Bill Memos

A.3039, Moya / S.471-A Peralta: In Relation to New York State DREAM Act

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced legislation would create the New York DREAM Fund Commission and would provide opportunities for immigrant students who meet certain criteria to be eligible for financial aid to assist them attend institutions of higher education.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the New York State DREAM Act, and strongly urges enactment of this legislation.

The bill is an attempt to allow young people who have demonstrated a commitment to education and who are of good moral character to access financial aid opportunities without regard to immigration status, and would create a mechanism to raise money for college scholarships for the children of immigrants. Other states have passed similar legislation and New York State, with its history of welcoming immigrants, should be at the forefront of these efforts to support immigrant populations who have contributed so much to the vitality of our state. The chance to earn a higher education degree will allow these immigrant students to realize their potential and make a greater contribution to our economy. More


A.2383 Paulin / S.3151 Savino: In relation to legalizing physician-assisted suicide

Memorandum of Opposition

Printable PDF here

The above-referenced bill would add a new section of the Public Health Law to allow physicians to prescribe lethal doses of medication for the express purpose of ending a patient’s life.

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this bill for many reasons.

Legalizing physician-assisted suicide would:

  • Blur longstanding medical, moral and legal distinctions between withdrawing extraordinary medical assistance and taking active steps to destroy human life. The former removes burdensome or useless treatments, allowing nature to take its course, and allowing the patient to either live or die. The latter is the deliberate and direct act of making a patient dead.
  • Undermine the physician’s role as healer, forever alter the doctor-patient relationship, and lessen the quality of care provided to patients at the end of life. Patients are best served when medical professionals, together with families and loved ones, provide support and care with dignity and respect, not lethal doses of drugs. The American Medical Association continues to hold a strong policy position against physician-assisted suicide, which they say is “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role” and would be “difficult or impossible to control.”
  • Lead to psychological, financial and other pressures for vulnerable persons to end their lives. In today’s era of health care rationing and cost-cutting, physician-assisted suicide could easily rise to the level of the most acceptable, and even expected, “treatment” for terminal illness. In 1994, Governor Mario Cuomo’s Task Force on Life & the Law released a report unanimously rejecting assisted suicide, and cautioned:

“No matter how carefully any guidelines are framed, assisted suicide and euthanasia will be practiced through the prism of social inequality and bias that characterizes the delivery of services in all segments of society, including health care. The practices will pose the greatest risks to those who are poor, elderly, members of a minority group or without access to good medical care. The growing concern about health care costs increases the risks. This cost consciousness will not be diminished, and may well be exacerbated, by health care reform.”

This particular legislation contains many of the same fatal flaws contained in previous versions:

  • it does not require screening, testing, or treatment for clinical depression;
  • it requires a physician to falsify the death certificate to list the underlying illness as the cause of death;
  • it similarly encourages insurance fraud by allowing beneficiaries to collect benefits following a suicide;
  • it allows non-NYS residents to access physician-assisted suicide; and
  • it contains absolutely no safeguards against coercion or abuse once the lethal drugs are in the patient’s possession.

Rather than assisting suicide, government should be consistent in its efforts to prevent suicide. It is illogical for the state to promote/facilitate suicide for one group of persons — calling the suicides of those with a terminal illness and a specific prognosis “dignified and humane,” while recognizing suicide as a serious statewide public health concern in all other circumstances, and spending enormous resources to combat it.

We urge the state to remove barriers and improve access to palliative care and hospice care for those in the final stages of terminal illness. Improved education and training of physicians in pain management, together with appropriate diagnosis and treatment for depression, would go a long way toward eliminating calls for suicide among the sick and the dying.

We strongly urge you to oppose this bill.


A.1378, Cahill: In relation to expanding contraceptive insurance coverage

Memorandum of Opposition

The above-referenced legislation, requested by the Attorney General, would expand current law to require increased insurance coverage for contraception, abortion-causing drugs, and voluntary sterilization. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this measure.

In 2002, New York State lawmakers passed the “Women’s Health and Wellness Act” which requires insurance plans with prescription coverage to cover FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices, and provides insufficient protections for religious employers.

The legislation now before you would go further by mandating cost-free contraceptives, requiring that a 12-month supply of contraceptives be covered at one time, and including emergency contraception (EC), the so-called “morning-after pill.” We believe that enabling such large amounts of prescription medication, particularly in such high doses as emergency contraception, to get into the hands of young people is irresponsible and dangerous public policy. More


S.2721, Alcantara & Peralta / A.4189, Nolan: In relation to the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced legislation would address a number of the exemptions in New York’s labor, public health and workers compensation laws that currently prevent farmworkers from accessing rights and privileges available to other workers in New York State.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, and strongly urges enactment of this legislation.

Farmworkers are excluded from many of the laws that establish worker protections, including overtime pay, employer contributions to the unemployment and workers’ compensation funds, and public health protections including sanitation and housing standards.  In addition to ending these exclusions, this bill would require that farmworkers be given a 24-hour day of rest in every calendar week which, whenever possible, would coincide with the laborer’s traditional day for religious worship. More


Cusick: In relation to the New York State Child Protection Act of 2017

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced bill is an omnibus child protection initiative designed to protect children from sexual abuse, and to allow existing and future survivors of such abuse a longer opportunity to seek justice in both criminal and civil courts. The New York State Catholic Conference strongly supports this bill.

By eliminating the criminal statute of limitations for the prosecution of certain sex offenses, the bill enables prosecutors to hold abusers accountable for crimes committed now and in the future, bringing unprecedented new protections to victims of child sexual crimes. In addition, this bill extends the time for civil claims to be brought by survivors of child sexual abuse until they are 28 years old, thereby ensuring victims have sufficient time to hold abusers civilly accountable for their actions. Importantly, notice of claim requirements are amended under this bill to ensure that victims of child sexual abuse are able to bring civil claims against all abusers, including those employed by municipal entities. Unlike some other bills before the legislature, all victims are treated equally under this bill. More


S.809, Hoylman: In relation to civil and criminal changes to the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse

Memorandum of Opposition

The Catholic Church has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and supports proposals in the New York State Legislature to extend the time allowed under the law to file criminal charges or civil lawsuits against those who abuse children.

Sexual abuse is a societal scourge. It knows no boundaries. Protecting children from sexual abuse and safeguarding the legal rights of victims requires a comprehensive approach. Proposals that would permit only some survivors more time to sue abusers based on meaningless distinctions like where the abuser worked or where the abuse took place offend common sense and fairness. Abuse is abuse, no matter whom the abuser is, no matter where the abuse occurs.

While the Catholic Conference strongly supports efforts to prospectively increase the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, the above-referenced legislation is seriously flawed in that it contains a statute of limitations “window” to open up previously time-barred civil claims going back indefinitely. Therefore, the Catholic Conference must strongly oppose this legislation. More


In relation to establishing the Education Investment Tax Credit

Memorandum of Support

The Education Tax Credit would generate increased funding for education by enhancing tax benefits for charitable donations to public schools and scholarships programs. The New York State Catholic Conference strongly supports these measures and urges enactment.

One of the greatest challenges facing policy makers and educators is the funding of our education system. School officials, whether in the public school sector or the religious and independent school sector, continuously grapple with rising costs, fluctuating state and federal aid, and an unstable economy. As a result of these ever-changing dynamics, valuable educational programs in public schools are often reduced, eliminated or never actually started and there are insufficient scholarships available for families seeking them. More