Legislative Update for the Week of June 30, 2015

Legislative Update

A look at the week ahead: 

On Saturday, the President and the first lady will host military families at the White House for a Fourth of July barbeque and concert. 

The House and the Senate are both on recess for Independence Day and return July 7. Keep an eye out for opportunities to attend a town hall meeting while your legislator is in town!

On our radar:

Sex Education Funding Decimated: Last week the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees passed Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) fiscal year (FY) 2016 funding bills out of their respective committees along party-line votes. Funding for medically accurate, comprehensive sex education was decimated. The House’s version cut $91 million (90%) and the Senate’s version cut $81 million (80%). The remaining funds must be spent on “sexual risk avoidance” education, defined in the bill as “voluntarily refraining from non-marital sexual activity.”

Adding insult to injury, the bill throws away $20 million dollars in taxpayer money on proven ineffective abstinence-only education, an increase of 300% over the maximum spent in previous years. Please email your legislators before they return from recess to vote on these bills.

Support Evidence-Based Policy Making: Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2015, S 991, last week. It was voted favorably out of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and will come up for a vote on the Senate floor. The act would establish the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking in the executive branch. The 15-member committee, made up of academic researchers and data experts would use data to evaluate the effectiveness of federal programs and tax expenditure. Using evidence to inform policy will help ensure that policies will be effective and applicable, not only on paper, but in the real world. Taxpayer money shouldn't be wasted on policies that are unproven, untested, and unscientific. It is incredibly important to support bills that advocate for evidence and research-based policy. Contact your Senator through our Action Alert and urge them to support evidence-based policymaking!

Religious Refusal Claims Rampant Post-Marriage Equality: In response to the Supreme Court’s historic decision last Friday holding that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, state officials have already started issuing rules that allow state workers to opt out of performing them. On the Federal level, religious refusal legislation was pre-emptively introduced on June 17 in the Senate by Senator Lee (R-UT) and in the House by Representative Labrador (R-ID). The misleadingly titled First Amendment Defense Act (S. 1598/H.R. 2802) would allow for far-reaching, taxpayer-funded discrimination against same-sex couples and their families – all under the guise of religious liberty.

In case you missed it:

Here these issues and more discussed in detail during during our weekly political segment on Dogma Debate featuring Interim Executive Director, Kelly Damerow. Tune in live every Wednesday at 7 pm ET/6 pm CT on www.dogmadebate.com or download the podcast from iTunes, Spreaker, iheartradio, or from dogmadebate.com/listen. 

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