WSCC 2021 Catholic Advocacy Bulletin, No. 11 March 19, 2021
Join Us On Tuesday for Virtual Catholic Advocacy Day
Register for our first virtual Catholic Advocacy Day (CAD). Scheduled for March 23, CAD will include several opportunities to choose from: watch a live keynote address from Governor Jay Inslee, pray at Mass, learn about current legislation that is important to Catholics, talk with your legislators virtually alongside fellow Catholics in your district, and/or participate in a social media campaign. Participate in all or some of the day’s activities as your schedule allows. We have passed the March 9 priority registration date, so appointments with legislators are not guaranteed. However, it is possible that you could be added to a legislative appointment that has already been scheduled. In addition to the WSCC, collaborators include the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center, Catholic Community Services and Catholic Charities of the state, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, leaders from the three dioceses of Washington state, and Jesuits West.
Bills Requiring Your Action Now
How To Sign In “Pro” or “Con” For A Bill Now is the time to sign in “pro” or “con” for bills with scheduled public hearings. These public hearings are your opportunity to easily indicate your position on a bill electronically. When you click on the links provided below, they will bring you to a page titled “Committee Sign In – Remote Testimony.” Please note that “Remote Testimony” in this instance only refers to selecting your position (pro or con) via the web; it does not include verbal testimony. You will also notice that a paragraph in green font explains this. Select your position and fill in your contact information. You do not need to list an organization. Select the “I am not a robot” box. Finally, select “Submit Registration.” Thank you for your advocacy.
Action Alert: Sign In “Pro” for Eliminating Copays for Student Reduced-Price Lunches: Sign in “pro” for House Bill 1342 (HB 1342), eliminating copays for student reduced-price lunches. This link will be available until March 22 at 3 pm, as HB 1342 is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means at 4 pm on March 22. Additionally, if your senator is a member of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, urge your senator to vote in support of the HB 1342 during the executive session scheduled for March 25 at 4:00 pm. Identify your district and state senator here. HB 1342 eliminates lunch copays for students who qualify for reduced-price lunches under the National School Lunch Program. This program provides nutritionally balanced meals to qualifying low-income children at public schools and nonprofit private schools, including Catholic schools. Related to the bishops’ families and children and economic justice priorities, the WSCC supports HB 1342.
Action Alert: Sign In “Pro” for Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education Sign in “pro” for House Bill 1044 (HB 1044), which provides pathways from prison to postsecondary education. This link will be available until March 23 at 3 pm. HB 1044 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means on March 23 at 4 pm.
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.
Senate Committee To Vote On Assisted Suicide: Targeted Action Alert: If your state senator is a member of the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care, please urge your senator to oppose House Bill 1141 (HB 1141), which expands assisted suicide. Identify your district and state senator here. In 2008 Washington voters approved Initiative 1000, the Physician-Assisted Death Initiative, but only after being assured that certain “safeguards” would be in place. HB 1141 loosens safeguards, increasing access to physician assisted suicide and accelerating the process. The bill broadens the definition of a “qualified medical provider” who can make a diagnosis and prescribe lethal medication. HB 1141 also loosens the definition of those who can provide counseling; in lieu of a psychiatrist or psychologist, a social worker, mental health counselor, or psychiatric advanced nurse practitioner may determine if a patient is suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression causing impaired judgement. Additionally, this bill shortens the minimum amount of time from 15 days to just 72 hours that a patient is required to wait between making a request and receiving a prescription to terminate his or her life. The 72 hour wait time may even be waived if the “qualified medical provider” deems that a patient has less than 72 hours to live. HB 1141 also permits assisted suicide prescriptions to be delivered via the mail. Bishop Mueggenborg of the Archdiocese of Seattle and Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC) Executive Director, Mario Villanueva, testified against HB 1141 on January 18. View their testimony at 1:29:02. In accordance with the bishops’ legislative priority to respect life, the WSCC opposes HB 1141.
Support the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act: Targeted Action Alert: If one of your House Representatives is a member of the House Committee on Environment and Energy, please urge your representative to support the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act, Senate Bill 5141 (SB 5141). Identify your district and state senator here. The HEAL Act is scheduled for a committee vote on March 19 at 10 am or March 23 at 8 am. Low-income and communities of color are disproportionately affected by environmental burdens. The HEAL Act addresses this by implementing the recommendations of the Environmental Justice Task Force. Among its provisions, the HEAL Act defines environmental justice and requires its application in state agencies, using a racial justice lens. The HEAL Act also incorporates tribal consultation, directs funding with environmental benefits towards communities highly impacted by pollution or climate change, and establishes the Environmental Justice Council. In accordance with Pope Francis’s call to care for God’s creation in Laudato Si’, the WSCC supports the HEAL Act.
