Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, April 13, 2014

To: Iowa Catholic Conference Legislative Network

As the legislative session enters its final weeks the Iowa Catholic Conference is engaged on several issues.

Good news: the bill tweaking Iowa’s law against human trafficking is headed to the governor for his signature. Last Tuesday the House accepted the Senate's changes to Senate File 2311. The bill creates a fund for victims and allows county attorneys to refer prostitutes who are juveniles to the Department of Human Services as a "child in need of assistance."

The Iowa Senate has passed the education department/state universities budget. It spends a little less than a billion dollars, and includes a $50,000 increase for textbook/technology funding for nonpublic school students (to a total of about $650,000).

The first version of the standing appropriations bill, House Study Bill 688, was released last week. It contains status quo funding of about $8.6 million for the transportation of nonpublic school students. Full funding of all transportation claims would require about $9.7 million. If you haven’t yet done so, please click here to send a message to ...

The House Ways and Means Committee has passed a bill providing for a state tax credit of $2,500 for adoptive parents. The credit also indirectly assists birth mothers by helping adoption agencies and adoptive parents pay for their support during pregnancy. The bill is tentatively scheduled to be debated in the House tomorrow (Monday). We are hopeful that it continues to receive bi-partisan support. 

We’re still encouraging legislators to move forwards on a pilot program to assist refugees who are resettling in Iowa.

Because of propane supply problems and high prices this past winter, the state’s LIHEAP, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, spent a lot of money on emergency propane deliveries to help keep people warm. (Let’s not mention that we might be getting more snow this week!)

As you might expect, many people are having trouble paying their energy bills. There is a proposal in the legislature to allocate an additional $1 million to LIHEAP to help pre-pay for propane this summer when prices are lower, and to continue to help people with non-propane energy needs. People are eligible for LIHEAP if their income is 150 percent of the federal poverty level or less. The federal government has allocated about $54 million to LIHEAP in Iowa this year.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee passed a bill to regulate pay cards as a relatively new form of payment of wages. As we mentioned last week, some abuses of pay cards are being reported. SF 2350 is now eligible for debate on the Senate floor.

The best way to take action and contact your legislator is to go to our Action Center at www.votervoice.net/icc/home. You can also leave messages at the House switchboard, (515) 281-3221, or the Senate switchboard at (515) 281-3371.

ALERT FROM THE USCCB

From the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Last week the Senate passed a temporary extension of emergency unemployment benefits. Now the House of Representatives is considering this basic financial security for the most vulnerable job seekers. There is still a large gap between the amount of job seekers and available positions. Additionally, research shows that workers unemployed for longer than six months face very long odds and, in many places, discrimination in their job search. You are urged to write to your representative today and encourage them to extend eme....

POPE FRANCIS ON LIFE AND A ‘THROWAWAY’ CULTURE

Pope Francis met with the Italian Movement for Life last week. According to the Vatican Information Service, he said: “Human life is sacred and inviolable. Every civil right is based on the recognition of the first, fundamental right, the right to life, which is not subject to any condition, of a qualitative, economic and certainly not of an ideological nature. Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' places a clear limit guaranteeing the value of human life, today we must also say 'No to an economy of exclusion and inequality'. This economy kills. … Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a 'throwaway' culture which is now spreading. In this way life too is discarded,” continued the Holy Father, quoting from his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium.”

AND FINALLY,

Have a blessed Holy Week!

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