VOICE (Voices Organized in Civic Engagement)


A VOICE Win on Curbing Predatory Lending Expansion

On May 5, 2017, Governor Mary Fallin vetoed HB1913, which would have expanded the types of predatory lending products being offered in the state, as well as eliminated the possibility for cities and counties to regulate themselves on this issue. After most representatives listened to industry lobbyists rather than constituents and passed the bill at the end of April, VOICE and partner organizations shifted our focus to the Governor, encouraging her (and giving her backing) to veto the measure. In news coverage there was mention that the bill "had drawn strong opposition from many church leaders because of its financial impact on low-income families" - that's VOICE leaders and their organizing efforts!

Thanks to Those Who Supported Trivia Night!

Our last fundraiser of the church year netted $860 and got us to where we need on our VOICE dues. Thank you to all those who attended, sponsored trivia tables, bought refreshments, and helped put it on. Special thanks to Cathy Webster & Bill Dycus and Margaret Flansburg, who sponsored tables even though they couldn't attend, and to Patsy & Rodney Goddard for a very generous donation. A huge thanks to Maureen Harvey, who brainstormed the idea, organized it, and emceed it. It was a relaxed gathering of fun UUers and guests, and the right way to end a challenging week. Of course, the Goddard table came in with a strong first place.

A VOICE Win on the OG&E Rate Hike

After many months of organized work, we can celebrate a successful conclusion to the most recent OG&E rate hike case – news that was published in The Oklahoman on March 20 with a quote from a VOICE leader. The Corporation Commission, responding to citizen input over many, many months, denied OG&E their requested $92.5 million rate hike, and allowed just a $8.9 million hike. Importantly, the commission ordered OG&E to refund citizens a portion of the amount they have been collecting since June, when – because of delays – OG&E was allowed to give itself a $69.5 million raise in the interim. Coming later this year: news on OG&E’s next proposed rate hike.

About 1UC and VOICE

One of the major ways that 1UC works in the community on our mission is as a member institution of VOICE. Voices Organized in Civic Engagement (VOICE) is a coalition of 25 member institutions, including congregations, unions, schools, worker associations, and nonprofits.

First Unitarian was one of the founding members of VOICE in 2012. There are many things that work to divide us in today's world, but all of the member institutions of VOICE have agreed to instead focus on the issues that we can agree on. We are all dedicated to making the metro area a better place to live for all of us. We move beyond social services, issue-based volunteerism, and "charity" to help shape the future for our community. By building relationships with others in the community, and standing together as one, we have made progress in a number of areas, such as holding an electricity rate increase down to just a fraction of the original proposal first coming from OG&E, increasing religious people's support for expanding Medicaid by 10 percent, getting post-incarceration fines and fees on the table in criminal justice reform, and keeping some of the harsh anti-immigration legislation from passing at the Capitol.

The UU Core Team of VOICE is made up of people from our congregation who are engaged in VOICE work, and is open to anyone who is interested in learning more. The team meets the fourth Sunday of each month at 9:00 a.m. (Sundra Flansburg, chair). We have active members on most of the issue-focused VOICE Action Teams, which include:

    • Utility Costs
    • Post-incarceration Fines and Fees
    • Improving Public Education
    • Payday Lending Reform
    • Health Care

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