Church Blog | January 2012

Washington Weekly for January 30

Posted by

President Focuses on Employment in State of the Union
 
In his third State of the Union address last Tuesday night, President Obama recapped a tumultuous year on Capitol Hill and laid out his proposals for 2012, calling on Congress to work with him to increase employment and stimulate the economy. Obama highlighted new partnerships that are helping retrain workers for new jobs, saying “It’s time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work.”
 
Entitled “An America Built to Last,” the President’s 64-minute address also touched on a number of other issues, including his hopes that Congress would pass legislation that provided a path to citizenship for those who were brought to the country illegally. In a statement issued in response to the President’s speech, Catholic Charities USA’s President, Fr. Larry Snyder, said it was heartening to hear “the initiatives outlined by President Obama in this evening's State of the Union speech that have the potential to improve the lives of many.” However, Fr. Snyder added, “we need comprehensive reform of the nation’s service delivery system that is market driven, results oriented and locally controlled, enabling the country to permanently make a difference in the lives of those living in poverty, and establishing accountability for the investment of taxpayer dollars.” For the complete response from CCUSA to the State of the Union, please click here.
 
 
Catholic Charities USA Responds to HHS Decision
 
On Friday, January 20, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a decision that will require faith-based institutions such as hospitals, charities, and schools to provide women’s health coverage that includes contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs. While the administration had been petitioned to not include religious health plans in their regulations, the decision could require religious institutions to provide health care coverage that violates their beliefs.
 
In response, Fr. Larry Snyder released a statement on behalf of the Catholic Charities network. “Catholic Charities agencies are first and foremost Catholic institutions - a manifestation of the Gospel call for charity and justice for all people.   As such, remaining faithful to Catholic teaching is not a matter of choice, rather it is essential to our identity.  With the existing restrictive definition in this mandate, the ministry of Jesus Christ himself would not be considered a religious entity.” To read the statement in its entirety, please click here.
 
For more information on the HHS regulation, its impact on our network, or Catholic Charities’ response, please contact Candy Hill, Sr. Vice-President of Social Policy & Government Affairs, at chill@CatholicCharitiesUSA.org
 
 
House Disapproves of Debt Limit Increase
 
In other news from Capitol Hill, the Senate voted to reject consideration of a joint resolution that would have blocked President Obama’s request to increase federal borrowing, which will allow the way for a $1.2 trillion increase in the nation’s debt ceiling. Earlier in the week, the House voted 239-176 largely along party lines to prevent President Obama from raising the debt limit. The largely symbolic vote provides opponents of the August debt limit deal another chance to disapprove of the administration’s fiscal policies. The $1.2 trillion increase is the third in a multiple-stage process for raising the debt put in place by Congress.
 
For more information on upcoming legislation, please contact Ron Jackson, Sr. Director of Government Affairs, at RJackson@CatholicCharitesUSA.org
 
 
“Keep the Dream Alive Mass” Honors Memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
 
On the holiday that commemorates his life, Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington helped keep the dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., alive through prayer, service, and song. On Monday, January 16, CCUSA held the “Keep the Dream Alive” Mass and Award Ceremony, honoring three contemporary heroes who have worked to realize King’s vision of nation free of injustice.
 
CCUSA presented “Keep the Dream Alive” awards to USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon, former Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams, and former CCUSA Board Member Janet Pape for their advocacy and work to reduce poverty. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington’s “Faith Does Justice” Award was presented to local television anchor Andrea Roane.
 
Following the event, more than 50 individuals volunteered with women who reside at the Harriet Tubman Women’s Emergency Shelter in southeast D.C.  Volunteers worked one-on-one with women on an art project designed to allow clients to express their dreams and what Dr. King means to them. For more information on the Keep the Dream Alive Mass and Awards, please contact Ron Jackson, Sr. Director of Government Affairs, at RJackson@CatholicCharitesUSA.org

 

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

Sixty-Six Canal Center Plaza, Suite 600, Alexandria, VA 22314

link
e-mail

I-CAN Update for January 27

Posted by

The big issue was finally moved in the House and the Senate. HB 1001 and SB 269 both passed the respective bodies. Now the House may be able to handle many other significant issues that have been delayed until Right to Work was settled. The next step in this issue will be passage of the House bill in the Senate prior to it going to the Governor for signature. Look for it to be expedited in the Senate.
 
