Faith entities aid people in having a voice on bills
Paul Benz of the Faith Action Network, Mario Villanueva of the Washington State Catholic Conference and Jacob Schmidt of Earth Ministry each offered an overview of bills being proposed for the 2020 session of the Washington State Legislature during its second week.
They are among the faith groups that meet with legislators to lobby on issues related to their values.
"Our voice matters," Paul said. "There's a hotline anyone can use and people could participate digitally in the Feb. 6 Advocacy Day.
By calling 800-562-6000, people can offer their views on bills and have messages go to their three state legislators and the governor. Residents can also call their legislators' offices directly.
FANWA has information at fanwa.org to help people find their districts, meet with legislators, write letters or emails, develop effective messages and advocate in Olympia. It also has fact sheets on priority issues and information on the status of bills.
Among its 2020 priorities are closing the capital gains tax break, a working families tax credit, strengthening Temporary Access for Needy Families, establishing a fruit and vegetable incentive program, changing rules on driving with a suspended license, repealing the death penalty, post-conviction reviews, supporting sustainable farms, setting climate pollution limits, protecting immigrants from arrests outside courthouses, banning semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines, eliminating private detention facilities for immigrants, sequestering agricultural carbon emissions, and accessing dental therapy.
Mario said the WSCC works to bring the Catholic voice in a nonpartisan action focusing on Catholic social justice teachings and teachings on life.
It has an online network, wacatholics.org/alert, with an advocacy bulletin, a list of legislation they oppose, support and are neutral on. Because the legislature is in motion, there are also updates on priorities at 206-274-7680.
Like FAN, they support challenging discrimination against immigrants, abolishing the death penalty, training people in the hotel business on human trafficking, preventing private companies from owning and managing immigration detention facilities and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.
Jacob said Earth Ministry supports the clean fuel bill for energy decarbonizing in transportation, eliminating fire-fighting foam to keep drinking water safe, banning single-use plastics and encouraging reusable bags, and protecting orcas and salmon.
More than 1,750 bills passed out of committee by the first cutoff on Feb. 7. By Feb 11, bills passed out of fiscal committees before moving to the floor of the Senate and House.
Bills must pass out of the first committee in the opposite chamber by Feb. 28 and the second budget committee by March 2. Bills that don't pass by midnight March 12 are dead.
For information, call 206-625-9790 or visit fanwa.org, wacatholics.org or earthministry.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, March, 2020