Senate Committee to Vote on HB 1151, Which Bolsters Economic Recovery: Targeted Action Alert: If your senator is a member of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, please urge your senator to support House Bill 1151 (HB 1151), which bolsters economic recovery. Identify your district and state senator here. HB 1151 is scheduled for a vote on March 22 at 4:00 pm. This bill aims to bolster economic recovery by providing assistance to families in need. HB 1151 also requires the Department of Social and Health Services to update standards of need for cash assistance programs. Current standards are based on a 1991 study of living costs and do not accurately capture current need. Updating standards will have multiplying effects in getting assistance to more qualifying families and individuals. HB 1151 also permits Consolidated Emergency Assistance to be provided more than once in a 12-month period when directed by the governor and provides a one-time cash benefit and transitional food assistance. In accordance with the bishops’ economic justice priority, the WSCC supports HB 1151.
House Committee to Vote on Landlord-Tenant Bill: Targeted Action Alert: If one of your House Representatives is a member of the House Committee on Housing, Human Services, and Veterans, urge your representative to support Senate Bill 5160 (SB 5160), which addresses landlord-tenant relations. Identify your district and representatives here. SB 5160 is scheduled for a committee vote on March 23 at 8 am or March 25 at 1:30 pm. The most up-to-date committee schedule information is available here. As low and moderate-income workers have experienced economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic due to layoffs and reduced hours, paying rent has become more difficult. In response, SB 5160 provides some tenant protections during the current public health emergency, provides legal representation for tenants in eviction cases, establishes an eviction resolution pilot program for nonpayment of rent cases, and authorizes landlords to access rental assistance programs. In line with the bishops’ affordable housing legislative priority, the WSCC supports SB 5160.
Senate Committee to Vote On Prohibiting Private, For-Profit Detention Facilities: Targeted Action Alert: If your senator is a member of the Senate Rules Committee, urge your senator to pull House Bill 1090 (HB 1090) from the Rules Committee to the calendar so that the full Senate may consider the bill. Identify your district and state senator here. HB 1090 prohibits the state and local governments from using private, for-profit detention centers, which are outside the purview of public oversight and accountability. Profiteering should not be associated with the detention system. Related to the bishops’ restorative justice and immigration legislative priorities, the WSCC supports HB 1090.
Clean Fuels Bill Referred to Ways and Means – Targeted Action Alert: If your senator is a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, please urge your senator to support House Bill 1091 (HB 1091), the Clean Fuels bill. Identify your district and state senator here. The Clean Fuels Bill reduces the carbon intensity of transportation fuel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. HB 1091 was passed out of the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology and has been referred to Ways and Means. In accordance with Pope Francis’s call to care for God’s creation in Laudato Si’, the WSCC supports HB 1091. Action Alert: Sign In “Pro” for Extensions to Economic Assistance Programs
Targeted Action Alert: If one of your House Representatives is a member of the House Committee on Housing, Human Services, and Veterans, please urge your representative to support Senate Bill 5214 (SB 5214). Identify your district and representatives here. As the economic impacts of COVID-19 have affected low-income families and individuals disproportionately, SB 5214 creates benefit extensions for recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). TANF provides temporary cash assistance, subsidized childcare, and work programs for families. Under SB 5214 TANF recipients may apply for hardship extensions during months that the state unemployment rate is at or above 7%. In line with the bishops’ economic justice legislative priority, the WSCC supports SB 5214.
House Committee to Vote On Bill That Helps Survivors of Trafficking and Domestic Violence: Targeted Action Alert: If one of your House Representatives is a member of the House Committee on Public Safety, please urge your representative to support Senate Bill 5180 (SB 5180), which helps human trafficking and domestic violence survivors. Identify your district and state senator here. SB 5180 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Public Safety on March 23 at 8 am. SB 5180 assists victims of sex trafficking, prostitution, commercial sexual abuse, or domestic violence by establishing a process to vacate, or cancel, convictions related to their victimization. This bill will help survivors rebuild their lives by clearing them of convictions that may hurt their chances to gain employment or benefits. Related to the bishops’ legislative priority to respect life and the dignity of all human persons, the WSCC supports SB 5180.
