After months of legislative back and forth, the California Catholic Conference (CCC) is removing its objections to and offering qualified support for SB 1146, the bill that at one time threatened the religious liberty of California’s faith-based colleges and universities.
The bill by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) must still be approved by the legislature, but it is a now a measure that requires faith-based schools that request a Title IX exemption to make it clear to prospective students such items as an expected code of conduct, religious classes or chapel requirements and other items special to a religious school experience.
While concerned about some technical wording, the California Catholic Conference has removed our opposition to SB 1146, and is generally supportive of the bill. SB 1146 has been amended to protect access to financial resources for higher education for California’s students who are most in need and who chose to attend a faith-based college or university, while also preserving the religious charisma and liberties of these institutions. Intrusive reporting requirements for faith-based higher education institutions with Title IX exemptions were removed from the bill.
In addition, a reasonable timeline is provided for implementation of disclosure provisions that ensure all students have an informed choice about which institution of higher education best serves their needs.
The Conference, however, expressed concerns with the bill because its drafting language is too vague when it comes to what exemptions trigger its provision. In fact, they are so unclear that it might make the entire bill unenforceable if it is ultimately passed and signed by the Governor.
The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) worked very close with Senator Lara in shaping the legislation that preserves the religious charism and liberties of these institutions and that protects the freedom of California’s financially neediest students to select the fulfilling option of religious higher education.
As the legislative session draws to a close next week, the CCC is still closely monitoring bills:
- AB 2590 – a restorative justice bill that encourages inmate rehabilitation programs
- AB 2531 – the legalization of monetary compensation for human eggs for research purposes
- AB 1066 – the “Phase-In Overtime for Agricultural Workers Act of 2016,” which would make farm workers eligible for overtime pay if they work more than an eight-hour day or 40 hours a week.
- AB 1789 – the extension of School Supplies for Homeless Children Fund
Visit www.cacatholic.org for more information on these bills and ways to alert your legislators.