Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, Legislature Adjourns, May 23, 2013

To: Iowa Catholic Conference Legislative Network

The Iowa legislature adjourned "sine die" earlier today, ending the 2013 session of the 85th General Assembly. During the past couple of days, the legislature completed work on the state budget and several other policy items of interest.

House File 625, which includes an increase in the school tuition organization tax credits to $12 million, passed the Senate last night 49-0 and the House today 96-0. HF 625 makes it possible for STOs to offer tax credits for LLCs and S-corps in 2013. The increase in tax credits to $12 million takes effect in calendar year 2014. The bill goes to the governor. These tax credits help raise money for scholarships so low-income students can attend a Catholic or other nonpublic school.

The House and Senate passed SF 446, the human services appropriations bill. It includes an extension of health insurance to about 150,000 lower-income Iowans. The bill puts into place some reforms of Medicaid at the state level and accepts additional federal dollars. Those with an income of less than 100 percent of federal poverty level (FPL) will essentially be covered by Medicaid. Those with an income of 101 to 138 percent of FPL will have their private health insurance purchased through an "exchange" with new federal dollars. From 138 to 400 percent of the FPL, people will receive tax credits to purchase health insurance through the exchange.

As far as government funding of abortions, the chambers decided to hand the issue back to the governor. SF 446 requires the governor's office to authorize funding for each individual abortion consistent with options under federal law. In the past this has meant about 25 abortions a year.

The ICC is disappointed that the legislature did not explicitly restrict further the number of abortions paid for by the state. Perhaps the governor will take it upon himself to do so. Frankly, it has proven difficult to pass abortion-related legislation when 1) A great majority of Democrats oppose further regulation; and 2) a few Republicans will not vote for restrictions on abortions or regulation of clinics because they believe it is legitimizing legal abortion.

Both chambers passed SF 452, the standing appropriations bill. Among its many provisions was an increase in funding for transportation of nonpublic school students, from $7 to $8.6 million. We were glad to see that a cut in funding for Area Education Agencies was reduced from $20 to $15 million, and that public schools will receive a bump in funding to help teach students for whom English is not their first language.

The House and Senate completed work on SF 295, a bill that cuts property taxes. We were pleased that it includes a provision the ICC supported to increase the state Earned Income Tax Credit to help low-income workers.

AND FINALLY,

Once we have a chance to review everything we'll send a report on the entire session regarding our issues of interest. Thanks for your support of the work of the Iowa Catholic Conference and for using our action alerts. 

Tom Chapman

Executive Director

Iowa Catholic Conference

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