Church Blog | March 2011

Federal Alert: D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program

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The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is a federally funded program which has allowed over 3300 children from low-income families to attend private, including religious, schools in the District of Columbia since 2004.  Nearly 9000 families have applied to participate in DCOSP.  Unfortunately, since 2009, Congress and the Administration have not allowed new children, including siblings, to apply for scholarships.  Opponents of the program ignored the study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education that concluded that students who used their scholarships had a 91% graduation rate and that parental satisfaction and demand for the program were overwhelming.  Opponents have also ignored the aspects of the legislation that provided additional funding for D.C. regular and charter schools as part of a three-sector approach to improving educational opportunities for children in the District of Columbia.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, a long-time supporter of this program, has introduced H.R. 471, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR) to reauthorize the program so that new students can receive scholarships.  The bill continues the three-sector approach by authorizing $60 million to be evenly divided for use by private school families, regular public schools and public charter schools.   A companion bill, S. 206 has been introduced by Senator Joseph Lieberman in the Senate.

On March 10, 2011, H.R. 471 was passed by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform by a vote of 21-14.  Current information is that the full House of Representatives will consider the vote during the week of March 28th.

Please contact your member in the House of Representatives and let her/him know that you support the reauthorization of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) is the public policy voice of the Catholic bishops in Indiana
regarding state and national matters.
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I-CAN Update for March 25

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Stalemate continues but actions and plans are underway to get bills passed should the Democrats return for final votes in April.
 
With the continued walkout by House Democrats the Senate and House Republicans are making plans to pass legislation stalled in the House. Even with a possible return of Democrats next week and assuming some bills are passed, there will not be enough time to move all stalled bills out of the House and not enough time to hear and move all House and Senate bills. Hence, Senators are finding homes for their bills in House bills being considered by the Senate.
 
Decisions on which bills and strategy will be made next week. In the meantime, Senators are hearing bills but not taking votes. This week, the Appropriations Committee began discussions about the budget with a plan to amend their version into a House bill pending in committee. As part of this discussion the committee heard testimony on a range of education reform proposals. Included in the list was the choice scholarship in HB 1003. It, along with other education reform items, could be included in the budget bill.
 
Show support for school choice by attending the rally on Wednesday March 30!
Make your voice heard and join Hoosiers from around the state in supporting student-centered education reform. Make sure lawmakers know that kids come first.
Time:  11 AM - 2 PM
Location: Indiana State Capitol - North Atrium
At recent rallies supporting school choice options over 1100 people gathered in Ohio and over 3000 people gathered Nebraska. Let's show that Hoosiers are supportive too.
 
Another possible vehicle for Choice scholarships is HB 1341, Special education grants. The Senate Education Committee heard HB 1341 on Wednesday. This bill provides that state funds allocated on behalf of special education students in non-public schools be spent on these students. (It passed the House 98 -1.) Although testimony was given, no vote was taken. A decision should be coming this week as to which bill the choice scholarships (vouchers) will be attached. (Should the Democrats return this week, there remains a chance for HB 1003 to move out of the House.)
 
An example of Senate bills that may be amended into House bills is SB 590, Illegal immigration matters. HB 1402, which prohibits resident tuition for undocumented students, could be amended to include SB 590 or parts of it. The Senate leadership seems committed to passing something dealing with illegal immigration.
 
Bills dealing with abortion related issues remain on hold. Senate members are looking for ways to amend SB 328 which strengthens the informed consent law into a House bill now pending in the Senate. Also, Senate and House members are looking for bills in which to amend two provisions of the House's informed consent bill, HB 1210, which awaits floor consideration in the House. The provision that would prohibit abortion coverage in a health insurance exchange could be added to a bill dealing with insurance. Finding a home for the provision that prohibits abortions after 20 weeks is more difficult.
 
HJR 6, Marriage amendment, passed Senate Judiciary on a 7 -3 vote. The resolution will be considered by full Senate next week. It is expected to pass.

In addition to the Update, one can obtain more detailed information regarding the bills and detailed information about the legislative process through the ICC Legislative Action Center. Under "policy tools" click on "issues and legislation" and access the state or federal bills by clicking "current legislation". Also, you can access the archived updates, ICC positions and other background information at the ICC web site, www.indianacc.org

Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) is the public policy voice of the Catholic bishops
in Indiana regarding state and national matters.

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School Choice Rally

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March 30, 2011
 
Several organizations are joining together to support school choice. Make your voice heard and join Hoosiers from around the state in supporting student-centered education reform. Make sure lawmakers know that kids come first.
 
