Catholic Advocacy Day Builds Relationships, Accountability
“We left with a sense of support and being heard,” said Armando Cervantes, a delegate to Catholic Advocacy Day from the Diocese of Orange.
That sense of empowerment and type of encounter is not uncommon for people who take part in the annual event in Sacramento organized by the California Catholic Conference. This year, nearly 50 lawmakers and their staff in Sacramento received delegations from arch/dioceses across the state.
They spoke on a number of issues and overwhelmingly reported that the visits were respectful and worth the effort (85 percent agreed or strongly agreed).
Often they encountered staff and lawmakers who don’t understand the Church’s continued opposition to bills such as those aimed at expanding access to physician-assisted suicide because, after all, “it’s now law.”
It is education, on such topics as moral principles versus enacted laws, that makes this interaction between advocates, lawmakers and their staff in the Capitol so critical.
Another group of Catholic visitors included the lawmaker’s own pastor and created an important relationship-building opportunity for both priest and legislator that could benefit the community where they both live.
The legislators and staffers were eager to point out areas of agreement. Naturally, they were less open about areas of disagreement, sometimes even aggressive, but many delegates reported that after continued discussions they felt a respectful and constructive dialogue emerged. Initial uncertainty often turned in civil discourse.
Other delegates who were shunted off to junior staff members were not so satisfied but many of those delegates have vowed to continue pursuing discussions with their representatives.
Of the bills discussed, delegates found the highest support for AB 1276 which would allow minor victims of human trafficking to testify via video. There is opposition to paying for assisted-suicide for Medi-Cal patients and to the hotline to explain the procedure (SB 1002) but it is not as strong. (See Summary Charts.)
You can view the position of individual legislator’s on every Catholic Advocacy Day issue and sort by diocese, legislative district or the lawmaker’s last name on our results page.
In addition, a section detailing the experiences of delegates is included. For instance, distractions are always an issue (18% of delegates indicated they were a problem) but the delegations felt they were successful in communicating the positions of the California Catholic Conference on the selected bills and budget issues (80% agreed or strongly agreed).
Finally, never underestimate the importance of building one-on-one relationships. Shortly after the “official” visit, one legislative staffer emailed a delegate asking how to get involved in a restorative justice ministry in their common diocese.
Take Action Now
If you have not done so already, there is still time to take action on these alerts:
- Stop the Bill Authorizing a Physician-Assisted Suicide Telephone Hotline - SB 1002 (Monning, D-Carmel) – End of Life Option Act: telephone number - would establish a new, state-funded, telephone 'hotline' for Californian residents who wish to inquire about assisted suicide. The new law making assisted suicide legal in our state, termed by proponents as the End of Life Option Act (AB X2 15), was passed late last year -- but has yet to take effect. Nevertheless, proponents are already seeking to expand this sad law by proposing this inappropriate and conflicting role for the state.
- Help Families, Children Living on the Margin- Repeal MFG - The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program provides cash assistance to families with incomes below the federal poverty level. The purpose of CalWORKs is to provide for the well-being of children, address the employment barriers parents may have and to promote job training.
- Restorative Justice Solutions - Despite our overcrowded prisons, recidivism remains at an unacceptably high rate. Last year, a broad array of faith-based and community organizations convened and agreed that the current criminal justice system, founded upon the sole purpose of punishment, has failed. Along with Assembly Member Shirley Weber (D- San Diego) they created AB 2590.
Governor Brown’s “May Revise” will be released this morning. The Revise sharpens the focus of the Governor’s proposed budget (released in January) with better revenue and expense projections. It signals the start of “serious” budget negotiations in the State Capitol. Look to www.cacatholic.org or “Like” us on Facebook for any significant news on the revised budget.
Restorative Justice - AB 2590 Update
Last week, a bill that the California Catholic Conference co-sponsored passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee and is on its way to the Assembly Floor.
AB 2590 – Sentencing; restorative justice (Weber, D-San Diego) considers effective alternatives to incarceration, specifically restorative justice solutions, as well as opportunities for rehabilitation for those already incarcerated.
Specifically, AB 2590 would declare that the purpose of sentencing is public safety and this can be achieved through accountability, rehabilitation and restorative justice. This alternative to a punitive only approach will create change within our criminal justice system and put an emphasis on public safety.
Please contact your Assembly Member and urge them to vote “Aye” on this important bill.
Blog Post: Election Fatigue and the Year of Mercy
It’s only May, and many of us are weary of the never-ending news cycles about the 2016 Presidential election. With our primary election still several weeks away, and both major party candidates reasonably certain already, many Californians have a “why bother” attitude. I’d like to suggest an antidote for election fatigue but first, allow me to take this opportunity to gently nudge those news-weary voters: in addition to Presidential hopefuls, other candidates are on the California Primary ballot including those running for U.S. House and Senate seats and State Senate and Assembly seats.
To vote in the June 7 Primary in California, those who aren’t registered or who have changed their name or address, or wish to select a new party affiliation, must register by May 23; for the November General Election the cutoff date for registration is Oct. 24.
Laudato Si Nears First Anniversary
In Laudato Si, a letter addressed to all the people of the world and released on May 24, 2015, Pope Francis presents a clear and compelling case for placing people at the center of a renewed commitment to caring for the planet.
“We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” 
May 13, 2016
Vol. 9, No. 16