WSCC 2021 Catholic Advocacy Bulletin – 1.29.21

WSCC 2021 Catholic Advocacy Bulletin, No. 4                                         January 29, 2021

State Legislative Update

Action Alert: Urge your State Representatives to Oppose Expanding Assisted Suicide

Click here to urge your State Representatives to oppose expanding assisted suicide.  House Bill 1141 (HB 1141) increases access to physician assisted suicide and accelerates the process.  The bill broadens the definition of “qualified medical provider” and loosens the definition of those who can provide counseling. Additionally, this bill decreases the amount of time that a patient is required to wait between making a request and receiving a prescription to terminate his or her life.  The waiting period would be shortened from 15 days to 72 hours under HB 1141.  Bishop Mueggenborg of the Archdiocese of Seattle and WSCC Executive Director, Mario Villanueva, testified against HB 1141 on January 18.  View their testimony at 1:29:02. It is anticipated that the HB 1141 will be brought to the House floor for debate.  The WSCC opposes HB 1141.

Action Alert: Support the Working Families Tax Exemption

Support the Working Families Tax Exemption by signing in as “pro” for House Bill 1297 (HB 1297).  The link to sign in will be available until 12:30 pm on February 2.  This tax credit will assist low-income, working individuals and families, including tax-paying immigrants.  The HB 1297 tax credit seeks to address Washington’s regressive tax system, which causes low-income Washingtonians, who are primarily Black, American Indian and Alaskan Native, Latina or Latino, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, and multiracial, to pay six times more in taxes as a percentage of their household income in comparison to wealthier residents.  HB 1297 is scheduled for a hearing before the House Committee on Finance on February 2.  WSCC supports HB 1297.

Action Alert: Sign In As “Pro” For SB 5226 To End Debt-based Driver’s License Suspensions

Click here to sign in as “pro” for Senate Bill 5226 (SB 5226), which ends debt-based driver’s license suspensions.  This link will be available until 9:30 am on February 4.  Current law adversely affects low-income families and individuals.  When low-income individuals are unable to pay fines for civil driving infractions that are not crimes, such as failing to signal, their driving license may be suspended.  When they must inevitably drive to work, the grocery store, or a medical appointment, low-income individuals then risk being charged with a crime: Driving While License Suspended in the Third Degree (DWLS3).  Ultimately, inability to pay for a civil driving infraction leads to being charged with a crime with an accompanying loss of vehicle insurance coverage.  SB 5226 stops the suspension of driver’s licenses for financial reasons and the accompanying automatic loss of vehicle insurance coverage. Having a valid driver’s license is a necessity of life for many people in Washington, for work and to provide transportation for their families.  SB 5226’s hearing before the Senate Law and Justice Committee will take place on February 4.  In accordance with the bishops’ economic justice legislative priority, the WSCC supports SB 5226.

Action Alert: Contact the Appropriations Committee about the Clean Fuels Bill (HB 1091)

Click here to sign in as “pro” for the Clean Fuels bill, House Bill 1091 (HB 1091).  HB 1091 is scheduled for a hearing before the House Committee on Appropriations on February 4.  The deadline for signing in your position is February 4 at 2:30 pm.  The Clean Fuels Bill reduces the carbon intensity of transportation fuel to reduce greenhouse emissions gas. Its Senate companion bill is SB 5231. In accordance with Pope Francis’s call to care for God’s creation in Laudato Si, the WSCC supports HB 1091.

Creating Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education (HB 1044) Moves to Appropriations

Action Alert: If one of your state representatives is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, please ask your representative to pass House Bill 1044 (HB 1044) out of the Appropriations Committee.  A list of committee members is here.  HB 1044 permits the Department of Corrections (DOC) to implement postsecondary education certificate and degree programs at state correctional institutions.  It also establishes processes for identifying, assessing and accommodating incarcerated persons with learning disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, and cognitive impairments. Related to the bishops’ restorative justice priority, the WSCC supports HB 1044.

SB 5068 Improves Maternal Health Outcomes

Action Alert: If your state senator is on the Ways and Means Committee, please email your senator and ask him or her to pass SB 5068 out of committee to the Senate floor.  A committee list may be found hereSenate Bill 5068 (SB 5068) expands postpartum maternal coverage from 60 days to one year for recipients of Apple Health.  Apple Health provides health coverage for eligible families, children, low-income adults, and certain disabled individuals.  Throughout Washington state and the US, maternal mortality rates are much higher than other developed countries, with stark ethnic disparities.  The Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care passed SB 5068 and referred it to Ways and Means.  Related to our health care and racial justice legislative priorities, the WSCC supports SB 5068.

