Related posts tagged with Christian Social Action

Pope Call us to Protect Creation

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Pope Francis has called us to protect creation and to care for our common home. During his visit to the United States, he echoed this call saying:  "Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a 'culture of care' and 'an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.' "

We ask you to support Pope Francis' call to care for our common home by contacting Senators Coats and Donnelly and encouraging them to care for creation by helping nonprofits make needed energy-efficiency improvements and protecting a national carbon standard.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/zEVADVOQgROa5Z9vXORVWQ




 

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I-CAN Update for February 4

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Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) is the public policy voice of the Catholic bishops in Indiana regarding state and national matters.
 
This week marked the end of first of the three significant stages of the legislative process.  It is commonly known as crossover week.  This week all bills that hope to remain alive must have passed the body in which they were introduced.  Hence, House bills had to pass the House and Senate bills had to clear the Senate.  The focus of the week was second reading amendments and third reading debates.  Many positive bills passed.
 
The biggest news is that SB 344, Civil rights, failed to move despite attempts to find compromise.  The bill and issue is dead for this session.  The demise of SB 344 demonstrates the complexity of balancing the fundamental freedoms of all persons.  Balancing the rights of all is more complex than simply adding 4 words and a comma, as many advocated.  No one supports unjust discrimination of anyone, which includes discrimination regarding one's exercise of Faith.  Balancing conflicting rights is better achieved in the concrete and particular circumstances where the conflict exists.  Only in the specific circumstance can the proper balance and mutual respect for each right be ascertained.  SB 344 provided some genuine protections for religious communities and institutions.  However, it did not extend the same conscience protections to all.  Despite the good intentions of the authors to protect religious and affiliated institutions, there were concerns regarding the limits placed on the religious freedom and conscience and concerns regarding definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity and implementation of such a complex issue.
 
Several positive bills passed with strong bipartisan support:
SB 132, Food stamp assistance after drug conviction, authored by Senator John Broden (D - South Bend),  passed the Senate 43- 7.  It was amended to remove any fiscal constraints.  If passed by the House, Indiana would join 39 other states who also have removed the prohibition of drug offenders accessing food stamps.  Persons will have to demonstrate that they are drug free or in a rehabilitation program.  All other eligibility requirements continue; only those who meet the financial and other eligibility criteria will receive this benefit.   ICC supports the bill.
 
Another positive bill, SB 272, Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council passed unanimously, 50-0.  The bill provides that the Department of Health ascertain the extent of palliative programs in the state and encourage palliative care programs.  Palliative care is a positive way to address the needs of persons with serious illness.  Palliative care is a positive rebuttal to physician assisted suicide.  ICC supports the bill.
 
SB 313, Abortion matters, passed the Senate 35-14.  The bill provides that prenatal hospice information be provided to mothers who are considering abortion when their child is diagnosed with a lethal fetal anomaly.  It also prohibits abortionists to abort the baby if they know it is because of race, sex or disability.  There are also provisions that prohibit acquiring, receiving, selling, or transferring fetal tissue.  ICC supports the bill.
 
Another related bill, HB 1337, Abortion, passed the House on a bipartisan vote, 74-23.  HB 1337 primarily strengthens several aspects of abortion regulations and it also deals with transfer of fetal tissue, similar to the provision in SB 313.  Regarding abortion regulations: Mothers must now be offered the opportunity to view the ultra sound prior to the abortion.  It also clarifies that abortionists must annually update the arrangements for another doctor to cover at local hospitals.  ICC supports the bill for its added clarity regarding regulations and the clarity regarding the disposition and handling of fetal remains.
 
SB 325, Individual development accounts, authored by Senator Mark Messmer (R - Jasper) passed 50-0.  It expands these accounts to allow for purchase of a vehicle and increases the eligibility from 175% to 200% of poverty.  The program assists low income persons to develop habits of saving and providing for capital and long term needs.  ICC supports the bill.
 
SB 334, Choice scholarships, authored by Senator Carlin Yoder (R - Middlebury), passed 40-9.  It extends the opportunity for a scholarship during the second semester and reduces the administrative procedures for parents and administrators at choice schools.  ICC supports the bill.
 
