In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:

  • Executive Director Jennifer Carr Allmon provides legislative update....
  • Bishops speak out on the winter storm...

A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director

After last week’s winter storm, the Legislature has resumed its “pandemic normal.” Our staff continues to review each bill, although we do not register a position on every bill. Bills will continue to be filed until the deadline of March 12. We attempt to keep our list on our website updated at least weekly with our bills of support, sometimes more frequently. You can find them at https://txcatholic.org/87th-legislative-agenda-priorities/87th-legislature-bill-positions/. Bills we oppose will be added to the website after the bill filing deadline passes. Bills to which we are paying particular attention often receive a more in-depth public analysis. This analysis then allows us to generate a social media graphic and a pdf which can be shared with our collaborators, legislative staff and legislators. As we move further into the session, we will be asking you, our Texas Catholic Network, to join us in advocacy for or against certain bills, especially on social media. Be sure to continue to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Legislative Highlight

Today Sen. Eddie Lucio filed SB 831, a companion to Rep. James White's HB 1355, that restores the long-standing practice of allowing a condemned person to choose a spiritual leader to be present in the death chamber during the execution. The TCCB supports this bill to improve pastoral support for prisoners and protect their religious liberty.

Rep. Stephanie Klick also filed HB 2337, the companion to Sen. Lucio's SB 394, which codifies in Texas statute the current FDA prescribing rules on chemical abortion to carefully evaluate and mitigate potential risk to women. We are grateful to Sen. Lucio, Rep. White, and Rep. Klick for this critical legislation.

TCCB is also supporting HB 206HB 242 filed by Reps. Diego Bernal and Terry Meza. These bills adopt statewide payday and auto-title lending regulations that have already passed in more than 40 cities throughout the state, along with strong provisions to limit fees through their inclusion in borrowing limits. This is a positive step forward in reforming predatory lending practices and helping the poor escape a vicious cycle of debt.

Congressional Action

Please take action asking members of Congress to protect the poor and vulnerable and the unborn in the American Rescue Plan. The USCCB has asked for additional COVID-19 relief that prioritizes the poor and vulnerable while strongly opposing any taxpayer funding of abortion as part of this legislation, saying that the Hyde Amendment policy must be included before this bill moves forward.

https://www.votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns/81441/Respond

https://www.votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns/81351/Respond

Bishops Speak on Historic Winter Storm

The bishops released a statement last Saturday praying for the poor who suffered the most last week as well as affirming the efforts of public officials who are beginning to concretely address the underlying issues that led to the devastation. They also asked for prayers "for the first responders and utility workers who are going beyond professional expectations; for the restoration of power, water and food supplies; and for those who face the task of rebuilding and repairing their homes and businesses, as well as our damaged churches and parish facilities, even while all are attempting to remain safe from the coronavirus." If you would like to contribute recovery efforts, please donate to your local Catholic Charities.

Upcoming Texas Executions

  • Ramiro Gonzalez - 4/20/21

Please join our bishops in praying for those scheduled for execution, for the victims of violent crimes and for all affected, including their families and communities. As the bishops of Texas wrote in their pastoral letter, "May God give us the grace to witness to the dignity of human life. May the Lord console the suffering, protect our community, and grant conversion to those responsible for the inflicting of death and violence upon others."

We are grateful that the execution of Ramiro Ibarra scheduled for March 4 was stayed on Wednesday. His case has been remanded to the lower court for a review of intellectual disability claims.

The Pope's March Intention

Sacrament of Reconciliation
Let us pray that we may experience the sacrament of reconciliation with renewed depth, to taste the infinite mercy of God.

The Texas Catholic Voice is a publication of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops. For more information, write news@txcatholic.org or call 512-339-9882.