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Hot Issues

Urge Senators to Disapprove Planned Parenthood Title X Funding Rule

Human Life Action has issued this action alert to contact Congress: We have an opportunity to encourage the Senate to restore the states’ ability to stop some of the federal funding to Planned Parenthood. As you know, a river of federal money currently runs to the nation’s largest abortion provider. On February 16, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.J. Res. 43 to nullify a ruling by former President Obama which prevented states from excluding providers such as Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds through Title X. Our attention now turns to the Senate. Please contact your senators today and urge them to vote in favor of S.J. Res. 13

It is important to remember that S.J. Res. 13 will allow for federal funds to be redirected to health facilities that provide comprehensive women’s health care. Contact your senators and urge them to restore the states’ ability to stop one stream of our taxpayer dollars flowing to the nation’s largest abortion provider through the Department of Health and Human Services, (HHS) and Title X funds.

Many senators will be in their districts in the coming week. If you would like to advocate in person at the local office on this matter and conscience protection, you can get more information here.

Questions & Answers with Speaker of the House Mike Turzai about Expanding EITC

Pennsylvania’s Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) is passionate about giving parents and grandparents real options for their children’s education. He is spearheading an effort to expand the highly successful Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference asked Representative Turzai why he is such a strong supporter of school choice.

What does House Bill 250 propose to do?

House Bill 250 would increase tax credits available under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program by $50 million (raising it to $175 million) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) program by $25 million (raising it to $75 million). It would be a total of $250 million for educational tax credits.

Last year, EITC represented just 1.5 percent of the $11.4 billion we spent on basic education. If we are going to invest in education, we must recognize that one size does not fit all. Take the Independence Mission Schools in Philadelphia. They educate a very diverse student population; so do the Sister Thea Bowman Catholic Academy in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg Catholic Elementary, and suburban high schools like Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in the Pittsburgh area. Families want their children to attend a school (like these) that provides security, discipline, love, and values. EITC and OSTC allow families to receive it; and the scholarships help to keep those schools open so they have that choice to make.

EITC and OSTC help public school students too. Educational improvement organizations use it to support after school programs with the Big Brothers Big Sisters and pre-K programs. Suburban, urban, rural, public school and nonpublic students of all faiths benefit from EITC and OSTC. HB 250 helps everyone.

In these austere economic times, what makes increasing the EITC and OSTC programs a good investment for taxpayers?

The vast majority of students in Pennsylvania are educated in public schools. Our public schools need to be good; but in many communities parents and grandparents want an alternative. They pay their taxes to public schools. Their children are entitled to an education. They should have a choice of whichever schools best meets their child’s needs.

Nonpublic schools are already saving the taxpayers a lot of money. The average cost per public school pupil is around $15,000 per year. Given the average per pupil price tag, by taking about 150,000 students out of public schools Catholic schools saved the taxpayers more than $2.25 billion this year alone.

The governor talks about investment in education. All students need to be part of the equation. If we are going to invest in basic education, we need to invest in EITC and OSTC too. We should raise the percentage in these tax credit programs to a little over two percent.

There is great demand for both tax credits and the scholarships they provide. Every year the tax credits “sellout” within a few days of the application deadline; and just one scholarship organization, BLOCS in Philadelphia, received applications from 11,000 families for scholarships for 20,000 students. They were only able to fulfill scholarships for 8,500 families and 12,000 kids. There are waiting lists for both business leaders who want tax credits and students looking for scholarships.

EITC and OSTC scholarships have helped students in many schools both private and public including tens of thousands who attend Catholic schools. What does a Catholic education mean to you personally?

My dad was a public school teacher in a great school, but I went to Catholic school. I got a very good education and really benefited personally from that environment. All three of my own boys went to Catholic elementary school. Two went to public high school and the third is in a Catholic high school. We can afford to make these choices. My son who is a recent public school grad really appreciated the work ethic and core values that he developed in his Catholic elementary school. I think an education like that needs to remain a viable option for any of citizen who wants it.

What can Catholics do to support you in your efforts to expand EITC and OSTC?

Catholics need to let their local lawmakers know how important EITC and OSTC are to their schools, but many students are not Catholic. All parents and grandparents who appreciate the opportunity to go to another school need to let their representatives know how they benefit. They should visit, write, email, and call about the value of having that option. They should stress that increasing EITC is not taking money away from public schools, but enhancing education for everyone. Be positive; rally in support of educational investments; work hand in hand with your local legislators.


Encourage your state representative to support educational opportunities for all students and vote YES on HB 250 by sending a message through the Catholic Advocacy Network today. Visit www.pacatholic.org for details.