Appropriations to Vote on Postpartum Maternal Health Coverage. Targeted Action Alert: If one of your House Representatives is a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, urge your representative to support Senate Bill 5068 (SB 5068), which improves postpartum maternal health coverage. Identify your district and representatives here. SB 5068 is scheduled for a committee vote on March 22 at 3:30 pm. 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. Related to our health care and racial justice legislative priorities, the WSCC supports SB 5068.
Voter Eligibility Bill in Rules Committee: Targeted Action Alert: If your senator is a member of the Rules Committee, please ask your senator to pull House Bill 1078 (HB 1078) from the Rules Committee to the calendar so that the full Senate may consider the bill. Identify your district and state senator here. 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. In accordance with the Washington bishops’ restorative justice legislative priority, the WSCC supports HB 1078.
Civil Legal Aid Funds for Undocumented Immigrants Passes Committee: Targeted Action Alert: If your senator is a member of the Rules Committee, please ask your senator to pull House Bill 1072 (HB 1072) from the Rules Committee to the calendar so that the full Senate may consider the bill. Identify your district and state senator here. 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. In accordance with the bishops’ legislative priorities to help low-income individuals, including immigrants, the WSCC supports HB 1072.
Additional State Legislative Updates
Senate Committee to Vote on Making Juneteenth a Holiday: A committee vote is scheduled for March 19 at 10:30 am. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the effective date of the Emancipation Proclamation when Galveston, Texas learned the Civil War ended and enslaved people were freed. Juneteenth commemorates the abolition of slavery and recognizes the contributions of Black/African Americans. Forty-six states recognize Juneteenth as a holiday or day of observance. As part of the bishops’ racial justice legislative priority, the WSCC supports HB 1016.
Senate Committee to Vote on Abortion Mandates for Student Health Plans: On March 19 the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care will vote on House Bill 1009 (HB 1009), which mandates that abortions be covered in student health plans. WSCC staff testified against this bill during its March 17 hearing. Thank you to advocates who signed in against HB 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. HB 1009 is also problematic as it would compel Catholic students at public colleges and universities to purchase health insurance that would subsidize and promote a procedure that violates their consciences. In accordance with the bishops’ legislative priorities of religious liberty and respecting life, the WSCC opposes HB 1009.
Working Families Tax Exemption Passes Senate Committee: On March 18 House Bill 1297 (HB 1297), the Working Families Tax Exemption, passed out of Senate Committee on Human Services, Reentry, and Rehabilitation. It has been referred to Ways and Means. Also commonly known as the Working Families Tax Credit or the Recovery Rebate, HB 1297 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 to pay six times more in taxes as a percentage of their household income in comparison to wealthier residents. The Working Families Tax Credit would reach 500,000 households, including one in four children; have an outsized impact on Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC); and would provide a base credit of $500 to $900. In accordance with the bishops’ priorities of the state budget, economic justice, and racial justice, the WSCC supports HB 1297.
Private Schools Emergency Waiver Bill (HB 1131) Awaits Governor’s Signature: House Bill 1131 (HB 1131) provides a waiver for private schools to maintain their approval status when they are unable to meet minimum school 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. Both the House and Senate passed this bill, and it has been delivered to the governor. It awaits his signature to become law. Related to the bishops’ Catholic Schools legislative priority, the WSCC supports HB 1131.
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.
Legislative Cutoff Dates: The next legislative cutoff date is March 26, the last day for bills to pass out of committee in the opposite house. Bills in the House fiscal committees and Senate Ways and Means and Transportation committees have an extended deadline to April 2. Ultimately, bills must pass both the House of Representatives and the Senate and then be signed by the governor in order to become law. A full list of cutoff dates for the legislative session may be found here.
WSCC Legislative Priorities: Each year the bishops of Washington establish state legislative priorities based on the teachings of the Catholic Church. Details of these 11 priorities may be found on our website. These priorities are reflected in the WSCC’s positions on the bills above.
Upcoming Events – USCCB Respect Life Action Guide: Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord: The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord is March 25. The USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities released this parish action guide to aid with planning.
March 23 Virtual Catholic Advocacy Day
March 25 Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
March 26 Last day to pass bills out of committee from the opposite house, except House fiscal committees and Senate Ways and Means and Transportation committees
March 28 Holy Week Begins
April 2 Last day to pass bills from the opposite house out of House fiscal committees and Senate Ways & Means and Transportation Committees
April 4 Easter
April 11 Last day to pass opposite house bills
April 22 Earth Day
April 25 Final day of the state legislative session
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