California Legislature Begins its Summer Break
As the legislature begins its summer recess, both houses are methodically moving bills from policy committees to appropriations committees. These measures will remain until late August when some may get called up to the floor for a vote.
Many of the important issues, such as physician-assisted suicide, have already been largely resolved (although parliamentary trickery can always come into play). In the meantime, here is an update on two of the bills that we are watching carefully and were highlighted by the delegates during Catholic Advocacy Day:
SB 23 (Mitchell, D-Los Angeles) which would repeal the Maximum Family Grant rule, has passed out of the Assembly Human Services committee and is now in Appropriations. Repealing this rule would allow families who are receiving assistance, access to a grant if another child is born. (Take Action here.)
AB 775 (Chiu, D-San Francisco) the Reproductive FACT Act would require pregnancy centers that hold a pro-life viewpoint to post signage that every woman has a right to have a child or obtain an abortion. We will send out an alert when this bill will come up in the Senate.
Track all the legislation that the California Catholic Conference is following on our Legislation page or see the current status of all of Catholic Advocacy Day bills here. See our Action Alert page for all alerts.
Assisted-Suicide Advocates also Fighting in Court
Having fallen short of winning the California legislature’s approval for physician-assisted suicide (SB 128) advocates for the highly controversial practice are now focusing on the courts. Other end runs are probably also in the works.
"Compassion and Choices," which has been working to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide medication for decades, has been employing a multi-prong approach this year, including legislation (which is failing passage around the nation), initiative campaigns and lawsuits.
A key case is scheduled for its first hearing in a San Diego court on Friday, July 24.
Compassion and Choices, aided by one of California’s largest law firms, filed the suit with Christie O’Donnell, 46, as lead plaintiff. A Los Angeles County resident, O’Donnell suffers from brain cancer that has spread to other parts of her body. The suit seeks to allow a doctor to prescribe medicines that will kill her. The hearing is scheduled for July 24, her birthdate.
At the core of the case is California Penal Code Section 401, which succinctly states that “Every person who deliberately aids, or advises, or encourages another to commit suicide, is guilty of a felony."
Laudato Si Sparks Interest from California Legislators
This week, the California Senate passed a resolution SR 37 (de Leon, D-Los Angeles) asking that the Golden State’s Legislature and Governor as well as the U.S. Congress and President consider the message from Pope Francis’ Climate Encyclical, Laudato Si, in developing state and national policies on climate change and caring for the earth as our common home.
The Encyclical presents a compelling case for placing people at the center of a renewed commitment to good stewardship of the planet. Throughout the document Pope Francis continually stresses how climate and environmental policies impact our communities but especially how devastating environmental degradation can be for the most vulnerable people on Earth.
Governor Brown will now deliver SR 37 to the pope when he meets with Holy Father next week as part of a Conference with elected officials sponsored by the Vatican.
In support of the call to action embraced by Laudato Si, the California Catholic Conference is also looking at several environmental bills in the California legislature. For instance, the Conference is now advocating support for SB 32 (Pavley, D-Agoura Hills) California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: Emissions Limit and for SB 350 (de Leon, D-Los Angeles) Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015.
Urge U.S. Senators to Reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
The Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) is the U.S. Senate version of the long overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Since its inception in 1965, ESEA has long upheld the principle that students in need, regardless of whether they attend a public or private school, are entitled to an equitable share of services and benefits. However, following the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001 (the last ESEA reauthorization), this principle has been continually eroded with private school students and their teachers no longer receiving the equitable share of services and benefits to which they are entitled and that Congress intended.
This act is the next important step towards restoring equity and strengthening the historical safeguards designed to insure the fair and equitable treatment of private school students and their teachers. The Senate plans to vote on The Every Child Achieves Act on Thursday or Friday.
Death Penalty Statement by Bishops
The bishops chairing two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) renewed the bishops’ opposition to the death penalty in a message, July 16. The message commemorated the 10th anniversary of the bishops’ Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty and their accompanying message, “A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death.”
July 17, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 27
Publication Note: During the legislature’s recess, Public Policy Insights will be published every other week. That means no issue next week. The staff hopes you enjoy your summer vacations.