Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, Feb. 19, 2023
Death penalty bill passes Senate subcommittee
Senate File 14, a bill which would bring back the death penalty in Iowa in certain circumstances, passed a Senate subcommittee last Wednesday. As ICC staff testified to the subcommittee, every person is made in the image and likeness of God. Even those who have committed great harm retain their human dignity and the capacity to reform, to love, and to be loved.
We agree it is a duty of the state to punish offenders and defend the common good, however, we also believe that a cycle of violence can be broken without taking yet another life. The ICC is working to keep SF 14 bottled up in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The State of Iowa abolished the death penalty in 1965.
Probation bill passes Public Safety Committee
In a piece of good news, House Study Bill 55 passed the House Public Safety Committee with a unanimous bipartisan vote. The bill would provide incentives for Iowans on probation to pursue education and vocational training, find and maintain employment, and comply with the conditions of their probation. It is expected this will reduce recidivism. The next step is to get the bill to the House floor.
In other news:
Senate Study Bill 1139, which contains an increase for the Iowa MOMS program to help new mothers, as well as a new fatherhood initiative, passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday.
House File 67 passed the House Ways and Means Committee. The ICC supports the bill, which doubles the state Adoption Tax Credit to $10,000 in 2025.
House File 8 passed the House Education Committee on Wednesday. Supported by the ICC, the legislation would prohibit gender identity instruction in public schools' grades K-3. The majority Republicans amended the bill to include K through 6th grade.
Senate Study Bill 1105 passed a subcommittee last week. It 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 bill.
The ICC also opposes House File 147, the “Second Amendment Preservation Act.” It passed a subcommittee. HF 147 would prohibit state or local enforcement of any "federal infringement" on the people’s right to keep and bear arms.
New bills supported by the Iowa Catholic Conference
Along with other groups, the ICC has been working on a bill to provide conscience rights for medical professionals. The bill, Senate File 297, was introduced last week and has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. 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, regardless of whether the provider is publicly or privately-employed. Currently in Iowa law, only the right to refuse to participate in an abortion is protected.
House File 297 provides 100% of the state’s K-12 per-pupil funding for preschool students whose household income is less than 200% of the federal poverty level. Preschool students in Iowa are currently funded at 50% of the state K-12 per-pupil level.
House File 286 contains $10 million in grants for agencies which serve refugees.
We'll be working to get these bills moving before the first legislative deadline of March 3.