Don’t miss Catholic Advocacy Day(CAD) – a great opportunity to meet with your Washington State legislators and advocate for just policies that serve the common good. CAD is sponsored by Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center with support from Catholic Community Service and the Washington State Catholic Conference. Register today at ipjc.org/cad
Advocates can provide a comment to your legislators on any bill by calling the WA State Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000.
Life & Liberty
Bill to Repeal Death Penalty Passes State Senate
Even though the Washington State Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in 2018, it remains part of state law. The Court noted that this is the fourth time Washington’s death penalty laws have been declared unconstitutional since 1972. A bill introduced in the state legislature, SB 5339, removes the defunct statute from Washington’s law books. The Senate passed SB 5339 by a 28-18 margin on January 31. The bill is now before the House Public Safety Committee. The WSCC supports SB 5339.
UW Study of Barriers to Assisted Suicide
The House Health Care & Wellness Committee passed HB 2419 by a 10-4 margin last Friday. The bill will be heard by the House Appropriations Committee on Saturday, February 8, at 9:00 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.
February 8th – Day of Prayer Against Human Trafficking
Saturday is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. On February 8th, Catholics all over the world are encouraged to host or attend prayer services to generate greater awareness about human trafficking. The Pope’s prayer intention this month is “We pray that the cries of our migrant brothers and sisters, victims of criminal human smuggling and human trafficking, may be heard and considered.” #PrayAgainstTrafficking. Click here to view the February Pope Video. For more ideas, visit USCCB’s 2020 Day of Prayer web page.
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. The bill is now before the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee. The WSCC supports HB 1110.
Advocates can comment on any bill by calling the WA State Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000.
Improving Access to TANF
The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program is a crucial part of the social safety net. The House Appropriations Committee passed HB 2441 on February 6. The House Rules Committee is now considering the bill. 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
On February 4, the House Rules Committee placed HB 2320 on the House floor calendar. 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 unanimously passed SB 6356, a very similar bill, on February 6. The WSCC supports both HB 2320 and SB 6356.
ACTION NEEDED – Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE)
ILast week, the House Education Committee passed an extensively amended HB 2184 by a razor-thin margin of 9-8. The bill would set a statewide standard for Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) for all students in K-12 public schools. This would prevent locally elected school boards from self-determining their own policy in this sensitive area rather than enabling them to protect the values of their community. HB 2184 also fails to address adequately complex moral issues tied to human sexuality.
HB 2184 is now before the House Appropriations Committee and must be passed by the committee before the end of February 11, the fiscal committee cutoff. The Appropriations committee has not yet scheduled a hearing on HB 2184. The House Education Committee is also considering a similar CSE bill, SB 5395. WSCC is opposed to both bills.
New Videos for Prayer and Action as Faithful Citizens
The USCCB has released several videos to complement Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the bishops’ teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics. The Faithful Citizenship resources seek to help Catholics participate in public life, prioritize faith over partisan politics, engage with civility, and respond to pressing issues of our day. Each video ends with a prayer. The videos are available on the USCCB’s YouTube channeland at FaithfulCitizenship.org in four languages: English, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis points powerfully to the vocation of faith-filled citizenship:
An authentic faith … always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it. We love this magnificent planet on which God has put us, and we love the human family which dwells here, with all of its tragedies and struggles, its hopes and aspirations, its strengths and weaknesses. The earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters. If indeed ‘the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics,’ the Church ‘cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.”