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Iowa Catholic Conference: AEA bill bounces

AEA bill bounces

 

The Iowa Catholic Conference has been engaged at the state capitol regarding the governor’s Area Education Agencies (AEA) reform plan since the first announcement in January. AEAs are regional groups which provide services for special education and professional development for schools across the state.

 

The chambers are working on the final language of the bill (HF 2612). The Senate’s version, passed on March 18, included an amendment that provided a welcome clarification that AEAs shall furnish educational and media services and programs to nonpublic schools. The AEAs would receive funding through the local school district to provide these services.

 

Last Thursday, the House changed the Senate's version of HF 2612, making the provisions for educational and media services for nonpublic schools less clear. You can weigh in with your opinion. We’ll probably find out what the Senate’s response is this week.

 

HF 2612 also includes a 2.5% increase in funding for public schools and an increase in minimum public teacher salary to $50,000.

 

Immigration bill goes to governor

 

Unfortunately, the Iowa House passed SF 2340 on March 19 and sent it to the governor. It’s similar to a Texas law that has been stopped up for now by a federal appeals court. SF 2340 sets up new state criminal penalties for irregular border crossings by people who don’t have legal authorization to be here and allows Iowa officials to carry out what are effectively deportations. The governor has indicated she will sign the bill.

 

It is problematic that SF 2340 would explicitly allow state officials to prosecute an individual for state immigration crimes, even if that person’s application for immigration relief is pending before federal authorities.

 

The Catholic Church recognizes a country’s right and responsibility to manage its borders in accordance with the common good.

 

CLINIC, the Catholic bishops’ legal immigration arm, is concerned that having state judges and magistrates decide immigration cases without the requisite experience in immigration law could result in a lack of due process and inhumane results for immigrants fleeing persecution. Families should not be separated and should receive special consideration. Further, if local law enforcement is tied to immigration enforcement, it can hurt community trust and lead to fear of reporting crimes.

 

It’s unclear if the federal courts will allow states to apply their own policies in regard to migration.

 

This week at the state capitol

 

Attention turns to debate on appropriations and tax bills as legislators are targeting mid-April to adjourn for the year.

 

HJR 2006 is on today’s debate calendar for the House. The ICC opposes this constitutional amendment which would require a supermajority (two-thirds) approval of the legislature for tax increases. The amendment also requires a “flat” income tax, which would prohibit the state legislature from adopting a lower tax rate for lower-income people. The amendment says nothing about making it more difficult to raise sales taxes, which might end up requiring low-income people to pay a greater percentage of their income for necessities.

 

The ICC encourages the Senate to pass HF 2617, which requires middle and high school curriculum to include a video showing fetal development.

 

Other bills supported by the ICC and eligible for debate in the Senate include HF 2637, increasing the state income tax credit for adoptive parents to $20,000, and HF 2276, requiring maternity group homes to be zoned as residential properties. HF 2276 would help the group homes to avoid “not in my backyard” problems when they purchase a home.

 

We’re also encouraging the Iowa House to act on SF 2251, which extends Medicaid health insurance coverage to new mothers to a full year after the birth of the baby. Now the coverage lasts for only 60 days after.

 

 

And finally,

 

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that has the potential to make a major impact in the widespread accessibility of chemical abortion (abortion pills). Chemical abortions are now the most common form of abortion in the United States. The case is in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) promoting the availability of chemical abortion while ignoring risks to women and violating federal law. You are invited to pray daily through June on this issue. For more information go to www.respectlife.org/prayer-to-st-joseph.

 

In addition, the U.S. bishops’ president and the chair for International Peace and Justice have issued a Holy Week call to prayer for an end to the Israel-Hamas war.

 

We pray you have a blessed Holy Week as well.

 

 

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