Activity is picking up at the State Capitol as several issues of concern to Catholics are being considered.
There is a subcommittee meeting scheduled in the House on Tuesday to consider Senate File 481. This is the immigration enforcement bill that the Iowa Catholic Conference has opposed since it was introduced in the Senate last year. It passed the Senate last April and is being considered in the House.
Senate File 481 requires local jails to comply with all requests from ICE (immigration control) to hold immigrants, even when federal law does not require it. People would be held for possible deportation, even for relatively minor offenses, when they otherwise normally would get released. In addition, we are all safer when immigrants feel they can trust police and are willing to report crimes rather than avoiding the police.
Nothing in existing law stops law enforcement authorities from keeping dangerous people in jail when necessary.
There is a subcommittee meeting scheduled on Thursday to consider House Study Bill 569, which would bring back the possibility of a sentence of death for first degree murder. The Catholic bishops do not believe the death penalty is necessary to protect society.
The death penalty was abolished in Iowa in 1965. A conviction of first degree murder brings a sentence of life in prison without parole.
In 1998, the last time this issue came around, the Catholic bishops of Iowa said, “We dare to take this position and we raise this challenge because of our commitment to a consistent ethic of life, by which we wish to give unambiguous witness to the sacredness of every human life from conception through natural death. We proclaim the good news that no person is beyond the redemptive mercy of God.”
Pope Francis has said, “All Christians and people of good will are thus called today to fight not only for the abolition of the death penalty, whether legal or illegal, and in all its forms, but also in order to improve prison conditions, with respect for the human dignity of the people deprived of their freedom.”
CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK
This week is Catholic Schools Week in Iowa. The theme, “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.” focuses on the important spiritual, academic and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education.
National School Choice Week was celebrated last week and we appreciate Gov. Kim Reynolds’ presence at an event with students from Holy Family School in Des Moines. You can see a picture on our Facebook page.
We anticipate the legislature will be considering ways to help all parents choose the educational option that best fits their child’s unique needs, regardless of income, location, cost, special needs, or other barriers currently preventing that choice.
We appreciate the introduction of House File 2053 by Rep. Dave Heaton (R-Mt. Pleasant) to create an 18-month-long window after marriage in which a new spouse’s income would not count when determining eligibility for welfare. Sometimes people choose to avoid marriage because they would lose welfare benefits; the bill would help fix that problem.
PAIN-CAPABLE UNBORN CHILD PROTECTION ACT
At the federal level, the U.S. Senate plans to vote on the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” today (Monday). This bill is similar to the law enacted in Iowa last year to stop abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. You can send a message in support at www.humanlifeaction.org/take-action.
Don’t forget to use our website to contact your members of Congress and state legislators on matters of interest. A major concern of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ is passing protection for Dreamers/DACA recipients. For more information go to www.votervoice.net/icc/home.