Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, Jan. 30, 2022

CONTACTING YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS


To contact your state legislators and let your voice be heard, go to www.iowacatholicconference.org/voter-voice.


BILL TO IMPOSE NEW ASSET TEST FOR FOOD STAMPS


The ICC is working against House Study Bill 508, which would impose a new asset test of $2,500 before one could receive SNAP benefits (food stamps). The value of a householdʼs primary residence and one vehicle would be excluded, as would retirement accounts. However, for each additional vehicle, the fair market value exceeding $4,650 would be counted toward the asset limit, which has only been updated once by $150 since 1977. Most families need more than one car to get everybody to work.


Proponents of the bill say there are 60,000 Iowans right now on food stamps who fall above the asset limit and would no longer qualify. How will this help families save money for the future?


The bill is eligible for consideration by the House Human Resources Committee. To learn more about what you can do to oppose the bill, go to www.iowahungercoalition.org.


‘CHURCH FREEDOM’ PROPOSAL ADVANCES


House Study Bill 593 passed a House subcommittee last week with the support of the ICC. The bill would not allow the state to treat religious conduct more restrictively than comparable secular conduct because of alleged economic need or benefit. During the pandemic, some states forbid large church gatherings while allowing similar-sized secular businesses to operate.


In addition, the bill provides that government should not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion unless it can be demonstrated that applying that burden is a compelling government interest and the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. This is very similar to a federal law that has been in place since the early 1990’s. More than 30 states have such a law or similar provision due to court action.


The bill is eligible for consideration by the full House Judiciary Committee.


E-VERIFY PASSES SUBCOMMITTEE


Senate File 339 has passed a Senate subcommittee. It would require businesses to use the voluntary federal e-verify system to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. The ICC has opposed the bill in part because, if enforced, it would likely cause people to lose their jobs unjustly or not be able to be hired because of errors in the system. The ICC also believes it is the responsibility of federal authorities to enforce violations of e-verify, making state legislation duplicative.


PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD RECEIVE SPECIAL CONSIDERATION


We were pleased to see that a Senate subcommittee passed Senate File 485, which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees based on pregnancy or childbirth. We believe pregnant women should receive special consideration to meet their needs. An even better version of the bill has been introduced in the House.


CHAMBERS RELEASE TAX PLANS


Finally, the House (House Study Bill 626) and Senate (Senate Study Bill 3074) have each released their own versions of a tax cut plan, which are similar to the governor’s plan to create a flat rate income tax. You’ll hear more about these as the session progresses.


CELEBRATING CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK


This week is Catholic Schools Week and the theme for 2022 is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.”


Proposals to provide state funds for some parents to help pay for Catholic school tuition, among other uses, are under consideration at the Legislature. A bill to implement Education Savings Accounts, Senate File 128, has passed a subcommittee. We expect to see the governor’s Students First scholarship bill soon.


TAKE ACTION NOW TO SUPPORT THE FEDERAL CHILD TAX CREDIT


According to Catholic teaching, the family is “the most basic form of human community,” and therefore is “intimately linked” to the long-term future of our nation. Therefore, "economic and social policies as well as the organization of the work world should be continually evaluated in light of their impact on the strength and stability of family life,” (Economic Justice For All no. 93). The Child Tax Credit is an economic and social policy that supports the strength and stability of family life.


Policies are also needed to address "the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor." You can ask Congress to invest in care for creation and to extend the expanded Child Tax Credit, ensuring it remains fully refundable so that it is available to the lowest income families and that it continues to include mixed-status families.


Click here for the action alert and an easy way to contact Congress.

AND FINALLY,


Follow Jesus’ example by advocating with charity, clarity and creativity. Learn more at www.CivilizeIt.org.

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The Students First proposal is still being discussed at the Capitol. It would offer funding for some parents to send their children to a nonpublic school. The bill has already passed the Iowa Senate.