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Legislation Preview, New San Diego Bishop

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March 6, 2015

2015 Legislative Preview

A flood of bills hit the California Legislature as the deadline for submission of new legislation arrived last week.  Lawmakers will now start hearings on more than 2,400 bills introduced in the first year of its two-year session.

The California Catholic Conference staff is evaluating the bills and designating them significant, major or monitor.  Many in the latter category will drop off as their details become more apparent.   Others have already been marked ‘support’ or ‘oppose.’  For those that do not indicate a position, it usually means that the staff is working with legislators to understand the intent and scope of the legislation before making a recommendation.

Below is our assessment of trends in key legislative areas.  You can see specific bills and their status in the Legislation Section of our website:

Reverence for Life                      

Bills dealing with the reverence for life cover a wide range of topics such as abortion, women’s health, pregnancy care, newborn screenings, nurse practitioners and midwives.  Significant changes in regulations to health care facilities and clinics are also evaluated on how they impact life. 

Of course, this year we are in strong opposition to one very dangerous bill in the legislature: SB 128, which will attempt to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in our state

This session, legislators will be dealing with investigational drugs, biological products and devices and Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST).   They will look at giving patients a “right-to-try” experimental medical treatments and whether to create a statewide registry for POLST documents.

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Our New Website Debuts

The California Catholic Conference website, www.cacatholic.org, has received a complete overall to make it easier for you to use and to bring it up-to-date with the latest web standards and techniques.

We hope you appreciate the fresh new look, better search features, easier menus and integrated social media links. 

The Policies and Issues pages contain news and analysis on the important legislative and societal developments in California and the world.  It’s organized according to issue areas so, for instance, you will find information on Abortion, Bioethics, the Death Penalty and End-of-Life all grouped in the Reverence for Life section.  There is also a full section for news En Español, sections on Catholic social teaching, advocacy and resources on marriage, protecting our children and the California missions.

As in any upgrade – it’s a little like moving a public library from one building to another – some things might be misplaced.  Let us know if any of your favorites are missing by emailing us at leginfo@cacatholic.org.  We appreciate the feedback.­­   If you have linked to any articles or material on our site, be sure to update your links.

A special thanks to the people at FAITH Catholic for their design and engineering of the site!

Protect the Poor in Federal Budget

Decisions around the 2016 budget resolution should be measured against whether they protect human life and dignity, the poor and vulnerable and the common good, particularly workers and their families, said two U.S. bishops in a letter, February 27, to every member of Congress.

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami and Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, wrote, “The moral measure of the federal budget is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless, or poor are treated. Their voices are too often missing in these debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources.”

The bishops expressed support for reduction of future unsustainable deficits and their impact on the economy, but said a just framework for a federal budget cannot rely on “disproportionate cuts in essential service to poor persons.” The bishops noted how Budget Control Act caps and sequestration have limited many domestic and international poverty-focused programs and cautioned lawmakers against using the reconciliation process to achieve savings by cutting health care, nutrition and other programs.

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Bishop McElroy Introduced to Diocese of San Diego

Bishop Robert McElroy will be moving down the coast from his native San Francisco to become the 6th Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego.  The appointment by Pope Francis was announced by the Papal Nuncio to the United States earlier in the week.

Serving many years as a pastor at St. Gregory’s in San Mateo, Bishop McElroy has been an auxiliary in the Archdiocese of San Francisco since 2010.  He holds a licentiate in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, a doctorate in moral theology from the Gregorian University in Rome and a doctorate in political science from Stanford.  He is also a frequent contributor to America Magazine and the author of two books.

San Diego was stunned last fall by the untimely death of Bishop Cirilo Flores who served as the bishop of the diocese for only a year.

You can read more about Bishop McElroy in the diocesan newspaper, The Southern Cross, or view the introductory press conference on the diocese’s webpage.

One of Bishop McElroy’s most significant contributions to America Magazine, A Church for the Poor, examines how the Church can respond to Pope Francis’ call for addressing poverty throughout the world.

On the Web

Oppose Doctor-Prescribed Suicide – If your Senator serves on the Health or Judiciary Committee you will receive an Action Alert next week to contact him or her and express your opposition to doctor-prescribed suicide.  Please respond immediately – it only takes a few seconds.  Can’t wait?  You can also take action now

In his weekly audience, Pope Francis also had a few things to say about the treatment of the elderly, palliative care and assisted suicide.

Remembering Dr. Jack  Willke –  His “Handbook on Abortion, written in question and answer form, was published in 1971 and became the de facto “bible” for the nascent pro-life movement in the United States and abroad.”  Dr. Willke passed away on February 20. Read Judy Barrett’s remembrance.  

Join us at the Religious Ed Congress – Attending the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Religious Education Congress in Anaheim next week?  Stop by the Catholic Legislative Network booth,  No. 712, and say hello.  We appreciate your feedback.