Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, April 4, 2021

EASTER MONDAY EDITION


We at the Iowa Catholic Conference hope you had a good Holy Week. May its blessings follow you throughout the Easter season.


LEGISLATURE REACHES SECOND DEADLINE


The Legislature reached its second funnel deadline last Friday. Bills originating in one chamber needed to pass a committee in the other chamber to stay alive. (The deadline does not apply to budget or tax bills).


HF 754 and SF 492 were put on the unfinished business calendar. This is a procedural move to keep the bills alive. The ICC opposes the bills, which would cut unemployment insurance benefits for bigger families and put in place a one-week waiting period before benefits can be received. Click here for a sample message to your legislator in opposition to the bill.


A few bills supported by the ICC survived the funnel deadline by passing a committee last week:

  • HF 302 establishes a graduated eligibility phase-out for state child care assistance to help prevent a “cliff effect.” This addresses the problem that can result when a person starts making more money and loses all of their government child care assistance, resulting in a net loss of income.

  • HF 819 acknowledges the fundamental rights of parents to make decisions in the care and custody of children. These rights have been recognized by courts in Iowa but we don’t want to depend on court rulings.

  • HF 318 is a pilot program to provide preschool funding for some “younger” five-year-olds

Other pieces of legislation supported by the ICC are still alive. These include:

  • HF 847, a bill which increases the “tuition and textbook” tax credit for school parents

  • SJR 2/HJR 5, the Protect Life Amendment to Iowa’s Constitution,

  • SSB 1254, tax exemption for purchase of equipment by food banks/pantries

  • SF 295, affordable housing measures

  • HF 369, doubling the tax credit for adoptive parents

  • HF 452 and SF 388 to provide authorities with additional resources to complete investigations of trafficking in humans

  • HF 724 and SF 362 to require employers to treat employees who adopt a child up to the age of six in the same manner as those with a biological child


BILLS NO LONGER ELIGIBLE FOR CONSIDERATION


Unfortunately, these bills are no longer eligible:

  • HJR 11, a constitutional amendment that allows people coming out of prison to vote.

  • HF 678, to decrease the amount of time spent in probation. It was on the debate calendar in the House but did not get brought to the floor.

  • HF 294, which requires insurance companies to pay the same rate for mental health services that are provided by telehealth as in-person. Catholic Charities’ counseling programs provides telehealth services.

  • SF 522 was not addressed by the House Judiciary Committee. It would have outlawed elder abuse in the areas of theft, consumer fraud and neglect.

  • HF 833 did not make it the floor of the House for debate. The purpose of the bill was to offer additional legal protections for mobile home park residents.


The ICC opposed these bills that died in the funnel - thanks to those of you who contacted legislators in opposition:

  • SF 339, requiring businesses to use the voluntary federal e-verify system to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States

  • HF 434, providing a statewide standing order for “over the counter” contraception

  • A proposed amendment to SF 534 to bring back the death penalty didn’t make it because the bill did not advance out of committee

  • SF 389, creating a new asset test for food stamps which would have made many current recipients ineligible

As of press time, Gov. Reynolds has not signed SF 252, a bill to allow landlords to reject renters solely on the basis of their using a federal housing voucher. You can ask her for a veto by visiting https://governor.iowa.gov/contact and clicking on “Register an Opinion.”


VACCINES BECOMING MORE AVAILABLE


During a news conference last week the governor mentioned her efforts to work with the Catholic dioceses and Catholic Charities to offer vaccination clinics in different parts of the state for underserved groups.


Gov. Reynolds reiterated that all adult Iowans will be eligible for the vaccine beginning April 5. We have found that www.vaccinefinder.org can be a good resource for scheduling.


People who are over the age of 65 or have other health challenges, and also lack technology or have language barriers, can call 2-1-1 for assistance with scheduling.


BORDER BISHOPS ISSUE STATEMENT


The bishops along the border of the United States and Northern Mexico have issued a joint statement on the current situation. It reads, in part, “As U.S. and Mexican bishops along the border, we witness daily the dilemma that our migrant sisters and brothers face. For most, the decision to migrate is not motivated by an indifference toward their homeland or the pursuit of economic prosperity; it is a matter of life or death. The situation is all the more difficult for children.


“Challenges such as these require humanitarian solutions. Undoubtedly, nations have the right to maintain their borders. This is vital to their sovereignty and self-determination. At the same time, there is a shared responsibility of all nations to preserve human life and provide for safe, orderly, and humane immigration, including the right to asylum.”


BISHOPS OPPOSE EQUALITY ACT


The U.S. bishops oppose the Equality Act which is being considered by the Senate. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Equality Act purports to protect people experiencing same-sex attraction or gender discordance from unjust discrimination, but is misguided and discriminates against people of faith, threatens unborn life, and undermines the common good.


You can get some facts on the issue including an action alert for contacting Senators Ernst and Grassley at https://www.usccb.org/committees/religious-liberty/stopping-equality-act-key-points-and-steps.


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