HB 1151 Bolsters Economic Recovery

House Bill 1151 (HB 1151) aims to bolster economic recovery by providing assistance to families in need.  This bill allows Consolidated Emergency Assistance to be provided more than once in a 12-month period when directed by the governor; provides a one-time cash benefit and transitional food assistance; and requires the Department Social and Health Services to update standards of need for cash assistance programs.  HB 1151 has passed out of the House Committee on Housing, Human Services, and Veterans and has been referred to Appropriations.

HB 1072: Civil Legal Aid Funds for Undocumented Immigrants

House Bill 1072 (HB 1072) gives undocumented immigrants access to civil legal aid funds.  These funds can be used for legal matters such as domestic relations and family law, elder abuse, disability rights, and health care.  Yesterday the House Committee on Appropriations voted to pass HB 1072.  In accordance with the bishops’ legislative priorities to help low-income individuals, including immigrants, the Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC) supports HB 1072.

HB 1009: Addition of Abortion Coverage to Student Health Plans

House Bill 1009 (HB 1009) expands the coverage of abortion in student health plans for colleges and universities.  Any student health plan that provides coverage for maternity care or services will also be required to include equivalent coverage to permit the abortion of a pregnancy.  This bill was fast-tracked.  HB 1009 was passed by the House Committee on Health Care and Wellness and has been referred to the Rules 2 Review.  It is anticipated that the bill will be brought to the House floor for debate.  The WSCC opposes HB 1009.

Private Schools Emergency Waiver Bill (HB 1131) Passes House

House Bill 1131 (HB 1131) provides a waiver for private schools to maintain their approval status when they are unable to meet minimum schools days or instructional hours due to a significant disruption resulting from an emergency situation. This bill is favorable to Catholic schools and allows them to be in good status with the state as schools contend with the challenges of the pandemic.  The House passed the bill unanimously, and it will now go to the Senate. The WSCC supports HB 1131.

Voter Eligibility, HB 1078

House Bill 1078 (HB 1078) will automatically restore voter eligibility to individuals convicted of a felony offense who are not serving a sentence of total confinement under the authority of the Department of Corrections.  Currently, convicted persons must undergo a two-step process to regain voting eligibility.  The House Committee on State Government and Tribal Relations passed HB 1078, and it has been referred to Rules 2.  In accordance with the Washington bishops’ restorative justice legislative priority, the WSCC supports HB 1078.

Housing Stability and Eviction Prevention

House Bill 1277 (HB 1277) creates a revenue source for housing stability services for low-income individuals and those experiencing homelessness.  It also creates funds to prevent the eviction of households likely to become homeless or who would have severe health consequences, or both.  The House Housing, Human Services and Veterans Committee is scheduled to vote on this bill today.  Committed to affordable housing, the WSCC supports HB 1277.

SB 5010: Concerning Credit Scores and Equity

Senate Bill 5010 (SB 5010) prohibits the use of credit scores to determine rates for personal lines of insurance.  The use of credit scoring to calculate rates for personal lines of insurance is unfair and has a disproportionately negative economic impact on women, low-income individuals, and communities of color in Washington.  On January 14 the Senate Committee on Business, Financial Services, and Trade conducted a hearing on this bill, and no further action has been scheduled at this time.  The WSCC supports SB 5010.

Voice Your Opinion on Legislation

As a reminder, you may submit written comments on a bill at any time.  To leave a message for legislators about a bill, call 1-800-562-6000.

Upcoming Events

Virtual Catholic Advocacy Day on March 23, 2021  –Register for our first virtual Catholic Advocacy Day (CAD).  Scheduled for March 23, CAD will include opportunities to pray at Mass, talk with your legislators virtually alongside fellow Catholics in your district, and participate in a social media campaign.  Participate in all or some of the day’s activities as your schedule allows.  Please register for this free event by March 9 if you would like to meet with your legislators during CAD.

January Pro-Life Activities

As we remember the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision on January 22, there are a number of pro-life activities in January:

  • January 29: National March for Life in Washington, DC
  • January 31:  Diocese of Yakima Annual Mass for Life at 11 AM at St. Paul Cathedral.  Mass will be celebrated by Most Rev. Joseph J. Tyson, Bishop of Yakima. Reservations for the Mass for Life may be made at

Important Dates

January           January is Poverty Awareness Month
January           January is Anti-Trafficking Month
January 29      National March for Life in Washington, DC

January 30      Eastern Washington Legislative Conference
January 31      Diocese of Yakima Annual Mass for Life
January 31      Catholic Schools Week begins
February 6-9   Catholic Social Ministry Gathering
March 23         Virtual Catholic Advocacy Day

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