All parents, regardless of address or income, deserve the ability to make choices in education that reflect their basic convictions and aspirations for their child. A new bill to provide for Education Savings Grants, Senate Study Bill 3206, passed out of a subcommittee last week. Some parents could use that money to help pay for nonpublic school tuition. The bill is now eligible for consideration by the full Senate Appropriations Committee.

Thanks to those of you who have sent a message in support to your Iowa Senator. If you haven’t been able to send a message yet, there’s still time to do so at https://www.votervoice.net/ICC/campaigns/57977/respond.

SSB 3206, titled the “Iowa Student Opportunity Act,” would offer some parents a state-funded Educational Savings Grant. For the school year starting July 1, 2019, Education Savings Grants (ESGs) would be available for kindergartners in an accredited nonpublic school, students transferring from a public school, and those who received an ESG in the previous year.

Obviously, we would like to see a bill that would help current Catholic school parents, but this legislation would expand choice to many more Iowa families and is a solid foundation on which it can grow to additional families.

The “Education Celebration” at the State Capitol in support of nonpublic schools is quickly approaching. You can join us on Wednesday, April 4 to show support for parental choice in education and school choice initiatives like the School Tuition Organizations and Education Savings Accounts. You can visit your legislators between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.,  and attend the school choice rally at noon in the first floor rotunda.  Registration and other details are available HERE.

The Iowa House conducted a public hearing last week for Senate File 359. It would stop trafficking in fetal body parts which remain following an elective abortion. There will be an amendment to the bill which would prohibit abortions after a baby’s heartbeat can be detected. Click here for more information and to let legislators know what yo....

Immigrants and supporters held a rally at the Capitol last week in opposition to Senate File 481, the so-called “anti-sanctuary cities” bill. Father Michael Amadeo of Des Moines spoke in opposition to the bill on behalf of Bishop Richard Pates, our ICC board chair. Click here to send a message in opposition to the bill: https://www.votervoice.net/ICC/campaigns/57593/respond.

In other news, House Joint Resolution 2009 passed both the House and Senate last week. This bill would add language from the federal Second Amendment guaranteeing gun rights to the state Constitution with an additional sentence, “Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.” This privileges gun rights over other rights.

The ICC recommended opposition because it would have the effect of making future regulation of firearms more difficult and could put current state law regarding background checks and permitting at risk.  HJR 2009 must pass both chambers again next year or in 2020. If so, it would be on the ballot for a vote of the people of Iowa in the fall of 2020.

House File 2456 was unanimously passed by the Senate last week and is headed to the governor. The bill will increase the availability of government-funded mental health services in Iowa. A key provision of the bill defines the following as core services to be funded, primarily by Medicaid:

  • Twenty-two assertive community treatment teams
  • Six access centers
  • Intensive residential service homes that provide services to up to one hundred twenty persons.

U.S. BISHOPS SUPPORT FREE SPEECH, CONSCIENCE RIGHTS

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, praised the work of pro-life pregnancy centers last week on the occasion of oral arguments being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in NIFLA v. Becerra.

“Pro-life pregnancy care centers embody everything that is right and good in our nation: generosity, compassion and love that is offered to support both mother and child. But rather than applauding and encouraging the selfless and life-affirming work of these centers, some governments want to force them to provide free advertising for the violent act of abortion in direct violation of their pro-life convictions and the First Amendment ... We pray that the Court will do the right thing and uphold our fundamental right to free speech when it decides this case,” the Cardinal said.

Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chair of the USCCB's Committee for Religious Liberty, also reacted with deep disappointment to the news that a very modest but critical piece of legislation - the Conscience Protection Act - was not included in the 2018 appropriations bill just released by Congress.

The bishops said: “The CPA is an extraordinarily modest bill that proposes almost no change to existing conscience protection laws on abortion - laws that receive wide public and bi-partisan support. The CPA simply proposes to provide victims of discrimination with the ability to defend their rights in court to help ensure that no one is forced to participate in abortion. Those inside and outside of Congress who worked to defeat the CPA have placed themselves squarely into the category of extremists who insist that all Americans must be forced to participate in the violent act of abortion. We call on Congress not to give up until this critical legislation is enacted.”

Thanks to those of you who took time to send a message in support of the Conscience Protection Act.

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