Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter: April 29, 2018

The Iowa legislative session is in overtime as lawmakers are into their third week of not receiving their per diem expense checks. However, the session may end this week as Gov. Kim Reynolds and House and Senate Republican leadership have announced a deal on a tax reform plan, one of their key priorities.

The actual legislative language has not yet been made available. A key question is whether the tax cuts will allow adequate revenues for public education, Medicaid, public safety, a strong safety net, and other acts of government essential to the common good. For more details, see our action alert.

State department budget bills have started to move through the process. For example, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the budget for the state Department of Education and the state universities.

The Iowa Catholic Conference has one item of particular interest in that budget. There is a line item for funding textbook/transportation services that benefit nonpublic school students. The budget this year includes status quo funding of $652,000. However, the bill bumps the maximum textbook funding from $20 per pupil to $25. It doesn’t mean any more money this year, but it would allow for a bigger appropriation in future years.

Legislators haven’t decided what to do about the bill that, if it would go into effect, would stop abortions after a heartbeat can be detected. Here’s some information and an opportunity to contact your legislator.

The House worked overnight last Thursday into Friday and passed the utility deregulation bill, Senate File 2311. It returns to the Senate for final approval. We have been asking lawmakers not to undermine Iowa's current energy efficiency policies, which we believe is one of the effects of the bill.

Utility customers are charged a fee for energy efficiency programs. A provision in Senate File 2311 caps the fee and make participation in energy efficiency programs optional. This will reduce the level of investment utilities are required to make in energy efficiency programs. We believe this will result in more energy needing to be generated and less funding for housing weatherization programs for low-income people.

Energy efficiency is a relatively inexpensive way to help us address our energy needs while lessening our reliance on fossil fuels and the amount of carbon we put into the air.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed legislation to help protect young people from the effects of concussions and other brain injuries. House File 2442 requires the public health department and the high school athletic associations to develop required training materials for coaches and officials. The new law also requires a student to be removed from an extracurricular contest if the student shows any sign of brain injury. Rep. Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids) was the key legislator behind this bill.

ICC WEBSITE RESOURCES

We have a new page on our website with resources regarding the new immigration enforcement law, Senate File 481. Thanks to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque for helping put this together.

We also have a new blog post on our website about informed consent as it relates to abortion policy.

U.S. BISHOPS SUPPORT THE USA ACT

The chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, has sent a letter to the House of Representatives urging their support of H.R. 4796, the Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act of 2018. This legislation provides a path to citizenship for Dreamers and focuses on greater border security through digital technology rather than establishing physical barriers which require significant funding.

You are asked to contact your U.S. Representative in support of the bill. Here’s an action alert that makes it super easy to contact your U.S... in support of the bill. You can make your voice heard.

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