March 4, 2018  
 Inside this issue
  Final Week of 2018 Regular Session  

As the 2018 session winds down, WSCC sincerely appreciates all of you who came to Catholic Advocacy Day, responded to our Action Alerts, and made phone calls to your legislators. It was a challenging session that included the advancement of anti-religious liberty legislation and the failure to pass a death penalty repeal.  Fortunately several positive social justice measures were approved.  A full re-cap of the session will be provided next week. In the meantime, with adjournment set for Thursday, important legislation impacting Catholic schools and key budget measures are still being addressed.



  Life & Religious Liberty  

Abortion Insurance Mandate (SB 6219) - The Washington State House of Representatives approved SB 6219, which would mandate abortion coverage in insurance plans in our state. The Catholic Bishops of Washington strongly oppose this bill because it would promote abortions while violating constitutionally-protected conscience rights. The legislation is now headed to Governor Inslee.  The bishops will be asking the Governor to veto the bill.  Please click here to contact the Governor's office to urge his veto of SB 6219 or you may call and leave a message at 360-902-4111.

Repealing the Death Penalty (SB 6052) - This bill to repeal the death penalty in our state, strongly supported by our bishops, failed to be brought up for a vote in the State House before the deadline for such action last Friday, its final stop before advancing to the Governor. This is the furthest such legislation has gone in our state and there is hope for a renewed effort in the 2019 legislative session.

Preventive Health Services - Mandating Contraceptives (HB 1523) - This legislation requires all health plans in the state to provide contraceptives, including abortifacients, at no cost. This constitutes a direct threat to the life and dignity of the human person and the bill has been opposed by the WSCC. On February 27, the full Senate passed the bill by a 27-22 vote. It now goes to the Governor for his signature.

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 full House passed this bill on February 27 by a vote of 50-47, sending it to the Governor.




School Safety - School Safety - For most of the 2018 session, WSCC focused on SB 6410 because of its language requiring emergency notifications for Catholic schools and other private schools when nearby public schools are alerted of an emergency situation. When that bill failed to pass out of the House Education Committee (despite unanimous support in the Senate), the WSCC looked for alternative legislation that could serve as a vehicle for the notification language. Such a bill, SB 6620, was introduced late in the session that not only addresses school safety but also adds measures to curb gun violence in the wake of the recent Florida school shooting. The WSCC emergency notification language has been included in SB 6620. The Senate Ways & Means Committee approved it on March 1 and it is now awaiting a vote by the full Senate



  Poverty, Family & Restorative Justice  

TANF Resource Limits (HB 1831) -  HB 1831 authorizes the state to allow new exemption levels for motor vehicles for applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The full Senate passed the bill on March 2 by a 36-12 vote. It will now be sent to the Governor.

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 full Senate passed an amended HB 1783 by a 32-17 margin on February 28. Since the Senate version of the bill is different than that passed by the House, the House will need to concur with the changes before the March 8 adjournment.

Homeless Housing and Assistance (HB 1570) - This legislation prevents the Homeless Housing and Assistance surcharge from expiring next year and ensures a continued source of funds for critical homeless and housing programs. HB 1570 passed the full Senate on February 28 by a 27-21 vote. The version passed by the Senate was different than the original House bill so the House will need to concur with the changes before the March 8 adjournment.

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. On February 28, the full Senate passed HB 2658 by a 30-17 margin. The bill will now be sent to the Governor.



  Congress Still Needs to Protect Dreamers  

On February 26, the same day as the US Catholic bishops' National Call-in Day for Dreamers, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the federal government's appeal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) cases. Accordingly, DACA renewals remain available to those who currently have DACA status. Commenting on the Supreme Court decision, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, stated: "[The] Supreme Court decision does not reduce the urgency of finding an immediate legislative solution for Dreamers ... The anxiety and uncertainty that Dreamers and their families face remain unabated."



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.