HB 1340, Long term small loans, authored by Representative Woody Burton (R - Whiteland), passed the House 95-1.  It provides for a committee to study the payday lending industry and its request to increase the amount of and the interest rate for small loans.  ICC supports the change in the bill to a study committee, as this stops the effort to increase the burden these loans place on families.
 
Bills passed earlier, which we are watching:
HB 1064, Terminating the parent-child relationship, authored by Representative Hal Slager (R - Schererville), passed the House 93 -0.  HB 1064 allows a parent who is the victim of an act of rape from which a child was conceived to file a petition to terminate the parent-child relationship between the child and the alleged perpetrator of the act of rape.   ICC supports the bill in that it supports victims of rape and may promote keeping the child; it also supports the woman from being further victimized later.
 
SB 11, ABLE saving account for persons with disabilities, sponsored by Senator Luke Kenley (R - Noblesville),  passed the Senate 48 - 0.  SB 11 establishes a qualified ABLE program under which a person may make contributions for a taxable year for the benefit of an eligible individual with a disability.  ICC supports the bill.
 
HB 1002, Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship, passed 96 -1.  The bill provides $7500 scholarship to attract and retain students to the teaching profession and commit to teach at least 5 years in Indiana schools, including school scholarship or voucher schools.  ICC supports the bill.
 
In addition to the Update, one can obtain more detailed information regarding the bills, as well as detailed information about the legislative process and the Indiana General Assembly by clicking here.  You can also access the archived I-CAN Updates, ICC positions and other background information at the ICC website www.indianacc.org



 

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I-CAN Update for 1/28/16

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

Committees were very active, as all bills, if they stand a chance of passage, had to pass committee this week.  All bills must pass the floor of each respective house by Wednesday night, February 3rd.
 
Senate Rules Committee heard hours of testimony regarding SB 100 and SB 344, sponsored by Senator Travis Holdman (R - Markle); both deal with adding protected class status for sexual orientation and gender identity.   After more than 4 hours of testimony and discussion SB 344 passed on a 7 -5 vote.  It was amended to include crisis pregnancy centers along with an amendment to repeal RFRA and the fix, using Indiana Supreme Court case, as the standard of review by which constitutional freedoms would be judged.   The amended bill provides sexual orientation as a protected class but does not include gender identity.  Rather, it provides that this gender identity would be a study committee matter after session.  Religious and affiliated institutions would have exemption from the law as would businesses with fewer than 6 employees.  ICC appreciates the effort to protect integrity of religious institutions but is concerned about religious and conscience rights of all persons and businesses.  Therefore, ICC does not support the bill.  The bill now must pass the Senate by Wednesday night or the bill dies for this session.  All who voted for the bill were interested in keeping it moving but were not completely happy with all its provisions.  We expect many attempted changes on second reading and the outcome is still in doubt.  You can locate/contact your Senator simply by inserting your zip code under "Find Officials" located  here and then your street address.
 
On a related matter, although scheduled, Senate Judiciary did not hear SB 66, Civil rights.  The bill would repeal the RFRA statute passed last session and replace it by identifying fundamental rights in addition to religious freedom.  Leadership decided the bill was too controversial and in light of the other civil rights bills was not needed.   
 
Senate Health Committee dealt with two bills of significance for the Church.   SB 313, Abortion matters, sponsored by Senator Holdman passed Senate Health Committee 7 - 4.  The bill is similar to his bill last session that prohibits abortion of fetus for reasons of race, sex or disability, such as Downs.  This year it adds a provision that women who are considering an abortion are to be provided information about prenatal hospice care to women who are considering abortion for fetus that has a lethal fetal anomaly.   The bill provides that an abortionist who knowingly conducts an abortion because the fetus is of a certain sex, race or disability would be subject to sanctions and civil liability.  It also provides that such abortions would violate the anti-discrimination laws.   ICC supports the bill.

Senate Health also passed SB 272, Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council, sponsored by Senator Tim Lanane (D - Anderson) , 9-0.  SB 272 establishes a council to assess the extent of palliative care programs and to educate the public and health care providers regarding palliative care.  Palliative care is a positive way to address the needs of people with serious illness.  Our society should embrace what St.  John Paul called "the way of love and true mercy" by surrounding patients with love, support, and companionship, providing the assistance needed to ease their physical, emotional,  and spiritual suffering.  Palliative care is designed to do just that by providing for the needs of the patient while respecting the sacredness and preciousness of human life.  ICC supports the bill.

