olympia to speak up in support of legislation that embodies the core values of our faith. We are filling the hallways of the capitol buildings with catchy phrases like "care for creation," "faithful advocacy," and "good stewardship" to ensure that our representatives know what the faith community is concerned about.

The issues that Earth Ministry has prioritized this Legislative Session are ones that directly influence many of our members and resonate with our desire for environmental justice. Our first priority is the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act (HB 1294), which would phase out the toxic flame retardants that currently infiltrate our homes in children's products and furniture. We are also collaborating with the Environmental Priorities Coalition to close the big oil tax loophole (HB 2465), an accidental tax break that Big Oil has taken advantage of to avoid $41 million of their fair share of taxes. Rather than continuing to allow Big Oil to profit from this loophole, we are advocating for that tax revenue to be reinvested in community-based priorities, like education. Finally, we are supporting the Oil Transportation Safety Act (HB 2347) to protect our communities and waterways in light of the unprecedented increase in crude oil being transported through our state. Please see our website for more information on each act.

On a personal note, I must admit that participating in the Legislative Session is a completely new experience for me, and I have already asked myself multiple times why I did not get involved sooner! Although the legislative process seemed rather daunting at first, there is something quite exhilarating about providing input so that elected officials can better represent their constituents. After all they need to hear from us, as this is the core of democracy; and it is encouraging to feel how much the legislators appreciate us taking the time to address these issues and ask for their support.

The most exciting part so far was that last Wednesday, one week after we delivered literature to every legislator, the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act passed the House of Representatives with a 72-25 vote. This is a huge bipartisan accomplishment considering that last year's vote on the exact same bill was 53-44, a success that fills me with hope and fuel to carry on with the good fight!

So, does this all sound like fun or what? If you would like to get involved, we'd absolutely love to have you join us at one of our upcoming Capitol Drop-in Days!
Wednesday, February 5, 10:00am-2:00pm
Friday, February 14, 10:00am-2:00pm
Please contact us at 206.632.2426 or email for more information and to RSVP.

I want to emphasize that each time Earth Ministry/WAIPL steps into the capitol building, we are representing YOU as we make known the values of our membership to our state legislators. The faith community is an incredibly powerful moral voice and we thank you for joining us in standing up for responsible creation care.

In peace,

If you would like to follow the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act online, please click here.