New York

A.10006, Paulin / S.4278, Ranzenhofer: In relation to chemical digestion of human remains

Published on March 19th, 2018

Memorandum Requesting Amendment

The above-referenced bill seeks to amend the definition of “cremation” under the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law to include “any other technical process.”

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes the prospect that this bill under the amended definition would allow for a process known as alkaline hydrolysis.

The Catholic Conference understands that crematories across the state are constantly evolving to meet the needs of New York State residents and cemeteries are increasingly dealing with issues regarding burial space. We agree that allowing the cemetery board to authorize new cremation processes would be both more expedient and allow for the industry to help determine the value of regulatory proposals through the public comment rule-making process.

The Catholic Conference, however, is concerned that processes such as alkaline hydrolysis and potentially other processes involving an abundant use of chemicals to digest human remains do not sufficiently respect the dignity of the human body. The Church’s reverence for the sacredness of the human body and its dignity arises out of concern for both the body’s natural and supernatural properties. It is therefore essential that the body of a deceased person be treated with respect and reverence.

Therefore, if this bill does move forward, it is suggested that safeguards be added to prohibit processes such as alkaline hydrolysis from being considered during the rule making process. Such a prohibition would still allow crematories across the state to gain access to new innovations in the field while also ensuring the dignity of the deceased’s body is preserved.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/03/a-3740-dinowitz-s-4278-ranzenhofer-in-relation-to-chemical-digestion-of-human-remains/

S.5988-A, Lanza / A.6823-B, Paulin: In relation to the sex trafficking of children

Published on March 15th, 2018

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced legislation would eliminate the need to prove force, fraud, or coercion beyond a reasonable doubt in cases of children who are prostituted for sex. This legislation builds on New York’s current anti-trafficking laws and gives prosecutors the tools they need to crack down on this horrendous crime, which is a grave assault on human dignity.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports this bill.

Recent news stories from various parts of New York State reveal that very young children continue to be lured and trapped by pimps, who sell their bodies for sex. Twelve-year-old children are clearly victims of the trafficking industry, and the law should treat them as victims. They should not be compelled, at great trauma, to testify against their traffickers to prove force, fraud or coercion.

This bill would align New York State law with federal law to ensure that any child under the age of 18 who engages in commercial sex is considered a victim of sex trafficking, and any person who promotes and benefits from exploiting such child is considered a sex trafficker.

The New York State Catholic Conference supported the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act which was signed into law in 2015, and we support this legislation to further remove barriers to prosecuting the predatory traffickers who sexually exploit children. We urge your favorable vote on this legislation.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/03/s-5988-a-lanza-a-6823-b-paulin-in-relation-to-the-sex-trafficking-of-children/

S.6736, Valesky / A.6099-A, Lupardo: In relation to authorizing banks to protect vulnerable adults from financial exploitation

Published on March 9th, 2018

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced legislation would authorize banking organizations to refuse to disburse moneys in circumstances where there is reason to believe that a vulnerable adult may be being financially exploited.

This legislation would allow, but not require, a banking institution to act to protect the financial assets of a vulnerable adult from theft or conversion by relatives or other caregivers. The elderly, those aged 65 and older, are the fastest growing segment in this country. They are vulnerable to varying types of abuse, including physical, psychological and financial. The proposed amendment to the Social Services Law would add a provision to the Adult Protective Services section to cover financial abuse. If a bank reasonably believes that financial abuse of a vulnerable person is occurring, they may refuse to honor the transaction and provide law enforcement or social service officials with documents relevant to the suspected financial exploitation.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the protection of vulnerable adults from financial exploitation, and urges enactment of this legislation. Encouraging the reporting of suspected financial abuse of vulnerable adults is an important public policy goal. It is important that society take actions to protect those who are vulnerable to financial exploitation as a result of physical or developmental disability or age related dementia.

The State Office for the Aging, utilizing data from the U.S. Census, has projected that in 2025 the age 60 plus population in New York will reach 4.4 million. Society must be prepared to meet increased needs of “the baby boomers.” The Catholic Conference advocates for public policies that promote economic and social independence among aging New Yorkers. As elderly individuals amass greater assets they may become attractive targets for financial abuse. Social Security payments have reduced the percent of elderly persons living in poverty. The poverty rate for persons 65 or older has dropped to an historic low. Catholic social teaching calls on policy makers to maintain our commitment to vulnerable individuals and calls upon people of good will to support a social contract that reflects our enduring commitment to those in our community and nation, as members of one human family.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/03/s-1093-valesky-a-6099-lupardo-in-relation-to-authorizing-banks-to-protect-vulnerable-adults-from-financial-exploitation/

A.9957, Cahill: In relation to expanding contraceptive insurance coverage

Published on March 5th, 2018

Memorandum of Opposition

The above-referenced legislation, requested by the Attorney General, would expand current law to require increased insurance coverage for contraception, abortion-causing drugs, and voluntary sterilization. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this measure.

In 2002, New York State lawmakers passed the “Women’s Health and Wellness Act” which requires insurance plans with prescription coverage to cover FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices, and provides insufficient protections for religious employers.

The legislation now before you would go further by mandating cost-free contraceptives, requiring that a 12-month supply of contraceptives be covered at one time, and including emergency contraception (EC), the so-called “morning-after pill.” We believe that enabling such large amounts of prescription medication, particularly in such high doses as emergency contraception, to get into the hands of young people is irresponsible and dangerous public policy.

This bill would further expand access to emergency contraception by allowing midwives to prescribe EC, allowing pharmacists and nurses to dispense EC without a patient-specific prescription, requiring insurance coverage for any form of EC without cost-sharing of any kind, and requiring state DOH education and outreach about EC to school educators. Such policy would provide girls as young as 11 or 12 years old easy access to these powerful drugs without parental knowledge or physician oversight. As a matter of state law, many products sold by pharmacies, e.g. tobacco and non-prescription allergy medicine, are restricted to consumers 18 years of age and older.

Medical experts and the FDA agree that emergency contraception can work in various ways. It can act to inhibit or delay ovulation, and thus prevent conception. But it can also act to prevent an already-fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall, destroying a developing human embryo. This is early abortion, and it is morally abhorrent to many New Yorkers.

We further oppose this bill because it fails to provide religious liberty protections for employers who may have objections to financing insurance coverage of drugs they find morally objectionable. The legislation keeps in place the inadequate 4-part legal definition of “religious employer” which fails to protect charitable organizations, hospitals and schools sponsored by religious organizations, as well as private organizations. These entities would be forced by this bill to pay for insurance coverage they find objectionable.

Moreover, the language of this legislation creates problems even for those religious employers who do qualify for protection under the 4-part religious exemption. The bill prohibits insurance plans from imposing “restrictions or delays” with regard to “timely access” to contraception, a standard that may not be possible for religious employers which are in the process of obtaining a religious exemption and notifying enrollees.

For these reasons, the New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation and urges a negative vote.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/03/a-9957-cahill-in-relation-to-expanding-contraceptive-insurance-coverage/

A7302-A, Cusick / S.5660-A, Lanza: In relation to the New York State Child Protection Act of 2018

Published on February 26th, 2018

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced bill is an omnibus child protection initiative designed to protect children from sexual abuse, and to allow existing and future survivors of such abuse a longer opportunity to seek justice in both criminal and civil courts. The New York State Catholic Conference strongly supports this bill.

By eliminating the criminal statute of limitations for the prosecution of certain sex offenses, the bill enables prosecutors to hold abusers accountable for crimes committed now and in the future, bringing unprecedented new protections to victims of child sexual crimes. In addition, this bill extends the time for civil claims to be brought by survivors of child sexual abuse until they are 28 years old, thereby ensuring victims have sufficient time to hold abusers civilly accountable for their actions. Importantly, notice of claim requirements are amended under this bill to ensure that victims of child sexual abuse are able to bring civil claims against all abusers, including those employed by municipal entities. Unlike some other bills before the legislature, all victims are treated equally under this bill.

Furthermore, this bill goes further than other legislation by addressing the societal problem of child sexual abuse in a comprehensive way. It expands mandated reporter requirements by adding clergy to the list of those who must report suspected cases of sexual abuse of a child, and requires all mandated reporters to not only report suspected familial abuse, but also suspected abuse at the hands of other mandated reporters. It also requires that all organizations, public or private, conduct criminal history searches on any employee or volunteer with the organization who has unsupervised contact with children. Costs to not-for-profit organizations associated with such criminal history checks would be reimbursed by the state under this legislation.

Sexual abuse is a crime and an assault on the dignity of the human person, made even worse when the victim is a child. Child sexual abuse is a pervasive social problem and the Catholic Conference fully supports legislative efforts to strengthen criminal and prospective civil penalties for sexual abuse of children to ensure children are protected from predators now and in the future. This bill helps to ensure such protection, and the Catholic Conference strongly supports it.

Since 2002, the Catholic Church has had a zero tolerance policy for anyone credibly accused of abusing a child, and has taken more steps to prevent the sexual abuse of children than any other religious or private organization. No one who has been credibly accused of harming a child is currently in active ministry, and all Church employees and volunteers must complete sexual abuse awareness training if they are going to be in contact with children. Whenever a credible claim of sexual abuse is brought, it is both investigated by Church authorities and reported to law enforcement. Under U.S. Church law, every diocese is subjected to annual outside audits to ensure full compliance with these policies.

