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Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, March 20, 2023

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

The ICC encourages you to send a message to your member of the Iowa House in support of House File 349, which would provide “earned time” credits for the completion of activities such as education, vocational training and work for individuals on probation. These credits would shorten the time people would spend on probation. It is expected that the proposal will reduce reoffending and save the state money.

The bill is on today’s (March 20) debate calendar in the House. It needs to be passed by the House and then the Senate Judiciary Committee by March 31 to remain alive for the session, so time is short.

Senate File 297 would protect health care providers’ ability to refuse to perform a medical treatment if the provider regards the treatment as being against their religious beliefs or moral convictions. No medical professional should be forced to violate their oath to “Do No Harm.” The bill is eligible to be debated on the Senate floor.

ICC staff is contacting legislators in support of House Study Bill 226. The bill would extend post-partum health care coverage for mothers on Medicaid from the current two months to a year. We also spoke at a subcommittee hearing last week asking for additional funding for the Iowa MOMS (More Options for Maternal Support) program which supports pregnant women.

House File 370 passed the House last week. It contains a much-needed provision requiring the Department of Education to form a task force to plan for health-care related trainings in schools.

Unfortunately, the Senate tacked on an amendment to Senate File 326 making it possible for pharmacists to provide hormonal contraceptives without a prescription. The bill originally was limited to dispensing EpiPens without a prescription.

The ICC is monitoring Senate File 552, which contains important changes in Iowa’s tax code. This bill eliminates the individual state income tax starting in 2030 if there’s enough money in the Taxpayer Relief Fund (the state’s saving account). The main question from ICC’s perspective is how would this affect low-income people and the state’s ability to help care for the poor? Speaker Grassley said the House Republicans are likely to wait to see the full impact of income tax cuts passed last year before accelerating more income tax cuts.

Contact your legislators here about any subject you’re interested in.

Several bills of interest were introduced last week:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church warns that “the passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement.” The ICC opposes House Study Bill 227, which would legalize online and app gambling with real money. The ICC opposes the legislation due to a greater number of people becoming addicted to gambling, and the damage that addiction will cause to families. We believe this will be especially true of gambling through phone apps.

Gambling becomes morally unacceptable when people deprive themselves of what is necessary to provide for his or her needs or those of others. Call1-800-BETS-OFF if you or a family member needs help.

The ICC also registered in opposition to Senate File 548, which reduces tax credits for property established as a forest.

Since 1906, Iowa law has provided for an exemption for property established as a forest or fruit tree reservation. This was intended to help as a source of farm income but also for erosion control, watershed protection and game cover. Trees are a water and air quality tool. SF 548 would require landowners to pay tax at a rate of 25% of the assessed valuation next year and 50% of the assessed valuation thereafter.

The Church supports care for creation and nurturing the gifts God gave to us. Iowa is losing trees at an alarming rate to storms, diseases, and pests. Forests provide for a healthier ecosystem and more efficient natural cleansing of CO2.

The ICC supports House File 560, a bill to increase funding available for concurrent enrollment for nonpublic school students to $2 million (from $1 million). It pays for access to community college courses by nonpublic school students. Leftover funds could be used for summer community college courses for public school students.

And finally,

It won’t be too long before we see department budget bills being introduced. Senate Republicans announced an overall spending target of $8.5 billion, the same as Governor Reynolds. It’s a 3.3% increase. The House has yet to announce an overall target.


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