Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, Feb. 5, 2021

We recognize that each person is created in the image and likeness of God. That’s one reason it was so disappointing in 2018 when the Iowa Supreme Court found a fundamental right to abortion in the state Constitution, making abortion difficult if not impossible to regulate by the Legislature.


As a result, the ICC has been working alongside many others to correct that decision and clarify that there is no right to abortion to be found in the state Constitution. A proposal to amend the Iowa Constitution has already passed the Iowa House. Last week, it passed a subcommittee in the Senate and is eligible for consideration by the full State Government Committee. The amendment would not end abortion in Iowa as some claim.


The ICC continues to support expanding options for parents in the education of their children. Senate File 159, among many provisions, contains a proposal to allow a small number of public school students in so-called “failing” schools to get a scholarship to attend a nonpublic school. The bill also contains an increase in the tuition and textbook tax credit for public and nonpublic school parents.


As the primary educators of their children, parents have the right to choose the school best suited for them. We are asking legislators to provide additional help to nonpublic school parents to fulfill their responsibility in educating their children.


Thousands of parents pay to send their children to Catholic schools in Iowa. But we often think about those parents who want their children to have that education, but simply can’t afford it. Why shouldn’t they have an opportunity? The Church sees this as an issue of distributive justice.


“School choice” is not the silver bullet to solve all problems with education in the state. But to give additional parents an opportunity to help their children – that’s a good thing.


We are now asking members of the Iowa House to expand the proposal to help some of our current students in Catholic schools. You can review and send a message to your representative here: https://www.votervoice.net/ICC/campaigns/79857/respond.


The ICC is also working in support of a bill (Senate File 168) to require that special education services for nonpublic school students be provided on-site at the location of the nonpublic school.


Among the other issues of interest moving at the Legislature:


  • SSB 1142 - contains housing tax credits, emergency housing assistance, and a limited eviction moratorium. Passed a subcommittee of the Senate Local Government Committee. (Support)

  • SF 252 – allows landlords to reject renters only on the basis of paying rent with federal “Section 8” housing voucher assistance. Passed the Senate Local Government Committee. (Oppose)

  • SSB 1121 – the Department of Agriculture policy bill contains a new matching fund program helping schools to purchase products from local farmers. Passed a Senate Agriculture subcommittee. (Support the matching fund)

  • HF 369 – doubles the state tax credit for adoptive parents. Passed House Ways and Means Committee. (Support)

  • SSB 1125 – creates new verification system for several public assistance programs. We believe that the target for welfare reform should be poverty itself. Putting up additional barriers for people to receive benefits - even for those for qualify - does not accomplish that goal. A subcommittee meeting to consider the bill was canceled Thursday. (Oppose)

  • HF 89 - requires health insurance companies to reimburse telehealth services at the same rate as in-person. This would be a benefit to Catholic Charities’ counseling programs. (Support)

  • HF 302 - establishes a graduated eligibility phase-out for state child care assistance – to prevent the “cliff effect.” Helps address the problem when a person starts making more money and loses all of their child care assistance, resulting in a net loss of income. Passed House Ways and Means. (Support)

  • HF 318 – provides funding for preschool for young 5-year-olds. (Support)

  • HSB 121 – provides for “over the counter” access to contraception without the involvement of the woman’s doctor. Any prescription medication carries risks, which is why they require a prescription. (Oppose)

  • HF 383 – provides for notification of the possibility of reversing a medication-induced elective abortion. (Support)

  • SF 212 – legalizes assisted suicide. (Oppose)

  • HSB 34 – provides additional reasons to start an investigation of trafficking in humans. To be considered Monday by the House Judiciary Committee. (Support)

  • SSB 1004 – restores the death penalty. (Oppose)

  • HF 377 – creates committee to review life sentences and make commutation recommendations to the governor. (Support)


U.S. BISHOPS EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR ADDITIONAL COVID RELIEF PACKAGE


Following proposals from the Biden Administration and members of Congress regarding a new COVID-relief package, several bishop chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) wrote to all members of Congress in support of an additional package.

The bishops, representing issue areas under the purview of the committees they chair within the Conference, thanked the lawmakers for their efforts on relief measures in 2020, and proposed priorities for a new package this year given the continuing crises and challenges related to the COVID pandemic.

The bishops wrote: “We especially encourage you to consider how additional COVID relief should promote the dignity and value of all human life and protect poor and vulnerable people who are most at risk.”

The bishops urged lawmakers to consider the following priorities:

  • Hunger and Nutrition

  • Housing Assistance

  • Catholic and Non-Public Schools

  • Pathway to Citizenship and Work Authorization

  • Testing, Vaccinations, and Treatment for All

  • Health Care

  • Employment and Income Support

  • Access to Stimulus Payments

  • International Response

  • State and Local Governments

  • Safety in Prisons, Jails, and Detention Centers

  • Racial Justice

  • Charitable Sector


The USCCB supports the inclusion of immigrants and refugees in any relief package. An action alert for Congress on the issue is here: https://www.votervoice.net/JFI/Campaigns/80024/Respond.


AND FINALLY,


If you would like to write the big drug companies in support of developing vaccines with no connection to abortion at all, here’s a page to help you do that: https://www.usccb.org/prolife/biomedical-research.


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