Saturday May 26, 2018
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The 2015 Washington State legislative session is now in full swing with hundreds of bills introduced in each chamber. The WSCC is busy tracking and testifying on those that relate to the Legislative Priorities established by the Bishops of Washington State. This issue of the Bulletin highlights several significant bills.

Parental Notification - The Senate Law & Justice Committee will hear SB 5289, which would require parental notification for a minor considering an abortion.  The hearing is scheduled for February 2nd at 1:30 p.m.  WSCC supports SB 5289 and encourages attendance at the hearing in Olympia.  A companion bill, HB 1493, has been introduced in the House, but no hearing has been scheduled.

Abolition of Death Penalty - This week, bills were introduced in the House and Senate that would abolish the death penalty in our State. WSCC supports House Bill HB 1739 and Senate Bill SB 5639.  No hearing has yet been scheduled for either bill. Join with others to repeal the death penalty on February 10th in Olympia.  Click here to register for Lobby Day February 3rd.

Human Trafficking - Many bills on human trafficking are being introduced in the legislature.  HB 1139, which WSCC supports, would establish a working group to study issues relating to the trafficking of youth. The House Committee on Public Safety heard the bill on January 27th and plans to vote on the bill on January 30thPlease also note that February 8th has been designated as the first international day of prayer and awareness against human trafficking. February 8th was chosen because it is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita. The day is intended to raise awareness and to encourage reflection on the violence and injustice that affect the numerous victims of trafficking.

Minimum Wage - The current minimum wage in Washington State is $9.47 per hour. HB 1355 would raise the hourly minimum wage to $12.00 over four years. The Bishops have long supported a just, living wage by which a worker could support his/her family. The House Committee on Labor had a hearing on January 26th and has scheduled a vote on HB 1355 for January 29th.

Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) - In Washington State, nearly all people convicted of a crime receive at sentencing notice of their Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs). These obligations include the fees, fines, costs, and restitution imposed by the court. Upon completion of their sentence, the court-imposed debt often presents a formidable barrier to persons integrating successfully back into their communities; 80-90 percent of whom are indigent. HB 1390 would enact several significant reforms concerning LFOs.  The bill, which WSCC supports, was heard in the House Judiciary Committee on January 21st.

Federal Legislative News:  Last week, Cardinal Seán O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, welcomed passage of the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015" (H.R. 7) by the U.S. House of Representatives. "By passing this legislation, the House has taken a decisive step toward respect for unborn human life, reflecting the will of the American people," he said. The pro-life bill passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 242-179 on January 22nd, the day of the annual March for Life in Washington. The bill codifies a permanent, government-wide policy against taxpayer subsidies for abortion and abortion coverage. It also requires health plans offered under the Affordable Care Act to disclose the extent of their coverage for abortion and the surcharge amount consumers would have to pay for the coverage.

Mark your calendars and join us for Catholic Advocacy Day on March 26.  Click here to register online.

If you would like to access previous Bulletins, click here.

The Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC) is the public policy voice of the Catholic Bishops of Washington State.