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Iowa Catholic Conference "funnel" week update, Feb. 26, 2023

Death penalty

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senate File 357 last week. The bill would bring back the death penalty in certain circumstances. We encourage you to contact your member of the Senate in opposition to the bill. Thanks to those of you who have already sent a note.

While the death penalty is popular in some circles, the Church teaches in the Catechism that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide."

This week's legislative deadline

This Friday, March 3, is the first legislative "funnel" deadline. All bills, except for budget or tax proposals, must be out of the original committee before then. Lots going on this week!

ICC staff is working in support of Senate File 297, which would ensure that medical professionals can exercise their conscience rights. The bill has passed out of a Senate subcommittee and we are encouraging the full Senate Judiciary Committee to pass the bill this week. The legislation would protect health care providers' right to refuse to perform a medical treatment if the provider regards the treatment as being against their religious beliefs or moral convictions.

As Dr. Lauris Kaldjian, chair of the University of Iowa medical school’s bioethics program, said during the hearing, "I have heard too many stories of moral distress from students and professionals whose freedom to not participate in morally controversial practices has not been respected."

Here's a list of Senate Judiciary Committee members if you would like to send a message in support of the bill. While there are federal conscience laws, there is no ability to go to court if you lose your job or license. A state law is needed.

House File 349 already has passed the House Public Safety Committee. The push this week is to get its companion bill, Senate Study Bill 1004, passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bills would improve our probation system and steer people away from crime using incentives that reward work and education.

There is an online town hall sponsored by the REFORM Alliance this Wednesday, March 1 at 6 p.m. to discuss the challenges facing our probation system and talk about how these bills can help. Click here to reserve your seat.

ICC staff anticipates that both chambers' Health and Human Services Committee will be debating the bills that make changes to Iowa's system for determining who qualifies for food stamps and Medicaid (Senate Study Bill 1105 and House File 3). A problematic change would put into place a new asset test that would kick Iowans off food stamps in some circumstances, for example, having more than $2,750 in assets. The bill also includes more frequent eligibility verification requirements that could make it more difficult to manage the required paperwork. The ICC opposes the bills as drafted but we are working on improvements to the proposed asset test and verification process.

The ICC supports House File 297, which would provide more preschool funding for children in poverty. Research demonstrates that children who take part in early childhood education are more likely to succeed in the early years of school. Many Catholic preschools in the state collaborate with local public school districts in offering preschool. The bill would allow schools to be a little more creative in providing services such as full-day programming, transportation and wraparound care. The bill may be considered this week by the House Education Committee.

The ICC opposes House Study Bill 173. The bill was passed by a House Public Safety subcommittee. It would stop any employer, including churches, from prohibiting an employee from possessing a firearm or ammunition if the firearm and ammunition are out of sight and inside a locked, privately owned motor vehicle at the place of employment. The gun owner would be immune from any legal claim brought as a result of the firearm being brought onto the property. Iowa’s law currently allows employers to decide their own policies in this area.

And finally,

The Iowa House passed House File 272 by a vote of 95-0. The bill requires employers to treat adoptive parents in the same manner as biological parents for family leave purposes. The bill goes to the Senate.

You can always visit our website to send a message to your legislators on any issue.


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