Washington State Catholic Conference Newsletter
  January 20, 2023  
  Week Two of the Legislative Session  
  Action Alerts  
 

As the second week of the legislative session closes, the Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC) has numerous opportunities for you to be a faithful advocate.  See below for quick links to sign in “pro” or “con” for bills the WSCC is taking a position on.  Thank you for your advocacy!

 
  Sign In “Con” to Oppose the Expansion of Assisted Suicide  
 

Sign in “con” to oppose House Bill 1281 (HB 1281), the expansion of assisted suicide. Please sign in by 12:30 pm on Wednesday, January 25. A hearing on the bill will take place one hour later. HB 1281 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 5179 (SB 5179), seek to loosen the safeguards currently applied to the assisted suicide laws of Washington state.  You are also encouraged to send your state legislators a message to oppose HB 1281 and SB 5179. Identify your state legislators and get their contact information here, and then send a message urging them to oppose the assisted suicide bills. 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 1281 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. Two physicians are no longer required to diagnose a patient.  HB 1281 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 seven days that a patient is required to wait between making a request and receiving a prescription to terminate his or her life. The seven-day wait time may even be waived if the "qualified medical provider" deems that a patient has less than seven days to live. SB 5179 and HB 1281 also permit assisted suicide prescriptions to be delivered via the mail. In accordance with the bishops' legislative priority to respect life from its beginning to natural end, the WSCC opposes SB 5179 and HB 1281.

 
  Sign In “Pro” to Help Immigrant Workers  
 

Sign in “pro” for Senate Bill 5109 (SB 5109), which would establish a wage replacement program to help undocumented immigrant workers who are ineligible for unemployment insurance and meet certain qualifications.  Please sign in by 7 am on Thursday, January 26.  A hearing on the bill will take place one hour later.  When signing in you may leave the "organization" box blank or write in "parishioner of --- Church."  In line with the bishops’ immigration legislative priority, the WSCC supports SB 5109 and its companion bill, HB 1095.

 
  Sign In “Con” to Oppose Adding Abortion to the State Constitution  
 

Sign in “con” to oppose Senate Joint Resolution 8202 (SJR 8202), which would create a constitutional right to an abortion. Please sign in by 7 am on Tuesday, January 24. A hearing on the bill will take place one hour later. When signing in you may leave the "organization" box blank or write in "parishioner of --- Church."  Abortion is already legal in Washington state, and an amendment to the state constitution is not necessary. The bishops support pro-life legislation, and the WSCC opposes SJR 8202.

 
  Sign In “Pro” for Free School Meals for All  
 

Sign in “pro” for Senate Bill 5339 (SB 5339), which would provide free school meals for all students. Please sign in by Monday, January 23 at 12:30 pm.  A hearing for SB 5339 will take place one hour later.  When signing in, you may leave the "organization" box blank or write in "parishioner of --- Church."  This bill would ensure that no student experiences hunger or food insecurity within a public school.  Both breakfast and lunch would be provided for all public school students.  In line with the bishops’ legislative priorities of children and families, economic justice, and education, the WSCC supports SB 5339 and its companion bill, HB 1238.

 
  Sign In “Pro” for the Solitary Confinement Restriction Act  
 

Sign in “pro” for Senate Bill 5135 (SB 5135), the Solitary Confinement Restriction Act.  Please sign in by 9:30 am on Monday, January 23.  SB 5135 is scheduled for a hearing one hour later.  When signing in you may leave the "organization" box blank or write in "parishioner of --- Church."  Solitary confinement can have devastating and inhumane effects on incarcerated individuals. Those placed in prolonged solitary confinement have higher rates of medical conditions, shorter life expectancy, and higher recidivism rates. Solitary confinement is also disproportionately imposed on Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic individuals. The United Nations defines solitary confinement of 15 days or more as torture. In Washington, prisoners may be isolated for up to 30 days.  SB 5135 limits the use of solitary confinement to 15 consecutive days or 45 cumulative days during a fiscal year. In accordance with the bishops’ restorative justice legislative priority, the WSCC supports SB 5135 and its companion bill House Bill 1087 (HB 1087).

