Issues affect life, human dignity

Proposals that affect life and human dignity are seeing action in the Kentucky General Assembly.

The Catholic Conference of Kentucky, which represents the state’s four bishops in the matter of public policy, urges individuals to learn about the issues at stake and take action.

Topping the list of concerns this session is Senate Bill 1, which was voted out of the Senate and now awaits action in a House committee.

The bill aims to prevent so-called “sanctuary cities,” cities whose policies refuse cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. No cities in Kentucky currently have such policies.

Jason Hall, executive director of the CCK, said the proposal is problematic for a number of reasons.

The measure would require certain public agencies to use their “best efforts” to support federal immigration enforcement, even if that agency deals with vulnerable populations, such as families using adoption and foster care services, noted Hall in a legislative update Feb. 10.

Kentucky’s four bishops are also concerned that the bill would have broad negative effects on immigrant populations, who may be afraid to report crimes to local law enforcement, said Hall.

The CCK also contends that the proposed legislation is “not a proper use of the limited state resources and could prevent many persons in need from being able to access essential services,” Hall said.

The right to life is the subject of two bills the CCK supports.

House Bill 67 aims to amend Kentucky’s constitution to explicitly state there is not a right to abortion in Kentucky. The CCK urges the public to contact their representatives in support of the bill. If the bill passes, voters in November would decide the issue.

House Bill 237 also has the support of the CCK. This bill would prohibit use of the death penalty against someone diagnosed with severe mental illness.

Hall urges individuals to contact their representatives to support HB 237, which is before the House Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 1, which would affect public assistance, does not have the support of the CCK. The proposed measure is meant to move more Kentuckians off public assistance.

But Hall said the bill, as proposed, would “put into law new work requirements and various punitive measures to cut people off from critical assistance at sensitive times in their life.”

“For example, if someone with a drug conviction is released from jail or prison and fails to enter a treatment program within 90 days, they would be permanently barred from receiving Medicaid benefits,” he said.

Given the severity of the substance abuse crisis in Kentucky, Hall said, such actions “could be disastrous.”

Hall urges individuals to oppose HB 1 unless it’s amended. It is currently in the House Health and Family Services committee

Individuals may contact their legislators by calling 800-372-7181. The operator can help callers identify their elected officials.

The public can read the text of these bills at lrc.ky.gov.

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