Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, March 23, 2014

To: Iowa Catholic Conference Legislative Network

TAKE ACTION

If you haven’t yet done so, please consider contacting your legislators about funding for nonpublic school students. We’re asking for your help with two requests in the education area: textbooks and technology, and transportation.

Click here to go directly to the action alert on this issue. Thanks for your assistance.

NEWS FROM THE STATE CAPITOL

Legislators are now considering the state’s departmental budgets for the next fiscal year, a sure sign that the legislative session is making the final turn into the homestretch. As always, go to www.votervoice.net/icc/home if you’d like to contact your legislator on any of the following issues:

On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee approved House File 2450, the budget bill for the state’s justice system. We are pleased that it keeps the governor’s budget recommendation for judicial districts, which includes funding for drug courts. We are concerned about a $400,000 cut in victim assistance grants, which would affect services provided by Catholic Charities’ domestic violence program (among several other programs in the state).

The House amended the Senate’s version of a bill to address the problem of human trafficking. It eliminated a fund for assistance of victims of human trafficking but retained a core provision which allows referral of minor prostitute to DHS rather than prosecution. Senate File 2311 now goes back to the Senate.

The House also amended the Senate’s version of a bill to provide flexibility for those who receive child care assistance. The bill allows recipients to count both work and school towards a required 28 hours. However, the House amendment only will put this in place for a pilot program covering four counties, rather than statewide.

We are still working to encourage the Senate Appropriations Committee to move a bill that would fund training of refugees to be resource people for other refugees. The needs of refugees are great in Iowa and private charity is having trouble keeping up. Ask your local parish how you can help.

There was a news conference by a group of Republican senators asking for further consideration of a bill to prohibit abortions during a videoconference, so-called “webcam” abortions. At this point it would take a bill sponsored by leaders of both parties to advance the issue, and unfortunately, that seems very unlikely to happen.

NATIONAL NEWS

The Arizona Supreme Court has declined to review a lower court ruling that declared Empowerment (Educational) Savings Accounts constitutional because ESA funds are directed “solely upon how parents choose to educate their children.” We believe that’s great news for Arizona’s children. As you know, although the bill did not advance this session, we are working to gain support for ESAs in Iowa as well. For more information go to www.iowaace.org.

The Michigan Catholic Conference released a statement after a district court judge issued a ruling that overturns the 2004 voter-approved Michigan Marriage Amendment. On Saturday the judge’s ruling was stayed by a federal appeals court.

“Marriage is and can only ever be a unique relationship solely between one man and one woman, regardless of the decision of a judge or future electoral vote. Nature itself, not society, religion or government, created marriage. Nature, the very essence of humanity as understood through historical experience and reason, is the arbiter of marriage, and we uphold this truth for the sake of the common good. The biological realities of male and female and the complementarity they each bring to marriage uniquely allows for the procreation of children.”

AND FINALLY,

You are invited to the 53rd annual Iowa Prayer Breakfast with state and community leaders on Thursday, April 17 at 7:15 a.m. It will be held at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center Ballroom (formerly Vets Auditorium) in Des Moines. The guest speaker will be Simon Estes, world-renowned opera singer, on the topics of reverence for God and gratitude to Jesus. Simon will also share his musical talents by singing a solo during the breakfast. The cost is $10 for students and $20 for adults. Go to www.iowaprayerbreakfast.com to register or for more information.

Tom Chapman

Executive Director

Iowa Catholic Conference

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