WSCC Catholic Advocacy Bulletin - 2015, No. 7
February 23, 2015
During Week 7 of the 2015 Legislative Session, the focus shifts to the fiscal committees in the Senate and House (Senate Ways & Means, House Appropriations and House Finance). Any bill that has a budget impact must pass one of these committees by the cutoff date Friday, February 27th. After that date, the attention shifts to the floor of each chamber where legislators will consider bills.
Seven Million Reasons to Register for Catholic Advocacy Day
- The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that over 7 million people live in Washington State. As Catholics who believe in the life and dignity of each person, we have over 7 million reasons to advocate for life and justice during Catholic Advocacy Day on March 26th. Please register now by clicking here
UPDATES (of legislation described in previous bulletins):
Parental Notification (SB 5289)
- The Senate Law & Justice Committee passed SB 5289
that would require parental notification for a minor seeking to have an abortion. The bill is in the Senate Rules Committee. WSCC supports SB 5289
Abolition of the Death Penalty (HB 1739 / SB 5639)
- Many thanks to all those who responded to last week's Action Alert in support of HB 1739
that would have abolished the death penalty in Washington State. Unfortunately the bill was not brought up for a vote, and is considered "dead" for this session.
Farm Worker Training (HB 1127)
- This bill would fund training for agricultural workers to improve their skills and safety. The WSCC supports efforts to enable farm workers to perform their important work more safely. HB 1127
passed the House Labor Committee, and is now in the House Appropriations Committee, where no hearing has yet been scheduled.
Human Trafficking (HB 1139, SB 5880 & SB 5883)
- The WSCC supported three bills to fight human trafficking. HB 1139
that would establish a working group to study the trafficking of youth, has been placed on the House floor calendar to be voted on by the entire House. The Senate Law & Justice Committee did not vote on SB 5880
that would have required mandatory training on human trafficking for employees involved in business and professional licensing. The Committee did pass SB 5883
that would direct the state to develop an anti-trafficking notice and require all establishments with public restrooms to prominently display the notice. The bill is now in the Senate Rules Committee awaiting a vote to place it on the Senate floor calendar.
Flame Retardants (HB 1174)
- Supported by WSCC, the House Appropriations Committee was scheduled to hear HB 1174
on February 18th, but it was not heard. To-date, no hearing has been scheduled. HB 1174
would decrease children's exposure to toxic chemicals.
Breakfast After the Bell (HB 1295 / SB 5437)
- This legislation would require high-needs schools to offer breakfast after the beginning of the school day. The House Appropriations Committee has scheduled a hearing on HB 1295
for Tuesday, February 24th. The Senate Ways & Means Committee will hear an almost identical bill, SB 5437
, on February 23rd. WSCC supports improving access to meals in school settings. (Call 1-800-562-6000 to ask your Representatives to support HB 1295 and to ask your Senator to support SB 5437).
Minimum Wage (HB 1355)
- Supported by WSCC, HB 1355
would raise the minimum wage to $12 over four years. The House Appropriations Committee passed HB 1355
last week. The bill is now in the House Rules Committee awaiting a vote.
Legal Financial Obligations (HB 1390)
- This bill, supported by WSCC, would enact several reforms concerning Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) to make it easier for people who have served a prison sentence to reenter the community. HB 1390
was passed by the House Judiciary Committee and referred to the House Appropriations Committee, where no hearing has yet been scheduled.
Oil Transportation Safety (HB 1449)
- HB 1449
would create additional protections to prevent oil spills and require improvements in preparation for rapid response to spills. The House Finance Committee will hear HB 1449
on February 24th and has scheduled a vote for February 25th. WSCC supports a safe environment for oil transports. (Call 1-800-562-6000 to ask your Representatives to support HB1449).
Cesar Chavez Day (HB 1560)
- This bill would designate March 31st as Cesar Chavez Day in Washington State. HB 1560
was voted out of the House State Government Committee, and is in the Rules Committee.
Substance Abuse Prevention (HB 1642)
- Unfortunately, the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee did not vote on HB 1642
that would have created the Youth Substance Abuse Prevention and Education Grant Program. HB 1642
, which WSCC supported, would have funded community-based and statewide substance education programs designed to reduce initiation of substance use by children and youth.
Abortion Insurance Mandate (HB 1647):
Opposed by WSCC, HB 1647
would require all private health insurers in Washington State to cover abortion services, if they offer maternity care. HB 1647
is in the House Appropriations Committee, where no hearing has yet been scheduled.
State Voting Rights Act (HB 1745 / SB 5668)
- These bills would require redistricting and new elections in certain circumstances as well as allow citizens to sue to redress lack of voter opportunity. The House State Government Committee passed HB 1745
and the Senate Government Operations & Security Committee passed SB 5668
. Both bills are in their respective Rules committees.
Informed Consent for Assisted Suicide (SB 5919)
- While opposing assisted suicide, WSCC supports SB 5919
which would make a small change to the state's physician-assisted suicide law. The law presently requires physicians to inform patients requesting a lethal dose of medication about feasible alternatives including comfort care, hospice and pain control. SB 5919
adds "treatment for the purpose of cure, and treatment for the purpose of extending the patient's life"
to the list of information patients should receive. This bill would ensure that patients would be fully informed of all options before making a decision to end their life. The Senate Law & Justice Committee passed SB 5919
. The bill is now in the Senate Rules Committee.
Homeless Youth (HB 1436 / SB 5404)
- Supported by WSCC, HB 1436
would create an Office of Homeless Youth Programs to coordinate a spectrum of funding, policy, and practice efforts related to homeless youth. The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear HB 1436
on February 24th. On the same day, the Senate Ways & Means Committee is scheduled to hear the almost identical bill, SB 5404
. (Call 1-800-562-6000 to ask your Representatives to support HB 1436 and to ask your Senator to support SB 5404).
Task Force on Poverty (HB 2113)
- HB 2113
would create a legislative task force on poverty and require the task force to develop a comprehensive plan for more effective and efficient poverty relief solutions through identification of pathways out of poverty. WSCC believes that the state's poverty assistance programs could be improved to provide greater respect for each person's human dignity. The House Early Learning and Human Services Committee passed HB 2113
. The bill is now in the House Rules Committee.
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The Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC) is the public policy voice of the Catholic Bishops of Washington State.