Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, Jan. 21, 2018

It was another short week at the state Capitol as Iowans celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday last Monday.

A bill to bring back the death penalty was introduced Thursday in the Iowa Senate. Senate Study Bill 3042 would allow the penalty of death for the first degree murder of a peace officer. The Iowa Catholic Conference opposes the bill. Click here to download a quick fact sheet on the issue. Keep an eye on our Action Center at www.votervoice.net/icc/home for any action alerts if the bill does advance.

The Iowa House Human Resources Committee unanimously passed an update to Iowa "Safe Haven" law (Senate File 360) on Jan 17. The bill would allow parents to surrender a baby up to 30 days old to EMS and other first responders. Currently babies can be surrendered at health care institutions. Mothers are able to give up a child without a criminal charge if they feel they can no longer care for the baby. An estimated 30 babies have been helped through this program since 2001. The Senate approved SF 360 last session on a 48-0 vote.

LATINO DAY ON THE HILL

Many Latinos and immigrants will be at the Capitol this Thursday, Jan. 25, for the Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs’ first Latino Day on the Hill. Attendees include legislators and other elected and appointed officials from all over Iowa, including some with the largest Latino populations in the State. Many Latino businesses, students, educators and activists will be there as well. It will be a great opportunity for Latinos and allies across the state to speak with legislators about their concerns.

LEGISLATIVE FORUMS

During the legislative session, many lawmakers hold local events to take questions from constituents. Here’s some links where you can find the locations of these events – you might want to check your local newspaper for updates.

FEDERAL ISSUES

So far in Washington, D.C., there have been negotiations but no legislative action on one of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ main immigration priorities – the DREAM Act. Our action alert on the issue is at http://www.votervoice.net/icc/home. Please take the time to contact your members of Congress today.

Following the 2018 March for Life in D.C., we’re in the middle of the “9 Days for Life” novena. You can find more information at http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events/n.... As Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said, “Our prayers matter. Every prayer matters, and if you can't start at the beginning, jump in when you can!"

Cardinal Dolan, as the chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chair of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, also offered a joint statement in response to the creation of a new Division on Conscience and Religious Freedom within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights and other related administrative actions. It said, in part: ““We applaud HHS for its significant actions to protect conscience rights and religious freedom.  For more than forty years—dating back to the Church amendment of 1973 - Congress has enacted federal laws protecting rights of conscience in health care.  We are grateful that HHS is taking seriously its charge to protect these fundamental civil rights through formation of a new division dedicated to protecting conscience rights and religious freedom.”

Conscience protection should not be subject to political whims, however.  Permanent legislative relief is essential. We urge Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act in order to give victims of discrimination the ability to defend their rights in court.  No one should be forced to violate their deeply held convictions about the sanctity of human life.”

A list of current federal laws protecting conscience rights can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience....

AND FINALLY,

Jacob Bossman (R-Sioux City) was elected to Iowa House District 6 last week to replace Jim Carlin, who had been elected to the state Senate. This brings the House back to a 59-41 advantage for the Republicans.

As Lent approaches, we encourage you to get a copy of the Lenten reflection booklet, “Caring for Our Common Home.” Based on “Laudato si’,” the booklet has a different reflection and action step for each day during Lent. Copies of the booklet are still available for $4.75 each by emailing info@iowacatholicconference.org or by downloading it for free.

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