The House Health Care & Wellness Committee is planning to vote on HB 2419 on January 31 at 8:00 am. The bill proposes a study of the barriers to people accessing lethal medication to commit assisted suicide. The bill directs the University of Washington to “conduct a study of the ability of Washington residents to access the Washington ‘death with dignity act.'” The study could lay the groundwork for the expansion of assisted suicide in the state. The WSCC opposes HB 2419.
U.S. Supreme Court Considers Blaine Amendment Case
On January 22, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The case challenges a decision by the Montana Supreme Court to invalidate a tax credit scholarship program because families benefiting include those who choose to send their children to religiously-affiliated schools, a violation of the Montana state constitution’s “Blaine Amendment” of 1889 against aid to religious schools.
The USCCB commented that the case is “about whether our nation will continue to tolerate this strain of anti-Catholic bigotry. Blaine Amendments, which are in 37 states’ constitutions, were the product of nativism. They were never meant to ensure government neutrality towards religion, but were expressions of hostility toward the Catholic Church.” The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the petitioners, which can be found on the USCCB website.
Justice, Peace & Environment
Private Detention Facilities
The Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma is owned and operated by the GEO Group Inc. and can hold over 1500 undocumented immigrants who have been detained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. There have been many deficiencies with the Tacoma center over the years. Other states are trying to curtail the use of for-profit prison facilities because of poor living conditions for the inmates and the failure of the facilities to be as cost-efficient as promised. The Washington Legislature is considering a bill that would phase out private detention facilities once the current contracts expire. The Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee will hear SB 6442 on January 29 at 8:00 am. The WSCC supports SB 6442.
Training on Human Trafficking
The House Consumer Protection & Business Committee heard HB 2320 on January 21. The committee is planning to vote today on the bill. The legislation requires all hotel and motel employees to undergo human trafficking awareness training each year. The government would enforce the training requirement by not renewing or issuing a license to a hotel or motel without first receiving written certification that the human trafficking training requirements have been met. The WSCC supports HB 2320.
Improving TANF Access
The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program is a crucial part of the social safety net. The House Human Services & Early Learning Committee has scheduled a vote on HB 2441 for January 28 at 1:30 pm. TANF is also known as WorkFirst in our state. The bill gives case managers more flexibility in applying certain provisions to prevent homelessness, address racial disparities, and consider individual factors when assessing each client’s compliance with the program’s requirements. The WSCC supports HB 2441.
EARTH DAY 2020: Pre-register NOW
Earth Day 2020 will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! The Earth Day Network’s theme for this special Earth Day is “Climate Action.” For Catholics, 2020 also marks the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’. Between Earth Day (April 22) and the Laudato Si’ anniversary (May 24), there will be many opportunities for Catholics to take climate action. Catholic Climate Covenant is producing a one-hour educational Earth Day program to help mobilize Catholic action on climate change. Our chosen theme is “Earth Day at 50/Laudato Si’ at 5: An Urgent Appeal for Action.”Pre-register now to receive the Earth Day 2020 program in your email inbox and to receive special organizing information for the anniversaries of Earth Day and Laudato Si’.
Comprehensive Sex Education
As anticipated at the start of the 2020 legislative session, the Senate has again passed SB 5395 by the same vote tally (28-21) as in 2019. Similar to HB 2184 (as well as HB 1407 and SB 6175), SB 5395 sets a statewide standard for Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) for all students in K-12 public schools. The bill is now before the House Education Committee. HB 2184 had been scheduled for a committee vote but it was canceled.
The WSCC will continue to advocate for protecting the right and responsibility of parents to be the primary educators of their children and the integrity of the family. WSCC is opposed to all four bills.