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CATHOLIC ADVOCACY INFORMATION

June 15, 2017  

 Inside this issue

  Legislative Summary  
  The 2017 Washington State Legislature is nearing the end of its second special session (June 21), without making much discernible progress toward passing the 2017-19 biennial budget.  Because the budget is necessary for the running of state government beginning July 1, the governor might call a third special session, if a budget agreement is not reached by June 21.  

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  Action Alert - Preserve Safety Net Programs  
  WSCC is joining the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and the Faith Action Network to call attention to safety net programs that provide essential services for people living in poverty and are homeless, or at risk of homelessness.  In the 2017-2019 budget, please urge your legislators to:  
  1. Protect funding of the Housing and Essential Needs Grant (HEN), which provides housing assistance to low-income adults who are experiencing homelessness or are at imminent risk of homelessness and can’t work due to a temporary physical or mental health disability.
  2. Eliminate the sunset on document recording fees and give counties the ability to raise additional funds to combat homelessness (SHB 1570). This fee provides 60% of State funds to fight homelessness and without it, 22,000 people could become homeless.
  3. Prioritize the Housing Trust Fund in the Capital Budget and fund it at least at $106 million. Every dollar funded is leveraged with six dollars from other public and private sources to build thousands of new, affordable homes.
  4. Restore funding for the Aged Blind and Disabled Grant (ABD) to its pre-recession level of $339 per month and ensure there is no time limit.  ABD provides crisis cash assistance to elderly adults and adults with permanent disabilities who are unable to work and are living on very low incomes while they are applying for federal benefits.
  5. Restore funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Grant (TANF) to its pre-recession level of $562 for a family of three. TANF provides a temporary lifeline of cash assistance to help children and families in crisis. 
  6. Include funding for public notices in languages other than English which requires that in emergency situations like wildfires that state agencies provide health and safety notices in the language that people can understand when a significant segment of the community speaks a language other than English. Both chambers of the legislature passed SSB 5046, and the governor signed it; however, if the act is not funded in the budget, this law is void.
Click here to send a message to your three state legislators to protect the most vulnerable people in our State.
 

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  Cornerstone Early-Bird Rate Ends June 20  
 
 
There are just a few days left to take advantage of the early bird discount when registering for the 2017 Cornerstone Catholic Conference. If you register before June 20th, you will save $10!  Over 100 people have already registered.  Click here to register and save your place! 
 
The Bishops of Washington State are sponsoring the second statewide Cornerstone Catholic Conference!  It will be held on Friday evening, October 20 and all day Saturday, October 21, at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center. We are expecting over 1,000 Catholics from across the state. In addition, we have three exciting and dynamic keynote speakers:
  • Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and host of the Catholicism series
  • Helen Alvaré, professor of law at George Mason University and former staff for USCCB Pro‚ÄźLife office
  • Ralph McCloud, Director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD)
 

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  US Withdrawal from Climate Agreement “Deeply Troubling”  
 

President Donald J. Trump announced on June 1 that the United States will not honor the Paris agreement on climate change. The United States and China, the two largest carbon emitters, and 195 other nations, signed the agreement that was ratified in November 2016. The Paris agreement establishes that nations must reduce their carbon dioxide emissions in order to keep global temperatures well below a two-degree Celsius increase in relation to pre-industrial levels.

Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:  
 
“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Pope Francis and the entire Catholic Church, have consistently upheld the Paris agreement as an important international mechanism to promote environmental stewardship and encourage climate change mitigation. The President’s decision not to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement is deeply troubling.
 
“The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and caring for each other in solidarity. The Paris agreement is an international accord that promotes these values. President Trump’s decision will harm the people of the United States and the world, especially the poorest, most vulnerable communities. The impacts of climate change are already being experienced in sea level rise, glacial melts, intensified storms, and more frequent droughts. I can only hope that the President will propose concrete ways to address global climate change and promote environmental stewardship.”
 
The USCCB has voiced support for prudent action and dialogue on climate change since its 2001 statement: “Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good”. In a letter to Congress in 2015, the U.S. Bishops, along with the presidents of Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services, encouraged the United States to sign the Paris agreement. They have since reiterated their support on several occasions. Pope Francis and the Holy See have also consistently voiced support for the Paris agreement.
 

