Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, April 25, 2021
The target for the end of the Iowa legislative session is the day legislators stop getting paid for their daily expenses - this year it’s Friday, April 30. However, because there are still significant differences between the House and Senate on budget, taxes, and other issues, it may be a while yet before the General Assembly concludes its work.
Several issues of concern to the Iowa Catholic Conference are still being considered, and lawmakers need to hear from you. Please visit our Action Center for sample messages to legislators today. If you’d like to receive occasional alerts from us on your phone, text the word “Iowacatholic” to 504-57.
HF 847 was passed last week by the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It was amended to assist donors to School Tuition Organizations by increasing the percentage of the gift eligible for a tax credit from 65% to 75% and increased the school tuition organization tax credit cap to $20 million starting next year. This would help provide additional and/or bigger scholarships for students to attend a nonpublic school.
The bill still includes the increase in the tuition and textbook tax credit to 25% of the first $2,000 in expenses. The bill still needs to pass the full Senate and then go back to the House to be passed again. Thanks for your messages to legislators on this topic.
The House’s version of the $2 billion human services budget does not include the new asset test for SNAP (food stamps) as does the Senate’s. We are concerned that the new asset test would have the effect of kicking many off of needed food assistance.
The House most likely will consider its bill in committee next week. It concludes two other positive provisions:
Addresses the child care cliff effect that can result when a person starts making more money in their career and suddenly loses all of their government child care assistance, resulting in a net loss of income. The bill would help people leave assistance gradually as they make more money.
The bill also includes a requirement for insurers to reimburse for mental health services provided through telehealth at the same rate as services provided in-person. This would be helpful for Catholic Charities as they provide counseling by telehealth in rural areas.
ICC is still working with legislators to pass the Protect Life Amendment. Please contact your legislators as well to encourage final passage. If eventually passed by the voters of Iowa, it would clarify that Iowa’s Constitution does not contain a right to abortion.
SF 601 passed the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It exempts non-food items sold to a food bank from the state sales tax.
One priority the leaders of both chambers have agreed upon is HF 889. The bill and its counterpart in the Senate is being co-sponsored by the Republican Majority Leaders of the House and Senate. This rarely happens and it’s a sign that the bill will be passed by the Legislature.
HF 889 would forbid government, businesses and nonprofit organizations from requiring a person to furnish proof of vaccination for COVID-19 prior to entering onto the premises. The bill does not prohibit an entity from putting into place a COVID-19 screening protocol that does not require proof of vaccination. The bill also does not affect health care institutions. The leaders gave some indication weeks ago that such a bill would be forthcoming.
Gov. Reynolds and public health officials are encouraging the public to receive the vaccine.