 
  Oppose the Mishandling of Human Embryos  
 

Targeted Action Alert: If your state senator is a member of the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care, or if one of your state representatives is a member of the House Committee on Health Care and Wellness, urge your legislators to oppose the mishandling of embryos, as found in Senate Bill 5204 (SB 5204) and House Bill 1151 (HB 1151). Identify your district and legislators hereThis past week, Rev. Kyle Ratuiste, WSCC Board member and ethicist, and Ángel Alvarado, member of the Respect Life ministry at Holy Rosary Church testified against these bills.

SB 5204 and HB 1151 mandate health coverage of fertility services. The WSCC specifically opposes the promotion of in vitro fertilization (IVF), which creates human embryos that are not properly cared for.  Our Catholic faith teaches us to respect all life and that life begins at conception. However, IVF often results in unused embryos that are frozen indefinitely, destroyed, or abandoned. Life is not properly cared for nor respected.  Additionally, IVF can treat children as commodities that are manufactured outside of the construct of the expression of love of a married couple.  A more thorough explanation of the complexity of the Church’s opposition to IVF may be found here. In line with the legislative priority to respect life, the WSCC opposes SB 5204 and HB 1151.

 
  Support Climate-Friendly GMA Updates  
 

Targeted Action Alert: If your state legislators are members of the Senate Committee on Local Government, Land Use, and Tribal Affairs, or if your state representative is a member of the House Committee on Local Government, urge them to pass House Bill 1181 (HB 1181) and Senate Bill 5203 (SB 5203) to support updates to the Growth Management Act (GMA) that will promote climate-friendly practices.  SB 5203 is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, January 25 at 8 am.  The Growth Management Act (GMA) is a series of state statutes, first adopted in 1990, that requires fast-growing cities and counties to develop a comprehensive plan to accommodate population growth. HB 1181 and SB 5203 would require GMA counties and cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled through land use planning.  The impacts of climate change must also be addressed in land use planning.  Additionally, these bills incorporate transit and bike/pedestrian planning.  In line with the bishops’ legislative priority of caring for God’s creation, the WSCC supports HB 1181 and SB 5203.

 
  Urge Your Senator to Support These Pro-Life Bills  
 

Now is also the time to engage in respect life advocacy by urging your state senator to support pro-life bills that have not yet been scheduled for committee hearings. Unfortunately, every year many pro-life bills are not even assigned to hearings during the legislative session.  Identify your district, senator, and senator’s email here, and then write your senator and urge him or her to support the following pro-life bills:

SB 5098 Prohibiting abortion on the basis of down syndrome

SB 5172 Ensuring only physicians perform abortions and informing women of the inherent risks associated with abortion

SB 5227 Prohibiting sex-selection abortion

SB 5185 Applies various limits to abortion

 
  Useful Links for the Legislative Session  
 

Washington State Legislature - Information on bills, hearings, legislators, and more

Identify your district and legislators

Find bill information

WSCC website

 
  Current Events  
  Poverty Awareness Month  
 

January is Poverty Awareness Month.  The US Bishops established the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) in 1970 as an essential part of the Church’s social mission, and a unique part of the Catholic community's broad commitment to empowering low-income people, families and communities.  Poverty USA is an initiative of CCHD and was created as an educational resource to help individuals and communities to address the root causes of poverty in America.  Economic justice is a WSCC state legislative priority.

 
  National Human Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month  
 

January is National Human Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.  Learn more about human slavery and human trafficking from the USCCB, the USCCB’s Antitrafficking Program, and the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants campaign.  Supporting anti-trafficking efforts and trafficking victims are WSCC legislative priorities.

 
  Important Dates  
 
JanuaryPoverty Awareness Month
JanuaryNational Human Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
January 20National March for Life in D.C.
January 22Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

WSCC Staff

  We invite you to contact us at any time.

  Mario Villanueva, Executive Director

  mario.villanueva@wacatholics.org

  Adrienne Corpuz Joyce

  Director of Policy & Communications      

  adrienne.joyce@wacatholics.org

  Tracey Wilson Yackley, Operations Manager 

  tracey.yackley@wacatholics.org

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