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  USCCB: Health Care “A Fundamental Right”  
 
 On June 1, four USCCB committee chairs sent a letter concerning health care to all U.S. Senators. They pointed out that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) “contains many serious flaws. Most troubling are unacceptable changes to Medicaid that reports indicate will leave millions of additional people uninsured in the years ahead.” They repeated Pope Francis’ warning, “When a sick person is not placed at the center and considered in their dignity, attitudes arise which can even lead to profiteering on other people’s misfortunes. The growing health poverty among the poorest segments of the population is due precisely to the difficulty of access to care …”
 
The letter reaffirmed the commitment of the Catholic Church to ensure “the fundamental right to medical care, a right which is in keeping with the God-given dignity of every person, and the corresponding obligation as a country to provide for this right.” The USCCB letter included six key moral principles that should guide the Senate’s consideration of health care policy:
 
No Affordable Care Act repeal effort should be undertaken without the concurrent passage of a replacement plan that ensures access to adequate health care for all.

Respect for life: No health care reform plan should compel us or others to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion.  Federal resources must not be used to assist consumers in the purchase of health care plans that cover abortion.

Access for all: Reform efforts must begin with the principle that health care is not a privilege, but a right and a requirement to protect the right and dignity of every person. All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care.

Truly affordable: Many lower-income families simply lack the resources to meet their health care expenses. For these families, substantial premiums and cost-sharing charges can serve as barriers to obtaining coverage or seeing a doctor.  Medicaid coverage, which is now relied upon by millions, ought to be maintained.

Comprehensive and high-quality: Health care is much more than mere insurance.  Access to healthcare, which is necessary and suitable for the proper development and maintenance of life for all people, must be a goal of our society.  Limited access to minimal healthcare, particularly the poor and vulnerable people, including the undocumented is not enough.
 
Honoring conscience rights: Congress should expressly provide conscience protections for those who participate in any way in health care.
To access the complete text of the letter, click here.
 

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  USCCB Welcomes Decision Upholding Travel Ban Injunction  
 
 
On June 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit largely affirmed a nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of sections of the Administration’s executive order that attempted to suspend and limit the U.S. refugee resettlement program and also attempted to ban the entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries.
 
Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the Committee on Migration commented on the Ninth Circuit ruling, “I am heartened by the decision of the 9th Circuit to maintain the temporary halt implementing certain provisions of the March 6th Executive Order. Upholding the injunction will allow us to continue welcoming and serving refugees fleeing persecution. Together with my brother bishops, we believe it is possible to simultaneously provide for the security of our country and have a humane refugee policy that upholds our national heritage and moral responsibility. We remain dedicated to accompanying and supporting our brothers and sisters who for various reasons have been forced to leave their homeland. We follow the example of Pope Francis and pledge to them “a duty of justice, civility and solidarity.”
 

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  Join Pope Francis in Prayer: Eliminate the Arms Trade  
 
 
Let’s put an end to the arms trade. We can do this. And it’s urgent that we do it. The world does not need merchants of death who get rich on war. We need peace. Let us join the Pope in praying for peace. With the Pope, let us say no to the illegal arms trade: “Let us pray all together that national leaders may firmly commit themselves to ending the arms trade which victimizes so many innocent people.” To view the video for June, click here.
 

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  New WSCC Executive Director  
 

Sr. Sharon Park, O.P. Executive Director of the WSCC plans to retire this year, after nearly 40 years of dedicated service to the Church and the people of Washington State. The WSCC is very happy to welcome Joseph Sprague as the incoming Executive Director.
 
Joe currently serves as Alaska Airlines Senior Vice President for External Relations, which includes leading the company’s government affairs, political and community outreach, sales, cargo and corporate communications teams. He holds a B.S. in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and an M.B.A. from the University of Washington. He is a member of the Crozier Society of the Archdiocese of Seattle, and the Board of Trustees of the Fulcrum Foundation. He will begin with WSCC in October.
 
 
 
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