Insights: Bill Targeting Religious Employers Vetoed; Legislature Attempts Housing Help

Significant Victory in Governor’s Veto of AB 569

The last moment for Governor Jerry Brown to sign or veto bills was Sunday, October 15, at midnight and he waited to the very end to act on several bills the California Catholic Conference tracked this past Legislative Session.

Most notable was the Governor’s veto of AB 569 (Gonzales-Fletcher, D-San Diego), the bill that targeted religious employers and would have created unprecedented liability for a fabricated problem, so-called “reproductive discrimination.” In his veto message, the Governor wrote, “The California Fair Employment and Housing Act has long banned such adverse actions, except for religious institutions. I believe these types of claims should remain within the jurisdiction of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.”

In a released statement, CCC Executive Director Ned Dolejsi said, “Governor Jerry Brown has allowed common sense and justice to prevail by vetoing AB 569…. Proponents of this bill, sponsored by NARAL, broadened the reach to an unprecedented level in their effort to advance their ideological agenda.  We thank Governor Brown for vetoing this unnecessary, highly questionable effort to harass religious employers who provide valuable services in the public domain.”

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Governor and Legislature Act on Housing Crisis

California’s housing affordability crisis was a primary focus of the California Legislature this past Legislative Session, culminating with Governor Brown signing into law a historic “housing package” of 15 bills, passed on the last day before the legislative session adjourned.

This new set of bills includes several ways to increase the supply of affordable housing in the state. Some are designed to provide new sources of state funding to be invested in the production or rehabilitation of homes for households with low incomes.

Other bills rely on privately funded investment to spur new development. Several of the bills will ensure that all localities accommodate a fair share of that new production to meet the increased statewide need. In the past, privately funded developments were stalled by local jurisdictions that wanted to prevent additional housing citing increased congestion, school crowding or changes to the character of their communities.  

Several of the bills will assist in the development, streamlining the environmental and local review processes that can often hold up construction for months or even years.

While the 2017 package of housing bills don’t solve the state’s housing affordability crisis, it takes important first steps in alleviating the problem and finding long-term solutions. For more information, click here


Catholics Examine Ag Issues in Fresno

Jim Ennis, executive director of Catholic Rural Life, spent an evening with agricultural leaders in the Central Valley during a visit to the Fresno diocese earlier this month.  Bishop Armando Ochoa had invited Ennis to discuss integrating faith with agriculture and the environment.

Ennis’ talk is the second this year in California’s Central Valley – he visited the Stockton diocese in March.  Ag issues tend not to get the same breath of statewide coverage that competing issues in urban settings receive – but the vocation of farmer could not be more essential for promoting the common good.  Farming is a privileged way of life with unique theological underpinnings. 

Issues facing world food production – globalization, financing, agriculture knowledge, an overemphasis on technology and ecological impacts and balance – are just as critical as California’s housing, environmental, justice and other issues, pointed out Ennis.  In fact, ag issues may be more important because they are so existential.

“These are difficult times for the world’s food systems,” according to the Vocation of the Agricultural Leader (which served as the basis of Ennis’ talk) “in which both natural and human ecology are being detrimentally affected by the same technologies and practices that yield incredible surpluses of food. Nevertheless, the Church maintains the hope that Christian agricultural leaders, inspired by a vocational understanding of their work and lives, will transform our modern food systems into forces for good, upholding the human dignity of every individual, preserving the integrity of the environment, and advancing the common good.”


You can read more about Vocation of the Agricultural Leader – a joint publication of Catholic Rural Life and the International Catholic Rural Association – here.


How the Church Responds to Immigrants

A two-day conference was held Los Angeles earlier this month to examine how Catholic institutions responded to migrants in the first half of the 20th century compared to now.

The symposium was keynoted by Bishop David O’Connell, Los Angeles auxiliary, and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and was intended to advance the goals of the Catholic Integration Initiative.   The Initiative is a program of the Center for Migration Studies to examine how Catholic institutions such as schools, hospitals and charities that supported the migration of Catholics from European nations in the early 1900s are adapting or need to adapt in order to serve migrants today, who are primarily arriving from Central and South American and Asian countries.

“While the Catholic Church’s work with immigrants remains robust, its US institutions have not fully pivoted to meet the needs and incorporate the gifts of the nation’s record number of immigrants and their children,” say Initiative organizers.

Video and podcasts of the Conference will be available at CMS soon but the site contains a multitude of multimedia resources from migration experts already.

The conference was sponsored by the Center for Migration Studies New York, Loyola, Mount Saint Mary’s University and Providence St. Joseph Health.


Sign of Hope Updates on Victims of the Napa Fires

The Diocese of Santa Rosa is releasing updates on the status of the recovery and rebuilding efforts after the recent devastating wildfires in the region on its Sign of Hope website. There you can find the latest, including an update by Bishop Vasa on region parishes, schools, businesses and other community organizations effected.

Click here for more. 


A Statewide Retreat Supports the Work of California Chaplains

Forty-Four state chaplains from California met for a retreat this week at Villa Maria del Mar in Santa Cruz. Fr. Mike Kennedy of the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative facilitated the retreat, assisted by his team Bobby Garcia, Kevin Miller, and Arturo Lopez.

The goal of the retreat was to create time for the chaplains to learn together and then provide tools to replicate activities in their own institutions. The theme of the retreat was Friendship, the Cross, and Resurrection.”  Retreatants used the book Entering Christ’s Prayer: A Retreat in 32 Meditations, by Eric Jensen, S.J.


October 27, 2017
Vol. 10, No. 33

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