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Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, March 12, 2023

There was no movement last week on bills opposed by the ICC to bring back the death penalty and adding administrative hurdles to accessing food stamps and Medicaid. You can access our current action alerts or email your legislators on any topic.

We were also pleased that one of the ICC’s priorities introduced into the House Ways and Means Committee last week. House Study Bill 226 would extend post-partum health care coverage for mothers on Medicaid from the current two months to a year. ICC staff is continuing to work on additional funding for the Iowa MOMS program which supports pregnant women.

Senate File 538 was passed by both chambers and goes to the governor. The bill prohibits gender transition procedure for minors. The ICC supported the bill.

Proponents noted that when there are questions about identity, "watchful waiting" during puberty offers children the best opportunity for a long and healthy life. Legislators expressed concern about the long-term efficacy and safety of procedures, and the fact that medical treatments are sometimes presented to parents as the only way forward.

House File 348, supported by the ICC, passed the House by a vote of 60-35 and goes to the Senate. The bill includes a prohibition on gender identity instruction/curriculum for grades K-6. An amendment narrowed the bill to clarify that the prohibition is only about “curriculum, test, survey, questionnaire, promotion, or instruction.” The floor manager said the bill does not restrict students from asking questions and getting answers from teachers.

House File 349, a bill to provide credits to shorten probation for offenders who are employed or pursuing education, was scheduled to be debated last week. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. A fiscal report from the Legislative Services Agency said that 54 “full-time equivalent” positions will be required for the Department of Corrections to implement the bill.

That FTE number seems a little high. We wonder if the report might be double counting some of the work that the corrections officers are already doing. The fiscal note also presumes that all 32,000 people on probation will attempt to earn credits, but that is not borne out in other states’ experience. We are working to see what our options are to keep the bill going.


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