Iowa Catholic Conference, April 23, 2023
As the end of the legislative session draws near, it’s more important than ever for concerned citizens to make their voices heard and contact their legislators about important issues that will impact our community.
For example, pregnant women and new moms deserve access to meaningful assistance and support. Join your fellow Iowans in emailing a message to your legislators in support of Iowa MOMS. The ICC supports additional funding for the Iowa MOMS (More Options for Maternal Support) program.
The “probation credits” bill, House File 349, has not yet been debated in the Senate. We believe the bill will help persons on probation integrate into society without undermining public safety. Please send a message to your Senator in support. The bill passed the House 93-1 a couple of weeks ago.
The House passed the final version of Senate File 496 last week and it will go to the governor. The bill includes provisions supported by the ICC prohibiting instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in elementary schools, and requiring schools to notify parents if a student requests to use new pronouns. It also includes the “parental bill of rights” clarifying that parents have the right to make decisions related to a minor child’s medical care, moral upbringing, religious upbringing, residence, education, and extracurricular activities.
The ICC is encouraging Gov. Reynolds to veto Senate File 494. SF 494 makes significant changes to income verification systems for Medicaid and food stamps (SNAP) in Iowa.
After a contentious overnight debate lasting until 5 a.m. on April 17, the Senate passed its version of a bill adding to the work activities and hours available to those under age 18. Senate File 542 goes to the House and is on the debate calendar. A description is here. The ICC has been monitoring the bill closely for any changes that would be dangerous for young people.
The ICC has not weighed in on the property tax bills being considered by the Legislature, but it’s important to stay informed. The House and Senate have approved different approaches to property taxes (House File 718 and Senate File 569) and now are looking at a compromise.
The Senate proposal combines various levies, caps the amount that assessed values can increase and increases tax credits for seniors and veterans. This is expected to reduce property taxes by about $100 million annually. The House lowers the $5.40 levy rate for schools by $1 (funding which will be picked up by the state’s general fund) and caps property tax increases. It is estimated to reduce property taxes by about $200 million.
You can always contact your legislators using our website at www.iowacatholicconference.org/voter-voice.
More than 220 nonpublic school leaders participated in the Students First Summit in Ankeny on Friday. The main purpose of the meeting was to get schools ready to help parents apply for Education Savings Accounts. Students with a family income of 300% of the federal poverty level or less will qualify this fall.
U.S. bishops’ address Supreme Court ruling on abortion drug
On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States temporarily blocked lower court rulings that would have suspended the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) loosening of health and safety standards for the abortion drug mifepristone. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement in response:
“The FDA acted unlawfully when it first approved, and later relaxed safety requirements for prescribing and dispensing the drug. It is our hope and prayer that the Court will eventually overturn the FDA's improper actions. Abortion is never the answer for a difficult or unintended pregnancy, as it always ends one life and risks another. Meaningful compassion for both mothers and children is needed.”
ICC staff is serving on an immigration subcommittee of the Central Iowa Latinx Project. An updated dashboard providing a data snapshot of the Latino community in Iowa is available.