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Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, March 5, 2023

The first legislative deadline was last Friday, March 3. All bills, except for budget or tax proposals, had to pass its original committee by then or be considered dead for the session. Here’s a report on how some of the ICC’s issues of concern fared last week:

Bills supported by the ICC

  • SF 297, protecting conscience rights for medical professionals, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. We will be working to get the bill to the Senate floor for debate so it can move to the House.

  • The bills limiting surgery and other gender treatments for minors passed their respective committees (SSB 1197 - Health and Human Services, HF 623 - Judiciary).

  • A “parents’ rights in education bill,” bill SF 496, was advanced by the Senate Education Committee. The ICC supports provisions that would not allow instruction about gender identity for grades K through 3 and would require a school to notify parents about a child’s desire to change their gender identity.

  • HF 510 was introduced but unfortunately did not advance. It is the Human Life Protection Act, which creates a private right of action (lawsuits) to prohibit abortions in Iowa. Legislative leaders don’t have any interest in the bill this year as the “heartbeat ban” works its way through the court system. However, it is an opportunity for all of us to talk with legislators about why it’s important to protect the most vulnerable of human beings.

  • HF 297, which would provide more preschool funding for children in poverty, failed to be considered by the House Education Committee.

Bills opposed by the ICC

  • Legislation stopping any employer from prohibiting firearms in parking lots passed their committees (HSB 173 – House Public Safety Committee, SSB 1168 – Senate Judiciary Committee.) We back Iowa’s current law which allows employers to decide their own policies in this area.

  • HF 613 and SF 494 were passed with slightly different amendments by the health and human services committees. These are the bills that make changes in Iowa’s system for verifying qualification for food stamps and Medicaid. An amendment improved the bill by raising the asset test to a higher level of $15,000. If a family has more assets than that they could not qualify for assistance. The bills require the state to establish an extensive new income, asset, and identity eligibility verification system, which causes concern around unintended consequences and barriers to access.

  • House File 533 was introduced late in the week but is dead for the session. It would legalize assisted suicide.

You can always contact your legislators about any proposal through our website. We have posted alerts in opposition to mandatory e-verify and the death penalty. The ICC is still lobbying individual Senators who have not identified a position. New alerts may be coming.

The Education Celebration took place in the Capitol’s rotunda last week. With the passage of the Education Savings Account bill earlier this year, there was a lot of celebrate. Speakers included Trish Wilger, executive director of the Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education, Gov. Reynolds, and Walter Blanks, Jr. of the American Federation for Children.

Religious Freedom Day Conference

Mark your calendars for the 10th annual Iowa Religious Freedom Day event exploring religious freedom in a divided America. It will be held at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates on Thursday, April 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Speakers include the Honorable Thomas B. Griffith, U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit; Dean G. Marcus Cole at the Notre Dame Law School; Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen, Executive Director, Parity New York; and Professor Steven T. Collis, Director, Bech-Loughlin First Amendment Center, University of Texas School of Law. You can sign up here free of charge.

And finally,

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed changes to regulations meant to protect conscience rights in health care. Let HHS know that conscience matters to you. Comments are due today, March 6.


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