January 23, 2017         
 Inside this issue
  • • Legislature Heads into Third Week of 2017 Session
  • • Catholics Invited to Join "Virtual Pilgrimage"
  • • USCCB Chair Calls on Congress to Preserve Gains in Healthcare Coverage
  • • USCCB Supports BRIDGE Act
  The first two weeks of the session were dominated by hearings on the Governor's budget and work sessions - briefings on topics with only testimony on a few specific bills. The schedule for the coming week will have hearings and testimony on bills with even a few committee votes anticipated.


Effort to Repeal Death Penalty Launched - On Monday, Jan. 16, Attorney General Bob Ferguson (Democrat) announced a major effort to repeal Washington State's death penalty during the 2017 legislative session. He was joined by former Attorney General Rob McKenna (Republican) and many current Republican and Democratic legislators from both the House and Senate. A specific repeal bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in either the House or the Senate. Watch future issues of the Advocacy Bulletin for more information.
Parental Notification WSCC supports SB 5320, which would require that at least one parent be notified before a minor could have an abortion. Because abortions are significant surgical procedures that could involve risks, parents should be notified if their minor daughter is to undergo an abortion.   SB 5320will be heard in the Senate Law & Justice Committee on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 10:00 am in Senate Hearing Rm 4, J.A. Cherberg Building.
Guardianship for Displaced Children  HB 1251 would give children, who have been removed from their homes and are at risk of entering the foster care system, the right to be represented by counsel. It would also require the court to appoint an attorney for a child before the initial shelter care hearing. On Tues., Jan. 24, at 10:00 am, the House Judiciary Committee will hear HB 1251. WSCC supports HB 1251.
Ban the Box HB 1298, supported by WSCC, would prohibit employers from asking about arrests or convictions before an applicant is determined otherwise qualified for a position. Many job applications have a check box on the initial application form concerning arrests and/or convictions. HB 1298 would "ban the box" so that applicants could have a chance at being considered for a position based on their qualifications. On Tues., Jan. 24, at 1:30 pm, the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee will hear HB 1298. The hearing will be in House Hearing Rm E, John L. O'Brien Building. The same committee has scheduled a vote on HB 1298 for Jan. 26 at 8:00 am.
Chemical Dependency Services - The House Early Learning & Human Services Committee has scheduled a work session for Tues., Jan. 24, 8:00 am, in the House Hearing Rm C, John L. O'Brien Building. The session will cover chemical dependency services offered to families in the child welfare system.


Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, invited Catholics and others to join the nationwide "9 Days for Life" campaign.  "We're praying for a lot of things this month, including racial harmony, Christian unity, and the protection of all human life," Cardinal Dolan said. "As we pray for that unity, I invite our brothers and sisters in Christ to join in the '9 Days for Life' prayer campaign. Together, our prayers and actions can witness to the dignity of the human person."


9 Days for Life is the U.S. bishops' annual prayer and action campaign around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. It occurs this year from Saturday, January 21 to Sunday, January 29.
Each day treats a different aspect of respecting the dignity of the human person-from the beginning of life to its natural end. At a time when many are attending demonstrations and marches in person, novena participants are encouraged make a kind of "virtual pilgrimage." In solidarity with tens of thousands, they can pray daily, gather for fellowship and discussion, and share their experiences on social media with the hashtag, #9daysforlife.
The website, www.9daysforlife.com, features a video with Cardinal Dolan calling the campaign "a great way to put our faith into action." The site offers four ways to receive the daily prayers, suggested reflections, and practical actions, including links to the free "9 Days for Life" smartphone app. The campaign will be featured on the People of Life Facebook page, on  Twitter @USCCBprolife, and in the bishops' Instagram feed.



As Congress discusses a repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, the Chair of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, is urging members of Congress to provide a replacement plan concurrently so that millions of Americans will continue to have access to vital health care.


In a letter sent to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate on January 18, 2017, Bishop Dewane wrote that repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) should not be undertaken without simultaneous passage of a replacement plan that will continue healthcare access for those who rely on it for their well-being. At the same time, the letter also underscores the importance of creating a replacement plan that will safeguard human life from conception to natural death and also protect conscience rghts and adequate healthcare services for the poor including healthcare for immigrants.  The full text of the letter sent to the U.S. Senate/U.S. House of Representatives is available on the USCCB website.


  In late December, the USCCB sent letters to all members of Congress in support of the "Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act", bipartisan legislation. The BRIDGE Act would provide temporary relief from deportation and ensure employment authorization to individuals who are eligible for the Department of Homeland Security's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Temporary protection under the BRIDGE Act would ensure that these young people could continue to work and study and be protected from deportation while Congress debates broader legislation to fix our broken immigration system.
There are more than 740,000 young people who have received and benefitted from DACA. They are contributors to our economy, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. The USCCB supports DACA because we, as Catholics, believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, especially that of our children. These young people entered the U.S. as children and know America as their only home.

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