Floor Periods and Joint Finance Hearings
The February floor period has ended and the next floor period will run from April 9-18. The Joint Finance Committee is expected to begin holding public hearings on the budget in early April.
Bishops Support Choice In Education
The bishops of Wisconsin wrote to members of the Wisconsin Legislature this week, urging them to support Governor Scott Walker's budget proposal to expand parental choice programs in the state and create the Special Needs Scholarship Program.
Noting the Church's long-standing commitment to quality education, especially for needy or vulnerable children, the bishops explained why educational choice is so vital. "We back this effort out of a conviction that parents, as the primary educators of their children, must have the community's support in selecting a form of education that best meets their child's needs - academic, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and physical."
Legislators were reminded that this is not an issue of competition. The bishops likened these programs to public/private collaborations that have existed in other sectors for centuries. "In our pluralistic society, we continually recognize the work of both public and private actors with state and federal funds. Catholic hospitals, charitable agencies, and universities, along with their public counterparts, receive public funds to assist the poor and vulnerable. Public and nongovernment sectors continually cooperate to make life better for thousands of needy people. It is true for Wisconsin families in their homes and outside of school, and it should be true for them in school as well."
Registration Continues for Catholics at the Capitol
The registration form and additional information is now available for Catholics at the Capitol, to be held on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison. The keynote speaker will be the Most Reverend Peter F. Christensen.
Registration is $37 per person and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Full-time students can register for $12. The registration deadline is April 1, 2013.
USCCB Urges Action on "Health Care Conscience Rights Act"
On March 4, 2013, Representative Diane Black (R) of Tennessee and 50 other House members introduced H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act of 2013. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, welcomed its introduction with the following statement:
"I am grateful to Congresswoman Black and other sponsors for their leadership today. I welcome the Health Care Conscience Rights Act and call for its swift passage into law. While federal laws are on the books protecting conscience rights in health care, this Act would make such protection truly effective. This overdue measure is especially needed in light of new challenges to conscience rights arising from the federal health care reform act."
The USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty is asking individuals to contact their members of Congress, urging support for H.R. 940. This can be done in one of two ways: 1) call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121, or click here to email your Senators and Representative.
For further information on why conscience protection is so desperately needed, see the February 15, 2013, letter by Archbishop Lori.
USCCB Urges Action on Immigration Reform
On February 12, Archbishop Josť H. Gomez of Los Angeles testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, urging Congress and the President to enact comprehensive immigration reform this year. The USCCB, through its Justice for Immigrants campaign, is asking individuals to take part in their postcard campaign.
New Bills of Interest
SB-49. Youth Options (Joint Legislative Council) Academic and career plans, the youth options program. To Education.
SB-50. Student Examinations (Joint Legislative Council) Examinations administered to pupils in the 9th, 10th, and 11th grades. To Education.
SB-51. Mathematics (Joint Legislative Council) The number of mathematics and science credits required for a high school diploma. To Education.
SB-69. Firearms Dealers (Carpenter) Providing information to a firearms dealer when purchasing a handgun, authorizes DOJ to prosecute violations of certain laws regulating firearms. To Transportation, Public Safety, and Veterans and Military Affairs.
AB-53. Medical Assistance (Richards) Medical Assistance for certain adults who are not currently eligible for traditional Medicaid or BadgerCare Plus. To Health.