2022testimonylist - Maryland Catholic Conference

HB 0165 - Education – Sexual Abuse and Assault Awareness and Prevention Program – Human and Sex Trafficking

Position: Support

Committee: House Ways & Means

The Maryland Catholic Conference represents the public-policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.

House Bill 165 requires age-appropriate educational programming on awareness and prevention of human trafficking to be included in existing sexual abuse and assault prevention curriculum for students in grades six through eight. 

Promoting awareness about the realities of human trafficking is essential in the fight to combat it.  Maryland is uniquely positioned to be a “hot spot” for human trafficking activity, due to the interstate highways that run through it, its close proximity to numerous large cities, and its ports of call and major international airports. Unfortunately, few Marylanders are aware of the presence of human trafficking in the state, leaving traffickers hidden and children more vulnerable to exploitation. Education on the awareness and prevention of human trafficking in an age-appropriate way for all students in Maryland is a crucial first step in adding more eyes and ears to anti-trafficking efforts. 

The Conference was also a strong supporter of Erin’s Law which passed in 2016, requiring all public and nonpublic schools to implement a child abuse curriculum, and participated in the follow up workgroup created by MSDE to implement the law. Thanks to the existing programs operated by the three archdioceses in Maryland, the Church was able to provide the workgroup numerous examples of best practices and other expertise in child abuse prevention programs. This bill will be a helpful supplement to the child abuse curriculum already in place in Maryland schools.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and, for these reasons, respectfully requests a favorable report on HB 165

Read more

HB 0076 - Community Solar Energy Generating Systems - Exemption From Energy and Property Taxes

Position: Support

Committee: House Ways & Means

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch) dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

House Bill 76 exempts certain community solar energy generating systems from local energy taxes and personal property taxes; and generally relating to tax exemptions for community solar energy generating systems. Such exemptions will be established to a community solar energy generating system that provides at least 50% of the energy it produces to low– or moderate–income customers, as defined in regulations of the public service commission, at a cost that is at least 20% less than the amount charged by the electric company.

As Pope Francis has written, climate change “represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day” (Laudato Si’, no. 25), threatening the wellbeing of peoples and the environment. Catholic social teaching envisions a sustainable and authentic human development, where technological solutions respect the principle of integral ecology and take into account social, economic and ecological considerations.

House Bill 76 aims to address the much needed investment in renewable energy policies to be set to sustain and achieve a healthy global ecosystem. We encourage discussion around the components and goals outlined in this legislation and hope they are a catalyst for positive social and ecological outcomes.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and, for these reasons, respectfully requests a favorable report on House Bill 76.

Read more

HB 0147 - Md. Farms & Families Fund, Md. Food & Agricultural Resiliency Mechanism Grant, & Md. Farm–to–School Meal Grant Pilot Program – Alterations & Establishment

Position: Support

Committee: House Environment & Transportation

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch) dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

House Bill 147 alters the purpose and use of the Maryland Farms and Families Fund; establishing the Maryland Food and Agricultural Resiliency Mechanism Grant Program and Fund; establishing the Maryland Farm–to–School Meal Grant Pilot Program and Fund; and generally relating to the Maryland Farms and Families Fund, the Maryland Food and Agricultural Resiliency Mechanism Grant Program and Fund, and the Maryland Farm–to–School Meal Grant Pilot Program and Fund.

The Church is a strong and steady voice for programs that help alleviate poverty and its effects, stating that “[o]ur commitment to the dignity of every person requires a special concern for those who are poor and vulnerable, whose needs are greatest, and whose lives and dignity are often threatened by hunger, poverty, and suffering.” (For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food, 2003)

The Conference historically and routinely supports legislation aimed at addressing food insecurity and other such poverty ailments among vulnerable and often marginalized populations in the state. As Pope Francis stresses in his message on World Food Day 2021: “Our actions are our future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life,” underlines the need for concerted action to ensure that everyone has access to diets that ensure maximum environmental sustainability, and that are both adequate and affordable. Each of us has a role to play in transforming food systems for the benefit of people and the planet, and “all of us can cooperate [...] for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents” (Laudato Si’, 14).

Thus, House Bill 147 seeks to promote the basic right to enough food to sustain a life with dignity. The poverty and hunger that diminish the lives of millions in our own land and in so many other countries are fundamental threats to human life and dignity and demand a strong policy response.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and, for these reasons, respectfully requests a favorable report on House Bill 147.

Read more

SB 0094 - Public Health – Maryland Suicide Fatality Review Committee

Position: Support

Committee: Senate Finance

The Maryland Catholic Conference represents the public-policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.

Senate Bill 094 establishes a Maryland Suicide Fatality Review Committee to include appropriate members of government agencies and experts in suicidology, health care, suicide prevention, mental illness advocacy, substance abuse treatment, law enforcement, and others. The Committee will determine trends, risk factors, and best practices for prevention of suicide and disseminate their findings while maintaining the confidentiality of the deceased in their reports.

Suicide fatalities are a public health crisis in Maryland, increasing steadily over the last two decades and its effects devastate families and communities. Elderly Marylanders have the highest rate of suicide in the state, and suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for young people in Maryland ages 15-34 (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). Suicidal ideation and deaths of despair have also increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as people suffer lack of human connection, loneliness, financial losses, depression, anxiety, and grief.

The Maryland Catholic Conference supports SB 094 because of Catholics’ longstanding service in health care and counseling and because suicide prevention represents our commitment to the dignity of every human life. Our faith teaches each person is made in God’s image and likeness. Any person experiencing mental illness or suicidal thoughts deserves compassionate care and healing to rediscover their intrinsic value and worth.