The Catholic Conference strongly urges the passage of this bill because it will help bring justice to survivors of child sexual abuse, will help to prevent abuse going forward and treats all victims fairly and equally, regardless of where the abuse occurred.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/02/child-protection-act/

2018-19 Testimony on Women’s Agenda Article VII Legislation, S.7511 / A.9511

Published on February 12th, 2018

Testimony submitted by the New York State Catholic Conference to the Joint Legislative Hearing on the health care and Medicaid budget regarding the Women’s Agenda Article VII Legislation (S.7511/A.9511) in the 2018-2019 Executive Budget.

February 12, 2018

Senator Young, Assembly Member Weinstein, and distinguished members of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees:

This legislation seeks to enact a multi-faceted new “women’s agenda” which contains Parts A through M. We comment here on Part B of this legislation which the Executive states will “codify Roe v. Wade into state law to ensure that women can make personal healthcare decisions.” The Executive further states that enactment of Part B “is necessary to implement the FY 2019 Executive Budget.”

We disagree with the Executive’s analysis and strongly oppose Part B of this legislation. We find it to be a dangerous and unnecessary expansion of late-term abortion, and a leap into legalized infanticide. It should not be part of a budget proposal and it should not become law. We strongly urge you to oppose it.

Part B of this legislation is not a simple update of New York’s laws or codification of a court ruling. It would strip all mention of abortion from our state’s statutes, resulting in the following consequences.

It would expand late-term abortion.

The primary objective of Part B of this legislation is to increase the availability of abortion in the third trimester of pregnancy.  Current state law says abortions are legal in New York through 24 weeks of pregnancy, but outlawed after that unless they are necessary to save a woman’s life (Penal Law Section 125.00).  This bill would repeal all Penal Law references to abortion. This would completely decriminalize abortion under our state law, resulting in a policy where abortion would not be illegal for any reason at any time during a pregnancy. To repeat, this bill will allow abortion for any reason, at any time, and by any means during a pregnancy, including into the ninth month right up until the moment of birth. This goes far beyond a “codification” of Roe vs. Wade.

It would empower non-doctors to perform abortions.

The current New York State criminal code (Penal Law Section 125.05[3]) is clear in requiring that only a “duly licensed physician” may perform abortions in New York. By repealing this section of law, this legislation would strip this protection from women, and hand policy-making authority to determine who may perform abortions to the State Education Department and State Department of Health.  It is likely that practitioners with less training and less experience — such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse mid-wives, as well as a broad range of other non-physicians — will be empowered to do both chemical and surgical abortions. Indeed, by removing the Penal Law penalties for non-doctors performing abortions, this legislation essentially invites unqualified abortionists and disbarred doctors to come into New York to establish their “practice.” This is not good for women’s health.

It would eliminate protections for pregnant women against coerced abortion or intentional assaults on their unborn child.

Stripping abortion from New York’s Penal Law would remove accountability for those who would harm unborn children through coerced or unwanted abortion. The crime of “abortion” is the only place in New York law that allows for an additional criminal charge for a violent attack against a pregnant woman which results in the loss of her unborn child. Incidents of domestic violence increase when a woman is pregnant and her male partner does not wish to be a father. Such cases occur with some frequency in New York State.

This legislation would remove this current Penal law protection for pregnant women in cases of involuntary abortion (Penal Law Sections 125.05, 125.40 and 125.45). This does a grave disservice to pregnant women, the very-much-wanted unborn children they may carry, and any possibility of justice for them when crimes are committed against them. While we believe that our law should provide for a separate charge of assault or homicide for the harm inflicted on the infant in such cases, at a minimum the law should remain as it is to allow an additional charge of illegal abortion.

It would legalize infanticide.

Shockingly, this legislation repeals Public Health Law Section 4164, part of which gives full legal protection to any child who might (mistakenly) be born alive as the result of an abortion. It also requires a second doctor to be available during a late-term abortion to help give medical care to any such child. It is difficult to imagine the motivation of the Executive in removing these protections, which have been upheld as constitutional.

In 2013 America saw the face of late-term abortion during the trial of former Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of numerous crimes, including murdering one mother and three infants born alive during attempted abortion procedures. The grand jury report on Gosnell states that “he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy, and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.”

In addition, there have been documented cases of babies born alive during attempted abortions who were left to die of neglect. The intersection of late-term abortions, the potential for live births, and the recent revelations of the transfer of fetal tissues or whole cadavers from clinics to researchers raise grave concerns.

Removing this protection from our statute will send a New York “welcome” signal to other late-term abortionists, who, like Kermit Gosnell, are often notorious for disregarding the health and safety of women and children. While states like Pennsylvania continue to have strong restrictions on late-term abortions and actually enforce these laws, the enactment of this legislation would encourage such practitioners to set up shop in New York, to the detriment of women and children.

Ironically, as this legislation seeks to remove protections in law for born-alive abortion survivors, Congress is moving in the opposite direction. On January 19, 2018 the US House of Representatives passed the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” (HR 4712) to provide penalties for medical personnel who do not provide medical care to infants born alive following an abortion. We supported this measure, and we support the retention of Public Health Law Section 4164, because the right to abortion does not extend so far as to justify the denial of fundamental civil rights and legal protections to born, living human children. That is infanticide.

It will increase the state’s abortion rate.

As outlined above, we believe that Part B of this legislation would have dangerous consequences for women and infants. New York’s abortion numbers have been steadily decreasing, from 93,299 reported induced abortions in 2014 to 86,627 in 2015, according to the most recent report of the NYS Department of Health. We believe this misguided legislation would reverse this encouraging trend and only increase the tragedy of abortion in the Empire State.

Moreover, we do not believe that the issues of abortion and infanticide — which have nothing to do with government finances – belong within the construct of a state budget. While some of the “women’s agenda’ Article VII legislative proposals may have merit, they deserve to be voted on as individual policies/bills, as has been done in the past by the legislature on important women’s concerns such as human trafficking and pregnancy discrimination. We urge you to oppose S.7511/A.9511 unless Part B is completely stripped from the bill.

Thank you for your attention to these critical concerns.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/02/2018-19-testimony-on-womens-agenda-article-vii-legislation-s-7511-a-9511/

S.2721, Alcantara / A.4189, Nolan: In relation to the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

Published on February 9th, 2018

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced legislation would address a number of the exemptions in New York’s labor, public health and workers compensation laws that currently prevent farmworkers from accessing rights and privileges available to other workers in New York State.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, and strongly urges enactment of this legislation.

Farmworkers are excluded from many of the laws that establish worker protections, including overtime pay, employer contributions to the unemployment and workers’ compensation funds, and public health protections including sanitation and housing standards.  In addition to ending these exclusions, this bill would require that farmworkers be given a 24-hour day of rest in every calendar week which, whenever possible, would coincide with the laborer’s traditional day for religious worship.

In December 1999, legislation was enacted eliminating farmworkers’ exemption from the minimum wage laws.  Enactment of this bill would continue the process of economic justice for agricultural workers.  It would also grant collective bargaining rights to farm laborers.

There is no legitimate reason for treating farmworkers inequitably.  They should be afforded the same rights, protections and benefits that other workers in New York State receive.  It is unacceptable for farmworkers to be denied the basic labor, safety and health protections other workers enjoy.  Farmworkers make a significant contribution to the production of agricultural products in this great state, and are deserving of being treated with dignity.

By recognizing the rights of farmworkers and the unique contributions of agriculture, New York can develop policies which bring economic fairness, safety, and dignity to the production of agricultural goods from which we all benefit.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/02/farmworkers-fair-labor-practices-act/

2018-19 Human Services Budget Testimony

Published on February 6th, 2018

Submitted by Michael A. Lawler, Director for Catholic Charities, New York State Catholic Conference, at the Joint Legislative Budget Hearing regarding the 2018-19 Human Services budget.

February 6, 2018

Senator Young, Assembly Member Weinstein, distinguished members of the Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, ladies and gentlemen:

My name is Michael Lawler and I am the Director of Catholic Charities for the NYS Catholic Conference. Thank you for the opportunity to share our thoughts on the FY 2019 Executive Budget as it pertains to Human Services.

On January 16, 2018, the Executive Budget for FY 2019 was released and the NYS Council of Catholic Charities Directors were disappointed that critical investments for the nonprofit human services sector were not included in the proposed spending plan. As the NYS Legislature reviews the executive proposal and formulates its own priorities for FY 2019, we want to reiterate that these concerns for the vulnerable be addressed in the enacted spending plan.

Invest in the Human Services Sector

The NYS Council of Catholic Charities Directors is an advisory member of the Strong Nonprofits for a Better New York campaign, a statewide coalition of more than 350 nonprofit human services providers, calling for increased State investment in the sector’s workforce and infrastructure. Working under contract with the State, human services agencies provide crucial services to uplift New Yorkers from all walks of life. The State must ensure these organizations can continue their vital work.

Human Services agencies have not been receiving adequate state reimbursement to cover the full cost of providing essential services in the state. Without sufficient support for this sector, many nonprofit organizations will be faced with cutting services, reducing staff, or closing their programs.

