February 9, 2018  
 Inside this issue
  Weekly Summary  
  Five weeks into the legislative session it is clear that involvement by Catholics is increasing.  Your respectful engagement in the process is critical in shaping the numerous bills that are continuing to be considered.  This past week, one of the Catholics involved was Yakima Bishop Joseph Tyson.  His testimony on both the abortion insurance mandate and the reform of legal financial obligations for released offenders highlighted the key role the Church plays on a range of important issues.

For a further summary of activity in Olympia, click here to listen to WSCC's Joe Sprague on Dr. Tom Curran's Sound Insight radio show on Sacred Heart Radio.
 

Top

  Life & Religious Liberty  
 
 
Abortion Insurance Mandate (SB 6219) - This bill mandating abortion coverage in insurance plans in the state of Washington is strongly opposed by the Bishops of Washington because it expands existing contraception coverage requirements and promotes abortions while violating constitutionally-protected conscience rights. Having passed the Senate last month, the House Health Care & Wellness Committee took up SB 6219 on February 7, with Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima among those who testified against the bill. The committee has scheduled a vote on SB 6219 for Friday, February 16.
 
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.  Please contact your state senator today and urge them to ask their leadership to bring this bill up for a vote.
 
Expanding Access to Contraception (SB 6102) - This legislation elevates access to contraception to a right and creates legal risk for every employer in the state if contraceptives are not offered. As currently written, this legislation raises troubling questions about the protection of religious liberty and conscience rights. The bill was passed by the Senate Ways & Means Committee on February 6 and is now likely to come up for a vote on the Senate floor any day.  Please contact your state senator today and urge them to oppose this bill in its current form.
 
Uniform Parentage Act (SB 6037) - A section of this multi-faceted bill legalizes paid surrogacy. The Catholic Church opposes surrogacy because it treats human beings as commodities. The full Senate passed the bill with only one minor amendment by a 27-21 margin on February 7.  Attention on the legislation now shifts to the House.
 

Top

  Education  
 
 
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. Kristin Dixon, Superintendent of the Office of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Seattle, was among those testifying in support of the bill at a hearing on February 5. The bill was passed unanimously by the Senate Ways & Means Committee on February 6 and is now before the Senate Rules Committee.  Please contact your state senator today and urge them to ask their leadership to bring this bill up for a vote.
 

Top

  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. The full House passed the bill by an 84-14 margin on February 7.
 
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 heard the LFO reform bill on February 7, with Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima testifying in support of the bill. The committee plans to vote on HB 1783 on February 15.
 
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 passed the full House on February 7 by a 51-47 margin.
 
Source of Income Discrimination (SB 5407) - SB 5407 prohibits a landlord from discriminating against applicants or tenants based on their source of income. The bill passed the full senate on February 9 and will now be considered in the House.
 
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 bill is in the House Rules Committee.
 
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 bill is likely to come to vote on the floor of the House any day. The companion bill, SB 6396, passed the Senate Ways & Means Committee the same day and is being considered by the Senate Rules Committee.
 

Top

  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 and Auxiliary Bishops Elizondo and Mueggenborg. For additional details, see the flyer in English and Spanish. Please register now. For questions, call: 206-223-1138 or email: catholicadvocacyday@ipjc.org.
 

Top

  Pope's Message for Lent 2018  
 

Lent begins this Wednesday. Pope Francis' Message for Lent writes of "the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting." Concerning the latter, the Pope says, "Fasting weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth. ... Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbor."  To read the 2018 Message for Lent in its entirety, click here.
 
 
Did a relative or friend forward this WSCC Catholic Advocacy Bulletin to you? Sign up for your own free subscription here.

Click here to view WSCC bulletins on our website.

 

Top