2013-14 Legislative Positions

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    Religious Freedom

  • Protect religious freedom and rights of conscience. Freedoms of conscience and of religion are primary and inalienable rights of the human person. Public policy must guard religious freedom by limiting government intrusion into religious matters, allowing for reasonable collaboration between public and religious entities, and protecting the rights of private institutions and employees to serve the community. (CCC: 1738; Dignitatis Humanae, 2; Christifideles Laici, 39)

 

   Life and Bio-ethics

  • Protect each and every human life. Minnesota must effectively affirm, protect, and defend each and every human life, including the unborn.  We must end taxpayer funding of abortion and also oppose attempts to legalize all forms of euthanasia and assisted suicide. (CCC: 2270-79; Evangelium Vitae, 2; Living the Gospel of Life, USCCB)
  • Reject the death penalty. Pope John Paul II stated that the death penalty has no place where alternatives are available to protect society. Minnesota made a similar judgment when it abolished the death penalty in 1911. This policy has served us well and we must retain it. (Evangelium Vitae, 56; CCC: 2267)
  • Thwart gun violence.  Guns are far too accessible in Minnesota.  Minnesota’s gun laws should be re-examined, and common-sense laws should be enacted that regulate the sale and use of guns; that make guns safer; and that ban military-style assault weapons and ammunition.  Further, Minnesota must make a serious commitment to provide health services and support to those who have mental illnesses and to their families and caregivers. (CCC: 2316; CSDC: 511)
  • Support women facing unplanned pregnancies with real alternatives. In addition to adequate financial and medical support, women facing a crisis pregnancy need access to emotional and wrap-around services that can enable them to parent or to place their child for adoption. The state must also ensure access to high quality childcare and decent housing to women in need, and make it possible for them to continue their education. (Gaudium et Spes, 26; Living the Gospel of Life: 23, USCCB)
  • Stop domestic abuse. Every attack on human life and dignity must be opposed. All persons experiencing domestic abuse should have ready access to services that can assist them in resolving or escaping their situation. (CCC: 2389, 2297)
  • Support the aging, those with disabilities, the chronically ill, and the terminally ill. Respect for all human life means assisting those with limitations.  Society must ensure these individuals receive the necessary support and services, including transportation and quality care. (Gaudium et Spes: 27; Laborem Exercens, 22; CSDC: 131)

 

     Marriage and Family

  • Encourage and strengthen marriage. Lifelong marriage between one man and one woman is essential to the continuation of the human race, to the total development of the human person, and to the dignity, stability, peace, and prosperity of the family and society. Minnesota must promote natural marriage and evaluate all public policies in light of their impact on marriage and families. (CCC: 2210; Gaudium et Spes, 52)
  • Keep children safe. Public policies must promote the safety and well-being of our children, protecting them from all forms of abuse and neglect. We should continue to advance programs that protect children, such as the Catholic Church’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. (Familiaris Consortio, 26)
  • Respect and promote family relationships. Minnesota must design and implement policies in the areas of taxation, employment, and welfare that foster family unity and reward personal responsibility. Whenever possible, parents should be given the option to care for their young children at home, or place them in quality day care programs should both parents need to work. Parents should also be allowed limited unpaid leave to attend their children’s day care or school functions. (CCC: 2202, 2209; Centesimus Annus, 47)
  • Promote adoption and foster care. Minnesota should maintain support for state-sponsored adoption awareness campaigns, adoption counseling, and tax credits for adoptive parents. Parents adopting or fostering children, especially those with special needs, must receive the necessary supports to help their families thrive. (CCC: 2209)

 

     Preferential Option for Poor and Vulnerable

  • Hand-up out of poverty.  Minnesota should provide a “hand-up” out of poverty by enacting the recommendations of the bi-partisan Minnesota Commission to End Poverty. (CSDC: 208)
  • Ensure a strong safety net.  Minnesota should strengthen and reform, where appropriate, its social safety net to ensure the poor and vulnerable of our state have access to vital human services.  Investments in human services are investments in people. (CCC: 2443-49)
  • Fight hunger.  Food is a basic human right, yet thousands of Minnesota residents go hungry every day. For children this is especially harmful, as malnutrition impairs cognitive and physical growth. Public policies must help ensure that all residents have access to healthy and affordable food. (Gaudium et Spes, 26)
  • Foster employment opportunities for people with disabilities. All persons have the right to earn a living, to participate in the economy, and to contribute to the common good. Minnesota must make every effort to assist persons with physical and mental impairments to find and retain employment. (CCC: 2433; CSDC: 289)
  • Provide adequate funding for safe and affordable housing. Shelter is a basic human right. Minnesota must ensure that all its residents have access to decent and affordable housing. (Gaudium et Spes, 26)
  • Prohibit predatory lending practices. Minnesota should close loopholes in its existing lending laws and continue to encourage more responsible lending alternatives. (CCC: 2269)
  • Justice and restoration.  Minnesota’s criminal justice system should reflect the following principles: 1) victims of crime, including the community at large, must have opportunities to be healed and restored; 2) policies, even those that enforce strict punishment, must serve the end of rehabilitation; 3) sentencing and inmate release policies must reflect restorative justice principles; and 4) corrections policies should make special efforts to reintegrate poor and marginalized offenders into society. (CCC: 2266; CSDC: 403; Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 40)
  • Assist veterans, their families, and those affected by armed conflict. Minnesota must ensure that veterans and their families receive proper support as they return to civilian life. Minnesota must also assist refugees and others whose lives have been harmed by military conflict. (CSDC: 505)

