Meet Tricia Grimes
As a state employee for 38 years, Tricia Grimes learned quite a bit about how government works. In her roles as nonpartisan fiscal analyst for the Minnesota House of Representatives and legislative liaison for the Minnesota office of Higher Education, she saw how government can help working families and how it can fail them. And as a longtime United Methodist, her faith commitments led her to believe that government can and must do better. “We hear all the time about what the Gospel and the Old Testament say about trying to work for the least of these trying to make life better for those who are poor and forgotten, the outcasts and the strangers,” she told me. Now that she’s retired, Tricia is putting her knowledge of government and moral commitment to improving the lives of the less fortunate to work as a JRLC volunteer.
Tricia said that she is passionate about JRLC because the organization has proven “really good at advocating for practical things that can help make the lives of the least of these better.” She pointed out that JRLC plays an important role in lobbying for the interests of people who are too busy working and taking care of their families to lobby politicians to enact policies that would improve their lives. Even though many elected politicians are hesitant to invest in social programs, and lax campaign finance laws ensure wealthy donors have more sway than ever, JRLC has worked with politicians of all stripes to advance important legislative priorities. These include a bill that would reduce tax disincentives to marriage and another that would allow judges to waive state-imposed traffic fines if the defendant is unable to pay, so that low-income workers don’t have to worry about losing their Driver’s License over parking tickets.
Despite the successes of the the recent legislative session, there is still much work to be done at the capitol. In the next legislative session, JRLC will continue to work on advancing priorities such as boosting the Minnesota Family Investment Program Grant, increasing the Working Families Tax Credit, and protecting and expanding access to affordable health care and housing. Though it will be challenging to accomplish these goals in the current political environment, Tricia shared her hope that JRLC’s unique role and mission can cut through the political clutter and partisanship and ensure that politicians prioritize the issues working families face. “When people like JRLC stand up for folks who are poor, it gives politicians some political cover,” she said. “They can say look you may be opposing this but I have this other group over here, that are people of faith that are telling me that this is exactly what I should be doing.”