3/26/2013 10:38:00 AM Archdiocese releases Legislature recommendations
Catholic Sentinel photo
The Oregon Capitol.
The Archdiocese of Portland is urging Catholics to support a "common good" agenda at the Oregon Legislature.
"In the Catholic tradition, government has a positive role because of its responsibility to serve the common good, provide a safety net for the vulnerable, and help overcome discrimination and ensure equal opportunity for all," said a letter sent by Archbishop John Vlazny.
Catholics are being asked to contact their legislators to support pro-life policy, anti-poverty measures, fairness for immigrants and care for the environment.
The Oregon Catholic Conference, public policy arm of the state's bishops, weighed in on the recommendations.
Because of the principle that human life is sacred from conception to natural death, the archdiocese is opposing Senate Bill 490, which would have the effect of discouraging clients from entering pregnancy resource centers. The archdiocese supports Senate Bill 553, which places restrictions on abortions after the 20th week.
The archdiocese supports House Bill 2021, which makes it illegal to traffic in undocumented immigrants, as well as House Bills 2780 and 2334, which make it a crime to facilitate sex tourism and prostitution. "Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor," the archdiocese said. "It violates the dignity of these victims."
The archdiocese supports House Joint Resolution 1, which would ask the people of Oregon to vote on repealing the death penalty.
"All life is sacred, including those on death row," the archdiocese said. Many bills are aimed at helping people who are poor.
"While the common good embraces all, those who are weak, vulnerable, and most in need deserve preferential concern," the statement says.
The archdiocese wants increased funding for the state's earned income tax credit and is urging support of Senate Bill 507, House Bill 2477 and Senate Bill 326.
The archdiocese opposes cuts to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, saying the aid is necessary to help families make the transition to work. That adds up to urging a no vote on House Bill 2055.
On debt collection reform, the archdiocese supports Senate Bill 525 and House Bill 2826 "to ensure a fair process and just results."
The archdiocese supports a budget proposal to increase funding for employment-related day care. That can be one way to help families save money and avert hunger. The archdiocese is urging state legislators to support foreclosure prevention initiatives: Senate Bills 73, 367 and 368.
There is recognition that some employers do not pay employees for some or all of their work. That's particularly true for day laborers. So the archdiocese is supporting protections for workers: House Bill 2976, House Bill 2977, House Bill 3142 and Senate Bill 573.
The archdiocese is backing Senate Bill 410, which prohibits discrimination against Oregonians who pay for housing with particular Section 8 vouchers. Some landlords turn such voucher holders away.
Saying that the gospel mandate to "welcome the stranger" requires Catholics to stand with immigrants, the archdiocese is supporting Senate Bill 10, which allows children brought to this country unlawfully but through no fault of their own to qualify for in-state tuition at colleges. Also winning support from the archdiocese is House Bill 3226, which allows undocumented people who have earned deferred action status to get state identification cards and driver's licenses.
To provide safe housing is an obligation of society, says the archdiocese, speaking in support of House Bill 2980 and Senate Bill 323, which encourage the creation and rehabilitation of affordable housing for agricultural workers.
Saying that Catholic teaching identifies a "moral obligation to protect the planet on which we live," the archdiocese is urging support of House Bill 3162, which would increase awareness of toxic chemicals in children's products.