Strong Nonprofits and the NYS Council of Catholic Charities Directors calls for the following investments to the nonprofit human services sector:

  • $65 MILLION (per year for 2 years) to provide a 3.25 percent salary increase for workers who have not seen an increase in over 8 years, and were not covered by the FY2018 increases for direct care workers at an equivalent 3.25% per year for two years;
  • $23 MILLION to fund the minimum wage increase for State contracts not yet adjusted to reflect the increased cost of service provision, leaving nonprofits to fill the gap of another unfunded mandate; and
  • $100 MILLION to continue to fund the Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program (NICIP), a crucial fund for nonprofits to address necessary building repairs, technology upgrades, and other capital needs not supported by current contracts.

Invest in Child Care Subsidies

The NYS Council of Catholic Charities Directors is also teaming up with Winning Beginning New York and the Empire State Campaign for Child Care to call for a much-needed investment in child care.

New York State needs a clear plan (both short- and long-term) to provide equitable access to quality child care for all New York children and working families, and a family sustaining income for child care providers. Too many working families who qualify for child care assistance are being turned away. Too many children are being shuffled around in make-do informal arrangements of non-professional caregivers. Too many working parents are being forced to reduce hours, or drop out of the work force all together. Too many providers are not able to retain qualified staff or meet the rising costs of providing quality care. And too many employers are dealing with problems of worker recruitment, retention and productivity related to child care.

While we work on the long-term plan, we must increase investments now to at least restore short-term stability to both the child care provider and subsidy systems. We must help put New Yorkers back to work, strengthen our child care infrastructure, and keep more children from falling through the cracks before they even learn to walk. This is a health, education and business imperative.

Therefore, we call on the New York Legislature and Governor Cuomo to increase our State investment in child care by at least $100 million in 2018. This investment can be drawn from several different areas of the budget and should be directed specifically to:

–Increase State funding to counties for child care subsidies by $31 million in order to:

  • Restore the child care subsidy program to the funding level established in 2016, adjusting for both the 2017 cut of $7 million and two years of inflation; and
  • Assist counties that regularly exhaust their child care funding allocations before meeting the needs of all eligible families, to expand the number of qualified families served.

–Increase State funding further to stabilize the child care workforce and infrastructure, and to ensure equitable access to quality care. Specifically, the state should:

  • Reinstate the 75th percentile formula to establish reimbursement rates expected to change in October 2018 to ensure that all children have equal access to high-quality care; and
  • Allocate funds to assist child care centers and group family day care providers that receive child care subsidies to cover increased wage costs (increases in minimum wage).

–Direct a portion of Economic Development funding dollars to further reduce the number of qualified families who are currently denied subsidy assistance, and to stabilize the child care workforce.

  • If directed toward expanding access to quality child care, such investment can remove barriers to broad workforce participation, support worker productivity, and bolster the local child care industry.
  • Increase State funding for the Child Care Facilitated Enrollment Projects in order to expand access to subsidies available to working families at higher income eligibility levels;
  • Expand and adjust the child and dependent care tax credit for maximum benefit. Adjusting the CDCTC to be allocated on a monthly or quarterly basis will help low-income families who live paycheck to paycheck to cover the costs of child care.

We appreciate the opportunity to submit testimony on the Human Services segments of the FY 2019 Executive Budget.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/02/2018-19-human-services-budget-testimony/

S.471-C, Peralta / A.9605-A, De La Rosa: In Relation to New York State DREAM Act

Published on February 2nd, 2018

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced legislation would create the New York DREAM Fund Commission and would provide opportunities for immigrant students who meet certain criteria to be eligible for financial aid to assist them attend institutions of higher education.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the New York State DREAM Act, and strongly urges enactment of this legislation.

The bill is an attempt to allow young people who have demonstrated a commitment to education and who are of good moral character to access financial aid opportunities without regard to immigration status, and would create a mechanism to raise money for college scholarships for the children of immigrants. Other states have passed similar legislation and New York State, with its history of welcoming immigrants, should be at the forefront of these efforts to support immigrant populations who have contributed so much to the vitality of our state. The chance to earn a higher education degree will allow these immigrant students to realize their potential and make a greater contribution to our economy.

Currently immigrants receive elementary and secondary education without regard to their immigration status. Many of these children have lived in this country from a very early age and know no other country as home. However, once they have their high school diplomas in hand, they are often blocked from continuing their education for financial reasons. The Commission established by this bill would raise funds to provide scholarships to deserving students who would be required to have taken steps to regularize their immigration status. These students would also be eligible for other awards and scholarships that would advance their educational opportunities. Parents and family members of students would also be eligible to participate in the NYS College Savings Program with an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).

The Catholic Conference has long advocated for a comprehensive immigration reform package at the federal level that includes an earned legalization program, secure borders that reduce risk to individuals and change in the immigration system that promotes family unity. In the interim there are steps that can be taken at the state level to improve the current situation. This legislation is one such effort.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the New York State Catholic Conference have voiced support for the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Likewise, we support this legislation that we believe will afford deserving young immigrants an opportunity to pursue post-secondary education.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/02/dream-act/

A.9605-A, De La Rosa: In Relation to New York State DREAM Act

Published on February 2nd, 2018

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced legislation would create the New York DREAM Fund Commission and would provide opportunities for immigrant students who meet certain criteria to be eligible for financial aid to assist them attend institutions of higher education.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the New York State DREAM Act, and strongly urges enactment of this legislation.

The bill is an attempt to allow young people who have demonstrated a commitment to education and who are of good moral character to access financial aid opportunities without regard to immigration status, and would create a mechanism to raise money for college scholarships for the children of immigrants. Other states have passed similar legislation and New York State, with its history of welcoming immigrants, should be at the forefront of these efforts to support immigrant populations who have contributed so much to the vitality of our state. The chance to earn a higher education degree will allow these immigrant students to realize their potential and make a greater contribution to our economy.

Currently immigrants receive elementary and secondary education without regard to their immigration status. Many of these children have lived in this country from a very early age and know no other country as home. However, once they have their high school diplomas in hand, they are often blocked from continuing their education for financial reasons. The Commission established by this bill would raise funds to provide scholarships to deserving students who would be required to have taken steps to regularize their immigration status. These students would also be eligible for other awards and scholarships that would advance their educational opportunities. Parents and family members of students would also be eligible to participate in the NYS College Savings Program with an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).

The Catholic Conference has long advocated for a comprehensive immigration reform package at the federal level that includes an earned legalization program, secure borders that reduce risk to individuals and change in the immigration system that promotes family unity. In the interim there are steps that can be taken at the state level to improve the current situation. This legislation is one such effort.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the New York State Catholic Conference have voiced support for the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Likewise, we support this legislation that we believe will afford deserving young immigrants an opportunity to pursue post-secondary education.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/02/dream-act/

A.2674-A, Paulin / S.3793-A, Krueger: In relation to emergency contraception

Published on January 31st, 2018

Memorandum of Opposition

This bill would expand access to “emergency contraception” (EC) by allowing additional practitioners to prescribe it, requiring insurance coverage for any form of EC without cost-sharing, and requiring state DOH education and outreach about EC to school educators. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation.

As noted by the bill sponsors, the intent of this legislation is to provide “immediate” access to these medications, particularly for “young women.” Such policy would provide girls as young as 11 or 12 years old easy access to these powerful drugs without parental knowledge or physician oversight. As a matter of state law, many products sold by pharmacies, e.g. tobacco and non-prescription allergy medicine, are restricted to consumers 18 years of age and older.

Medical experts and the FDA agree that emergency contraception can work in various ways. It can act to inhibit or delay ovulation, and thus prevent conception. But it can also act to prevent an already-fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall, destroying a developing human embryo. This is early abortion, and it is morally abhorrent to many New Yorkers. The definition of “emergency contraception” included in this legislation is thus inaccurate and misleading.

We further oppose this bill because it fails to provide religious liberty protections for employers who may have objections to financing insurance coverage of drugs they find morally objectionable. The legislation keeps in place the inadequate 4-part legal definition of “religious employer” which fails to protect charitable organizations, hospitals and schools sponsored by religious organizations, as well as private organizations. These entities would be forced by this bill to pay for insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs.

For all of the above-noted reasons, we oppose this legislation and urge a negative vote.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/a-2674-a-paulin-s-3793-a-krueger-in-relation-to-emergency-contraception/

2018-19 Education Budget Testimony

Published on January 31st, 2018

Testimony James D. Cultrara, director for education of the New York State Catholic Conference, at the Joint Legislative Budget hearing regarding the 2018 – 2019 Elementary and Secondary Education Budget

January 31, 2018

Introduction

Quality education is fundamental in ensuring a promising future for our children, families, communities and our economy. For more than 200 years, the state’s Catholic schools have been providing an outstanding education to thousands of our state’s children, many of whom are not Catholic. Especially in our inner cities, Catholic schools continue to help bring children out of poverty. Parents, however, are finding it increasingly difficult to shoulder the dual burden of taxes to support public schools while paying tuition to support the education of their own children. The decline in enrollment and the resulting closing of Catholic schools over the decades is no surprise. Little attention, however, has been paid to the added cost to taxpayers.

While the Catholic Bishops are continuously forced to make the extraordinarily difficult decisions to close Catholic schools, it must be noted that no Catholic school has closed due to academic failure. This is something that cannot be said about either traditional public or charter schools. Nor have our schools been closed due to lack of desire on the part of parents to enroll their children. The loss of Catholic schools in New York State comes down entirely to the rising costs and the inability of parents to pay the increasing tuition needed to meet those costs. This has been a tragedy for the state, for the parents of those children who are enrolled and those who wish they could be, and for the children themselves.

