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Insights: Ash Wednesday Immigration Statement; CA Legislative Agenda

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March 3, 2017

Bishop’s Release Immigration-Focused Lenten Statement

The California Catholic Conference of Bishops released this statement earlier this week:

Today marks the beginning of the Lenten Season, a time when Christian people devote ourselves more intentionally to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy in an earnest effort to reform our lives in the image of Jesus Christ.  We use this occasion to call upon Catholics and all people of good will in California and throughout the United States to stand in solidarity with the vulnerable and excluded in our society.  Urgent attention needs to be given to our neighbors who are migrants and refugees, especially those immigrants who are undocumented.  They are being unjustly targeted and vilified.

We are deeply concerned about the possibility of widespread deportations that will break up families and break down our communities.  Fear is now growing in our neighborhoods and schools.  The work of businesses and farms is being disrupted.  We seem to be turning away from our nation’s long history of renewal and innovation inspired by successive generations of immigrants and refugees.  We are a nation of immigrants.  We have a long history of welcoming those fleeing violence in other countries.  We should not turn our back on this proud legacy, especially in this current moment in our history.

As pastors, we witness firsthand every day the fear in our communities. We call upon the new Administration and Congress in Washington to do everything in their power to ease the climate of fear that is now gripping our communities.

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California Legislative Agenda Starting To Take Shape

Almost three months into the new Legislative Session, the agendas of lawmakers are becoming more apparent.

The California Catholic Conference (CCC) is currently reviewing the hundreds of bills sent to the Legislative Counsel office for drafting into formal legal language.  The measures range from education finances, teaching credentialing and early start education to tax credits, mental health, victims’ rights and human trafficking.

The deadline has passed to introduce new bills, and committee hearings have commenced.  All bills must be in writing 30 days before heard in any committee. While hundreds of bills will are on the CCC tracking chart, many of these will not even reach the hearing stage.  Many are “spot bills” without specifics but designed to be filled in with details at a later time.  Nevertheless, they must be monitored in case they are amended.  Most will also show a “No Position” for much the same reason.  Once the bill’s details and legislative trajectory are clearer support or opposition will be noted.

The CCC focuses on measures relating to reverence for life, human dignity, education, restorative justice, marriage and family life, faith in the public square, and immigration.

You can visit our Legislation Page at any time to get an up-to-date status of the bills being tracked and learn about ways to contact your elected officials. Bills are listed by number, and are separated by category using the menu on the left side of the page.

 

Online Discussion Generates Ideas, Highlights Issues

Thank you to all who participated in our inaugural online discussion last weekend.  Held in conjunction with the Archdiocese of LA’s RE Congress, the conversation about faith in the public square resulted in a brief, but interesting glimpse into the views of some members of the Catholic Legislative Network.

Contrary to the heated conversation that characterizes much of what passes for public discourse nowadays, CLN members took a much more respectful approach.  Abortion and immigration were mentioned several times reflecting the significance and urgency of these issues.   The predominance of one political party in California was brought up as well as the infrastructure needs of the state and unemployment.  Revamping the war on poverty, streamlining Medi-Cal, reducing violence and increasing school choice were also topics of conversation.

As to the question of how we can promote civility in political discussions, Network members had some outstanding ideas.

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Lent 2017 Give Up, Take Up, Lift Up

"Lent is a favorable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ."-- Pope Francis, “The Word Is a Gift.  Other People are a Gift,” Message for Lent 2017.

In a particular way during Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy that "remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbors in body and spirit," says the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Take inspiration for your Lenten journey from prayer and to the reading of Scripture, to fasting and to giving alms. The fasting that all do together on Fridays is but a sign of the daily Lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities. Likewise, the giving of alms is some effort to share this world equally—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents. Contemplate the meaning and origins of the Lenten fasting tradition in this reflection.

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CalETIC Use It or Lose It Vulnerability

While preparing your state and federal income taxes this year, do not overlook one very important item: California’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

The state tax credit is refundable for eligible low-income working families. Last year, nearly 400,000 families applied for the credit, putting nearly $200 million back in the pockets of working Californians, but many more were eligible. Governor Brown has let it be known that if this program is not being fully utilized, it may be eliminated from future budgets. 

It is extremely important that this tax credit be applied where applicable whether you or someone else is preparing your taxes. Many tax preparation services are not automatically looking to apply this credit, as it often requires extra forms and calculations.

The Earned Income Tax Credit The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides a rebate to low-income workers based on a percentage of their income. Unlike most tax credits, the EITC is refundable, and some may be eligible for an EITC of up to $4,824, depending on income and the number of children under their care. You can find out if you are eligible for both state and federal EITC benefits by visiting CalEITC4me.com.

March 3, 2017
Vol. 10, No. 8

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