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 Awaits House Hearing
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 bill is before the House Public Safety Committee. The WSCC supports SB 5339.
UW Study of Barriers to Assisted Suicide
The House Appropriations Committee passed HB 2419 by a 26-5 margin on February 11. The bill is now on the House floor calendar. 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. The bill is now before the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee. The WSCC supports HB 1110.
Bill to Improve Access to TANF Clears Hurdle
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 11 by a 18-13 margin. The House Rules Committee placed the bill on the floor calendar and it must come up for a vote before the next cutoff on February 19. 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 2441.0.
House Passes Awareness Training on Human Trafficking Bill
On February 12, the full House passed HB 2320 by a nearly unanimous vote (95-1). Now the bill is before the Senate Law and Justice Committee. 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 full Senate might take up SB 6356, a very similar bill, by early next week. The WSCC supports both HB 2320 and SB 6356.
Action Alert-Global Thrive Act Still Needs Support
Poverty is preventing children from being able to grow and thrive. For children who have seen the devastation of war in their communities or been forced to flee their homes due to violence, their development is impacted severely due to the trauma and stress. A new bill can help children around the world reach their God-given potential. This new bill would improve U.S. foreign aid programs serving children by including simple Early Childhood Development activities that help young children to explore and grow, like parent education about play and nurturing care. Urge your U.S. Representative to support the Global Child Thrive Act (H.R. 4864).
Good News & Bad News on Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE)
First the good news-HB 2184 died in the House Appropriations Committee. The bad news is that the House Education Committee will hear SB 5395 on Thursday, February 20, at 8:00 am in House Hearing Room A (O’Brien Building). 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. SB 5395 also fails to address adequately complex moral issues tied to human sexuality. WSCC is opposed to both bills.
Advocates can comment on any bill by calling the WA State Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000.
New Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Francis
Pope Francis just released a new apostolic exhortation, Querida Amazonia, which focuses on hearing “the cry of the poor” in the Amazon region, the rights of indigenous persons, solidarity, and action to care for God’s creation.
The USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development has released a Study Guide on Querida Amazonia that includes prayers, excerpted quotes with discussion questions, as well as suggestions for action and resources for further study. Learn more about the Querida Amazonia with this summary of the document and the statement by Archbishop José H. Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.