More than 75 Catholic schools across the state were forced to close in the past seven years.  More than 300 have closed in the last 20 years. Most of the displaced students then enroll in the already over-burdened public school system at a far greater cost to taxpayers. The shift of enrollment from private to public schools over the last 20 years has increased the cost to taxpayers by more than $2 billion – each and every year! Unless something meaningful is done to support the education of children in religious and independent schools, this trend will continue to exacerbate the burden on taxpayers. But even more importantly, more and more children will be denied the opportunity to escape poverty and have a brighter future that the remarkable success of Catholic schools offers.

Like many good public schools, Catholic schools have been instrumental in moving hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty, many from immigrant populations and communities of color. It is well known that our Catholic schools serve many non-Catholic families; our reach and service goes well beyond the Catholic community. Our ability to serve poor families and the broader community with a quality education depends on the ability of low-income and minority families to access scholarships. These families are desperate for successful schools, knowing that a quality education for their children is the means to a prosperous future.

But if our schools are to continue being a part of addressing New York’s inequality of resources and opportunities, we must work together to meet the fiscal challenges that threaten their very existence. The good news is that you have the opportunity to do something about it, without hurting any other children or any other schools. All it takes is the political will to act.

Helping Tuition-paying Families:

For decades, New York State, like most states and the federal government, has been providing financial assistance to help students and families pay for college through an array of programs ranging from scholarships, grants, interest-free loans, tax exemptions and deductions for college savings plans, and even free tuition offered through the Excelsior Scholarship Program. Although tuition assistance programs have long enabled students to attend the public or private college of their choice, no such program is available for New York’s families struggling with tuition at the elementary and secondary level. And although demand for our schools remains strong, working and middle class families too often cannot afford even the modest tuition that we must charge – and there are long waiting lists for the limited number of scholarships that can be offered.

Most recently, the federal Tax Cut and Jobs Act expanded 529 plans to allow funds to be used for K-12 tuition.  529 plans were enacted in 1996 to help families pay for college by ensuring that the earnings on the funds in the accounts are not subject to federal income tax. Many states, including New York, enhanced the tax benefit, going above and beyond the federal government by changing their state tax laws to allow contributions to 529 accounts to be deductible on state income taxes. However, New York will likely need to change its tax law again to ensure that withdrawals for K-12 tuition are not subject to New York State income tax. According to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, in its “preliminary” report on the federal tax changes:

It appears that distributions [from 529 accounts] for K-12 tuition expenses would not be considered qualified distributions under New York statutes … [and] would trigger the recapture of any [state] tax benefits that had accrued on contributions.

 If parents are going to take advantage of the federal law and use funds from a 529 account for K-12 tuition, New York State, in effect will likely penalize by requiring families to not only pay back the tax on the amount that was deducted when computing their state income taxes, but they will likely also have to pay state income tax on any earnings. This could more than offset any federal tax advantage they accrued and result in even greater costs to families.

 We urge you to ensure that families are not penalized when taking advantage of the expanded federal 529 Plans and that they can obtain the full tax benefits of 529 accounts for K-12 tuition that are and have been available to families for college tuition for 20 years.

Education Affordability Act: This measure provides a tax credit for individuals or businesses making a donation to private scholarship organizations or public schools, local education funds established to support public schools, and to non-profit organizations providing educational programs in public schools. The measure also provides a credit directly to families for their educational expenses, including tuition. Opponents of this measure are simply ignoring reality when they argue that this proposal will diminish public school funding. On the contrary, this measure will only increase overall funding to public schools. Adopting the Education Affordability Act will ensure that public schools get an additional and on-going source of revenue. Moreover, teachers who spend their own money for necessary classroom supplies will benefit from a personal tax credit for those expenses.

Similar programs exist in more than half the states and the District of Columbia with great success.  New York has fallen behind while lawmakers in other states have enacted programs to help all children regardless of whether they go to school. Like those in public schools, the families who enroll their children in religious and independent schools desperately need and deserve your help. The Education Affordability Act proposal is a balanced and fair way to do both. If this proposal had already been law, many of those schools which were forced to close would be successfully educating students today. We urge you to include Education Affordability Act within the final state budget.

 Mandated Services and Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP) Reimbursement: Although the Executive provides a 3 percent increase in funding for both MSR and CAP, many schools continue to face an average 4 percent cut because part of the instructional time formula has yet to be restored. The Executive Budget maintains language, first enacted in 2016, to continue the historical practice of reimbursing schools based on the instructional hours of the day (5 hours for grades K-6 and 5.5 hours for grades 7-12). The proposed budget, however, does NOT restore the other component of the instructional time formula, namely the number of instructional days in the year.

We are grateful to the legislature for not only including both components of the instructional time formula in your respective one-house budget proposals last year, but also for passing separate legislation to codify the 40-year old formula in statute. Had Governor Cuomo not vetoed this legislation, schools would be able to benefit from the proposed 3 percent increase announced by the Governor two weeks ago. Without restoring the full formula, many schools will see a cut in aid that will have to be passed on to families.

In addition, the Governor eliminates $7 million you appropriated last year to reimburse schools in the cities of Buffalo, Rochester and New York City for their actual costs in complying with the state immunization program. For the safety and health of these children, these funds must be restored.

Further, the Executive Budget re-appropriates $60 million to close the two-year lag in CAP reimbursement. Because the annual amount needed for CAP reimbursement exceeds $75 million, this re-appropriation is at least $15 million short of what is needed.

We respectfully urge you and the Governor to permanently restore the complete instructional time formula and ensure that sufficient funds are appropriated to close the two-year lag in reimbursement as required by statute.

 State Office of Religious and Independent Schools (SORIS): $2 million was appropriated in 2016-17 to support the critical staffing needs in the office and to fund important initiatives for schools. The Executive Budget continues only $800,000 into the 2018-19 fiscal year. We urge you to reinstate the entire $2 million to ensure that there is sufficient staff to address the unacceptable backlog of work; to implement state- and federally-funded programs, as well as oversee the “substantial equivalency” of religious and independent schools.

 Professional Development; Article VII language:  The SED and the Commissioner’s Advisory Council for Nonpublic Schools have developed and are implementing a plan to expend approximately $650,000 in federal Title IIa funds, on an annual basis, to support the professional development of nonpublic school principals and teachers. One part of the plan calls for graduate level courses to be offered through the state’s institutions of higher education. To that end, SED has established a Memorandum of Understanding  (MOU) with the City University of New York and will seek to do so with the State University of New York – both “sister agencies” of SED. We respectfully urge the inclusion of Article VII language in this year’s budget to permit SED to establish a comparable MOU with the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities so that course offerings at New York’s independent colleges are likewise available to nonpublic school principals and teachers.

 Health, Safety, Security and Capital Needs:  We are grateful to you and Governor Cuomo for providing $15 million in health, safety and security funds and for the flexibility to support an array of activities addressing health, safety, and security needs. However, school buildings have many critically important capital needs that simply cannot be met. We urge lawmakers to provide an additional $5 million as well as flexibility needed under the current program to support critical repairs and improvements to school buildings and sites that, when completed, will protect the school building from deterioration, enhance the delivery of educational programs, and improve the health and safety of the students, staff and general public who utilize our school buildings.

 STEM:  The Governor recommends continuing the $5 million appropriation to support Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education in our schools. We are grateful to you and the Governor for initiating this important program and urge additional funds to allow the program to meet demands.

 Transportation:  Next to their ability to afford tuition, the second most common challenge faced by parents in enrolling their children in religious or independent schools is their ability to have their children transported to school. When parents are denied their choice of a religious or an independent school because transportation services are not available or are unreasonable or are unreliable, the burden on taxpayers increases as more of these children are forced to enroll in public schools. Moreover, disparate school districts calendars result in fragmented transportation services. This problem will be exasperated if lawmakers provide districts with additional flexibility in meeting their minimum instructional time requirements. We strongly urge the following: (1) Restore 90 percent state reimbursement of school district costs of transporting religious and independent school students; (2) require  transportation to be provided by schools with disparate schedules and calendars – and not denied to religious and independent schools when public schools are closed or when they make mid-year calendar changes; (3) require small city school districts to transport children up to the maximum mileage limit rather than city limits; (4) increase the maximum distance school districts are required to transport children to school from 15 to 25 miles; and (5) allow parents the option to pay for the cost of transportation beyond 25 miles.

 Smart School Bond Act:  The Executive re-appropriates $25 million from 2017-18 to address inequities in the implementation of the Smart Schools Bond Act. However, $25 million is insufficient to cover the inequities under just New York City’s plan, let alone other district plans. Students in a number of the state’s religious and independent schools are being denied an equitable share of the portion of bond funds that their respective school district chooses to devote to classroom technology.  We urge you to include sufficient funds necessary to rectify this inequity to ensure that students in our schools benefit from an equitable share of all classroom technology and connectivity devices.

Energy Efficiency: Schools consume significant amounts of energy which adds to the cost of education. Advances in energy technology enable schools to be more energy efficient than ever before — benefiting not only students, teachers and administrators who occupy school buildings every day, but also all utility rate payers and the community at large. Public schools are able to finance these projects with their local tax levy authority coupled with state building aid.  Religious and independent schools do not have the same means to finance such projects. We urge you to appropriate seed money that would enable religious and independent schools to initiate these worthy projects.