This being the last week for committee action (unless the House suspends rules and extends the deadline) committees were active amending and moving bills to the floor. Next week all bills need to move to the other body to be eligible for further consideration this session.
 
SB 72, Abortion matters, sponsored by Senator Travis Holdman (R – Markle) passed Senate Health Committee 6 -4. The bill’s focus is chemical abortions (RU486) which are on the rise in Indiana. The bill attempts to put limits on its use by requiring an in-person examination of the woman by the physician prior to providing the prescription. The bill may undergo some modifications on second reading to accommodate the developments in the use of the drugs. The bill is an attempt to get ahead of what is happening in some states, where doctors talk to women via electronic connections and provide the prescription for the drug without examining the woman. ICC supports the bill.
 
SB 201, Transfer of human organism exemption, was amended in committee before passing unanimously. It was amended to prohibit the use of the ova and embryos for stem cell research. Also, the bill amends Indiana’s law to prohibit embryo research permitted under Federal law. ICC supported the amendment. The bill now goes to 2nd reading. ICC continues to seek an amendment that would limit the number of embryo created at one time for each woman.  The bill now moves to the floor for amendments and vote next week.
 
While three bills were heard in Senate Education Committee only one will make its way to the Senate for further consideration. SB 296, sponsored by Senator Jean Leising (R – Oldenburg), passed the committee 7 – 3 after being amended to restrict 8th grade students to the Scholarship Tax credit only, instead of allowing them access to the voucher program as originally intended. The bill provides another entry point for the Tax Credit Scholarship for current non-public students who are enrolled in grade 8. This will provide the possibility for additional support to qualified families for high school tuition. The bill now goes to the Senate for possible amendment and vote next week.
 
The other school choice bills, SB 198, sponsored by Senator Doug Eckerty (R – Yorktown), which would have expanded the voucher program to include all eligible families and SB 331, sponsored by Senator Carlin Yoder (R – Indianapolis), which would have expanded it to siblings of current voucher students, both contained fiscal obligations that required them to be recommitted to Senate Appropriations, where they will not get a hearing; the bills are dead for this session. SB 198 passed the Education Committee 5 – 4 but will go no further this year. SB 331 was withdrawn when it was apparent that the bill would not have an opportunity to move.
 
During House Education Committee consideration of HB 1134, Representative Bob Behning (R – Indianapolis) added the amendment requested by ICC that provides clarification to existing Indiana law regarding transportation of students to Catholic schools. HB 1134 now goes to the House for amendment and vote. The amendment would provide that school districts take the students to the non-public school or to a point from which the student can safely walk to the school. ICC made the same request in a bill in the Senate, SB 226, but committee chair Senator Luke Kenley (R – Noblesville) did not allow the amendment.
 
In other good news
SB 4, Human trafficking, should pass third reading today, becoming law before the Super Bowl.
 
House Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed HB 1141, Home energy assistance. The bill is now eligible for consideration and passage. HB 1141 will provide additional assistance to the low income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP) by restoring the sales tax exemption for energy consumption paid for through Federal assistance.  The bill also provides that money attributable to a utility deposit or refund that remains unclaimed after 25 years can now be used to pay utility deposits and connection fees charged to households eligible to acquire home energy through LIHEAP.  ICC supports this bill as it will utilize all Federal funds for the purpose for which they were granted instead of taking 7% for sales tax. Also, it will put to good use funds that are no longer needed for other purposes.
 
Senator Brandt Hershman (R – Buck Creek) amended SB 344, State taxation, as requested by ICC and many other organizations. The bill now requires the commission on state tax and financing policy to review all tax credits during the 2012 and 2013 legislative interims. Reviewing and determining the value of the policies before sun-setting them is more prudent. The bill contains many other tax credits and tax matters also.
 
As expected, HB 1114, Physician orders for scope of treatment form, was heard in House Public Health Committee but no vote was taken. The committee heard support for the concept and its need, but the circumstances regarding its use and the complexity dealing with the legal, medical and ethical issues need time to be worked through. ICC supports taking time to be sure the form provides for proper moral as well as legal and medical use.
 
