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Legislative update, April 14, 2024

There’s still time to send a message to your Senator in support of House File 2617, the “Baby Olivia” bill. HF 2617 requires middle and high school curriculum to include a video showing fetal development. The proposal would ensure students can see the miracle of life and how it develops in the womb.

 

The ICC also supports HF 2690, which relates to the "Medicaid for employed people with disabilities" (MEPD) program. It would allow employed people with disabilities who are married to retain more monetary resources (up to $21,000) before going over the limit and losing coverage. The ICC has supported similar bills which help people with disabilities and lessen any disincentive to marriage. The bill is eligible for consideration on the floor of the House.

 

Last week at the State Capitol

 

The governor has signed SF 2340, the "illegal entry by certain aliens” bill. It is scheduled to go into effect on July 1. The ICC opposed the bill and will collaborate with diocesan staff and community groups to help educate the public on the bill.

 

Some provisions of the law:

  • Makes it an aggravated misdemeanor for a person who has been previously denied admission or deported from the US to be in Iowa.

  • Does not allow police to make arrests on the school property, church grounds or hospitals.

  • Requires a judge, after a finding of probably cause for an arrest under the bill, to order the person released and to leave the country.

 

The governor also signed SF 2252, a corrective bill for the Iowa MOMS (More Options for Maternal Support) law. It will allow Iowa groups to apply to be the administrator of the program. This program connects expectant mothers with resources like counseling and baby supplies from pro-life organizations.

 

Arguments took place on Thursday in front of the Iowa Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of the state’s prohibition on abortions after a heartbeat can be detected. A decision is expected in June. We are hopeful the Court will send the case back to district court and ask it to apply a rational basis test so the law could go into effect in the meantime.

 

HJR 2006, a constitutional amendment proposal opposed by the ICC, passed the Senate by a vote of 31-13. It has already passed the House and waits for possible future action in the legislature next session. If approved by the legislature during the next two years and then ultimately ratified by the people of Iowa, it would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to increase the personal or corporate income tax. Another constitutional amendment proposal requiring a single tax rate will be considered in a House committee this week.

 

HF 2586 was passed by the Senate by a vote of 30-14 and returned to the House for consideration. The bill includes a process for school staff to receive professional permits to carry weapons and offers public school staff qualified immunity from liability for the application of reasonable force at the school. This is intended to help schools get insurance coverage when they arm staff. The bill was amended to eliminate grants for School Resource Officers. Democrats called for alternatives such as an "extreme risk protective order” allowing people to go to court to temporarily remove a person’s gun rights, and additional funding to lower teacher-student ratios in public schools.

 

The Senate also passed HF 2276 by a vote of 42-3 and sent it to the governor. The bill provides for maternity group homes to be zoned as residential property, much like group homes for people with disabilities. This solves an issue which has come up where there has been opposition to a maternity group home receiving a conditional use permit to move into a neighborhood.

 

A Senate subcommittee approved HF 2672, which would allow counties to eliminate the forestry tax credit. The ICC has opposed the bill as we encourage care for the environment and encourage legislators to look ahead to the coming decades and ask themselves if it’s a good idea to disincentivize forestry. Trees are a water and air quality tool. We know that Iowa is losing trees at an alarming rate to storms, diseases, and pests.

 

Some farmers spoke in favor of the bill because they believe they are paying more property taxes than necessary because other people with forestry acres get a tax credit.

 

U.S. bishops file legal brief against criminalizing homelessness

 

The USCCB filed an amicus brief in the case of City of Grants Pass, OR v. Johnson et al. The City of Grants Pass has made it a crime to be homeless. This conflicts with principles of both western tradition and Catholic teaching, which have long held that punishment should be proportionate to an offense and that persons who lack shelter should be aided, not punished.

 

DDF releases document on human dignity

 

The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith’s has released a new document, “Dignitas infinita,” which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirms "the indispensable nature of the dignity of the human person in Christian anthropology.”

 

The document includes a number of key themes from recent papal teaching. Abortion, euthanasia and surrogate motherhood are listed as violations of human dignity alongside war, poverty and human trafficking.

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