Date:  March 30
Time:  11 AM - 2 PM
Location: Indiana State Capitol - North Atrium

 
National and State educational leaders as well as state legislative and administration officials will join us to provide information and updates regarding the legislation's status and expectations for implementation. Charter schools will be the focus from 11 - 12:30; Choice Scholarships for student will be the focus from 12:30 - 2PM.
 
Lawmakers are poised to provide options for K - 12 students that now exist for college students.
 
We need to let them know that Hoosiers support this change!



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Catholic Charities Weekly Report - 3/21/2011

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Washington Weekly

FY2011 Spending Update
On March 18, President Obama signed into law another short-term bill approved by the Congress that would fund the government through April 8. The current continuing resolution will expire on March 18.  The Congress will now have three weeks to figure out funding for the remaining FY2011 or face a government shutdown.

The short-term bill does not include the cuts to programs that were a part of the broader long-term package (HR. 1) passed by  House which included reduction and elimination of funding for the EFSP, Refugee Resettlement, Housing programs, and the Corporation to name a few. The new short-term bill is comprised of rescinding unneeded funds from the 2010 Census, elimination of earmarks, and elimination and reduction of 25 programs-many which were included in the President's FY2012 budget proposal.

For more information, please contact Lucreda Cobbs, Senior Director, Advocacy and Civic Engagement at lcobbs@catholiccharitiesusa.org.

CCUSA Hosts National Hill Day

Catholic Charities USA continues to be dedicated to the goal of cutting in half the number of people living in poverty in America by 2020. We need your voice advocating Congress to help achieve this goal and to continue the conversation started at our Centennial which advances 21st century solutions to reduce poverty.

We anticipate the reintroduction of the National Opportunity and Community Renewal Act prior to your arrival in Washington, DC for our 2011 National Hill Day. Your Members of Congress need to hear your voice, your stories and your experiences in order to make the best choices for your community and the people you serve. We are excited to welcome back our colleagues from Soapbox who will organize our Hill Day.

Meetings will take place in the afternoon and early evening. If you have any special requests, please make sure you complete the survey that is sent with confirmation of registration.

To Register Now!
For more information, contact Lucreda Cobbs, Senior Director, Advocacy and Civic Engagement at lcobbs@catholiccharitiesusa.org.

 
Congress Goes on Recess
As Congress goes on recess, decisions regarding funding for the FY2011 remain uncertain. When Congress returns from recess on March 28, they will have a short-time frame before the continuing resolution just signed into law by the President expires.

While members are back home in their districts, don't forget to visit their offices, make calls, and or send them messages, letting them know how their decisions will affect your community.

Please look for a town hall alert telling you when and where members will hold town hall meetings.

For more information, contact Lucreda Cobbs, Senior Director, Advocacy and Civic Engagement at lcobbs@catholiccharitiesusa.org.


Farewell
It is with sadness for CCUSA and our Social Policy team, that we announce that Monica Maggiano has accepted another position.  Monica has truly left her mark on the work of CCUSA and our network through her leadership in managing Katrina Aid today, her enthusiastic work with Steve Liss, the Consumer Advisory Council and her passion for the Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America.  Our network has been enhanced by her service and dedication and the people we serve have been blessed by her work. We know that she will bring the same enthusiasm and passion to her new position as an Account Director at Powell Tate, a division of Weber Shandwick- the largest public relations company in the world.   Her first project is to oversee the Bank of America local market implementation strategy in 15 cities working with the local banks and local PR teams to help them be a better community partner. She will also be helping with some of the agencies Corporate Social Responsibility and social innovation accounts.

Please join us in wishing her well.


Registration for CLINIC Annual Convening

Register now for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) 14th Annual Convening in Seattle, WA, May 18-20, 2011.

From the basics of immigration law to the most advanced issues that arise in filing petitions, CLINIC's 14th Annual Convening in Seattle, WA will offer workshops for legal services providers and immigration advocates at any level.

CLINIC's three-day conference offers excellent updates on immigration law, insightful trainings, and opportunities for networking.

Come meet fellow advocates and learn new strategies for fundraising, program management, and advocacy.

Registration and additional information is available online here.

For more information, contact Lucreda Cobbs, Senior Director, Advocacy and Civic Engagement at lcobbs@catholiccharitiesusa.org.


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Washington Weekly is a publication of the Social Policy Department of Catholic Charities USA
and is published regularly when Congress is in session.



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February Minutes Posted

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The February Minutes of the Buildings and Grounds Committe have been posted. Click here to reach the "Minutes" page.


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I-CAN Update for March 18

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Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) is the public policy voice of the Catholic bishops in Indiana
regarding state and national matters.
 
