Our Successes

LEAMNJ works with legislators, direct service providers, other advocacy groups, and our own community of advocates year-round on projects related to our issue priorities.  If you want to support more victories like these, please donate here or become a member to stay up to date on how you can join us in taking action!

Summer 2020
2021 Budget Advocacy
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What We Did:

LEAMNJ worked with a coalition called “For the Many” to meet with state departments and Commissioners who influence the budget process. We organized educational programs and provided articles about fair tax policy in order to inform the faith community about the state budget and need for revenue. We also testified at public hearings around the state to advance funding for essential state programs that care for the needs of those most vulnerable.

What We Accomplished:

LEAMNJ campaigned to get multiple items related to our issue priorities added to the 2021 New Jersey budget, including the Millionaire's tax and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

2021

October 2020
COVID Workplace Advocacy
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What We Did:

COVID-19 has posed challenges, but we've been able to find effective socially distant alternatives for many of our advocacy strategies!  Along with our coalition partners, we advocated for emergency protections for workers through several on-line meetings with the Governor’s staff.

What We Accomplished:

On October 28, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order #192, which mandated new health and safety protocols to protect New Jersey's workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

COVID Criminal Justice Advocacy
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What We Did:

Along with phone calls and zoom meetings with legislators and the Governor's office, LEAMNJ worked with coalition partners to gather participants and make signs for a COVID-safe "Funeral Procession" to raise awareness of the alarmingly high rates of COVID cases in NJ prisons and jails.

What We Accomplished:

LEAMNJ and our advocacy partners succeeded in getting Bill S2519 (the Emergency Release Program) signed into law.  Under the bill, public health emergency credits are awarded to any adult inmate or juvenile who is within 365 days of their scheduled release. This measure helps protect elderly and other high-risk prisoners and stop the further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

October 2020
Child Poverty Advocacy
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What We Accomplished:

LEAMNJ worked with New Jersey Policy Perspective and the Anti Poverty Network to increase the income eligibility thresholds for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program.  

August 2020

2020

January 2020
Late December 2019
Christmas 2019
December 2019
August 2019
July 2019
Housing Advocacy
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What We Did:

This “Lobby Day at the Capitol” event gathered advocates at the state
house to visit with lawmakers in the halls,
testify at legislative hearings, and educate the legislature and the faith community about the need for housing that all New Jersyans can afford.

What We Accomplished:

LEAMNJ worked to expand Code Blue Laws.  A measure was passed that requires a declaration of the Code Blue alert when the National Weather Service predicts temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.  Another measure authorizes certain health care and social service resources to be made available during Code Blue alerts.

Criminal Justice Advocacy
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What We Did:

LEAMNJ worked closely with New Jersey's governor to address the fast moving legislation being developed around prison safety.  Particular attention was devoted to the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. 

What We Accomplished: 

Legislation was signed into law to make NJ’s prisons and jails safer for those who are incarcerated, especially in women’s prisons.  A law is now in place that requires reporting of inmate abuse by employees of State correctional facilities and establishes a reporting and investigation program and process.  LEAMNJ also helped to pass legislation that limits cross gender strip searches in State correctional facilities.  Another measure has become law that requires correctional police officers to receive 20 hours in-service training, including four hours in prevention of sexual misconduct, non-fraternization, and manipulation.  However, there is still more work to be done to help change prison culture in New Jersey.   

Voting Rights/Racial Justice Advocacy
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What We Did:

New Jersey has the nation's highest rate of racial disparity in its state prison system. A 2016 report revealed that there were 12 times as many African American people incarcerated as white people. In response to this crisis, LEAMNJ collaborated with the legislative Black Caucus and other advocacy groups to mobilize public opinion against this issue by holding press conferences, writing letters to the editors, educating faith leaders, hosting a prayer vigil and organizing congregants to call and email legislators to restore voting rights to those with criminal convictions. 

 

What We Accomplished:

These efforts resulted in the passing of legislation that restores voting rights to more than 80,000 people who are on probation or parole in New Jersey.

Immigration Advocacy
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What We Did:  

LEAMNJ worked with immigrant rights groups to hold rallies at the state house, hold marches around the state, make LOTS of legislative visits and phone calls, and share petitions from communities of faith calling for driver’s license reform (one signed by hundreds of NJ Lutherans!)