House Public Policy Committee passed HB 1337, Abortion, sponsored by Representative Casey Cox (R),  9 - 3.  The primary focus of the bill is to clarify and tighten Indiana's abortion law.  Current law requires an ultra sound; the bill requires that the viewing of the ultra sound be done at the time consent is given, at least 18 hours prior to the abortion.  Now, it could be done just prior to the actual abortion.  The intent of the original law was to do it at least 18 hours prior.  The major focus of the bill is to prohibit misuse of aborted remains.  This would require cremation or burial rather than being treated as waste.  And it prohibits transportation of aborted remains into Indiana from other states.  ICC supports the bill.
 
Two education bills made progress.  SB 334, School scholarships, sponsored by Senator Carlin Yoder (R - Middlebury),  passed Senate Appropriations Committee on a bi-partisan vote.   SB 334 extends another opportunity for students to access a voucher after the start of the school year.  Currently, vouchers are only available at the beginning of the school year.  This would allow students in the second semester to enroll.  Also, it reduces the paperwork on administering the program by allowing the parents to only have to endorse the state support once during the year rather than twice.  ICC supports the bill.
 
Senate Education Committee amended SB 93 this week and removed the language regarding transportation of non-public school students by public school corporations.  Nor was the topic assigned to a study committee.  This is the outcome ICC advocated.  Other aspects of the bill relate only to public school matters.
 
House Financial Institutions Committee heard HB 1340, Long term small loans.  It would extend the amount and the interest rate allowed for small loans between $550 and $2000.  The poor and disadvantaged are not benefitted by expanding the amount that check cashing and payday loan companies can lend - especially at the predatory pricing of 20% interest.   A $600 could end up costing as much as $2000.  ICC opposes the bill as it targets low income families who are desperate to care for family emergencies and needs.  Thankfully, the bill was changed to make this topic a study committee item after session.  ICC supports this change.
 
Senate Pension and Labor Committee heard SB 285, Employment of unauthorized aliens, sponsored by Senator Mike Delph (R - Carmel).  The bill will further punish business that knowingly hires unauthorized aliens by stripping them of any license it holds.  Current law already punishes businesses that hire unauthorized aliens through tax penalties.  SB 285 provides an affirmative defense for those who use E-Verify system.  However, the E-Verify system is costly for small business and still contains many false positives, hence denying someone a job.  ICC does not support the bill because it is unnecessary and will likely harm families, particularly low income families.  Many opposed the bill including the prosecuting attorney association, Farm Bureau, State and Indianapolis Chambers and others.   The committee did not take a vote on the bill; hence, the bill dies for this session.
 
Senate Appropriations unanimously passed SB 132, Food stamp assistance after drug conviction, sponsored by Senator John Broden (D- South Bend).  It allows individuals who were convicted of a drug offense but have not been convicted of another drug offense in the previous five years before applying for food stamps to receive food stamps.  It also permits individuals who have had a conviction in the past five years but who are receiving specified treatment and drug and alcohol testing to receive food stamps.  The reason for the bill is that currently these persons are barred from assistance.
 
Individuals after serving their sentence and release from jail or prison have many obstacles when rejoining the community.  In addition to the culture and family adjustments, employment is often denied because of the conviction and prison record.  When jobs are available, often these are temporary or part time.  Hence, this assistance is tangible and needed.  This benefit will go a long way to assisting persons to maintain themselves and their dignity.  While food banks are willing and provide assistance, these institutions are stretched to serve all who are in need.   ICC supports the bill.
 
In addition to the Update, one can obtain more detailed information regarding the bills, as well as detailed information about the legislative process and the Indiana General Assembly by clicking here.  You can also access the archived I-CAN Updates, ICC positions and other background information at the ICC website www.indianacc.org
 

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State Legislature Review for January 21

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Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) is the public policy voice of the Catholic bishops in Indiana regarding state and national matters.
 
With the deadline of next week for committee work, this was a very busy week of committee hearings and bills moving on the floor.
 