It is for these reasons that the Maryland Catholic Conference respectfully urges a favorable report for Senate Bill 094. Thank you for your consideration.

Read more

SB 0045 - Income Tax - Credit for Energy Efficiency Upgrades - Passive Houses

Position: Support

Committee: Senate Budget & Taxation

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch) dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

Senate Bill 45 this bill allows a tax credit for the installation of energy efficiency products in residential properties, which would bring those residences in compliance with the Passive House Standard, as set by the Passive House Institute. Qualifying residential properties include the taxpayer’s residence or a single-family or multifamily residential rental unit. The tax credit may not exceed the littlest of 10% of the total costs paid or incurred by the owner for an energy efficiency upgrade or $2,000. An “energy efficiency upgrade measure” is defined as energy efficiency improvement to the building envelope or duct system that meets or exceeds the minimum value for the improved component established by the version of the international energy conservation code (IECC). Such upgrade measures include the following: additional insulation, replacement of windows with more two efficient windows; storm windows; weather stripping and caulking; and duct sealing and insulation.

In his encyclical, On Care for Our Common Home (Laudato Si'), Pope Francis tells us, “Whenever these questions are raised, some react by accusing others of irrationally attempting to stand in the way of progress and human development. But we need to grow in the conviction that a decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development. Efforts to promote a sustainable use of natural resources are not a waste of money, but rather an investment capable of providing other economic benefits in the medium term…We know how unsustainable is the behavior of those who constantly consume and destroy, while others are not yet able to live in a way worthy of their human dignity.”

Senate Bill 45 aims to address the much needed reforms to energy consumption policies and standards to be set to sustain and achieve a healthy global ecosystem. We encourage discussion around the components and goals outlined in this legislation and hope they are a catalyst for meaningful ecological policy reform.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and, for these reasons, respectfully requests a favorable report on Senate Bill 45.

Read more

HB 0186 - Income Tax – Subtraction Modification for Centenarians

Position: Support

Committee: House Ways & Means

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch) dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

House Bill 186 creates a subtraction modification against the State income tax for an individual who is at least 100 years of age. The maximum value of the subtraction modification is equal to $50,000 of the income received by an individual.

Pope Francis tells us, “A population that does not take care of the elderly and of children and the young has no future, because it abuses both its memory and its promise.” The dignity of the human person is one of the core principles in catholic social teaching. Thus, it is a moral imperative that we provide safeguards for our most vulnerable populations such as centenarians.

The Conference supports House Bill 186 because it puts the needs of the elderly first. When encouraging the pursuit of the common good, Pope Francis has said, “It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about.” House Bill 186 is a worthy endeavor in the pursuit of the common good for our most vulnerable population.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and, for these reasons, respectfully requests a favorable report on House Bill 186.

Read more

HB 0103 - Property Tax Credit for Disabled Veterans – Established

Position: Support

Committee: House Ways & Means

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch) dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

House Bill 103 establishes a property tax credit system that allows disabled veterans to receive property tax credits on their home to match their level of disability. Currently, under state law we are operating on an absolute basis, under which a disabled veteran in Maryland may receive a full property tax exemption on their primary residence if the veteran is 100% disabled as a result of service. However, if they are presumed less than 100% disabled, they are receiving no tax credit. House Bill 103 allows for a veteran to secure a tax credit that is in direct correlation with the percentage of their disability.

In a Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities, it is stated “Defense of the right to life, then, implies the defense of other rights that enable the disabled individual to achieve the fullest measure of personal development of which he or she is capable. These include the right to equal opportunity in education, in employment, in housing, as well as the right to free access to public accommodations, facilities, and services.”

House Bill 103 seeks to address the respect for the dignity and physical integrity of the human person; working to protect and help the veterans and their families who have bravely fought and served our state and country. Veterans experiencing a mental or physical disability are among the most marginalized and underserved in our society. The Catholic Church through its parishes, charities and other ministries reaches out pastorally to those struggling with physical or mental disabilities.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and, for these reasons, respectfully requests a favorable report on House Bill 103.

Read more

HB 0058 - Income Tax - Credit for Energy Efficiency Upgrades - Passive Houses

Position: Support

Committee: House Ways & Means

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch) dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

House Bill 58 allows a tax credit for the installation of energy efficiency products in residential properties, which would bring those residences in compliance with the Passive House Standard, as set by the Passive House Institute. Qualifying residential properties include the taxpayer’s residence or a single-family or multifamily residential rental unit. The tax credit may not exceed the littlest of 10% of the total costs paid or incurred by the owner for an energy efficiency upgrade or $2,000.

An “energy efficiency upgrade measure” is defined as energy efficiency improvement to the building envelope or duct system that meets or exceeds the minimum value for the improved component established by the version of the international energy conservation code (IECC). Such upgrade measures include the following: additional insulation, replacement of windows with more two efficient windows; storm windows; weather stripping and caulking; and duct sealing and insulation.

In his encyclical, On Care for Our Common Home (Laudato Si'), Pope Francis tells us, “Whenever these questions are raised, some react by accusing others of irrationally attempting to stand in the way of progress and human development. But we need to grow in the conviction that a decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development. Efforts to promote a sustainable use of natural resources are not a waste of money, but rather an investment capable of providing other economic benefits in the medium term…We know how unsustainable is the behavior of those who constantly consume and destroy, while others are not yet able to live in a way worthy of their human dignity.”

House Bill 58 aims to address the much needed reforms to energy consumption policies and standards to be set to sustain and achieve a healthy global ecosystem. We encourage discussion around the components and goals outlined in this legislation and hope they are a catalyst for meaningful ecological policy reform.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and, for these reasons, respectfully requests a favorable report on House Bill 58.

Read more