Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Legislative Advocacy Day helps Catholics translate faith into action
the Inland Register
(From the Feb. 28, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)
Dominican Sister Sharon Park (IR photo from Catholic Charities)
With a short legislative session in Olympia this year, the 45 people who came together on Feb. 16 to learn about issues of concern to faith network had their work cut out for them. At the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, Dominican Sister Sharon Park and Donna Christensen of the Washington State Catholic Conference, and Paul Benz of the Lutheran Public Policy Office, as well as Jessie Dye of Earth Ministry, offered policy briefings on a range of issues from health care and housing to the environment and the earned income tax credit.
During the day, attendees were able to use cell phones to call the state capitol to register their concerns with elected officials, in addition to writing letters. Some attendees chose to use e-mail systems when they arrived at their homes.
All people of faith are encouraged to study the issues and to advocate for policies that support the common good. In particular, the three presenters from the state-wide policy organizations urged action on the following bills:
• SHB 2798/SSB 6483 – The Local Farms/Healthy Kids initiative to create sustainable markets for farmers, preserving the environment, and providing locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables to school children and low-income families.
• ESSB 5959 – the Transitional Housing, Operating and Rent (THOR) Program, asking for $15 million to address the needs of homeless families and individuals, as well as those at risk of homelessness.
• The Housing Trust Fund, part of the capitol budget, providing funding for low-income housing. Due a substantial backlog of projects to be funded, advocates seek an increase of $100 million in the budget to provide more families with affordable housing.
• Parishes will be distributing materials to direct families with children lacking health insurance to programs providing that essential service. Some 70,000 children in Washington State are estimated to be without health insurance. By receiving and displaying the DSHS information, parishes help assure that every child will be covered by 2010.
• SSB 6809 – A sales tax remittance from the State for residents receiving Earned Income Tax Credit from the federal system.
Legislators can be contacted via postal mail or e-mail prior to the end of February to urge passage of particular pieces of legislation. Phone calls can be made to the capitol switchboard: 800-562-6000.
• Sister Sharon also took the opportunity to draw attention to Initiative 1000, legalizing physician-assisted suicide. This initiative stands in direct opposition to Catholic teachings on the sanctity of all life.
The Washington State Catholic Conference and the state’s Catholic bishops are preparing educational materials for Catholic parishes and organizations, but in the meantime, Sister Sharon urged people not to sign the petition needed to guarantee a spot on the November ballot, and to learn more by visiting the website www. noassistedsuicide.com from the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide.