From August to October, the Center for Rural Affairs organized and co-hosted a series of town hall events that connected about 120 Nebraskans with their elected officials. These events were designed to engage Nebraska state senators in discussions with their constituents over struggles over 240,000 Nebraskans who live below the poverty line face in their daily lives.
We worked with organizations like Nebraska Appleseed, and the Center for People in Need. Community Action Partnership, El Centro de las Americas and Latino American Commission staff participated in events, and we collaborated with individuals like Luis Sotelo, college-planning specialist with EducationQuest Foundation and former candidate for the Nebraska Legislature. All of these partners work to empower and equip Nebraskans to improve their lives and communities.
Senators Pansing-Brooks, Morfeld, Haar, Bolz, Hansen, Schnoor, Baker, Ekbe and Williams made time to sit down with constituents and community advocates to discuss access, needs, and solutions concerning a host of issues. These issues included affordable healthcare and Medicaid expansion, education, immigration, affordable housing, food security, fair tax policy, prison reform, and agriculture and wind energy policy.
Root causes of poverty and marginalization were discussed at the town halls, as well as solutions to these problems. Disability, immigration status, access to education, and opportunity to earn a living wage are at the root for some of our friends and neighbors.
Other issues, like access to affordable healthcare, housing, and grappling with food insecurity prevent people from pulling themselves out of poverty and living productive, healthy lives. In Nebraska alone, 77,000 working people do not have access to healthcare coverage. This does not need to be the case, but it will be as long as Medicaid is not expanded in Nebraska.
It is important to acknowledge the hard and complicated circumstances many Nebraskans find themselves in today. It’s important for all of us to share our stories, as well as our hopes and goals for our communities. It is also critical to turn acknowledgement and discussion into understanding and action -- the core of the Center for Rural Affairs' mission.
Please plan to stay or become engaged on these issues with our elected officials; the legislative session is just around the corner. Let’s work together to reimagine and implement solutions that get to the root of the problem, that prioritize our communities and the wellbeing of our friends and neighbors. Stay tuned to learn more about how and when your voice can make a real difference.
Feature image: The Lexington, Nebraska, town hall session with Senator Williams filled the room.
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