The House Democrats continue to be absent; the House remains at a standstill. However, the Senate continues to move a few bills and some committees continue to hear bills but votes are not being taken. The reason for not moving the bill is to keep bills available for amendments later in the session. Depending on when or whether the House can move remaining bills will determine if amendments, which include Senate bills now stalled in the House, to existing House bills will be necessary. Even when the House resumes business, time may be a factor in moving its remaining bills and the bills the Senate passed in January and February.
 
Action this week in the Senate
A bill on which we expected to see a vote taken was HJR 6, the proposed amendment to defend marriage as between one man and one woman. It would also prohibit civil unions from being recognized by the State. The language in the proposed amendment passed the Senate in 2009 and was expected to pass the committee again. However, Senator Bray, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, did not take a vote at the conclusion of testimony on Wednesday. The reason for not taking a vote was that the length of testimony did not permit adequate time for committee discussion. There has been criticism of the proposal because it would prohibit the state from enacting laws to establish civil unions as a legal entity. Also, critics cited possible prohibition of benefits for unmarried couples. However, benefits have not been a problem in states where identical or even more restrictive language has been adopted. ICC testified in support of HJR 6.
 
The delay or change in the proposal will not change the timing of an amendment to be submitted to the voters. A proposed amendment must pass two separate General Assemblies. In this case by legislators elected for the 2011 and 2012 sessions and those for the 2013 and 2014 sessions. The same exact wording of the amendment must pass two separately elected General Assemblies before it is submitted to the electorate for ratification. Hence, the amendment could pass either this year or next and still meet the same timeline for the 2014 election.
 
HB 1357, Local government reorganization, was heard in the Senate Committee on Local Government. The bill has become a possible home for many of the Senate bills now languishing in the House. At the hearing, amendments were proposed to include SB 386 which deals with many of the same topics as HB 1357, requirements of local units of government when proposing reforms. Also proposed as an amendment was SB 68 which deals with requirements for changing a town to city government. Both bill passed the Senate by large margins.
 
HB 1022, Office holder qualifications and nepotism was also considered but held. A proposed amendment would provide conditions in which relatives can not work together and clarification regarding salary limits when family members do work together. Also, the amendment proposed conditions under which contracts may be let to family members if full disclosure is made. No vote was taken on the bill or the amendment.
 
HB 1402, Prohibiting resident tuition for illegal aliens, was heard in Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. While no vote was taken testimony was offered regarding the impact of the bill. The effect is on students who have known only this country and state as their home and whose families pay taxes as other Hoosier families do. Questions were raised as to why place another hurdle in the way of persons trying to provide for themselves and their family. Many believed that this was contrary to the state's efforts and policy to build up a well educated work force. Other questions were raised about costs of administration to determine that tens of thousands of students were legal residents. No one spoke in favor of the bill. ICC raised some of the same concerns.
 
School Choice Rally
While the House remains out, the efforts to demonstrate support for or opposition to legislation continues. Union workers continue to gather each day at the State House, although much smaller in size. Efforts to demonstrate support for School Choice also continue to be ongoing. In addition to calls and contacts to State Representative and State Senators, School Choice Indiana is sponsoring a School Choice Rally at the Indianapolis Statehouse on March 30 with its Private School Choice component beginning at 12:30 PM EDT. Michelle Rhea, former chancellor of DC public schools, will speak at 11 AM during the charter school part of the program (all are welcome to attend her presentation).  See more, sign up ?http://www.edreformrocksrally.com
 
The full program for the Choice Rally will be announced in the next week. At this point, mark your calendars and share the date with others who might be interested in attending. Considering the size of some of the recent rallies in Indianapolis having a good turnout for this rally is very important.
 
In addition to the Update, one can obtain more detailed information regarding the bills and detailed information about the legislative process through the ICC Legislative Action Center. Under "policy tools" click on "issues and legislation" and access the state or federal bills by clicking "current legislation". Also, you can access the archived updates, ICC positions and other background information at the ICC web site, www.indianacc.org
 


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Help Our Scouts

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Help support St. Luke Brownie Troop 42544. They will be selling Girl Scout cookies at Mr. Mike's Ace Hardware at the corner of 86th and Ditch from 10 AM until 2 PM on March 5 and March 12.

Girl Scout Troop 574 is collection used prescription eyeglasses for a service project that will benefit those helped by the Lion's Club, the IU Medical Students, and a mission trip to Honduras. Please bring in your old or unused glasses and deposit them into the collection box on the floor in the Look Nook outside the Parish Office. An additional box is in the School Office.

Thank you for your help with these projects!

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