Nursing Services:  An increasing number of children have acute and chronic health problems that require the daily attention and care of professional school nurses. Yet the shortage of school nurses leaves school administrators and teachers in the untenable position of having to respond to health emergencies and manage chronic health problems. School administrators and teachers are not health professionals and simply cannot and should not be forced to manage and respond to their students’ asthma, diabetes, food allergies and other health conditions. For parents, as well as for the school staff to whom children have been entrusted, there is nothing more important that the health and safety of their children. It is simply unconscionable to put the lives and well-being of children at risk. We urge you to include sufficient funding to ensure that a full-time nurse is available for every public, independent and religious school.

Teacher Training and Mentoring: The mandated continuing education for certified teachers and school leaders is essential to maintaining high quality academic programs, to meet the growing needs of students, and to keep pace with developments in standards, assessments, technology, and other programs. We urge you to include $10 million for teacher and leader professional development in religious and independent schools.

Academic Intervention Services:  Currently only $922,000 is appropriated annually to independent and religious schools to implement the Academic Intervention Services (AIS) regulations promulgated by the Board of Regents, far below the $20 million that is needed. Without adequate funding now, these at-risk children may easily fall behind even more, requiring more expensive academic interventions later. AIS funding should be increased so that, like public schools, our schools are able to provide these services to our children who are most in need.

Learning Technology Grants: The Governor proposes $3.3 million for Learning Technology grants. The limited funding for this valuable program, however, serves only 50 school districts along with their independent and religious school partners. We strongly urge you to increase the appropriation to a level sufficient to enable more needy schools to benefit from this program.

 

Other Critical Programs, Services and Mandates:  The Executive Budget includes a number of new and expanded initiatives as well as mandates intended to benefit or serve students. These include but are not limited to programs in:

  • Gang Prevention;
  • After School services;
  • Early Childhood Pre-K;
  • School Nutrition
  • Advance Placement (courses and fees); and
  • Computer Science (Smart Start).

We urge additional funding and corresponding language to ensure that all students, regardless of where they attend school, benefit from these important programs and that mandates are fully funding.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/2018-19-education-budget-testimony/

Testimony regarding Child Victims Act in Executive Budget

Published on January 30th, 2018

Testimony of the New York State Catholic Conference submitted to the Joint Legislative Hearing on the  2018 – 2019 Public Protection Budget

January 30, 2018

Senator Young, Assembly Member Weinstein, and distinguished members of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees:

The Catholic Church has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and supports proposals in the New York State Legislature to extend the time allowed under the law to file criminal charges or civil lawsuits against those who abuse children.

Sexual abuse is a societal scourge. It knows no boundaries. Protecting children from sexual abuse and safeguarding the legal rights of victims requires a comprehensive approach. While the Catholic Conference strongly supports efforts to prospectively increase the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, legislation put forward in the Executive Budget is seriously flawed in that it contains a statute of limitations “window” to open up previously time-barred civil claims going back indefinitely against not only abusers themselves, but against their employers as well. The Catholic Conference strongly opposes this retroactive window.

This extraordinary provision would force institutions to defend alleged conduct decades ago about which they have no knowledge, and in which they had no role, potentially involving employees long retired, dead or infirm, based on information long lost, if it ever existed. To be clear, this provision would allow claims from even the 1940s or 1950s to be resurrected.

Statutes of limitation are an essential protection of American law because they ensure that claims can be fairly adjudicated in a timely manner based on credible evidence. The New York State Bar Association has said:

Over time, evidence is lost or destroyed and witnesses die or become unavailable or, when they are available, their memories are less reliable. These circumstances make proof and defense of such actions extremely difficult, if not impossible, for all parties involved. (New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Civil Practice Law and Rules Legislative Report #8, Feb. 25, 2003)

While some legislative and policy disagreements about the ideal approach continue, New York State continues to make laudable progress in protecting children. The criminal statute of limitations on charges of rape or felony sexual abuse of a child has been eliminated. These crimes are now treated with the same gravity as murder.

Still more can and should be done. Currently under consideration is an omnibus child protection bill sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza and Assembly Member Michael Cusick that would extend the civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits another five years to the victim’s 28th birthday, and would apply equally to public and private institutions. This bill, S5660/A7302, also eliminates the criminal statute entirely, adds clergy to the list of mandated reporters, and requires criminal background checks for all employees and volunteers who work with children in either public or not-for-profit settings. The Catholic Conference strong supports the S5660/A7302 as the best legislative remedy available to protect children from abuse today and to give victims more time to seek justice, both criminally and civilly.

To reiterate, while we are in agreement with aspects of Governor Cuomo’s proposal in the Executive Budget referred to as the Child Victim’s Act, the ill-advised “window” to reopen decades-old claims is, in the end, contrary to justice, because simply too much time has gone by in many cases to mount an effective defense, particularly for institutional defendants.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/testimony-regarding-child-victims-act-in-executive-budget/

NYS Catholic Charities Directors to honor two at annual convening in Albany Feb. 5

Published on January 26th, 2018

Sister Mary McCarrick, OSF, the retiring diocesan director of Catholic Charities of Buffalo, and Emmie Glynn Ryan, general counsel, chief corporate compliance officer and senior vice president of Catholic Charities Brooklyn Queens, will be honored by the New York State Council of Catholic Charities Directors at a reception on Monday, February 5, at 5:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Albany. The reception is part of the Council’s two-day convening February 5-6, in which Catholic Charities personnel from throughout New York State advocate with elected and state agency officials on important issues of concern to the poor and vulnerable.

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will address the convening earlier in the day.

Sister Mary will receive the Bishop Francis J. Mugavero Award for outstanding contributions to the work of charity and social justice. The award is named for the late Bishop of Brooklyn. Ms. Glynn Ryan will receive the Vincenza DeFazio Award for outstanding contributions to the work of New York State Council of Catholic Charities Directors. The award is named for a deceased long-time attorney with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.

Sister Mary McCarrick

Sister Mary began her religious life serving the poor in Colorado and Mexico. After receiving her Master of Social Work degree from the Worden School of Social Work in San Antonio and doing post-graduate work at the University of Rochester, she joined Catholic Charities in the 1980s, serving families dealing with issues such as domestic violence and sexual abuse. She later became executive director of Benedict House, a hospice for people with HIV/AIDS. Following a stint as the superior of her congregation, Sister Mary was appointed Diocesan Director of Catholic Charities of Buffalo by then-Bishop Edward U. Kmiec in 2009. As co-vice president of the organization and head of its annual $11 million appeal, Sister Mary strengthened the Board of Trustees, engaged in a strategic planning process, and proved a deft fundraiser. She will retire later this year.

Emmie Glynn Ryan

Ms. Glynn Ryan hails from Galway, Ireland. Admitted to the bar there, she practiced law for several years before emigrating to England, practicing law in London. Following the fall and assassination of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Ms. Glynn Ryan left her firm in London to work in Romania with orphans and adults suffering from mental health problems who had been warehoused and forgotten by the government. She emigrated to New York in 1991, working two jobs and volunteering to assist victims of domestic violence. In 1995, she passed the New York State bar exam, and two years later came to Catholic Charites Brooklyn Queens as director of legal affairs, eventually rising to her current position of general counsel, chief corporate compliance officer and senior vice president. She is a member of the Criminal Justice Committee of the New York State Catholic Conference and sits on numerous not-for-profit boards. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, Jim Ryan, retired news anchor of WNYC’s Good Day New York, and their daughter, Saoirse, a sophomore at the University of Chicago.

The Catholic Conference represents the Bishops of New York State in public policy matters.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/nys-catholic-charities-directors-to-honor-two-at-annual-convening-in-albany-feb-5/

Education budget alert




Article source: https://www.votervoice.net/NYSCATHOLIC/campaigns/56389/respond

Budget Bill S.7511 / A.9511 In Relation to Late-Term Abortion Expansion (Part B) in the “Women’s Agenda” Article VII Bill

Published on January 24th, 2018

Memorandum of Opposition

Printable PDF version

This legislation is one of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s non-fiscal “budget” bills that seeks to enact a multi-faceted new “women’s agenda,” similar to the “women’s equality act” put forth by the Executive in 2013. Part “B” of this legislation is a dangerous and unnecessary expansion of late-term abortion, and a leap into legalized infanticide. It should not be part of a budget bill and it should not become law. We strongly urge you to oppose it.

You will recall that the Executive’s 2013 legislation was broken apart into 10 different bills by the legislature, and 9 out of 10 of those bills were enacted into law in 2015.  The tenth plank, the late-term abortion expansion, was stopped by the Senate. Part B of this legislation deserves the same fate. It is not a simple update of New York’s laws. It would strip all mention of abortion in our state’s laws, resulting in the following consequences.

It would expand late-term abortion.

The primary objective of Part B of this legislation is to increase the availability of abortion in the third trimester of pregnancy.  Current state law says abortions are legal in New York through 24 weeks of pregnancy, but outlawed after that unless they are necessary to save a woman’s life (Penal Law Section 125.00).  This bill would repeal all Penal Law references to abortion. This would result in a policy where abortion would not be illegal for any reason at any time during a pregnancy. To repeat, this bill will allow abortion for any reason and at any time during a pregnancy, including into the ninth month right up until the moment of birth. This goes far beyond a so-called “codification” of Roe vs. Wade. This would completely decriminalize abortion under our state law.