Two education bills that are a major focus for educators and school officials this year passed the entire process this week.  HB 1003, Teacher evaluations, passed the Senate 48 -0 and SB 200, Measuring school and school corporation performance, passed the House 97 -1 and are now awaiting the Governor's signature.  Both deal with the ISTEP controversy of the past year.  SB 200 exempts schools from the letter grade that would have been assigned if ISTEP scores were to be used.  This does impact our schools that participate in the school scholarship or voucher program.  Our educators were supportive of this bill.  HB 1003 deals with ISEP as it relates to teacher evaluations and compensation in the public schools.  Catholic schools are not affected by this bill.  ICC supports SB 200.
 
In other education matters: HB 1002, Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship, unanimously passed the House Education Committee on Thursday.   The purpose is to provide a $7500 scholarship to attract and retain students to theteaching profession and commit to teach at least 5 years in Indiana schools, including school scholarship or voucher schools.  HB 1003 establishes the program; it would have to be funded in the next budget cycle.  ICC supports the bill.
 
On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee passed SB 334, Choice scholarships, on a bipartisan 9 - 1 vote.   SB 334 provides for an additional opportunity for students to be eligible for a scholarship.  Currently, students are only able to receive a scholarship in the fall; the bill would provide another opportunity during the second semester.  It also reduces the administrative burden for voucher schools by allowing for the parents to cosign only the first of the two tuition checks from the state.  ICC supports the bill.
 
Senate Education also heard SB 93, Various education matters, deals with a great variety of issues.  However, it had a provision that would have substantially changed current law which provides for school corporations to pick up non-public students and deliver them to the non-public school.  I am happy to report that the provision will be removed.  It is expected that this topic will be assigned to an interim study committee.  The bill will be amended and voted on next week.
 
Senate Tax and Fiscal Committee passed SB 11, Able savings accounts for persons with disabilities, 12 -0.  The bill establishes a qualified ABLE program under which a person may make contributions for a taxable year for the benefit of an eligible individual with a disability to an ABLE account to meet the qualified disability expenses of the designated beneficiary in compliance with federal law.   ICC supports the bill.

Coming next week
Senate Judiciary will hear SB 66, Civil rights, next Wednesday, January 27th.   SB 66 specifies certain provisions of the Constitution of the State of Indiana as "fundamental rights" and prohibits the government from substantially burdening a fundamental right unless the governmental entity demonstrates that the application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.   It also repeals the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (including the "fix") from last session.  The fundamental rights are: freedom of religion, speech, press, right to assemble and petition the government and the right to bear arms.   SB 66 not only repeals RFRA and the "fix", it goes beyond only a court standard.  It set this as the policy of the state and therefore applicable to the legislative and executive branch.  ICC supports the bill.
 
Also on Wednesday, January 27th, Senate Rules Committee will hear SB 100, Civil rights, and SB 344, Civil rights.  Both bills deal with the issue of protected class provisions for sexual orientation and gender identity.
 
SB 100 prohibits discriminatory practices in acquisition or sale of real estate, housing, education, public accommodations, employment, the extending of credit, and public contracts.  Also, it provides protections for religious liberty and conscience for religious entities, including schools.   And it preempts local civil rights ordinances that conflict with the state civil rights law.   However, it does not provide for rights of conscience for individuals and businesses.  Because it does not protect the right of conscience and could be used to coerce persons to participate in activities that are immoral, and many of its provisions leave questions and concerns, ICC does not support the bill.
 
SB 344 is similar but does not include gender identity as a protected class.  It does extend rights of conscience to individuals but not business persons.  Also, it allows enforcement of local ordinances passed before December 31, 2015.  SB 344 is an improvement but still lacks clarity in definitions regarding religious affiliation and does not extend religious liberty to all.  ICC does not support SB 344.
 
On a positive note, Senate Health Committee will hear SB 72, Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council.  The bill provides for the Department of Health to convene health care doctors and nurses to find way to promote palliative care throughout Indiana.  The Church supports palliative care as a positive response to those experiencing suffering and end of life stages.  This is a positive response to those who would advocate physician assisted suicide.  ICC supports the bill.
 
In addition to the Update, one can obtain more detailed information regarding the bills, as well as detailed information about the legislative process and the Indiana General Assembly by clicking here.  You can also access the archived I-CAN Updates, ICC positions and other background information at the ICC website www.indianacc.org
 

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