Public Policy

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July 2019 Update

From the New York State Catholic Conference:

The bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide failed to get a vote in any committee in either house. The Catholic Conference and its allies in the NY Alliance Against Assisted Suicide were successful in highlighting the many dangerous consequences of such a policy.

A repeal of New York’s ban on paid surrogacy passed in the State Senate but failed to get a vote in the Assembly. The Catholic Conference, as well as many feminist organizations, expressed grave concerns that the legislation would exploit women’s bodies and commodify children.

The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act passed, which will allow farmworkers many of the same rights enjoyed by every other sector of the workforce. These rights include the right to collectively bargain, workers compensation and unemployment insurance, a day of rest every week, and housing that conforms to the sanitary code and overtime pay after 60 hours.

The legalization of recreational marijuana did not pass. Legislation was passed that would decriminalize possession and expunge criminal records for low-level marijuana convictions.

Finally, the State enacted “The Green Light Bill” which will allow driver’s licenses to be issued to undocumented immigrants utilizing identification from their home country. It is anticipated to face a federal court challenge brought by several county clerks in western New York counties.

The legislative session ended on June 21. Thank you for your continued advocacy as those issues not finalized in this session will be on the agenda when the legislators return. (update from the NYS Catholic Conference as of 6/24/19)

To voice your opinion on any issues, go to The Catholic Action Network (CAN) which can be found on the New York State Catholic Conference’s website www.nyscatholic.org. On the website click on “Take Action” and then on “Latest Action Alerts.” If you are not a member of CAN, please join!

From AARP New York:

Contact the Governor at (518) 254-6883 toll free and push for a state tax credit for family caregivers. The Legislature has introduced two AARP-backed bills to provide a tax credit of up to $3,500 a year or a maximum of 50% of actual expenses. Urge the

Governor to include the tax credit in his 2020-2021 Budget. He is working on that budget now.

On the Federal side:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urges us to call the White House at (202) 456-1111 to say no more to tearing families and communities apart—to end the inhumane treatment of immigrant and refugee children and families at the border, in detention centers, and in communities across the country. Find out more Catholic Actions to Take to Support Immigrant Families and Children at USCCB/MRS/JFI.

The House Democrats have proposed a measure entitled, Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions and Making Health Care More Affordable Care Act of 2019. This would expand tax credits available under the law; reduce costs for lower-income families; expand eligibility; and keep premium increases in check by creating a national reinsurance program to offset high medical bills for insurers. Health Care will be a prominent issue in the 2020 elections.

From Maryknoll:

Write to Congress to ask your representatives to support the Global Fragility Act of 2019 (http:// bit.ly/GFA2019).This is a bipartisan bill now before Congress which sets out a strategic plan to prevent violence. It requires the US government to collaborate with civil organizations and international partners to develop a 10-year strategy to reduce current levels of global violence by identifying the causes of conflict, developing strategies for prevention in vulnerable countries, and budgeting more resources to address the root causes of violence. (Read the 2019 Global Peace Index report at http://visionofhumanity.org/indexes/global-peace-index/)

Thank you for your advocacy.
Marie Copeland and Sheila Morris Barnes, Co-­‐chairs