It would empower non-doctors to perform abortions.

The current New York State criminal code (Penal Law Section 125.05[3]) is clear in requiring that only a “duly licensed physician” may perform abortions in New York. By repealing this section of law, this legislation would strip this protection from women, and hand policy-making authority to determine who may perform abortions to bureaucrats in the State Education Department and State Department of Health.  It is likely that practitioners with less training and less experience — such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse mid-wives, as well as a broad range of other non-physicians — will be empowered to do both chemical and surgical abortions. Indeed, by removing the Penal Law penalties for non-doctors performing abortions, this legislation essentially invites unqualified abortionists and disbarred doctors to come into New York to establish their so-called “practice.”

Empowering non-physicians to perform abortions is a specific goal of abortion advocates as they seek to boost access in the face of a declining number of doctors willing to perform the procedure. It should stand to reason that allowing non-doctors to perform abortions is dangerous for women and infants.

It would eliminate protections for pregnant women against coerced abortion or intentional assaults on their unborn child.

Stripping abortion from New York’s Penal Law would remove accountability for those who would harm unborn children through coerced or unwanted abortion. The crime of “abortion” is the only place in New York law that allows for an additional criminal charge for a violent attack against a pregnant woman which results in the loss of her unborn child. Incidents of domestic violence increase when a woman is pregnant and her male partner does not wish to be a father. Such cases occur with some frequency in New York State.

This legislation would remove this current Penal law protection for pregnant women in cases of coerced or unwanted abortion (Penal Law Sections 125.05, 125.40 and 125.45). This does a grave disservice to pregnant women, the very-much-wanted unborn children they may carry, and any possibility of justice for them when crimes are committed against them. While we believe that our law should provide for a separate charge of assault or homicide for the harm inflicted on the infant, at a minimum the law should remain as it is to allow an additional charge of illegal abortion.

It would legalize infanticide.

Shockingly, this legislation repeals Public Health Law Section 4164, part of which gives full legal protection to any child who might (mistakenly) be born alive as the result of an abortion. It also requires a second doctor to be available during a late-term abortion to help give medical care to any such child. It is difficult to imagine the motivation of the Governor in removing these protections, which have been upheld as constitutional.

In 2013 America saw the face of late-term abortion during the trial of former Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of numerous crimes, including murdering three infants born alive during attempted abortion procedures. The grand jury report on Gosnell states that “he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy, and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.”

In addition, there have been documented cases of babies born alive during attempted abortions who were left to die of neglect. The intersection of late-term abortions, the potential for live births, and the recent revelations of the transfer of fetal tissues or whole cadavers from clinics to researchers raise grave concerns.

Thankfully, Kermit Gosnell is serving a sentence of life imprisonment and no longer endangers women and infants. But removing this protection from our statute will send a New York “welcome” signal to other late-term abortionists, who are often notorious for disregarding the health and safety of women and children. While states like Pennsylvania continue to have strong restrictions on late-term abortions and actually enforce these laws, the enactment of this legislation would encourage practitioners like Kermit Gosnell to set up shop in New York, to the detriment of women and children.

And, ironically, as this legislation seeks to remove protections in law for born-alive abortion survivors, Congress is moving in the opposite direction. On January 19, 2018 the US House of Representatives passed the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” (HR 4712) to provide penalties for medical personnel who do not provide medical care to infants born alive following an abortion. We supported this measure, and we support the retention of Public Health Law Section 4164, because the right to abortion does not extend so far as to justify the denial of fundamental civil rights and legal protections to born, living human children. That is infanticide.

It will increase the state’s abortion rate.

As outlined above, we believe the legislation would have dangerous consequences for women and infants. New York’s abortion numbers have been steadily decreasing, from 93,299 reported induced abortions in 2014 to 86,627 in 2015, according to the most recent report of the NYS Department of Health. We believe this misguided legislation would reverse this encouraging trend and only increase the tragedy of abortion in the Empire State.

We strongly urge you not to be trapped into discussing issues such as abortion expansion, which has nothing to do with government finances, within the context of budget negotiations. While some of the “women’s agenda’ Article VII legislative proposals may have merit, they deserve to be voted on as individual policies/bills, as has been done in the past by the Senate on important women’s concerns such as human trafficking and pregnancy discrimination. We urge you to oppose S.7511 unless Part B is completely stripped from the bill.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/budget-bill-s-7511-a-9511-in-relation-to-late-term-abortion-expansion-part-b-in-the-womens-agenda-article-vii-bill/

A.3740, Dinowitz / S.4278, Ranzenhofer: In relation to chemical digestion of human remains

Published on January 16th, 2018

Memorandum Requesting Amendment

The above-referenced bill seeks to amend the definition of “cremation” under the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law to include “any other technical process.”

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes the prospect that this bill under the amended definition would allow for a process known as alkaline hydrolysis.

The Catholic Conference understands that crematories across the state are constantly evolving to meet the needs of New York State residents and cemeteries are increasingly dealing with issues regarding burial space. We agree that allowing the cemetery board to authorize new cremation processes would be both more expedient and allow for the industry to help determine the value of regulatory proposals through the public comment rule-making process.

The Catholic Conference, however, is concerned that processes such as alkaline hydrolysis and potentially other processes involving an abundant use of chemicals to digest human remains do not sufficiently respect the dignity of the human body. The Church’s reverence for the sacredness of the human body and its dignity arises out of concern for both the body’s natural and supernatural properties. It is therefore essential that the body of a deceased person be treated with respect and reverence.

Therefore, if this bill does move forward, it is suggested that safeguards be added to prohibit processes such as alkaline hydrolysis from being considered during the rule making process. Such a prohibition would still allow crematories across the state to gain access to new innovations in the field while also ensuring the dignity of the deceased’s body is preserved.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/a-3740-dinowitz-s-4278-ranzenhofer-in-relation-to-chemical-digestion-of-human-remains/

A.5885-A, Rosenthal / S.6575, Hoylman / S.6722, Rules : In relation to civil and criminal changes to the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse

Published on January 8th, 2018

Memorandum of Opposition

The Catholic Church has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and supports proposals in the New York State Legislature to extend the time allowed under the law to file criminal charges or civil lawsuits against those who abuse children.

Sexual abuse is a societal scourge. It knows no boundaries. Protecting children from sexual abuse and safeguarding the legal rights of victims requires a comprehensive approach. While the Catholic Conference strongly supports efforts to prospectively increase the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, the above-referenced legislation is seriously flawed in that it contains a statute of limitations “window” to open up previously time-barred civil claims going back indefinitely against not only abusers themselves, but against their employers as well. Therefore, the Catholic Conference must strongly oppose this legislation.

This extraordinary provision would force institutions to defend alleged conduct decades ago about which they have no knowledge, and in which they had no role, potentially involving employees long retired, dead or infirm, based on information long lost, if it ever existed. To be clear, the sponsors’ intent is to allow claims from even the 1940s or 1950s to be resurrected.

Statutes of limitation are an essential protection of American law because they ensure that claims can be fairly adjudicated in a timely manner based on credible evidence. The New York State Bar Association has said:

Over time, evidence is lost or destroyed and witnesses die or become unavailable or, when they are available, their memories are less reliable. These circumstances make proof and defense of such actions extremely difficult, if not impossible, for all parties involved. (New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Civil Practice Law and Rules Legislative Report #8, Feb. 25, 2003)

Moreover, this bill is seriously flawed in that it only raises the criminal statute of limitations by five years, until the victim-survivor’s 28th birthday. At the same time, it raises the civil statute of limitations until the victim-survivor’s 50th birthday, in addition to a retroactive window that allows old lawsuits to be brought no matter how long ago the incident occurred. Clearly the bill’s focus on lawsuits against organizations, rather than punishing predators and removing them from our communities, does not in any way achieve a goal of protecting children today or in the future.

While some legislative and policy disagreements about the ideal approach continue, New York State continues to make laudable progress in protecting children. The criminal statute of limitations on charges of rape or felony sexual abuse of a child has been eliminated. These crimes are now treated with the same gravity as murder.

Still more can and should be done. Currently under consideration is an omnibus child protection bill sponsored by Assembly Member Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island) that would extend the civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits another five years to the victim’s 28thbirthday, and would apply equally to public and private institutions. The Cusick bill also eliminates the criminal statute entirely, adds clergy to the list of mandated reporters, and requires criminal background checks for all employees and volunteers who work with children in either public or not-for-profit settings. The Catholic Conference strong supports the Cusick bill as the best legislative remedy available to protect children from abuse today and to give victims more time to seek justice, both criminally and civilly.

To reiterate, while we are in agreement with aspects of A.5885-A, the ill-advised “window” to reopen decades-old claims is, in the end, contrary to justice, because simply too much time has gone by in many cases to mount an effective defense, particularly for institutional defendants. We therefore urge the bill be defeated, and for the legislature to instead pass the NYS Child Protection Act (A.7302).

