Democracy is not a
spectator sport

Immigration, Mental Health, and Predatory Lending Advocacy at City Council

November 22nd, 2017

In the past two months, OTOC Action teams have been present in city council meetings to testify on different issues.

OTOC adds support to City Council Resolution to tell Congress to act swiftly for DACA Dreamers

On October 17th, Jean Reiner of St. Stephens and the Immigration and Refugee Action Team testified about a Resolution for Omaha City Council to urge Congress to act swiftly on behalf of Dreamers and create a plan to protect DACA recipients. The Council voted in favor of the resolution after OTOC and many other individuals and organizations testified in favor of the resolution and City Council’s support of people in Omaha with DACA status. City Council passed the Resolution with five in support, two passing.

Jim Morely at City Council

Jim Morley testifying at he City Council meeting

OTOC and Allies get unanimous City Council support on Pay Day Lending and Mental Health

Omaha City Council  voted 7-0 on Tuesday Nov 21 to support LB 194 or similar legislation to better regulate Pay Day Lending. CM Pete Festersen introduced the resolution for the City to include this support in their  Priority for the 2018 Unicameral Session.  Jim Morely of Urban Abbey and the OTOC Predatory Lending Team testified that OTOC has ahad several house meetings in the last month and an Issue Cafe at Urban Abbey last Friday, all about Pay Day Lending. He said that over 90 people have attended these sessions and most were amazed that lenders are permitted under Nebraska law to charge so much in fees and interest and to trap borrowers in a cycle of debt. 

Jim was joined by leaders of several of our allies in this effort including Amanda Brewer, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, Nebraska Appleseed Attorney Ken Smith and Julia Tse of Voices for Children. The lively hearing involved lots of questions from City Council members, all of whom pledged at OTOC’s May 1 Accountability Session that they would work with OTOC to seek reform of Pay Day Lending in Nebraska. Their unanimous action today means that they have taken the first step in keeping their pledge to OTOC.

Click here to see KETV’s Coverage of the Council’s support for LB 194

Sarita Penka testifying at the City Council Meeting

Sarita Penka testifying at the City Council Meeting

Sarita Penka of St. Leo Catholic and the Mental Health Action Team testified in favor of two resolutions related to making Mental Health Care more accessible. The first resolution indicated City Council supports legislation that would allow mental health care professionals to initiate Emergency Protective Custody proceedings, and not just law enforcement officials as is now the case in Nebraska. Sarita told a moving family story to which CM Brinker Harding asked follow up questions and Sarita responded with authority and wisdom. 

Sarita then testified in favor of a resolution seeking a change in state law to  allow patients in Emergency Protective Custody to be transported to other states if no beds are available in state. Sarita cited the example of the wisdom of allowing patients from Omaha to be taken across the river to Council Bluffs if there a mental health beds free there at a time when none are free in Omaha.

Both of the Mental Health resolutions also passed City Council and will be included in the City’s Legislative Priority List for 2018. Click here to see the Omaha World Heralds story about City Council’s Legislative Package

 

Newsletter Sign Up