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Only 24 days left in 2012 General Assembly Session28 Feb

Capitol DomeSeveral bills of interest to the Catholic Conference have begun to move from one chamber to the next; others are awaiting action in the chamber in which they were introduced. Some, we think, will not receive attention this session. Updated material appears in red and bolded type.

Senate Legislation Of Interest to the Conference

SUPPORT - This legislation would replace the use of the death penalty in Kentucky with Life Without Parole.The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday, March 1 at 10 a.m. Senator Neal, sponsor of SB 63, will make a presentation assisted by experts in the area of costs of the death penalty as well as some of the findings of the American Bar Association study by a Kentucky team of legal experts. The Lexington Herald-Leader recently featured this editorial: Suspend state’s death penalty lottery.

SB 75SUPPORT - This bill respects the religious beliefs of the Scwartzentruber Amish and provides for the safety of Kentucky drivers by allowing the option of using reflective tape on slow-moving non-motorized vehicles so they are visible to approaching cars. The Conference supports SB 75 which passed out of the Senate unanimously and is now waiting a hearing in the House Transportation Committee. Two House bills – – on this same topic are waiting for a hearing in this committee. It appears they will take up HB 133 which is the least effective of the three proposals. SB 75 appears to be the best crafted of the three bills and is the one CCK prefers to see passed. This bill will not receive a hearing in the House Transportation Committee. Instead HB 133 was voted out of committee and has been passed by the House by an overwhelming majority. The Conference supports HB 133, but it is the weakest of the bills addressing this issue. Hopefully the Senate will add elements of SB 75 to HB 133  by amendment and return it to the House for concurrence.

SB 102SUPPORT – This bill makes clear the legislative intent of past legislation related to requiring that women seeking abortions receive all the information necessary about the surgery in a manner that respects their dignity and their need for quality health care. Current practice allows a woman to listen to a recorded message about the procedure, a practice that does not allow her to ask questions nor take into account her own person medical history. This bill makes clear that this information is to be imparted in a face-to-face setting with a health care professional. It passed the Senate on February 8 with only five dissenting votes – Senators Clark, Harper-Angel, Gerald Neal, Tim Shaughnessy, and Kathy Stein – and is now in the House awaiting assignment to a committee. Senator Robin Webb was not present. The remaining 32 Senators all voted yes. This bill was assigned to the House Health and Welfare Committee and has not been scheduled for a vote.

SB 103SUPPORT – This bill would require an ultrasound prior to an abortion. It cleared the Senate committee and is waiting for a vote on the Senate floor. This bill has now passed the Senate and has been assigned to the House Health and Welfare Committee and has not been scheduled for a vote.

Bills like HB 5 and SB 118 end up harming citizens and other legal residents of the U. S. Neither of these bills has moved any further.

SB 118OPPOSE - The title of this bill –  AN ACT relating to restricting welfare and public benefits for illegal aliens – is clear in its intent. However, undocumented aliens are not eligible for public benefits and Kentucky’s various departments that manage the distribution of public benefits already screen to exclude those not eligible, whether undocumented or documented, i.e. citizens and others legally present. The Conference has worked with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network and developed a list of concerns about the bill: Talking Points Summary for SB118.

SB 151 to expand gambling was voted done on the Senate floor on Thursday, February 23, by a vote of 21 Nays, 16 Ayes. CCK OPPOSED this measure because the funding of state government should be through a progressive means of taxation that has everyone contributing a fair share of dollars needed to meet the basic needs of Kentuckians. Gambling proceeds are unreliable and regressive in nature. In addition, the social costs of professional gambling outweigh any good that might come from the operation of casinos or other games of chance of this magnitude: 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

House Legislation of Interest to the Conference

HB 5OPPOSE – This is the 3rd of 4th time this bill or very similar legislation has been introduced in the House and then not pass the Senate. This bill did clear the House and is now in the Senate. It is an attempt to solve problems associated with the problem of undocumented immigration and labor, but fails to do so because this can only be done through federal legislation. Here is what the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is telling its members about this bill:

The Chamber believes it is important for businesses, particularly those who operate in multiple states, to have a single set of federal requirements to meet instead of a patchwork of federal, state and local laws that impose an inordinate financial and administrative burden.

The Conference opposes it because of flaws in the E-Verify system that affect citizens and others legally present who are allowed to work, while at the same time not stopping those without authorization to work to do so. See Five Facts About State Mandatory E-Verify Laws.

HB 70SUPPORT – Since we last posted on this bill it has passed out of committee and is awaiting a vote on the House floor. A vote is expected in the coming week. To read the Courier-Journal article click here. And a Courier-Journal editorial: Ex-felons’ voting rights. This bill cleared the House by a wide margin and is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee. CCK encourages you to call the number above and leave a message for your State Senator: please do all you can to support passage of HB 70: in your caucus, on the Senate floor, and in committee. This important bill will restore voting rights to former felons who have completed the sentences ordered by the courts.

HB 114 and HB 133 - SUPPORT - These two bills are similar to SB 75, which seeks to protect the religious liberty of the Amish who object to certain images being attached to their non-motorized vehicles, yet are satisfied with other means to ensure they can be seen at night and are not a danger to other drivers. We prefer SB 75, but also support the other two bills. (See above about SB 75)

HB 145SUPPORT - For unknown reasons the Chair of House Judiciary continues to refuse to set a date for a hearing on this important bill which will replace the death penalty for severely mentally ill persons with lengthy prison terms, including life without the possibility of parole. For more information about the bill see this post. Call the legislative message line noted above and urge Representative Tilley to give HB 145 a hearing in his committee. The votes to send it to the floor are there. And there are enough YES votes in the House to send it to the Senate where Senator Jensen has indicated he will hear it in the Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill remains stalled in the Committee. Continue to ask your State Representative to support this bill and ask Chairman Tilley to bring it to the floor for a vote.

HB 332SUPPORT - This is the payday loan bill and you can read more about it here. We learned this week that the Chairman of Banking and Insurance, Rep. Jeff Greer, said he would not hear the bill this year. He told this to the Executive Director of the Kentucky Council of Churches, as well as to Fr. Delahanty. He has since said the same to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Darryl Owens who has requested that the bill be heard. We have asked him to reconsider, but he will need to hear from many people who live in his district. Rep. Greer’s House District 27 includes parts of Bullitt, Hardin, and all of Meade counties. If you live in that district or have friends who do, please call the number above and leave a message urging him to give HB 332 a hearing in his committee. Members of the Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending have learned that several who voted no or did not vote last year are now willing to vote YES in committee. It saddens us to report that this measure appears to be dead for this session. Rep. Greer refuses to give it a hearing and is unrelenting in his opposition to bring the bill before the committee.

The Conference SUPPORTS HCR 148, sponsored by Rep. Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger). It recognizes the long-standing American conviction, enshrined in both law and tradition, that the civil authorities have no right to trample upon the sincerely held moral and religious convictions of any citizen. Referencing the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, statements by Thomas Jefferson that “[n]o provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority,” and the tremendous damage that would be done to our health care infrastructure should religious health care providers be forced to curtail services or violate their consciences, HCR 148 calls upon the President of the United Sates and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to rescind the rule requiring all employers to provide free coverage for services which violate the moral and religious convictions of those involved.

 

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