Catholic Advocacy Day (CAD) is your opportunity to meet with your Washington State legislators and advocate for just policies serving the common good. CAD is sponsored by Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center with support from Catholic Community Services and Washington State Catholic Conference. Please register by February 7 at ipjc.org/cad.
Life and Liberty
UW Study of Barriers to Assisted Suicide
The House Health Care & Wellness Committee plans to vote on HB 2419 today. 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
Justice, Peace & Environment
Clean Fuel Standard Bill Moves to Senate
The Clean Fuel Standard guarantees a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector while allowing market forces to determine which fuels best achieve results. HB 1110 directs the Department of Ecology to adopt a rule establishing a Clean Fuels Program to limit greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. Washington is the only state on the West Coast without a Clean Fuel Standard. On January 29, the full House passed HB 1110 by a 52-44 margin. The bill is now before the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee. The WSCC supports HB 1110.
Supreme Court Allows “Public Charge” Rule while Legal Challenge Continues
On January 27, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision allowing the Trump Administration to implement its “public charge” rule everywhere in the United States (except Illinois) while litigation challenging the legality of the rule proceeds through the federal courts. The USCCB issued a statement that reads in part: “The Supreme Court’s decision will have devastating consequences for immigrant communities, as those impacted are cast into the shadows because they fear deportation and family separation for seeking critical support. . . .The Church upholds the dignity of all human life, and the Gospel compels us to serve those who are in need, regardless of their circumstances. Preventing anyone from having access to life-saving services is contrary to our belief that all life is sacred from its beginning to its end.”
The USCCB noted that the Supreme Court decision “focuses solely on the preliminary injunction and, as such, we remain hopeful that the courts will declare the ‘public charge’ rule illegal. … We remain steadfast in Pope Francis’s call to welcome, protect, promote and integrate our immigrant brothers and sisters.”
Improving Access to TANF
The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program is a crucial part of the social safety net. The House Human Services & Early Learning Committee passed HB 2441 on January 24. The bill is now before the House Appropriations Committee. 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.
Awareness Training on Human Trafficking
The House Consumer Protection & Business Committee passed a modified version of HB 2320 on January 28. 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 Senate Law & Justice Committee will hear SB 6356, a very similar bill, on February 3 at 10:00 am and plans to vote on February 6. The WSCC supports both HB 2320 and SB 6356.
Holy Land Catholic Leaders: Trump Peace Plan “Will Create More Tensions”
In response to President Trump’s Peace-to-Prosperity plan concerning Israeli and Palestinian relations, the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land said the U.S. plan “does not give dignity and rights to the Palestinians. It is to be considered a unilateral initiative, since it endorses almost all the demands of one side, the Israeli one, and its political agenda. On the other hand, this plan does not really take into considerations the just demands of the Palestinian people for their homeland, their rights and dignified life. This plan will bring no solution but rather will create more tensions and probably more violence and bloodshed.”
The Assembly group includes Catholic bishops and patriarchs of different rites as well as the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land and one nun. The statement concluded with an invitation to “all world Christian Churches to pray for the Holy Land, to work towards justice and peace and to be the voice of the voiceless.”
Two Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) Bills Considered
In an interesting turn, the House Education Committee has scheduled a vote on HB 2184 for February 3 at 1:30 pm. The same committee is considering another CSE bill, SB 5395. While not identical, the two bills are similar in that they would set a statewide standard for Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) for all students in K-12 public schools. The WSCC will continue to advocate for protecting the right and responsibility of parents to be the primary educators of their children. WSCC is opposed to both bills.