|Inside this issue January 22, 2018|
|(Click on the links to visit the WSCC website; scroll down to read here)|
The 2018 legislative session is already a quarter of the way through its allotted 60 days. The big news is that both the House and Senate passed the capital budget, providing initial funding that paves the way for seven Catholic Charities housing projects to move forward. The WSCC was busy last week with Archbishop J. Peter Sartain testifying January 16 against the abortion insurance mandate bill (SB 6219). At the same time but in a different hearing, Dr. Sarah Bartel testified on behalf of the WSCC against SB 6037 which would legalize paid surrogacy in our state. On Monday of this week, Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg will testify twice, first in support of repealing the state’s death penalty and then against legislation that would requiremaking it an unfair employment practice for any employer providing health insurance to fail to include contraception coverage.
We thank all of you who have already communicated with your legislators and we encourage those of you who are participating in today’s Mass for Life and March for Life to visit the offices of your legislators, especially to comment on the bills being heard today (see the first three bills listed below in the Life & Religious Liberty section and click here for a list of talking points on these bills).
Repealing the Death Penalty (SB 6052) -The U.S. Bishops have long supported abolishing the death penalty and, last year, Pope Francis condemned the death penalty as “an inhumane measure that, regardless of how it is carried out, abases human dignity.” Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg will testify in support of the bill at the Senate Law & Justice Committee hearing on January 22 at 10:00 am (Cherberg Building, Senate Hearing Room 4).
Expanding Access to Contraception (SB 6102) – This legislation would elevate access to contraception to a right and create legal risk for every employer in the state if contraceptives are not offered. As currently written, this legislation does not adequately protect religious liberty nor conscience rights. Bishop Mueggenborg will testify against the bill at a public hearing in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee on Monday, January 22, at 10:00 am, Cherberg Building, Senate Hearing Room 1.
Reproductive Health Access for Undocumented Immigrants (SB 6105) – This bill would be limited to undocumented immigrants but provide free coverage for abortion, contraception, and sterilization. While the Catholic Church cares deeply about the wellbeing of all undocumented immigrants and frequently advocates on behalf of justice for immigrants, the Church opposes providing greater access to services that are contrary to the life and dignity of all human life. The Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee will hear SB 6105 at the same time as SB 6102 (see above for details).
Abortion Insurance Mandate (SB 6219) – This bill would mandate abortion coverage in insurance plans in the state of Washington. The Catholic Bishops of Washington strongly oppose it because it would enhance existing contraception coverage requirements and promote abortions while violating constitutionally-protected conscience rights. Archbishop Sartain testified against the bill before the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee on January 16. The committee has yet to schedule a vote. To watch the video of the Archbishop’s testimony, click here (his testimony begins at 2 minutes 55 seconds into the video).
Uniform Parentage Act (SB 6037) – A section of this multi-faceted bill would legalize paid or contract surrogacy. The Catholic Church opposes surrogacy because it treats human beings as commodities. Sarah Bartel, Ph.D., testified on behalf of WSCC at a public hearing on January 16. The Senate Law & Justice Committee is scheduled to vote on the measure on Thursday, January 25. To access the video of Dr. Bartel’s testimony, click here (her testimony begins approximately an hour and 20 minutes from the beginning).
Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Students (HB 1539) – This bill establishes a task force to develop a prevention of sexual abuse curriculum for students in grades K-12 had a hearing on January 16 in the House Education Committee.
School Safety (HB 1703) – The bill would require private and public schools to meet new safe school plans requirements. It was heard by the House Education Committee on January 16 and appears headed for a vote in committee this week.
Capital Budget (SB 6090) – The 2017-2019 $4.38 billion capital budget includes $106 million for affordable housing projects across the state, including seven being developed by Catholic Housing Services and Catholic Charities in the three dioceses. On January 18, the Senate passed the capital budget unanimously and shortly thereafter, the House passed it by a 95-1 margin.
Legal Financial Obligations (LFO) (HB 1783) – The bill would help people convicted of crimes get back on their feet after being incarcerated by eliminating the interest on most of the court-imposed debt and limiting the sanctions for those with an inability to pay. Having passed the full House earlier this month, LFO reform is now before the Senate Law & Justice Committee.
Homeless Housing and Assistance (also referred to as document recording fee) (HB 1570) – This legislation would make the temporary Homeless Housing and Assistance surcharge permanent while increasing the surcharge from $40 to $90. Without extending the surcharge, thousands would likely become homeless. The House Appropriations Committee heard the bill on January 17 and a vote is scheduled for January 22.
Source of Income Discrimination (SB 5407) – SB 5407 prohibits a landlord from discriminating against applicants or tenants based on their source of income was heard by the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee on January 11 but the committee has yet to schedule a vote.
|UPCOMING ADVOCACY OPPORTUNITIES|
January 25 (Olympia) – WCADP (WA Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty) Death Penalty Lobby Day, for more information and to register: https://abolishdeathpenalty.salsalabs.org/lobbyday2018/index.html.
February 21 (Olympia) – Catholic Advocacy Day: Gather at St. Michael Parish before meeting with state legislators. Includes Mass celebrated by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain. For details, see the flyer in English and Spanish. Registration is now open – please do so by February 2. For questions, call: 206.223.1138 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to view WSCC bulletins on our website.