February 5, 2018  
 Inside this issue
  Weekly Summary  
  The 2018 legislative session is nearly half over. The first major bill cutoff was last Friday. Numerous bills remain that will require our focus in the weeks ahead.  


  Life & Religious Liberty  

Abortion Insurance Mandate (SB 6219) - This bill mandates abortion coverage in insurance plans in the state of Washington. The Bishops of Washington strongly oppose it because it expands existing contraception coverage requirements and promotes abortions while violating constitutionally-protected conscience rights. On January 31, the full Senate passed SB 6219 by a 26-22 margin. Over 400 Catholics responded to WSCC alerts, urging their senators to add conscience protections to the bill. Unfortunately, several attempts to amend the bill on the Senate floor failed. The House Health Care & Wellness Committee will hear SB 6219 on Wednesday, February 7, at 8:00 am. Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima will be testifying on the critical need to add conscience protection language to the bill.
Repealing the Death Penalty (SB 6052) - The U.S. Bishops have long supported abolishing the death penalty. On January 25, the Senate Law & Justice Committee passed SB 6052 and the legislation is now before the Senate Rules Committee.
Preventive Health Services - Mandating Contraceptives (HB 1523) - This legislation requires all health plans in the state to provide contraceptives at no cost. The contraceptives covered include those that are abortifacients. This constitutes a direct threat to the life and dignity of the human person. The WSCC opposes this bill. On January 31, it passed the full House by a 56-38 margin and now moves to the Senate.
Expanding Access to Contraception (SB 6102) - This legislation elevates access to contraception to a right and create legal risk for every employer in the state if contraceptives are not offered. As currently written, this legislation does not adequately protect religious liberty nor conscience rights. The Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee approved the bill on February 1. The bill will be heard today by the Senate Ways & Means Committee .
Uniform Parentage Act (SB 6037) - A section of this multi-faceted bill legalizes paid or contract surrogacy. The Catholic Church opposes surrogacy because it treats human beings as commodities. The bill is likely to come to the Senate floor for a vote within the next few days.



School Safety (SB 6410) - This bill requires first responders to notify all schools (public or private) in the vicinity whenever an evacuation or lockdown is ordered at a nearby school. The Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee approved it unanimously on February 1. The bill has been referred to the Senate Ways & Means Committee where it will be heard on February 5.  Kristin Dixon, Superintendent of the Office of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Seattle, will testify in support of the bill.


  Poverty, Family & Restorative Justice  

TANF Resource Limits (HB 1831) - Eligibility for public assistance is determined by a combination of factors, including the resources or assets of an applicant, such as a personal car. HB 1831 authorizes the state to exempt one motor vehicle (other than a motor home) per applicant for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) from being counted as a personal asset if that vehicle is used for transportation. The current vehicle limit is $5,000. HB 1831 also exempts certain other resources. Without this legislation, some people who would otherwise qualify for TANF would be denied because the value of their car pushed them over the resource limit. It is expected to get a vote of the full House within the next few days.

Legal Financial Obligations (LFO) (HB 1783) - The bill helps people convicted of crimes get back on their feet after being incarcerated by eliminating the interest on most of the court-imposed debt and limiting the sanctions for those with an inability to pay. The Senate Law & Justice Committee will hear the LFO reform bill on Wednesday, February 7, at 10:00 am. Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima will be testifying in support of the bill.

Homeless Housing and Assistance (HB 1570) - This legislation makes the temporary Homeless Housing and Assistance surcharge permanent while increasing the surcharge from $40 to $90. Without extending the surcharge, thousands would likely become homeless. The bill is expected to be voted on soon by the full House.

Source of Income Discrimination (SB 5407) - SB 5407 prohibits a landlord from discriminating against applicants or tenants based on their source of income. After passing its policy committee, the bill will be heard by the Senate Ways & Means Committee on February 5 at 10:00 am.

Healthy Food Packaging (HB 2658) - Perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFAS) are used in food packaging such as microwave popcorn bags, sandwich wrap, and muffin papers. PFAS have been found to migrate into food. The Department of Ecology has identified PFAS as a toxic substance. The bill conditionally restricts the inclusion of PFAS in food packaging beginning in 2021. The House Environment Committee approved HB 2658 on February 1. The companion bill, SB 6396, passed the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee on the same day. It will be heard today by the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) Exemption (HB 2444) - This measure provides a real estate excise tax exemption for the transfer of a qualified low-income housing development or controlling interest in a low-income housing development meeting specific criteria. The legislation is important for Catholic Housing projects who can use the funds for other program needs. The House Finance Committee voted on the bill on February 2.  It was passed unanimously and is now before the House Rules Committee.



  Catholic Advocacy Day - Sign Up Now  

February 21 - Catholic Advocacy Day: Gather at St. Michael, Olympia, before meeting with state legislators. Includes Mass celebrated by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain. For additional details, see the flyer in English and Spanish. Please register now. For questions, call: 206-223-1138 or email: catholicadvocacyday@ipjc.org.


  U.S. Senate Fails to Pass Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act  
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities called the Senate's failure to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act "appalling." "[T]he United States is currently one of only seven countries that allows abortions beyond 20-weeks. The other six are North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada and the Netherlands. The Senate must rethink its extreme stance on late-term abortions. I call upon the public to tell the Senate that this vote is absolutely unacceptable." To read Cardinal Dolan's complete remarks, click here.
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