Iowa Catholic Conference update, Jan. 15, 2021
The 89th Iowa General Assembly convened on Monday and several priority issues are already moving:
1. A bill to reinstate the death penalty in Iowa (SSB 1004) passed a Senate subcommittee on Thursday. The ICC spoke in opposition. More than 125 people participated online during the death penalty meeting - not a bad thing. Only one person supported it.
The bill is eligible to be considered by the full Senate Judiciary Committee next week. A good step right now would be to contact your legislator and express your opposition to the death penalty.
Here’s the Iowa bishops’ statement on the proposal: https://iowacatholicconference.org/iowa-bishops-oppose-death-penalty-feb-6-2018/.
2. The proposal to amend Iowa’s Constitution to clarify it does not contain a fundamental right to an abortion (HSB 41) will be considered by a House subcommittee at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19. The ICC will be there in support. If you would like to observe the meeting, go to https://ialegis.webex.com/ialegis/j.php?MTID=m3c45ee19e823b6e6b01636ca0a67f8fe. You can also click here to submit your own comment and thank the legislators for moving this forward.
The bishops’ statement in support of the Protect Life Amendment can be found here: https://iowacatholicconference.org/iowa-catholic-conference-supports-constitutional-amendment-on-abortion/.
3. Amending Iowa’s Constitution to provide a fundamental right to keep and bear arms (HSB 9) also will be considered in a House subcommittee on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. The ICC opposes this proposal as it would virtually eliminate the ability of the state to regulate this right. The meeting can be watched here: https://ialegis.webex.com/ialegis/j.php?MTID=m58346bf9059845c99cbb1e6ef65c2fe8 and you can click here to submit a comment.
Both the House and Senate are livestreaming subcommittee and committee meetings; however, in the House you must be present to speak. Both chambers are accepting online comments.
GOV. REYNOLDS PROPOSES EDUCATION SAVINGS ACCOUNTS
The ICC was pleased to hear Gov. Reynolds’ support for Education Savings Accounts (ESA) during her Condition of the State address on Tuesday. This has been a longtime priority of the ICC. The governor plans to introduce a bill to help parents more easily choose the best educational environment for their children.
ESAs would allow some parents not enrolling their child in a public district to receive a deposit of public funds into government-created savings accounts with restricted, but multiple, uses. A debit card for the parent would be issued. Those funds could cover private school tuition and fees, private instruction, tutoring or training.
A few other notes of interest from the governor’s speech:
Proposed increasing public school spending by 2.5% in the 2022-23 ($27 million) and by $143 million in the 2023-24 school year. Schools will also receive another $20 million in pandemic aid.
Proposed increasing state funding for the Mental Health system by $15 million for the next two years
Legislation to end racial profiling and to offer police more protections from rioting
Expand broadband access with S150 million in funding annually for three years.
Double the affordable housing credit to $50 million and increase funding to make childcare more affordable and more available
Create a re-entry pilot program for offenders, in addition to an amendment to restore the voting rights of people who have committed felonies
SUPREME COURT REINSTATES SAFETY REQUIREMENTS FOR CHEMICAL ABORTION DRUGS
On Tuesday night, the Supreme Court of the United States granted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s request to reinstate its authority to enforce important health and safety requirements for mifepristone, a chemical abortion drug. For now, the drug will no longer be available by mail.
The number of people experiencing food insecurity across Iowa has increased dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Friday, Jan. 22, at noon there will be a online Zoom training for advocates interested in fighting hunger and food insecurity in Iowa. Click here to register.