Morning briefing – Dec. 21

Staff report

* U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) have called on the Administration to comply with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and give Americans applying for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Federally-Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) a meaningful opportunity to register to vote. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the senators noted that each time a person applies for health insurance through the FFM—whether by phone, by mail, or online—he or she should be provided with an opportunity to register to vote in compliance with the requirements of the NVRA.

“There is no right more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote,” said Brown. “Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans now have access to affordable and high quality health insurance options. Our democracy is strengthened when more eligible voters go to the polls and these individuals deserve a meaningful opportunity to register to vote.”

“The more Americans have enough information and access to exercise their right to vote, the better for our democracy,” Durbin said. “Thanks to the National Voter Registration Act, citizens who apply for public assistance are able to register to vote at the same time. We should give the same opportunity to the millions of Americans signing up for affordable health insurance through the ACA’s federal exchange.”

The NVRA ensures that all individuals who apply for public assistance are granted a meaningful opportunity to register to vote. While most states that are operating their own exchanges under the ACA have already taken steps to comply with this law, the FFM, which only includes a link to a voter registration form in its online application, is not currently in full compliance with the law.

* The University of Findlay has received a $400,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to finance free, annual week-long summer institutes, beginning in 2016, for rising 10-12th grade students who are interested in learning more about their faith, and how it intersects with and informs other aspects of their lives, including career choice.

UF is calling its program “The Well,” a Biblical reference, to emphasize how faith and future flow together.

The institutes will have a non-denominational, Christian-focused context, but students from all faith traditions are welcome to participate. Activities involving on-campus education and trips throughout the region will incorporate numerous opportunities to learn about other religions, including Islam and Judaism. The effort is meant to serve as a faith-strengthening endeavor, not a proselytizing opportunity.

The funding is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s High School Youth Theology Institutes initiative, which seeks to encourage young people to explore theological traditions, ask questions about the moral dimensions of contemporary issues and examine how their faith calls them to lives of service.

The first of four annual summer institutes will be held Sunday through Friday, July 10-15, 2016. Fifty participants will be accepted. Overnight accommodations, food and all activities will be fully funded for participants. This event, and subsequent institutes, will be conducted by faculty in UF’s religion and philosophy department, Campus Ministry, faculty and staff from the University’s other five colleges, and by college student leaders.

Staff report