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/rosenthal_cva/

Budget Bill S.7505 / A.9505 (Part P), as well as A.5885-A, Rosenthal / S.6575, Hoylman / S.6722, Rules : In relation to civil and criminal changes to the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse

Published on January 8th, 2018

Memorandum of Opposition

The Catholic Church has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and supports proposals in the New York State Legislature to extend the time allowed under the law to file criminal charges or civil lawsuits against those who abuse children.

Sexual abuse is a societal scourge. It knows no boundaries. Protecting children from sexual abuse and safeguarding the legal rights of victims requires a comprehensive approach. While the Catholic Conference strongly supports efforts to prospectively increase the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, the above-referenced legislation is seriously flawed in that it contains a statute of limitations “window” to open up previously time-barred civil claims going back indefinitely against not only abusers themselves, but against their employers as well. Therefore, the Catholic Conference must strongly oppose this legislation.

This extraordinary provision would force institutions to defend alleged conduct decades ago about which they have no knowledge, and in which they had no role, potentially involving employees long retired, dead or infirm, based on information long lost, if it ever existed. To be clear, the sponsors’ intent is to allow claims from even the 1940s or 1950s to be resurrected.

Statutes of limitation are an essential protection of American law because they ensure that claims can be fairly adjudicated in a timely manner based on credible evidence. The New York State Bar Association has said:

Over time, evidence is lost or destroyed and witnesses die or become unavailable or, when they are available, their memories are less reliable. These circumstances make proof and defense of such actions extremely difficult, if not impossible, for all parties involved. (New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Civil Practice Law and Rules Legislative Report #8, Feb. 25, 2003)

Moreover, this bill is seriously flawed in that it only raises the criminal statute of limitations by five years, until the victim-survivor’s 28th birthday. At the same time, it raises the civil statute of limitations until the victim-survivor’s 50th birthday, in addition to a retroactive window that allows old lawsuits to be brought no matter how long ago the incident occurred. Clearly the bill’s focus on lawsuits against organizations, rather than punishing predators and removing them from our communities, does not in any way achieve a goal of protecting children today or in the future.

While some legislative and policy disagreements about the ideal approach continue, New York State continues to make laudable progress in protecting children. The criminal statute of limitations on charges of rape or felony sexual abuse of a child has been eliminated. These crimes are now treated with the same gravity as murder.

Still more can and should be done. Currently under consideration is an omnibus child protection bill sponsored by Assembly Member Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island) that would extend the civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits another five years to the victim’s 28thbirthday, and would apply equally to public and private institutions. The Cusick bill also eliminates the criminal statute entirely, adds clergy to the list of mandated reporters, and requires criminal background checks for all employees and volunteers who work with children in either public or not-for-profit settings. The Catholic Conference strong supports the Cusick bill as the best legislative remedy available to protect children from abuse today and to give victims more time to seek justice, both criminally and civilly.

To reiterate, while we are in agreement with aspects of A.5885-A, the ill-advised “window” to reopen decades-old claims is, in the end, contrary to justice, because simply too much time has gone by in many cases to mount an effective defense, particularly for institutional defendants. We therefore urge the bill be defeated, and for the legislature to instead pass the NYS Child Protection Act (A.7302).

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/cva/

A.1378, Cahill / S.3668, Bonacic: In relation to expanding contraceptive insurance coverage

Published on January 8th, 2018

Memorandum of Opposition

The above-referenced legislation, requested by the Attorney General, would expand current law to require increased insurance coverage for contraception, abortion-causing drugs, and voluntary sterilization. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this measure.

In 2002, New York State lawmakers passed the “Women’s Health and Wellness Act” which requires insurance plans with prescription coverage to cover FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices, and provides insufficient protections for religious employers.

The legislation now before you would go further by mandating cost-free contraceptives, requiring that a 12-month supply of contraceptives be covered at one time, and including emergency contraception (EC), the so-called “morning-after pill.” We believe that enabling such large amounts of prescription medication, particularly in such high doses as emergency contraception, to get into the hands of young people is irresponsible and dangerous public policy.

This bill would further expand access to emergency contraception by allowing midwives to prescribe EC, allowing pharmacists and nurses to dispense EC without a patient-specific prescription, requiring insurance coverage for any form of EC without cost-sharing of any kind, and requiring state DOH education and outreach about EC to school educators. Such policy would provide girls as young as 11 or 12 years old easy access to these powerful drugs without parental knowledge or physician oversight. As a matter of state law, many products sold by pharmacies, e.g. tobacco and non-prescription allergy medicine, are restricted to consumers 18 years of age and older.

Medical experts and the FDA agree that emergency contraception can work in various ways. It can act to inhibit or delay ovulation, and thus prevent conception. But it can also act to prevent an already-fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall, destroying a developing human embryo. This is early abortion, and it is morally abhorrent to many New Yorkers.

We further oppose this bill because it fails to provide religious liberty protections for employers who may have objections to financing insurance coverage of drugs they find morally objectionable. The legislation keeps in place the inadequate 4-part legal definition of “religious employer” which fails to protect charitable organizations, hospitals and schools sponsored by religious organizations, as well as private organizations. These entities would be forced by this bill to pay for insurance coverage they find objectionable. A.1378 Cahill

Moreover, the language of this legislation creates problems even for those religious employers who do qualify for protection under the 4-part religious exemption. The bill prohibits insurance plans from imposing “restrictions or delays” with regard to “timely access” to contraception, a standard that may not be possible for religious employers which are in the process of obtaining a religious exemption and notifying enrollees.

For these reasons, the New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation and urges a negative vote.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/a-1378-cahill-in-relation-to-expanding-contraceptive-insurance-coverage/

A.1748, Glick / S.2796 Krueger In Relation to Abortion Expansion

Published on January 8th, 2018

This legislation is a re-branded attempt to expand abortion in New York State, similar to the failed tenth plank of the 2013 “women’s equality agenda.” But the language is new; it is bolder in its breadth and extremism. It is not a simple update of New York’s laws. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this bill.

It’s a late-term abortion expansion.

No matter how the bill is re-worded, the primary objective of this legislation is to expand late-term abortion. Current state law says abortions are legal in New York through 24 weeks of pregnancy (Article 125 Penal Law), but outlawed after that unless they are necessary to save a woman’s life. This bill would repeal the Penal Law references to abortion and insert a “health” exception into the newly-written Public Health Law. Such a “health” exception has been broadly interpreted by the courts to include age, economic, social and emotional factors. As a result, this bill will allow abortion for any reason and at any time during a pregnancy, including into the ninth month. It will encourage more late-term abortionists to come into New York and it will lead to more third-trimester abortions in New York State.

Moreover, the language of this legislation specifically allows the abortionist to determine the “absence of fetal viability”; he could determine viability is absent at 24 weeks gestation, or 29 weeks or even 32 weeks gestation. This language will most certainly result in viable unborn children being aborted.

It empowers non-doctors to perform abortions.

Current New York State statutes and regulations are clear in requiring that only licensed physicians may perform abortions in New York. No federal law has ever given permission to non-doctors to perform abortions. This legislation is very specific in reversing these protections, by stating that any health care practitioner licensed under Title Eight of the Education Law may perform an abortion. Practitioners licensed under Title Eight include nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse mid-wives, as well as a broad range of other non-physicians. This bill would allow the Education Department to authorize any of these non-doctors to do both chemical and surgical abortions.

Empowering non-physicians to perform abortions is a specific goal of abortion advocates as they seek to boost access in the face of a declining number of doctors willing to perform the procedure. It should stand to reason that allowing non-doctors to perform surgery is dangerous for women and infants.

It could compel participation in abortion.

Because the legislative intent of this bill would ordain abortion as a “fundamental right,” the right to abortion could supersede everything, even the right of conscience. The government would have the task of ensuring that there is no “discrimination” against this fundamental right being exercised. This means that doctors could be compelled to perform abortions or risk losing their license to practice. Hospitals and medical facilities, even religious ones, could be forced to allow abortions on site or risk fines, penalties, loss of funding/operational certificates or other punishment. Likewise, health insurance plans could be forced to cover abortion and employers could be forced to purchase such coverage.

It eliminates protections for pregnant women and their unborn children.

Moving abortion from the Penal Law to the Public Health Law is a major policy shift that removes accountability for those who would harm unborn children outside the context of abortion. The crime of “abortional act” is the only place in New York law that allows for criminal charges for violent attacks against pregnant women and their unborn children, which occur with some frequency in cases of domestic violence.

This legislation would remove all current Penal law protections for pregnant women in cases of illegal or unwanted abortion (Penal Law Sections 125.05, 125.40 and 125.45). Repealing these laws – and proposing no penalties whatsoever for violation of the proposed new law — does a grave disservice to pregnant women, the very-much-wanted unborn children they may carry, and any possibility of justice for them when crimes are committed against them.

It jeopardizes live-born children.

Shockingly, this legislation repeals Public Health Law Section 4164, part of which gives full legal protection to any child who might (mistakenly) be born alive as the result of an abortion. It also requires a second doctor to be available during a late-term abortion to help give medical care to any such child. It is difficult to imagine the motivation of bill sponsors in removing these protections, which have been upheld as constitutional.

In 2013 America saw the face of late-term abortion during the trial of former Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of numerous crimes, including murdering three infants born alive during attempted abortion procedures. The grand jury report on Gosnell states that “he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy, and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.”