 

Communications Professional Wanted: PCC Director of Outreach

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) is seeking a seasoned communications professional to work in conjunction with the Communications Director with planning and carrying out a program of information and education to advance PCC’s mission to foster a public understanding of the Catholic perspective on public affairs at the state Capitol in Harrisburg and beyond. He/she will have a specific focus on planning and carrying out a program of grassroots advocacy, social media, and public outreach to advance PCC’s legislative agenda.

A successful candidate should have bachelor’s degree or equivalent in communications, journalism, public relations, or liberal arts and several years of professional experience in public relations, journalism, social media, or as a director of communications of an association, corporation, college or diocese.

He/she must be a practicing Catholic in good standing who is intelligent, zealous, dedicated and committed to the interests of the Church, knowledgeable about and interested in Church affairs, and a creative and productive writer.

He/she must have the ability and social skills to work with both individuals and groups, both inside and outside the Church and convey the Church’s teachings, especially as they apply to public affairs, to the media, the public, and the legislature.

This full-time Director of Outreach position is office-based at PCC’s location in downtown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Send cover letter and resume by March 3, 2017, to: PA Catholic Conference, PO Box 2835, Harrisburg, PA 17105 or send electronically to info@pacatholic.org.

Pro-Life Legislation Clears PA Senate

A baby’s ultrasound at 20 weeks gestation. Credit: WebMD.com

Special thanks to these state Senators who took a stand in favor of unborn babies. They voted “yes” on Senate Bill 3, a measure that will ban gruesome dismemberment abortions. Now the measure will be considered in the House of Representatives. Send a message to your state rep to urge him or her to support SB 3.

Read more about this important legislation.

Allentown Diocese

Argall, David G. (R- Schuylkill)- District 29

Browne, Patrick M.  (R- Lehigh)- District 16

Scavello, Mario (R-Monroe) District 40

Altoona- Johnstown Diocese

Corman, Jake (R- Centre)- District 34

Eichelberger, John H. (R- Blair)- District 30

Langerholc, Wayne (R-Cambria) – District 35

Erie Diocese

Brooks, Michele (R-Mercer) – District 50

Hutchinson, Scott  (R- Venango)- District 21

Scarnati, Joseph B. (R- Jefferson)- District 25

Greensburg Diocese

Stephano, Patrick (R-Fayette) – District 32

Ward, Kim L. (R- Westmoreland)- District 39

White, Donald C. (R- Indiana)- District 41

Harrisburg Diocese

Alloway, Richard L. (R- Franklin)- District 33

Aument, Ryan (R-Lancaster) – District 36

DiSanto, John (R-Dauphin) – District 15

Folmer, Mike (R- Lebanon)- District 48

Gordner, John R. (R- Columbia)- District 27

Martin, Scott (R-Lancaster) – District 13

Regan, Mike (R-Cumberland) – District 31

Philadelphia Archdiocese

Greenleaf, Stewart J. (R- Montgomery)- District 12

Killion, Thomas (R-Delaware) – District 9

McGarrigle, Thomas (R-Delaware) – District 26

Mensch, Bob (R- Montgomery)- District 24

Rafferty, John C. (R- Chester)- District 44

Tomlinson, Robert M. (R- Bucks)- District 6

Pittsburgh Diocese

Bartolotta, Camera (R-Washington) – District 46

Brewster, James R. (D- Allegheny)- District 45

Reschenthaler, Guy (R-Allegheny) District 37

Vogel, Elder A. (R- Beaver)- District 47

Vulakovich, Randy (R- Allegheny)- District 40

Scranton Diocese

Argall, David G. (R- Schuylkill)- District 29

Gene Yaw (R- Lycoming)- District 23

Invest in Success: Expand EITC & OSTC Scholarships

Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) greets students at Harrisburg Catholic Elementary School.

The Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) is leading the charge to give more opportunities to Pennsylvania’s students to go to the school that best meets their needs. He is the prime sponsor of House Bill 250 which proposes to increase the amount of tax credits available under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program by $50 million (raising it to $175 million) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) program by $25 million (raising it to $75 million).

The EITC and the OSTC programs have always achieved bipartisan support and have been acclaimed as two of the best educational programs Pennsylvania offers to students in both public and private schools.

The tax credit scholarships have been a Godsend for students seeking a Catholic or other private education in Pennsylvania.  Every Catholic school in all corners of this great Commonwealth benefits from the EITC or OSTC programs.

Each year more than 40,000 families get a scholarship that permits the parents to send their children to a Catholic or another private school. It gives these families a true choice in the right educational path for their children.

