The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, provides an occasional “Inside the Capitol” update during the state legislative session.
By Minnesota Catholic Conference
The State Capitol is once again buzzing with activity and the staff and bishops of the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) are hard at work advocating for legislation that promotes human dignity and opposing legislation that devalues the human person. The first week of the session has been filled with opportunities for all people of goodwill to together enact policies that promote a consistent ethic of life and put families first.
Day one of the session, Jan. 3, brought with it a bill that is a direct attack on the fundamental right to life. MCC continues to voice strong opposition to House File 1 (Kotyza-Witthuhn), the “Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act,” which would further enshrine into Minnesota law the legal killing of the unborn and potentially bring with it a host of other consequences, such as taxpayer-funded fertility treatments and a commercial surrogacy market. After submitting written testimony for the bill’s first hearing, we also supported a press conference of the Moms Offering Maternal Support (MOMS) Association. MOMS is working to intervene in a Minnesota court case that stripped the health and safety protections of women seeking an abortion.
Instead of focusing on so-called “reproductive freedom,” we must urge our lawmakers to enact policies that support expectant mothers and children, such as the Positive Alternatives grant program and 12-month post-partum Medicaid funding for women, the enactment of which MCC supported last year.
Another bill proposal to help ensure Minnesota is the best for children is to enact a state child tax credit. By doing so expectant moms will have a bit more economic stability as they bring their children into this world. The state child tax credit is the centerpiece of our Families First campaign (www.familiesfirstproject.com).
Pursuit of a consistent ethic of life also means creating conditions in which people can flourish. Unfortunately, the legislature’s DFL majority is poised to pass legislation that would put the flourishing of the marijuana industry ahead of the common good by fully legalizing — and commercializing — all forms of recreational marijuana (H.F. 100, Stephenson).
Because of the shortsightedness with which this issue is being driven forward, the Minnesota Catholic Conference has helped form a coalition with business and public safety groups called Minnesotans Against Marijuana Legalization (MAML), which is not backing down. On day one of the session, MAML held a press conference to highlight the many issues which must be addressed as the Legislature attempts to move this bill forward without regard for the common good. Among the items which need to be addressed are traffic safety, public safety, workplace safety, industry regulations, and the many social and community impacts. MCC’s Ryan Hamilton later joined Vineeta Sawkar on WCCO radio to share this message with the broader community.
Another issue on which MCC has been a key advocate for many years to keep families together is driver’s licenses for all, which will prevent undocumented immigrants from being deported for traffic violations and promote public safety by helping them get trained and insured when on the road. It will also facilitate better collaboration with local law enforcement on accidents and crime. As Archbishop Bernard Hebda stated in a press conference held by supporters of the bill, we live with a broken immigration system that Congress must address, but in Minnesota, “we can do something meaningful and important for thousands of immigrants in our midst by shielding law-abiding residents from family separation while also promoting public safety and the common good.”
It is our duty as faithful citizens to promote a consistent ethic of life. You can begin to do so by participating in any of these great opportunities at the Capitol this session to pray for and meet with your legislators.
Capitol Thursdays: The second and fourth Thursdays of each month from 10:00-11:30 a.m. You’ll learn to advocate for policies that pursue a consistent ethic of life, have a Capitol tour, and meet with your legislators.
Adoration: First Fridays January to May any time from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Capitol in the Governor’s Dining Room. In April, adoration will take place on the 14th due to Good Friday. Pray for our legislators and state to promote the common good.
United for Life: Feb. 28 — Join pro-lifers from across Minnesota for this pro-life day at the Capitol. Great speakers, a rally in the Capitol rotunda, and meet with your legislators.
Head to MNCatholic.org/events for details on each of these events.
Join the Catholic Advocacy Network at www.mncatholic.org to receive updates and action alerts on all these bills and others.