 

     Jobs/Economy

  • Support equitable taxation and sound fiscal policies.  Our political institutions are responsible for securing the social conditions that enable each of us to share our gifts and reap the benefits of life in community. Taxes, though unpopular, are essential if government at all levels is to fulfill this responsibility. Citizens have a moral obligation to pay those taxes. Justice also requires that the tax burden be distributed equitably and based on a person’s ability to pay. Fiscal policies must avoid excessive debt that burdens future generations. (CSDC: 355)
  • Support family farms. Family farms form the backbone of Minnesota’s rural economy. University research dollars, as well as state grants and loans, should help existing family farmers maintain their operations and encourage the creation of new family farms. (CSDC: 339)
  • Provide living wages. All employed persons supporting themselves and their families must be able to afford the basic essentials of food, clothing, shelter, and health care. Minimum wage laws should be indexed to reflect changes in the cost of living. (CCC: 2434; Gaudium et Spes, 67)
  • Remove barriers to employment. Many citizens are willing to work but unable to do so because of discrimination and lack of transportation, but also because of burdensome and unnecessary regulations and red tape that inhibit job creation and entrepreneurial activity. Legislators at all levels should frequently review laws to ensure that they contribute to the common good, as well as promote employment and the dignity of work. The public and private sectors should work together to remove these barriers. (CSDC: 291, 336-37)
  • Participate justly in the global economy. Minnesota’s policies governing our participation in the global economy must respect the dignity of all people. Trade agreements with firms in other countries and investment policies must respect the human rights of workers and their families, and foster sound stewardship of the earth’s natural resources. (CSDC: 364; Populorum Progresso, 61; Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 43)

 

     Health Care

  • Make affordable health care available to all. Health care is a basic human right. Small employers, farmers, and the working poor must be able to purchase affordable health benefits. Minnesota policy must extend additional quality health care access to the uninsured and underinsured. (CCC: 2288)
  • Require parental consent for medical treatments. Parents have primary responsibility for ensuring the health, well-being, and education of their children.  Government funding must not undermine parents by supporting programs that provide medical treatment, abortion, and artificial contraception to children without parental knowledge or consent. (CCC: 2209; Familiaris Consortio, 45)

 

     Education

  • Support choice in education. Parents are the primary educators of their children and have the right to send their children to the school of their choice, whether public, religious, or independent. Social justice further demands that government resources be provided to poor families so that they may choose the educational path best suited to their child’s success. (Familiaris Consortio, 36; Gravissimum Educatonis, 6)
  • Strengthen support for education. Education is a sure path to full participation in the social, economic, and political life of our nation. Therefore, Minnesota must sustain its public commitment to strong elementary and secondary schools. In particular, it must make greater efforts to ensure that all our children remain in school and achieve their highest academic potential. (Gaudium et Spes, 26; Populorum Progresso, 35)
  • Parents’ Bill of Rights.  Parents are the primary educators of their children, and should be involved in, not replaced by, school sex education programs.  When public schools choose to discuss topics related to human sexuality and gender, parents should be notified and have the right to remove their children from curricula that they find objectionable.  Parents’ rights to direct the moral education of their children should never depend on their ability to homeschool or pay for private education.  (Familiaris Consortio, 37; CSDC: 243)

 

    Migration

  • Fight human trafficking. Many vulnerable adults and children have been trapped in modern-day slavery.  Anti-trafficking laws and programs should be strengthened to discourage the growth of this trade.  Support networks for both labor- and sex-trafficking victims should be created and funded. (CCC: 2355, 2414; CSDC: 245; Human Trafficking in Minnesota, JRLC)

 

    Care of Creation

  • Promote sustainable farming. Agriculture is not just another economic activity; it is vital to human existence. Minnesota should promote sustainable farming that provides fair prices so that farmers can make a decent living, raise animals ethically, and maintain sound management practices. For the sake of food security and healthy diets, the state should also promote the production and consumption of local foods. (CSDC: 486-87)
  • Support clean land, air, and water. Environmental toxins, such as lead, PCBs, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals are especially a problem for children, born and unborn. Minnesota must make additional efforts to reduce toxins from our ground and water supply, as well as reduce carbon emissions. (CSDC: 484-85)
  • Encourage conservation and sustainable energy. State policies must continue to promote the conservation of our natural resources and the development of alternative sources of energy. (Centesimus Annus, 37; CSDC: 470)

Please note: The citations for these legislative priorities are not exhaustive. They represent only a sampling of Catholic teaching, not a complete list.