Additionally, the program assists countless Pennsylvania students in traditional public schools. Educational Improvement Organizations direct a portion of the tax credits to support innovative educational programs that enhance the regular public school curriculum.

“Strengthening school choice opportunities, especially for those students who would not otherwise be able to attend a school of their choice, has been a priority for the General Assembly through both the EITC and OSTC programs,” wrote Speaker Turzai in his co-sponsorship memorandum. “While the General Assembly constantly seeks to improve academic outcomes for all children, the OSTC program provides critical educational opportunities for kids who desperately need the chance to succeed.”

Urge your state Representative to invest in success and support the expansion of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs by voting YES on HB 250. Click here to send a message today.

Time to Defend Life & Religious Liberty

Public outcry by forces hostile to our religious freedom has already begun. They are attempting to pressure President Donald Trump into not issuing an executive order that would protect our Constitutional rights. If we do not raise our voices today President Trump may only hear the demands of those with an agenda that is disrespectful of our rights to live according to our deeply held beliefs. It is up to us to let him know what we expect. Please act today!

Our religious freedoms have been disrespected and greatly eroded in recent years. Just ask the Little Sisters of the Poor, those California churches forced to provide abortion coverage in healthcare, or those who have been punished for running their family businesses according to their deeply held beliefs. The President can and should issue an Executive Order that protects the religious liberty of all people, of all faiths, at all times. You can read more here.

It is in the Trump Administration’s power to immediately issue an Executive Order to restore the federal government’s respect for the religious freedom of individuals and organizations by establishing a government-wide initiative to respect religious freedom. Please urge the White House to defend our first freedom by sending the message we have prepared for you by email or Twitter.

Thank you for acting now to defend life and religious liberty!

Support Ban of Brutal Painful Dismemberment Abortions

Ultrasound of a baby at 20 weeks.

UPDATE: The Pennsylvania Senate voted 32-18 in support of Senate Bill 3. It now moves to the House of Representatives for their consideration.

One Pennsylvania nurse told her legislator, “As a NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] nurse I can attest these babies do feel pain. This practice of abortion or any abortion is cruel, for the infant and mother. Please vote to ban this practice.  The mothers and infants of Pennsylvania deserve better.”

Dismemberment abortion, which ends the life of the unborn baby by tearing off one limb at a time and increases the risk of injury to the mother, is used in over 1,500 abortions in Pennsylvania each year.

Eighteen other states have banned late-term abortions.  Even the lawyer for Kermit Gosnell, who ran the abortion clinic in Philadelphia that was called a “house of horrors,” admitted that Pennsylvania’s laws should be changed, “I’ve come out of this case realizing that 24 weeks is a bad determiner. It should be more like 16, 17 weeks. That would be a far better thing…”

The Senate passed SB 3 with a 32-18 vote. Now it will be considered in the House of Representatives. Your state Representative needs to hear from his/her constituents to encourage them to vote yes. Join thousands of other Pennsylvanians in asking your legislator to vote pro-life today.

PA Senator Mike Folmer Honored as School Choice Champion

Private non-public school leaders in Pennsylvania have honored Pennsylvania Senator Mike Folmer (R-Dauphin, Lebanon, York) as their 2017 School Choice Champion.

The Pennsylvania Council for Private Education (PA CAPE) presented the award during the Association of Christian Schools International Northeast Regional Administrator Board Conference in Lancaster during National School Choice Week (January 22-28, 2017). The conference and award presentation are part of the largest series of education-related events in US history.

“PA CAPE is thrilled to celebrate National School Choice Week with leaders from across our state and to present the PA CAPE School Choice Champion Award to Senator Mike Folmer. Senator Folmer has a long history of his work to promote education options for the children of Pennsylvania because every child deserves a chance,” said Dr. Merle Skinner, co-coordinator of PA CAPE.

Pennsylvania is a leader in providing families with opportunities to choose a school that best fits the needs of their children with its successful Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs.

Over 400 school administrators from the northeast region of the multi-state area attended the conference.  The PA School Choice Champion Award is sponsored annually by PA CAPE along with the Association of Christian Schools International, the PA Catholic Conference, the Northeast Region of Agudath Israel, the  Jewish Orthodox Union, the PA American Montessori Society, and the Friends Council on Education.

Thank you for your leadership, Senator Folmer. Pennsylvania’s non-public school students salute you!


PHOTO CAPTION: (L TO R) Dr. D. Merle Skinner, Co-Director PACAPE; Senator Mike Folmer; Sean P. McAleer, Co-Director PA CAPE; Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, Agudath Israel; Mr. George Tryfiates, Director Government Affairs, Association of Christian Schools International