Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, March 24, 2013

To: Iowa Catholic Conference Legislative Network

House Study Bill 225 was filed last week. Please send a message to your member of the Iowa House in support of the bill, which would increase the amount of tax credits for school tuition organizations to $12 million. These tax credits help nonpublic schools such as Catholic schools raise money for scholarships.

To send a message, go to www.iowacatholicconference.org and click on “Take Action.” The alert is also available on our Facebook page. Once you’re there you can edit a sample message to be sent to your representative in support of the bill.

HSB 225 is set to be considered by a subcommittee at 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning. We’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks in part to your messages Senate File 399 was scheduled for debate last week. As you may recall, SF 399 would limit the restraint (or shackling) of pregnant inmates. The ICC has supported the bill to help protect the health of the mother and child.

However, the bill was pulled from the debate calendar after several senators filed an amendment to eliminate any state funding of abortions for inmates. Unfortunately, its filing had the effect of stopping the bill’s progress, at least for now.

State funding of abortions is currently limited to the exceptions of saving the life of the mother, pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, and for “fetal deformity.” The ICC supports narrowing these restrictions further, and I anticipate that the legislature will be addressing this issue later in the session. We encourage the legislature to both pass SF 399 and restrict abortion funding. It doesn’t have to happen at the same time.

Senate File 422 passed the Senate last week by a bipartisan vote of 35-15. The ICC supports the bill, which would increase the state’s earned income tax credit (EITC) from seven percent to 20 percent of the federal EITC. This is a tax credit that mostly benefits the working poor with children. It would provide millions of dollars in tax relief to working families with incomes less than $45,000 a year. Nearly 60 percent of households currently claiming the EITC had an Iowa adjusted gross income under $20,000. The bill now moves to the Iowa House.

The Iowa Senate plans to debate Senate File 296 late Monday afternoon. The bill would provide Medicaid to an additional 150,000 low-income Iowans by expanding coverage to those who earn less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level. We advise your support of the legislation as a way to make health insurance more readily available to low-income Iowans. The underlying principle for our work is that health care is a basic human right, essential to protecting human life and dignity.

Currently Medicaid is available for some very low-income families with dependent children, or pregnant women. Adults without dependent children can’t qualify.

You can watch the debate on the legislative website at www.legis.iowa.gov. It is scheduled to start at about 5 p.m. CDT on Monday. In this case, CDT is Capitol Daylight Time, which means the actual debate could start anywhere between 5 and 8 p.m. or beyond.

As we mentioned last week, Gov. Branstad’s competing “Healthy Iowa” proposal is to be introduced in the Iowa House. We’ll discuss the plan more fully once the bill is filed.

Also, word is that the Senate will debate its version of an education reform bill, Senate File 423, this week. We are monitoring the legislation. The bill would increase beginning teacher’s pay to $35,000 and require school districts to implement a new career pathway program for teachers. The Senate version also includes more funding for public schools than the governor’s plan, which has already passed the House.

TELL HHS ITS NEWLY-PROPOSED RULE STILL VIOLATES RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

Under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration is requiring most health plans to cover “preventive services for women,” including items that many citizens find objectionable for moral and religious reasons: sterilization, FDA-approved birth control (such as the IUD, Depo-Provera, 'morning-after' pills, and the abortion-inducing drug Ella), and “education and counseling” to promote these to all “women of reproductive capacity,” including dependent female children.

Comments on a new “proposed rule” on how to implement this mandate are due by April 8th. Please go to www.nchla.org to send in your comments to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today. Thank you for all that you do in support of life and liberty.

HEAD-UPS FOR IMMIGRATION ADVOCACY DAY IN DC

The Justice for Immigrants campaign of the U.S. Catholic bishops is sponsoring an Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. on May 20 and 21 in support of just immigration reform.

The Advocacy Day is an opportunity for Justice for Immigrants points of contacts, CLINIC affiliates and other supporters of immigrants to be briefed on immigration reform legislation in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and then meet with lawmakers to advocate for immigration reform. Lodging and hotel reservation information will be available soon. 

AND FINALLY,

May you have a very blessed Holy Week!

Tom Chapman

Executive Director

Iowa Catholic Conference

 

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