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Now that the fate of Prop 3 is clear, the Diocese of Salt Lake City is following and encourages your advocacy on the following bills (list does not include the gun violence bills discussed last week):

HB 103 Utah Inter-generational Poverty Work and Self-Sufficiency Tax Credit:  enacts a refundable state earned income tax credit for certain individuals who are experiencing inter-generational poverty.   Support as providing option for the poor.  People in poverty are often trapped in an intergenerational cycle that prevents them from pursuing higher education and finding higher paying jobs. This bill apportions a tax credit that will assist them in breaking the cycle.

HB 108 Human Trafficking Revisions: provides that children engaged in commercial sex or sexual solicitation should be treated as victims; requires law enforcement officers who encounter a child engaged in commercial sex or sexual solicitation to conduct an investigation into whether the child is being trafficked; incorporates human trafficking of a child into the racketeering statute; and creates a pathway for human trafficking victims to have adjudications for crimes  committed while being trafficked vacated.   Support as protecting the dignity of life.

HB 121 End of Life Prescription Provisions: Legalizes assisted suicide in Utah.   Oppose as violating the dignity and sanctity of life. For a more complete analysis and talking points, visit the Office of Life, Justice and Peace webpage

HB 136 Abortion Amendments: prohibits an abortion from being performed after the unborn child reaches 15 weeks gestational age except under certain circumstances.   Support as protecting the sanctity of life. HB 136 attempts to provide protections for all babies, though later in the process than we would want.

HB 166 Down Syndrome Non-discrimination Abortion Act: requires the Department of Health to create a Down syndrome informational support sheet and publish the same information on the department's website; requires that a pregnant woman be provided certain information before receiving an abortion when a prenatal screening or diagnostic test indicates that the pregnant woman's unborn child has or may have Down syndrome; after expressly permitted by a court of binding authority, prohibits a person from performing, inducing, or attempting to perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman who is seeking the abortion solely because an unborn child has or may have Down syndrome; requires an abortion pathology report to provide information about whether an aborted child had or may have had Down syndrome;  requires a physician who performed an abortion to state whether the physician had any knowledge that the pregnant woman sought the abortion solely because the unborn child had or may have had Down syndrome.   Watch. We have concerns about suggesting that babies with some disabilities are more deserving of protection than babies diagnosed with other disabilities. We would also prefer to see the information required in this bill include all known diagnoses that may impact a woman's feelings about her pregnancy. 

HB 244 Misdemeanor Sentencing Timeline Clarifications: reduces the maximum incarceration time for a misdemeanor by one day to 364 days; and exempts from the reduction, the provision for persons serving a felony sentence in the Utah Prison.   Support as protecting the dignity of life.  A person who commits a low-level, non-violent misdemeanor should not be deported to a home country where their life is endangered. A one day change means the person still serves their time for the criminal act without also facing automatic deportation.

HB 317 Homeless Resource Center Drug Free Zone:  modifies penalties for certain prohibited acts committed in or on the grounds of a permanent housing, permanent supportive, or transitional facility.   Oppose as against providing preferential option for the poor.  Though well intentioned, the bill ignores best practices in Housing First models for reducing homelessness.  Housing First requires getting people into housing regardless of an addiction and then addressing the addiction once he or she has a safe place to live. This bill would jeopardize federal funding that requires that states use Housing First principles.

HB 318 Inmate Restrictions Standards Amendments: provides that the least restrictive restraints are to be used on a pregnant inmate; requires that a correctional staff member individually review an inmate's situation before allowing restraints to be used on an inmate during labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery; prohibits the use of shackles or other restraints during labor and delivery; requires the correctional staff member to document in a written record all decisions made regarding the use of restraints on a pregnant inmate; extends the requirements to county jails.  Support as protecting the dignity and sanctity of life.

HJR 8 Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution – Slavery and Involuntary Servitude Prohibition: This resolution proposes to amend the Utah Constitution to eliminate an exception to the prohibition against slavery and involuntary servitude.   Support as protecting the dignity of life.

SB 34 Affordable Housing Modifications: modifies the requirements of certain municipalities and counties related to the moderate income housing plan element of their general plan; modifies the reporting requirements of certain municipalities related to the municipalities' moderate income housing plan element of their general plan; modifies provisions related to the use of Transportation Investment Fund money;    modifies provisions related to the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund Board.  Support as option for the poor and dignity of life. The bill provides $24,000,000 for affordable housing and modifies several statutory provisions to open doors for new affordable housing projects.  

SB 103 Victim Targeting Penalty Amendments: provides for an enhanced penalty for a criminal offense if the offender acted against an individual because of the offender's perception of the individual's ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation; provides the same enhancement provisions if the criminal offense damages property and the offender acted against the property because of the offender's perception of the property owner's ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation; and provides that this bill does not affect an individual's constitutional right of free speech or any other constitutional rights.   Support as protecting the dignity of life. "Punishment does not serve merely the purpose of defending the public order and guaranteeing the safety of persons; it becomes as well an instrument for the correction of the offender. . ..There is a twofold purpose….encouraging the re-insertion of the condemned person into society … [and] fostering a justice that reconciles, a justice capable of restoring harmony in social relationships disrupted by the criminal act committed."  Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church 403 As the recent pastoral letter on racism makes clear, we have a long way to go to repair the damage of our past and recent actions. This bill acknowledges that racism is real and offers one opportunity to address racism and other prejudices that provoke serious harm.  

The twofold purpose cannot be met if the offenders' prejudices, and the harm to larger social relationships, are not addressed in the correctional process.

What can you do? 

Share your concerns, support, or opposition to these bills with your state representative and senator! Find your legislators HERE

Keep up to date with the status of these bills and others that may be added during the session, and the Diocesan position, HERE