Economic Justice Policy Advocates Conference


Economic Justice Policy Advocates Conference

November 30 – December 1, 2020

We are pleased to announce the inaugural (and virtual) state Economic Justice Policy Advocates Conference. Jointly hosted by the UC Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice, the National Consumer Law Center, the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, the National Association of Consumer AdvocatesTexas Appleseed, and the Center for Responsible Lending, the conference will be an opportunity for state advocates from across the country (along with a few federal counterparts) to come together to share ideas and priorities, workshop bill ideas, and test out new approaches to consumer rights and economic justice policy and state legislative advocacy.

 
The focus of this convening will be identifying and crafting state legislative opportunities to promote racial and economic justice as we work to help low-income people and communities of color recover from the COVID-19 crisis, and thrive in its wake.
 
While we plan to have keynotes and opportunities to network, the focus of the convening will be workshop sessions, where a group of advocates will focus on a single Policy Idea – say, a draft bill that automatically sets aside a certain amount of money when a debtor’s bank account is levied – or a single Policy Problem – for example, how to respond to industry bills that create regulatory “sandboxes” for fintech companies. No talking heads. Just rolled-up sleeves.
 
This will be a working conference. We hope each person attending will submit at least one Policy Idea or one Policy Problem ahead of time. The organizers will select from among these ideas to create workshop sessions. Attendees should plan to read and consider the materials for each session before the conference begins, so we can use the session time to develop the Idea or work to solve the Problem.   
 
We are hoping for 1-2 representatives per state, with another rep or two from larger states, and a small complement of federal advocates. We seek to bring together the people from each state who fit this description: “If there is a consumer / economic justice bill moving through the legislature, they will know.” Please let us know of anyone from your state (or another state) who needs to be there.
 
The conference is open to a wide variety of ideas and proposals to advance consumer protection and economic justice. We anticipate workshopping bill ideas to ensure access to justice or to combat the COVID-related wave of debt collection, evictions and foreclosures. But we also want to encourage broad policy ideas that promote racial and economic justice, including affirmative anti-poverty ideas you think are possible at the state level.
 

 

Steering Committee:

 
Ted Mermin, UC Berkeley Center for Consumer Law & Economic Justice
Marceline White, Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition
Christine Hines, National Association of Consumer Advocates
Ann Baddour, Texas Appleseed
Michael Best, National Consumer Law Center
Marisabel Torres, Center for Responsible Lending
 
 

Questions? Please email Ted Mermin at mermin@berkeley.edu and/or Ben Hiebert at ben.hiebert@law.berkeley.edu.

Center Gathers National Cohort of Consumer Champions for Inaugural Economic Justice Policy Advocates Conference

December 7, 2020

The week after Thanksgiving, a remarkable group of advocates from across the country came together for the first-ever Economic Justice Policy Advocates Conference. The Center hosted the virtual conference along with the National Consumer Law Center, Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, National Association of Consumer Advocates, Texas Appleseed, and Center for Responsible Lending. 

 

Policy advocates from around the nation – many of whom are the only (or almost the only) consumer policy advocate working with their state legislature – had the chance to share ideas and discuss common problems with their counterparts from other states. Tackling topics such as medical debt, criminal fines and fees, and COVID-19 and racial equity, the participants created action plans for meaningful policy changes in their home states. 

 

This first convening of a broad-based national consumer advocacy community allowed advocates to swap stories, trade knowledge, and develop new plans for collaboration. The Center and the other organizers plan to host this conference again in the future, with great eagerness to see what progress is made in the meantime by the change-makers who attended this year.