What We Accomplished: 

Legislation was signed into law that provided the opportunity for all residents to get a driver’s license in New Jersey.  This has been hailed as a public safety victory; finally, all drivers will be tested, insured and legally able to drive making our streets safer.  Governor Murphy at the bill signing said, “Today is a simple recognition that our immigrant communities — each of you — are a vital part of our state and our economy.” Now, however, regulations are threatening to undo much of this law’s success. Read more here

Criminal Justice Advocacy
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What We Did:

In July of 2019, LEAMNJ worked to raise awareness of the inhumane treatment of New Jersey inmates by leading forums in both adult congregations and youth groups, and organizing groups to call, email, write letters, and put up banners in church yards calling for an end to solitary confinement.  We also build a replica of a solitary confinement cell at a synod assembly so that congregants could see and experience this form of inhumane treatment for themselves.   

What We Accomplished:

LEAMNJ worked together with many other groups to pass a law restricting the use of isolated confinement unless there is reasonable cause to believe that the inmate or others would be at substantial risk of serious harm. The law also prohibits isolated confinement for vulnerable populations — those younger than 21 and older than 65 and those who are LGBTQ, are pregnant, or with disabilities — but does allow it in rare, specified circumstances. The new law requires state prisons and county jails to screen inmates for mental illness before and during isolated confinement and collect and report data on the use of such confinement.

Employment Advocacy
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What We Did:

LEAMNJ focused on education and awareness by allying with organized labor to hold small rallies all over the state, bringing attention to the many different manifestations of wage theft and how many people are affected.  Particular effort was made towards educating New Jersey's legislators on this often unrecognized issue. 

What We Accomplished:

LEAMNJ advocated for the enhancement of enforcement of New Jersey’s wage and hour laws by holding employers accountable for unpaid wages, benefits, or overtime as required by law through increased damages and fines, which make victims of wage theft eligible to receive both the wages owed and liquidated damages of 200 percent of wages owed.

July 25, 2019
July 2019
May 2019
February 2019
Gun Safety Advocacy
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What We Did:

Gun violence prevention was enhanced in NJ as a result of a coalition of group’s efforts.  LEAMNJ partnered with Cease Fire New Jersey in their ongoing work around safe storage.  Together, they mobilized public opinion through letters to the editor and other measures to demonstrate to legislators that most New Jerseyans want stricter gun laws. 

What We Accomplished:

Bills were signed into law that expand the type of crimes that bar someone from owning a gun in New Jersey, that attempt to curtail gun trafficking from other states, and that aim to prevent suicide. 

 

The most notable measure signed into law in 2019 was a bill that Senator Weinberg, along with several advocacy groups, helped to pass. P.L. 2019 makes it more possible for “smart guns,” which can be fired only by their designated owners, to be made available in NJ.  These guns are designed to be safer than typical handguns, using fingerprint and other identification technology to prevent accidental shootings.

Employment/Gender Advocacy
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What We Did:

In 2019, LEAMNJ collaborated with female legislators to hold a legislative day at the Capitol where hundreds of advocates came to talk to law makers about paid sick leave, gender pay equity, and family leave legislation.

What We Accomplished:

This event helped to get equal pay legislation signed into law that will prevent employers from asking about wage and salary history of workers to combat this discriminatory practice and promote equal pay and gender equity within the workforce.  This is one more step forward for women who continue to be underpaid and undervalued in the workplace.

Anti-Hunger Advocacy
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What We Accomplished:

LEAMNJ helped get the following bills related to hunger advocacy signed into law: 

  • A4702 "Hunger-Free Campus Act": this established a grant program to address food insecurity among students enrolled in public institutions of higher education.  

  • A4704: this established a food desert produce pilot program. 

  • A4703: this created an "Anti-Hunger Link" for all State websites which will provide information on emergency food services 

  • A4705: this created a “New Jersey Food Waste Task Force” which will make recommendations concerning food waste in New Jersey. 

  • AJR174: This urged large food retailers in the state to reduce food waste and provided practical strategies for accomplishing this.  

  • AJR175: This urged the Chief Innovation Officer of the state to prioritize enhancement of the NJOneApp to include all State anti-hunger programs.

Employment Advocacy
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What We Did:

LEAMNJ worked with advocacy partners to negotiate with legislators using polling data to demonstrate the strong support among New Jerseyans for a minimum wage increase.  We also collaborated with Make the Roads, an immigrant youth organization to organize against a proposal to carve youth workers out of the minimum wage increase.  

What We Accomplished:

In early 2019, we joined many other advocacy partners to help pass a law to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour beginning on July 1, 2019 and then to $11 per hour on Jan. 1, 2020. Currently, the minimum wage is set to increase $1 every year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2024.  Work still needs to be done to address those workers who were carved out of this increase: notably tip workers and farm workers.

2019