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Insights: Physician-Assisted Suicide Ruled Unconstitutional; May Budget Revise

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May 18, 2018

End-of-Life Option Act Unconstitutional

The following statement is from Edward ‘Ned” Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, on the ruling by a Riverside Superior Court judge that the End-of-Life Options Act is unconstitutional:

“We are encouraged by [Wednesday’s] ruling by a Superior Court judge in Riverside County overturning the state’s assisted suicide law.  Our opposition to assisted suicide is no secret, but this legislation was also opposed by a broad coalition of doctors, nurses, seniors and the disabled community, who fought this bill for many, many reasons,” said Dolejsi. 

“Health care professionals were shocked at the cynicism and questioned why the state was embracing doctor-assisted suicide as the standard of care for people who needed respect and support.  Others were offended at the way Medi-Cal patients - often refused coverage for palliative care – were offered coverage for lethal prescriptions instead.

“Still others were truly disturbed by the lack of safeguards to prevent seniors and the disabled from being railroaded into assisted suicide.  At an oversight hearing in January to review the implementation of the End-of-Life Option Act, even though presented with clear evidence of poor data collection and other implementation uncertainties, legislators openly discussed ways that physician-assisted suicide could be expanded – especially to poor and minority communities.

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Advocacy Day Delegates Report Cordial, Respectful Conversations on Policy Issues

It is an empowering experience – visiting the State Capitol and discussing with lawmakers the pros and cons of policy proposals.

Nearly 100 delegates from most dioceses in California learned that lessons during Catholic Advocacy Day last month when they travelled to Sacramento to discuss six crucial bills now before the legislature.  Almost all had cordial visits and respectful dialogue, even with legislators who disagreed with the Conference positions.

The legislature is in its busiest time of year right now yet many delegates were able to meet with their elected representatives or senior staff.   One Assembly Member (Anna Caballeros of Salinas, CA), visited by delegates from the Diocese of Monterey, even arranged for her staff to call her out of a hearing when the delegation arrived.

“Assembly Member Sharon Quirk-Silva was very polite and she answered most [of] the questions to the best of her knowledge,” reported the delegation from Orange. 

It can be very hectic between committee hearings and other activities: “[Assembly Member] Reyes made a point to get back in time to see us.  This was very positive,” said the San Bernardino diocesan report.

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Governor’s Revised Budget Sees Gains for Mental Health; Early Education

On May 11, Governor Brown released the May Revision to his proposed 2018-2019 state budget, which includes billions more in revenues than he originally projected in January.

Citing strong economic growth and a low unemployment rate, the Governor is now allocating an additional $8 billion to build up the state’s “rainy day” fund, pay down debt, and invest in infrastructure, setting the stage for solid financial footings in preparation for the next economic recession.

A welcome and notable change is the increase in funding for mental health services. Earlier this month, the California bishops released Hope and Healing: A Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of California on Caring for those who Suffer from Mental Illness Addressed to All Catholics and People of Goodwill to address the mental health epidemic. The CCC is encouraged to see the Governor responding with additional funds for outreach and treatment for homeless persons with mental illness, and a one-time influx of funds to support graduate programs for mental health professionals.

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Farm Bill Needs Changes or It Will Harm Californians

More than 15.6 million households in the U.S. are food insecure. While the 2018 Farm Bill is not an ultimate answer to poverty and food instability, it does make incredible strides toward ensuring that our neighbors at home and abroad have greater food security.

Click here to urge your U.S. Representative to protect Californians.

Unless amended, however, the current bill (HR 2) will harm Californians.  Specifically, urge your Congressman to seek these two amendments:

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Position Announcement: Associate Director for Governmental Relations

We are seeking an Associate Director for Governmental Relations to focus on Respect for Life, Family Life and Religious Liberty issues to work as a member of our team at the California Catholic Conference, Inc. the public policy arm of the Bishops of the Catholic Church in California. Click here for more information.


There will be no issue of Public Policy Insights next week in observance of Memorial Day. We pray you have a blessed holiday.  

May 18, 2018
Vol. 11, No. 18

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