April 29, 2005

ICC legislative agenda successful
at statehouse this year

As Catholics worldwide celebrate the election of a new pope, Catholics in Indiana have another reason for a celebration.

The Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) legislative agenda has moved ahead successfully as the regular session of the 2005 Indiana General Assembly nears its final hours.

And as Pope Benedict XVI continues the fight against moral relativism that John Paul II so clearly articulated in many of his encyclicals, that is also a spiritual and legislative battle which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and its state counterparts, including the Indiana Catholic Conference, have been engaged in for nearly three decades.

“Fighting for the dignity of all human life at the legislative battleground has been and is what the Indiana Catholic Conference is really all about,” said Indiana Catholic Conference executive director Glenn Tebbe.

“This year, we have addressed issues such as embryonic stem-cell research, abortion, and health benefits for the aged and disabled, among other issues,” Tebbe said. “And thankfully, many of these measures to protect and uphold the dignity of the human being have passed the 2005 Indiana General Assembly this year and soon will become law.”

The following is a brief list of the ICC legislative accomplishments this year.

The ICC was instrumental in the passage of Senate Bill 268, a measure to ban human cloning in the state of Indiana.

Under the bill, state-funded research facilities and other governmental entities are prohibited from cloning humans. The legislation also penalizes any institution that attempts to conduct human cloning.

In the area of abortion, two bills passed this session.

Senate Bill 76 gives women considering abortion an opportunity to have an ultrasound and/or receive fetal heart tone information before the abortion is performed.

Senate Bill 568 authorizes regulation of abortion clinics for the first time in the history of the state.

Families and children in Indiana will also benefit from several measures that are expected to become law this year thanks to continued efforts by the Indiana Catholic Conference.

Among them, an earned income tax credit measure to make the tax credit for low-income families and eligible single people a permanent fixture in Indiana will become law.

The earned income tax credit, a temporary tax credit, was due to expire this year. This measure was added to the state’s budget bill, which is expected to pass on April 29.

Another success for the Indiana Catholic Conference this year was the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 7 (SJR 7), the marriage amendment.

The passage of the measure marks the first phase of changing Indiana’s Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, disallowing same-sex marriage to occur in the state of Indiana.

This constitutional amendment must be passed again by the Indiana General Assembly in 2007 and approved by voters before it would become part of Indiana’s Constitution.

Two adoption bills to improve adoption law in Indiana passed this year.

House Bill 1217 requires the release of medical and other background information to an adult adoptee, a practice which adoption agencies and child agencies support.

Senate Bill 422 clarifies adoption consent law for both mothers and fathers and regulates retention of adoption records.

A measure to give elderly people and persons with disabilities more health care options, House Bill 1069, will address two issues concerning the aged and disabled, according to Tebbe.

“First, the bill reduces the cost of institutional care by offering eligible recipients a choice of home or community care rather than institutional care,” Tebbe said. “It is a win-win situation in that it not only gives people more health care options, but usually costs the state less money, which allows more people to be served.”

Three parish life bills to clarify current law will help parishes operate free from unnecessary government interference.

House Bill 1056 exempts non-profits, including parishes, from the requirements of having a certified food handler when meals are served.

Senate Bill 140 clarifies the type of expenses allowed in determining gaming profits and their use.

House Bill 1126, an immunity measure for non-profit organizations, provides immunity for parish volunteers and volunteer directors.

“As we draw to the close of the 2005 regular session of the Indiana General Assembly, I want to thank each person for their interest and involvement during this legislative session,” Tebbe said. “There have been several bills in which the [ICC] network efforts have made a big difference. The Catholic Conference appreciates your support.”

For a full listing of the Indiana Catholic Conference’s priorities and to monitor bills that passed this year, or to become a member of the Indiana Catholic Action (I-CAN) Network, log on to the Indiana Catholic Conference website at www.indianacc.org.

(Brigid Curtis Ayer is a correspondent for The Criterion.) †


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