In addition, there have been documented cases of babies born alive during attempted abortions who were left to die of neglect. The intersection of late-term abortions, the potential for live births, and the recent revelations of the transfer of fetal tissues or whole cadavers from clinics to researchers raise grave concerns.

Thankfully, Kermit Gosnell is serving a sentence of life imprisonment and no longer endangers women and infants. But removing this protection from our statute will send a New York “welcome” signal to other late-term abortionists, who are often notorious for disregarding the health and safety of women and children.

The right to abortion does not extend so far as to justify the denial of fundamental civil rights and protections to born, living human children.

It will increase the state’s abortion rate.

As outlined above, we believe the legislation would have dangerous consequences for women and infants. New York’s abortion numbers have been steadily decreasing, from 118,381 reported induced abortions in 2008 to 93,299 reported induced abortions in 2014, according to the most recent report of the NYS Department of Health. We believe this misguided legislation would reverse this encouraging trend and only increase the tragedy of abortion.

We urge you to pause to consider the curious paradox created by this legislation: In one unit of your public hospital, physicians will be taking extreme measures and heroic actions to save the lives of prematurely delivered viable infants, while in another unit, an abortionist will be destroying infants of the very same age, viable babies who could very well survive outside the womb. Can we, as a society, comfortably live with such arbitrary distinctions and callous inconsistencies regarding who lives and who dies?

We strongly urge you to oppose this legislation.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/a-1748-glick-s-2796-krueger-in-relation-to-abortion-expansion/

A.2646-A, Simotas / S.3148-A, Savino: In relation to an insurance mandate for in vitro fertilization

Published on January 8th, 2018

Memorandum of Opposition

The above-referenced legislation would require large group health insurance plans to cover the costs of in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete and embryo transfers, and other assisted reproductive technologies.  The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation.

While the Catholic Church empathizes with childless married couples yearning for the joys of parenthood, the Conference holds grave concerns with this insurance mandate.  These concerns include the legislation’s a) requirement for funding acts that destroy innocent human embryos, both inside and outside the womb; b) endorsement of technologies which promote the manufacture of human beings, contribute to the breakdown of family relationships, and interfere with the natural act of marital sexual intercourse; and c) lack of any conscience protection for religious employers and those with ethical objections to assisted reproductive technologies.

Destruction of Human Embryos

Many of the assisted reproductive technologies available today, including IVF, routinely involve the creation, freezing, discarding, and systematic destruction of living human embryos in order to bring one healthy child to term. Initially, the process requires the fertilization of numerous eggs in the laboratory in order to be marginally effective. The embryos not implanted are then either discarded immediately or frozen for later use; many do not survive the freezing and defrosting processes. In reality, the majority of embryonic children created by IVF procedures will eventually end up deceased.

Practitioners generally choose to transfer greater numbers of embryos than fewer, to increase the chance that at least one will implant; this increases the likelihood of multiple gestations. According to the NYS Task Force on Life and the Law (Assisted Reproductive Technologies, April 1998, page 128), “The use of fertility drugs and the transfer of multiple embryos into the uterus during IVF creates a recognized risk that more embryos will implant than can safely be carried to term. In recent years, practitioners have relied on access to ‘fetal reduction’ – the destruction of one or more embryos so the remaining ones have a better chance – to manage these hazardous situations.” Simply put, fetal reduction is abortion.

The Catholic Church views the manipulation and destruction of living human embryos through assisted reproductive technologies as an assault on the dignity and value of human life. Each human embryo possesses unique DNA, and need only nutrition and the safe environment of the womb to grow and develop. Living human embryos must not be used as a means to an end because they are, like all precious human beings, an end in and of themselves.

Concerns with Assisted Reproductive Technologies

The Catholic Church supports and assists couples in overcoming infertility through the use of scientifically-based diagnostics, drugs and procedures that assist marital sexual intercourse in reaching its natural procreative potential. This type of “restorative reproductive medicine” can diagnose and resolve underlying fertility issues and treat reproductive disorders in an effective, less invasive, less costly manner than IVF. Restorative reproductive medicine can markedly reduce the chances of multiple pregnancies, premature births and miscarriages, and decrease other potential maternal complications as well.

The Catholic Church cannot support in vitro fertilization because it separates the natural sexual act from the conception of a child. A man and a woman supply the raw material for a technician to produce a child, grow him or her in a nutrient culture, and insert the child into the mother’s womb. This is done in exchange for many thousands of dollars.

IVF procedures are an artificial means of reproduction which treat children as merchandise to be manufactured, bought, and disposed of at will.

It is easy to see how this mentality can lead to other abuses as well, resulting from the desire to manufacture the best product most efficiently. Embryos produced in a laboratory can be pre-screened for genetic defects or a predisposition to certain diseases, or even for gender and eye color, and thrown away if they fail quality control.

Lack of Conscience Protection

This legislation contains no conscience protection for religious employers, religious organizations or closely held for-profit employers with religious objections to certain assisted reproductive technologies. Our Conference has consistently and strongly advocated for the inclusion of protections which would exempt religious institutional employers from paying for such mandates.

Conclusion

Current law already requires health insurance plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of infertility, but does not extend coverage to IVF, gamete and embryo transfers. Nor does current law extend the coverage mandate to human cloning, sterilization reversals, and experimental procedures, a policy that would be maintained under this legislation. For all of the above-mentioned reasons, we believe New York’s current law draws appropriate lines and we therefore urge lawmakers to reject A.2646/S.3148.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/mandate-for-in-vitro-fertilization/

A.7637-A, Crespo / S.6009-A, Ranzenhofer: In relation to including private and religious schools in school energy efficiency collaboration programs

Published on January 8th, 2018

The above-referenced legislation amends Chapter 403 of the laws of 2016, in relation to including private and religious schools in school energy efficiency collaboration programs.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports this legislation.

New York’s religious and independent schools make considerable efforts to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities. Their efforts, however, are often hampered by limited funding and the difficulties in accessing state and federal energy efficiency programs. This legislation will enable the state’s religious and independent schools to more fully participate in the collective effort to be smarter about our energy use.

Not only will this measure help our schools in the stewardship of their school budgets, but a greater benefit will accrue to all utility rate payers.

For the above reasons, we urge your favorable action on this bill.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/a-7637-a-crespo-s-6009-a-ranzenhofer-in-relation-to-including-private-and-religious-schools-in-school-energy-efficiency-collaboration-programs/

Catholic Conference statement on the death of JJ Hanson

Published on December 30th, 2017

James “JJ” Hanson, an outspoken advocate for patients rights and against physician-assisted suicide, died of brain cancer today at the age of 36. Mr. Hanson, a Hudson Valley resident, retired Marine and a one-time member of the administration of former Gov. David A. Paterson, leaves behind his wife, Kristen, and two young sons, James and Lucas.

For nearly three years, he has worked closely with the New York State Catholic Conference and the New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide to educate others about the dangers of doctor-assisted suicide and the compelling alternatives for patients facing terminal illness, using the power of his own story to change hearts and minds. When first diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, doctors gave JJ four months to live, but he kept fighting, kept seeking out new treatments, and channeled his personal tragedy into advocacy in defense of the sacredness of all human life.

“Initially, JJ’s doctors offered him no hope, but he and Kristen had hope in abundance,” said Kathleen M. Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference, who became close to the Hanson family. “He outlived that death sentence by more than three years, giving hope and inspiration to thousands of people during that time.

“He reached out to doctors, veterans groups and other organizations, persuaded lawmakers and journalists, raised funds for cancer research, traveled to Albany, Washington, D.C., and states all across the country, and took every opportunity to promote compassionate life-affirming care for persons facing disease and disability. And he did that while facing tremendous health hurdles, undergoing surgeries and treatments, and caring for his family.

“JJ lived his motto: ‘Every day is a gift, and you can’t ever let that go.’ He and Kristen are a true testament to living their faith through adversity, and JJ’s death is a loving example of an authentic ‘death with dignity.’ We are so grateful to Kristen and the boys for sharing JJ with us these last three years and enabling him to touch so many lives. We pray for their comfort and solace in this very difficult time.”

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/12/jj-hanson/

Statement on veto of nonpublic school aid bill

Published on December 19th, 2017

Last night, the New York State Catholic Conference was informed that Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed legislation (S.6089) that would have averted cuts in state reimbursements to Catholic and other nonpublic schools. The cuts are based on the state changing a nearly four-decade-old formula for calculating reimbursement.

“The Bishops of New York State are extremely disappointed in Governor Cuomo’s veto of this bipartisan bill,” said James D. Cultrara, director for education of the New York State Catholic Conference. “The governor’s action will have serious impact on our schools and to the tuition-paying families who must absorb cuts in reimbursement aid, even as public school funding soars to new record heights every year.

“The Senate and Assembly first included this measure in both of their one-house budget proposals, but it was not enacted in the final budget. This necessitated the passage of the bill in separate legislation by both houses, in the Senate by a unanimous vote of 63-0 and in the Assembly by a vote of 133-6. This overwhelming support in the legislature makes the Governor’s action all the more disheartening to our Catholic school communities.

“We will continue our advocacy to ensure that the four-decade-old basis for reimbursement is restored, and that our schools get their fair share of reimbursement for providing state-mandated services.”

The Catholic Conference represents New York State’s Bishops in matters of public policy.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/12/statement-on-veto-of-nonpublic-school-aid-bill/