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4/15/2013 12:57:00 PM
Bills backed by archdiocese make progress - or not
Catholic Sentinel archives
The Oregon Capitol
Catholic Sentinel archives
The Oregon Capitol

Here is an update on bills in the Oregon Legislature on which the Archdiocese of Portland has taken a position. A letter from the archdiocese last month asked Catholics to contact their legislators to support pro-life policy, anti-poverty measures, fairness for immigrants and care for the environment.

• On the principle that human life is sacred from conception to natural death, the archdiocese opposes Senate Bill 490, which would have the effect of discouraging clients from entering pregnancy resource centers.
The bill is currently on the agenda of the Senate Health Care and Human Services Committee, which held a public hearing April 1. Kerry Snodgrass, a Planned Parenthood intern, told the panel some centers violate "medical privacy" of women because they pose falsely as medical clinics.
Beverly Anderson, executive director of Lane Pregnancy Support Center in Eugene, told lawmakers the bill is a "deceptive solution in search of an undocumented problem." Anderson said the proposed legislation is part of a nationwide effort by abortion supporters.  

• The archdiocese supports Senate Bill 553, which places restrictions on abortions after the 20th week. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee Feb. 21, but no action has been taken since.

• The archdiocese supports House Bill 2021, which makes it illegal to traffic in undocumented immigrants. The measure was referred to the House Judiciary Committee in January and so far has sat untouched. Related proposed legislation — House Bills 2780 and 2334 — make it a crime to facilitate sex tourism and prostitution. HB 2780 has seen no action, but a work session was set for April 15 on HB 2334.
The Bible tells us to protect the needy, said Stacy Bellavia of Oregon Center for Christian Values, speaking to the House Judiciary Committee in favor of HB 2334.
"We have exploiters who are exploiting multiple kids," Bellavia said.      

• Hoping for a repeal of the death penalty in Oregon, the archdiocese supports House Joint Resolution 1, which would ask the people of Oregon to vote on the issue. A House Judiciary work session is set for April 16.
Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland told the committee "It's not moral for the state to undertake killing people." He urges life without parole as a substitute.     

• The archdiocese wants increased funding for the state's earned income tax credit and so is urging support of Senate Bill 507, House Bill 2477 and Senate Bill 326. SB 507 went through a public hearing March 1, with no subsequent action.
HB 2477 has been passed by the House Human Services and Housing Committee, while SB 326 has been passed by the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee. The two latter bills have been referred to a special panel on tax credits.

• Opposing cuts to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the archdiocese is urging a no vote on House Bill 2055. The House Human Services and Housing Committee held a work session April 10, so the bill is moving.

• On debt collection reform, the archdiocese supports Senate Bill 525 and House Bill 2826 "to ensure a fair process and just results." Both bills are making progress, having gone through hearings and work sessions.

• The archdiocese is urging state legislators to support foreclosure prevention initiatives: Senate Bills 73, 367 and 368. None of these bills has seen committee action of any kind.

• The archdiocese says some employers do not pay employees for some or all of their work, especially day laborers, and so is supporting protections like House Bill 2976, House Bill 2977, House Bill 3142 and Senate Bill 573. All the bills seem to be making progress, having had hearings and work sessions.

• 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. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on General Government, Consumer and Small Business Protection in January and has languished since then.

• The archdiocese supported 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. The Legislature passed that proposal and Gov. Kitzhaber signed it into law. After signing the measure, Kitzhaber declared: “My friends, the dream has become a reality.”

• Also winning support from the archdiocese is House Bill 3226, which would allow undocumented people who have earned deferred action status to get state identification cards and driver's licenses. Referred to the House Rules Committee at the start of March, it has seen no action.

• The archdiocese supports House Bill 2980 and Senate Bill 323, which encourage the creation and rehabilitation of affordable housing for agricultural workers. Both pieces of proposed legislation have passed through committee to the tax credits panel.

• 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. The bill has gone through a hearing and a work session.





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