The Catholic Bishops of Washington State released a pastoral statement February 27 calling on all Washingtonians to work toward healing our political divisions. The Bishops point out that civility is everyone’s responsibility, “If we want people running for elected office to behave better, we have to start with behaving better with people we encounter who hold differing opinions than our own.”
Observing the paralysis of our political system, the bishops stressed the urgency of alleviating human suffering at home and abroad. “We must learn again how to work with people who hold different political positions and keep the pressing priorities paramount,” said Archbishop Paul D. Etienne. “We cannot let disagreements derail our efforts for the common good.”
In his annual message for Lent, Pope Francis wrote, “Putting the paschal mystery at the center of our lives means feeling compassion towards the wounds of the crucified Christ present in the many innocent victims of wars, in attacks on life, from that of the unborn to that of the elderly, and various forms of violence. They are likewise present in environmental disasters, the unequal distribution of the earth’s goods, human trafficking in all its forms, and the unbridled thirst for profit, which is a form of idolatry.” To read the Pope’s entire message, click here.
Advocates can provide a comment to your legislators on any bill by calling the WA State Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000.
Life and Liberty
House Panel Passes Bill to Repeal Death Penalty
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. SB 5339 removes the statute from Washington’s law books. The House Public Safety Committee heard this bill on February 24. Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg, Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle, testified on behalf of the WSCC in support of repealing the death penalty in our state. You can watch a recording of his testimony (at about 1:23:00 from the beginning). On February 27, the Committee passed SB 5339. The WSCC supports SB 5339.
The Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee passed HB 2419 by an 8-3 margin on February 26. The Senate Ways & Means Committee will hear the bill on February 28 at 3:30pm. 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
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 Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee passed HB 1110 by an 8-6 margin on February 25. The Senate Transportation Committee hear the bill on March 2 (1:30 pm in Senate Hearing Room 1, Cherburg Building). The WSCC supports HB 1110.
Bill to Improve Access to TANF
The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program is a crucial part of the social safety net. The Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee passed HB 2441 on February 25. The bill has been referred to the Senate Ways & Means 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 Bill
The Senate Law & Justice Committee passed HB 2320 on February 27. 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
Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE)
The House Education Committee passed SB 5395 on February 27. 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 SB 5395.
A number of people contacted us that there were many more people against SB 5395 at the February 20 hearing than was reported in last week’s Bulletin. Our estimate was of those who were present in the hearing room. In checking with committee staff, there were a total of 655 people who signed in against the bill and 96 people in support. We apologize for the confusion.
Advocates can comment on any bill by calling the WA State Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000.