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 website www.indianacc.org.

 

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

link
e-mail

Urge Co-sponsorship of Respect for Rights of Conscience Act

Posted by

As you now know, on January 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reaffirmed the rule first issued last August that virtually all private health care plans must cover sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception. Non-profit religious employers that do not now provide such coverage, and are not exempt under the rule's extremely narrow definition of religious employer, are given one year to comply.
 
Responding to the announcement, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated: "In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences." Cardinal-designate Dolan urged that the HHS mandate be overturned. See: www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-012.cfm.
 
A first step is to continue to urge Members of Congress to co-sponsor the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467). This measure will ensure that those who participate in the health care system "retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions."
 
NCHLA's Action Alert on this bill has been updated. Please see: nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=292.

For more information related to the HHS mandate, see: www.usccb.org/conscience.
 
Excerpted from an email from Michael Taylor, Excecutive Director, National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, Inc.

link
e-mail

I-CAN Update for January 20

Posted by

The House continues its inability to move bills on the floor but committees are meeting preparing bills to be ready when the stalemate ends. Meanwhile, the Senate continues moving bills on the floor as well as in committees.
 
Senator Brandt Hershman (R – Buck Creek) has introduced SB 433 which proposes sun setting all tax credits. The bill was heard in the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee but no vote was taken. It will be voted on next week. ICC is concerned about the approach to sun-set all credits at once, and sun-setting them without a review to determine if they should be. Many tax credits such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Scholarship Tax Credit and Neighborhood Tax Credit benefit low income people and are achieving their purpose of helping families and the common good. We expect an amendment that may call for periodic review, which we support.
 
Senate Health Committee heard SB 201, Transfer of human organism exemption, on Wednesday. Senator Patricia Miller’s (R- Indianapolis) intent in sponsoring the bill is to reduce the number of embryos created during the in-vitro process. However, the bill as introduced only provided a means for a fertility clinic to buy ova and freeze them, allowing them to re-sell to infertile women. In addition to objecting to the process, ICC raised concerns about the expanded commercialization of this industry and sale of human organisms. Moreover, there were no restrictions on the number of embryos created at one time, nor restrictions regarding their use. Senator Miller held the bill and will work on amendments. It may be voted on next week.
 
Another health related bill will be heard in the House Public Health Committee on Monday, January 23. HB 1114, Physician order for scope of treatment form, is sponsored by Representative Tim Brown, (R – Crawfordsville) who is a physician. The bill’s objective is to replace current law regarding Do Not Resuscitate Orders for terminally ill patients.  It has been brought forward by many in the medical field, yet it is complex and with medical, ethical and legal aspects. Many, including ICC,  are working to ensure that the form meets Catholic principles regarding end of life and medical care. The author may only want to air the reasons and concerns surrounding the issue rather than move the bill at this time.
 
Due to fiscal constraints of the property tax caps, some suburban school districts have stopped or severely cut back on transporting students to school. In addition, several districts have eliminated bus transportation for students in Catholic schools. In some instances, the district will pick up the child but only transport them to a public school and not take them to the Catholic school. State law requires the public school district to take the child to the non-public school or the nearest and most easily accessible point to the non-public school;  but at least one district believes this point is miles away. In effect, this eliminates bus service for our students. We are asking lawmakers to clarify the law and have asked for amendments in SB 226 and HB 1134, which deal with school transportation issues. The amendment would require the bus to drop the students within safe walking distance to the Catholic school.  Senate Appropriations Committee held SB 226 for amendments until next week.  HB 1134 will be heard in House Education Committee Friday morning January 20.
 
