In the current fiery political climate, it would be much easier to focus on attacking others rather than serving them, especially those we might disagree with. However, as followers of Christ, serving others is exactly what we are called to do.
This is the foundation for this year’s Catholic Advocacy Day theme: Serving the Poor, Lifting Up Families. Parishioners from around the state will gather at the State Capitol on April 30, asking lawmakers to support bills that will serve those who need it most.
Participants will start out with a briefing to discuss the meetings with lawmakers that will take place later in the day. The focus will be on four bills that Catholics will discuss with legislators including curbing childhood poverty, protecting education rights of parents and strengthening teacher preparedness.
Senate Bill 298 poverty reduction (Caballero, D – Salinas) would commit the Legislature to a goal of reducing childhood poverty by 50 percent by 2039 and provide a framework of research-backed solutions and sustained investment to achieve it. Efforts to invest in measures to reduce child poverty have been hampered by a lack of sustained focus and a defined, comprehensive plan for addressing the problem.
AB 809 child development programs (Santiago, D – Los Angeles) would spotlight a Title IX protection that would help inform pregnant and parenting students about their rights on college campuses. For instance, a graduate student who chooses to take a leave of absence because she is pregnant or has recently given birth is by law allowed a period consistent with the policies of the postsecondary educational institution, or a period of 12 additional months, whichever period is longer, to prepare for and take preliminary and qualifying examinations. This is vital for parents and parents-to-be to understand their educational options when a child enters their lives.
SB 456 privacy: faith-based organizations (Archuleta, D – Pico Rivera) would provide protections for places of worship or other faith-based organization from the disclosing personal information of volunteers to a third party without a court-issued subpoena, warrant or order. Volunteers are essential to faith-based organizations and should not have to fear that their service could lead to unexpected repercussions.
A budget request for K-12 teachers (Portantino, D – La Canada Flintridge) would allow new teachers an individual tax deduction for professional development expenses as they are completing the requirements for their California teaching credential. California’s growing demand for more teachers is outpacing the supply of qualified and fully prepared educators. As a result, the number of underprepared teachers working in California’s school classrooms has more than doubled in just three years. Such a vital and necessary tax policy would be of substantial benefit for thousands of California teachers and their students annually, with a very modest fiscal effect on state resources.