Be sure to see the Summer Reading suggestion at the end of this Newsletter
The 2021 legislative session ended on June 9th. It was soon followed by a Special Session to enact legislation legalizing recreational marijuana and the budget implementer bill. Below is a list of legislative issues the Conference was active on during the regular and special sessions.
The Capitol and Legislative Office Building were closed to the general public during the regular and special sessions. This situation made it very difficult for the general public and advocacy organizations to express their viewpoints on many issues.
- Physician-Assisted Suicide - (House Bill 6425) The Conference, as in previous years, opposed this legislation, which would have made suicide an accepted medical practice. At first, pro-suicide forces managed to move the legislation to the House floor for adoption. Stopping state-sponsored suicide was the Conference’s number one agenda goal. Despite the odds, by working with our partners from other faith communities and organizations that protect the rights of the disabled, assisted suicide legislation died in the Judiciary Committee for lack of support. We anticipate pro-suicide forces to return in 2022 to try again, but our coalition for life will be ready.
- Domestic Workers Rights - The Conference, as a member of the CT Domestic Worker Justice Campaign, worked long and hard in support of Senate Bill 943 in order to ensure that domestic workers, who are usually immigrant workers (documented and undocumented), are aware of their legal rights in relation to wages, hours worked and other working conditions. These workers usually work in an employer's home to perform various household chores or to watch a child or elderly person in the home. Many employers pay these workers below the minimum wage required by law. The bill was voted out of the Labor Committee and Appropriations Committees, passed in the Senate but failed to be acted upon in the House. It took overtime, in a Special Session, for the language protecting these workers to be approved and become law.
- Elimination of Welfare Liens - The Conference supported legislation to repeal what is commonly referred to as "welfare liens." The law in Connecticut allowed the state to recover monies from a former recipient who later received a lump sum payment, such as a legal settlement, large insurance payment, or lottery payout. The time limit on these liens was essentially unlimited. The law that allowed this to occur failed to help break the cycle of poverty. This was directly at odds with Catholic social teachings. Similar legislation to repeal welfare liens was voted out of the Human Services and Finance Committees. The legislation was incorporated into House Bill 6516, emergency Covid legislation, and enacted into law.
- Legalization of Recreational Marijuana - The Conference worked with other organizations who opposed the legalization of recreational marijuana in our state. While our elected leaders focused on potential revenue, they completely ignored the negative social and health effects it would have on the residents of our state. The experiences of other states spoke strongly against legalization. The objections of Connecticut's medical community were ignored. Sadly, this law - Senate Bill 1202 - was finally adopted in a Special Session. But there is a long road before legalization becomes a reality and we will be working to find ways to control or curtail the serious social and economic effects of this law.
- State Oversight of Advertising by Pregnancy Care Centers - The Conference strongly opposed this legislation (Senate Bill 835), but this, too, proved to be problematic given the closure of the state Capitol to the general public throughout the legislative session. The legislation is part of a national campaign by pro-abortion organizations to control advertising by pregnancy care centers based on unsupported charges of such advertising. The true goal is to put these centers out of business through extensive legal charges. The Attorney General has the sole authority to determine whether pregnancy care centers are advertising deceptively and pursue legal action against these centers. What constitutes deceptive advertising is not defined in the law. Supporters of the law, including the current Attorney General, believe signs that say "Pregnant? Need Help Call..." are deceptive in nature. We are hopeful this legislation, like similar bills across the country, will be overturned on free speech issues. Despite the courageous and exhaustive efforts of the CT Pregnancy Care Center Coalition, the Family Institute of Connecticut and the Conference, legislation was approved. But stay tuned.
- Clean Slate - The Conference supported this legislation (Senate Bill 1019) in concept, which would provide someone convicted of a crime the opportunity to have their criminal record erased if they remained clear of any further criminal charges for a set number of years. Various misdemeanors and felony charges would be erased following clean records for seven and ten years, respectively. A large number of very serious crimes, such as sexual assault of minors, were exempted from the new law. The legislation was adopted as law.
- Educational Choice Opportunities - The Conference supported two pieces of legislation that would have expanded school choice opportunities to children in our state. Unfortunately, these proposals met with opposition from the teachers' unions and other members of the educational community, as they have in past years. The first bill (House Bill 6175) was attempting to establish a tax credit for donations made to scholarship foundations to enhance educational opportunities for low-income students so they could attend private schools. The second bill (Senate Bill 949) would establish a "money follows the student" program. This would allow the full amount of public funds allocated to a student to pass to the school that the child choices to attend, such as a magnet or charter school. This legislation did not apply to private schools, as proposed, but was a step in the right direction for improving educational opportunities in our state. The bills had public hearings but failed to advance out of their respective committees.
"Losing Our Dignity: How Secularized Medicine Undermines Fundamental Human Equality"
by Charles Camosy
Today, 50 million people have dementia, but in just twenty years that number will more than double. Fundamental human dignity, already under assault on a spectrum of issues, is increasingly being robbed of those with dementia. How can the Church respond now and in the future? This urgent topic is the subject of a new book by Charles Camosy.
Join a Webinar on the Topic:
Join a 40-minute encounter on July 7th with award-winning author Charles Camosy and hear directly from him about his new book "Losing Our Dignity: How Secularized Medicine Undermines Fundamental Human Equality."
In this webinar, Camosy will be joined by four guests, each with a unique perspective on the topic. Kathyrn Jean Lopez, the moderator of the discussion, is Chair of the Pro-Life Commission of the New York Diocese. Sr. Constance Veit is US Director of Communications for the Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious order devoted to the service of the elderly poor. Erin Younkins is an Occupational Therapist and Director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. And The Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann is Bishop of Orange, a diocese actively participating in The Whole Person Care Initiative.
Time: Jul 26, 2021, 02:00 PM in Eastern Time
When you register for this event you will receive an email with a preview of the book and a link to send questions to Charlie about the book. While he can’t guarantee all of them will be answered in the 40 minutes he will try to get to them either at that time or via email later on.
Click below to register.
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