The past two weeks proved to be quite busy for the conference as many issues it has an interest in were presented.
Although HB 359 narrowly cleared the House Education committee, it failed to garner enough votes to move beyond the House chamber. Our conference has been following this measure closely and stood opposed to it given the approach it took to sex education – namely one of mere naturalism therefore lacking a moral foundation. We thank those who decided to answer our call to action by contacting your representative to express your concerns. An article referencing the outcome of this legislation and our involvement in it can be accessed here:
HB 701 – the instrument advocating for the prohibition of abortion based on sex selection – convincingly passed the House floor by a vote of 84-2. Rep. Whitney will now await a hearing during the coming week in Senate Judiciary B committee.
Sen. Morrell presented SB 241 to Senate Judiciary C committee. We support this measure as it deals exclusively with the sentencing associated with marijuana possession (NEITHER distribution NOR legalization of marijuana). The bishops recognize the issue of mass incarceration and the means of addressing it through sentencing reform. The crime of marijuana possession and its subsequent sentencing disparately impacts people and families of color. This instrument represents a compassionate, smart, and just approach which upholds the dignity of both the individual as well as the sacred family unit. It represents a message consistent with our Teaching that we are not as bad as our worst transgression and one that represents reconciliation, redemption, and hope. It is also indicative of a system of justice known as restorative justice which the Church has promoted throughout its history. Testimony to this effect can be viewed HERE:
http://senate.la.gov/video/videoarchive.asp?v=senate/2015/05/051915JUDC_0 (Beginning at the 1:09:13 mark)
Finally, the LCCB, with the help of Rep. Burford has introduced HCR 166 which seeks to rectify a problem identified by both the medical community as well as families at large – the ability of a family to bury their miscarried child if the miscarriage occurs prior to twenty weeks. Currently, the law within LA is silent on this issue leading health care providers to refuse to release the remains of a miscarried child to their parents. Instead, and in a less than humane approach, the medical facilities must treat the child as “medical waste.” This is an issue that both our conference and Rep. Burford are passionate about which is why we are attempting to pass a study resolution so that the issue can be looked at in depth, addressed in a responsible and collective manner, with the intention of bringing legislation during the 2016 legislative session that provides a true and meaningful solution.
Week 7 looks to be a busy week as Sen. Morrell’s marijuana possession bill will be heard on the Senate floor; the House Ways and Means committee will consider an increase in the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); and Rep. Whitney’s HB 701 – as referenced above – will be heard in Senate Judiciary B committee among other developments as the Legislature enters its last three weeks of the 2015 legislative session.