Three bills all related to school choice will be addressed in Senate Education Committee on Wednesday next week.  Last year’s school scholarship (voucher) law excluded currently enrolled students. SB 198 by Senator Doug Eckerty (R – Yorktown) would provide eligibility for all students whose family’s income meets the requirements for the voucher. Another bill, SB 331 authored by Senator Carlin Yoder (R – Indianapolis), seeks to provide eligibility to siblings of students who do qualify.  Under current law, younger children would have to go to a public school for Grade 1 before being eligible. This bill would provide an exemption for these children. Senator Jean Leising’s (R – Oldenburg) bill, SB 296, would make students in grade 8, enrolled in Catholic and other non-public schools eligible for the Tax Credit Scholarship. Presently, current students are ineligible for this program; but this bill would provide another entry point and would then make these students eligible for scholarships to attend a non-public or Catholic high school. Due to fiscal considerations, it may be difficult to move these bills this year. However, getting the issues discussed, paves the way for the topics in the coming sessions.
 
SB 4, Human Trafficking passed the Senate and as expected is being expedited in the House. It is scheduled for a hearing in the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee on Friday, January 20. If the House convenes, it will be given priority for a vote in order for it to become law prior to the Super Bowl.
 
Many bills which passed committee are awaiting disposition in the House because they do not have a quorum. Until the right to work standoff is resolved, bills continue to stack up awaiting further action.  Time is running out, according to the published schedule. Both bodies initially set next week as the end of committee hearings and set the last days of January for bills to pass the first house. As last year proved, the schedule can be adjusted. But this year also provides a shorter timeframe for the session; it must end no later than March 14. We expect some late days should the House Democrats return and many bills will fall through the cracks if the original schedule is kept.
 
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.
 

link
e-mail

I-CAN Update for January 13

Posted by

The stalemate in the House of Representatives has come to a close, at least temporarily. The leadership of both parties has agreed to move HB 1001, Employee’s Right to Work, next week. The issue has caused a two week delay in moving other bills along the process. The Conference has not taken a position on the bill or its counterpart in the Senate, SB 269. The issue involves balancing several moral principles such as the dignity of the person, a just wage, and rights of conscience and association. Last month the Bishops released a statement outlining the principles involved and asking all to thoughtfully dialogue how best to apply them in this policy debate. One can access the statement here. The Senate’s bill, SB 269, is scheduled for second reading next week also.
 
Despite the slowdown in the House, the Senate is moving bills. One bill that passed unanimously was SB 4, Human Trafficking. ICC supports the bill. It increases the penalties and expands the definition of human trafficking beyond the current definition to include participating in sexual conduct (in addition to prostitution). It also adds a special category for children under 16. The effort is to create the law prior to the Super Bowl since this type of activity has been known to exist with other Super Bowl venues. The bill is authored by Senator Randy Head (R -Logansport) but is co-sponsored by a bi-partisan group of half the Senators.
 
In order for this to be law prior to the Super Bowl, the House will have to pass the bill also.  While it is unusual for bills from the other chamber to be considered before cross-over, it is possible and it is expected that it will pass the House soon. Another bill expected to see early action in both bodies before the Super Bowl is the Smoking ban, HB 1149, authored by Representative Eric Turner (R – Cicero). It passed the House Health Committee this week on a 9 – 3 bipartisan vote.
 
ICC is following approximately 100 bills, but most will not receive a hearing. Below are some of the more salient bills which ICC supports and hope will move during this short session.
 
HB 1214 and SB 282, Abortion inducing drugs, are attempts to regulate drugs such as RU 486. At this time, surgical abortion is regulated to ensure the safety of the women and to ensure that women know the consequences and risks of their decision.  However, there are no regulations governing abortion providers who dispense these drugs. Moreover, in some instances this can be done without even an examination. The bill sponsors are Representatives Sue Ellspermann (R- Ferdinand) and Steve Davission (R – Salem) and Senator Greg Walker (R – Columbus).
 
Another abortion related bill, authored by Representative Davission, is HB 1014, Health Care profession conscience clause. It provides  that a health care professional may not be required to dispense a drug or medical device if the health care professional believes the drug or medical device would be used to: (1) cause an abortion; (2) destroy an unborn child; or (3) cause the death of a person by means of assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing.
 
HB 1143, Child and dependent tax credit, authored by Representative John Day (D – Indianapols), would provide a state tax credit for families with child and dependent care expense. It would allow 50% of the federal tax credit. The program would provide real support to working families struggling to meet its other obligations.  The bill limits eligibility to families with adjusted gross income below $45,000.
 
Senator John Broden (D – South Bend) is authoring SB 102, Food stamp assistance after drug conviction; it would remove the prohibition of persons convicted of drug offense from receiving food stamps. The problem is that this prohibition also punishes those associated with the person such as children and those who have turned their lives around. The bill would grant eligibility to those who have not been convicted of another drug offense in the previous five years before applying for food stamps to receive food stamps. It would also allow those who have a conviction in the last five years but who are receiving specified treatment and drug and alcohol testing to receive food stamps.
 
On the education front there are attempts to broaden eligibility for the school voucher program. SB 198 would provide eligibility to all who are income eligible; it would make current Catholic school families eligible. And SB 331 would provide eligibility for older siblings in families who receive a voucher. Currently, an older student already in the non-public school is not eligible for assistance even though the younger child is.
 
And, SB 296 would expand eligibility for the Scholarship Tax Credit program to all students in grade 8 currently enrolled in a non-public school. Present law prohibits current non-public students, not previously receiving a STC scholarship, from being eligible.
 
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.



 

link
e-mail

Pancakes-n-More Breakfast

Posted by

Sunday, January 22, the St. Luke Knights of Columbus will have a “Pancakes-n-More” Breakfast after the 7:30 and 9:00 AM Masses in the St. Luke Parish Hall. Tickets can be purchased on-line by clicking here and are: $6 for adults, $3 for children ages 6 to 12, with a maximum of $20 per family. Children under 6 are free!

Breakfast will include: biscuits and sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage links, coffee, and orange juice. Proceeds from the breakfast will benefit the 8th grade Washington DC class trip.

link
e-mail

I-CAN Update for January 6

Posted by

The 2012 General Assembly convened on Wednesday, January 4 but it felt like 2011 again. The Right to Work issue is again dominating the session and Democrat caucus in the House is again using a delaying tactic to keep the House of Representatives from conducting business. By denying a quorum this effectively stops the House from filing and moving bills along the process. Thus far, they have been able to stop HB 1001 Employee’s Right to Work from first reading and therefore from committee passing it for further consideration. But this will not stop the Labor Committee from taking testimony on the bill on Friday.
 
Meanwhile in the Senate, with a quorum proof majority of Republicans, is continuing with the process of filing bills and committee hearings. The Labor and Pensions Committee will conduct a joint meeting with the House to consider the Right to Work legislation; their version, SB 269, is identical to the House bill. There is no certainty as to when the standoff will end or in what manner. But, unlike last year, it is unlikely that there will be a concession to not move the bill. The leadership in the Senate and House, as well as the Governor, is committed to moving the bill. The Democrats are hoping that enough time may convince some of the Republican support to weaken. Stay tuned.
 
Another topic with high priority for the Governor and legislators is local government reform. This topic has been debated for a couple of sessions and it came close to passing last year. This year’s version, HB 1005 and SB 170, is much like last year’s end product; it focuses on nepotism and conflicts of interest and does not tackle the broader structural concern of townships and trustees. The bill prohibits employees from being officials of governing or executive bodies and provides for guidelines and disclosure regarding contracts with companies who are connected to local officials. The nepotism issue provides some exemptions for current employees and for the office of coroner and sheriff’s jail matron and trustees with offices in their home. HB 1005 was heard on Thursday but no vote was taken, despite a bi-partisan quorum. Most groups and persons testifying were supportive. There was concern expressed regarding the small, rural counties that do not have as many qualified persons to fill positions. Some wanted to allow each county/office to establish its own nepotism policy.
 
The delaying tactics may cause some changes in the short session calendar. But at this point all bills are expected to clear the first house by end of January. The session itself must end by March 15. The schedule limits the number of bills members can file and the number that will actually get a hearing. Not all bills are yet available. But, in addition to local government reform and right to work, we expect bills dealing with chemical abortions, child care tax credits, education polices, health care and charity gaming to name a few topics. The conference is already tracking around 50 bills, with more to come.
 
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.

link
e-mail

  © 2012 ST. LUKE CATHOLIC CHURCH, 7575 HOLLIDAY DRIVE EAST, INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46260 | Parish Office 317.259.4373 | School Office 317.255.3912
Web Design & Content Management powered by Marketpath CMS