Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, Jan. 20, 2020

The 2020 session of the 88th Iowa General Assembly convened last week. Gov. Kim Reynolds delivered her Condition of the State address last Tuesday and announced an “Invest in Iowa Act.” It includes a sales tax increase, income and property tax decreases as well as proposals to improve water quality and mental health programs. The governor also called for new efforts to help parents with child care costs. More details and analysis will be available when the formal bill language is released.


We were pleased to see that the governor also expressed support for two constitutional amendment proposals: the “Protect Life” abortion amendment and another to return the right to vote to people who have committed felonies and are released from prison.


‘PROTECT LIFE’ AMENDMENT PASSES SUBCOMMITTEE


Senate Joint Resolution 21, the “Protect Life” amendment to clarify that a right to abortion is not guaranteed by the State of Iowa Constitution, passed a Senate State Government subcommittee last Thursday. ICC staff presented the bishops’ statement in support of the amendment. SJR 21 does not ban abortion in the state.


The bill may be considered by the full State Government Committee this week. As you know, this is the first step in a long process. The amendment must pass both chambers in two successive sessions before going to a vote of the people of Iowa.


In the meantime, here is a link to the Senate State Government Committee. If your legislator serves on the State Government Committee, you can email them directly in support of SJR 21.


You can also sign up for 9 Days for Life, the annual pro-life novena from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, at www.9daysforlife.com.


U.S. BISHOPS SPEAK OUT AGAINST RACISM


The Legislature will come back into session Tuesday after taking a break for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Regarding Dr. King, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, said:


“As our nation prepares to commemorate the life and witness of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are grateful for his courageous stand in solidarity with all who suffer injustice and his witness of love and nonviolence in the struggle for social change. But we are once again painfully aware that we are still far off from his dream for America, the ‘beloved community’ for which he gave his life …


“In recent years, we have seen disturbing outbreaks of racism and prejudice against other groups. There has been a rise of anti-Semitic attacks and also ugly displays of white nationalism, nativism, and violence targeting Hispanics and other immigrants. Such bigotry is not worthy of a great nation. As Catholics and as Americans, we must reject every form of racism and anti-Semitism.”


The U.S. bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter on racism, “Open Wide Your Hearts: The Enduring Call of Love,” and other resources from the Ad Hoc Committee on Racism can be found here.


JUDGE ISSUES INJUNCTION AGAINST PRESIDENTIAL ORDER ON REFUGEES


A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction halting implementation of Executive Order 13888 which had given state and local officials the power to veto initial resettlement of refugees into their jurisdictions. Unless it is overturned by the judge or a higher court, this injunction lasts until the end of the case. ICC was pleased that Gov. Reynolds had already signed the letter of consent for Iowa.


Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Des Moines and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants are the two agencies that resettle refugees in Iowa. Ongoing assistance is provided by other groups, including Lutheran Services in Iowa.


AND FINALLY,


The bishops of Iowa and other bishops of the region will be returning home this week after their “ad limina” visit to Rome and meeting with Pope Francis. Click here for a news report on the visit.

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