The Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) Board of Directors met late last month to consider its legislative agenda for the coming year.
Three recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status addressed the board about their personal stories. Subsequently the ICC board approved a resolution in support of immigrants, particularly in support of legislative protection for “Dreamers” to ensure that they are not deported. An updated action alert to send a message to your member of Congress is at www.votervoice.net/icc/home.
In other action, the board passed a resolution affirming its ongoing efforts to achieve Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) in Iowa. These would allow parents who choose not to enroll their children in a public school to receive a deposit of public funds into a savings account set up by the state to use for educational expenses.
Other priorities were approved, including:
• Support for final passage of Senate File 359, restricting the use of fetal tissue for research following an elective abortion
• Support for an increase in the state’s minimum wage
• Opposing Senate File 481 and similar legislation related to the treatment of immigrants
• Opposing efforts to reinstate the death penalty.
Pope Francis said last month that the death penalty “is in itself contrary to the Gospel because it is voluntarily decided to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of which God only in the final analysis is the true judge and guarantor.” The pontiff said capital punishment "is an inhumane measure that humiliates, in any way it is pursued, human dignity.”
The provision of health care and the condition of the state Medicaid program was discussed at the meeting as well.
Following the conclusion of the board meeting, the bishops met with the leadership of the Iowa Knights of Columbus, as well as the leadership of Mercy Health Network.
DISTRICT COURT UPHOLDS IOWA ABORTION WAITING PERIOD
The Polk County District Court has upheld the “three-day waiting period before an abortion” part of Iowa’s new late-term abortion ban. The decision has been appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court. The prohibition on abortion after 20 weeks remains in place.
BISHOPS URGE PRUDENCE IN FEDERAL TAX REFORM
Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, urged the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 3 toward prudence, ensuring that they and the nation understand fully the impacts of tax reform proposals before voting on them.
The full statement follows:
“The USCCB is currently studying the U.S. House of Representatives' 'Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,' which was released yesterday, and will be releasing a more detailed statement soon. The changes proposed in this bill are significant and complex, affecting the entire nation. Current information indicates that the House is planning to move this bill quickly through the legislative process. However, prudence requires that members of Congress and the people of the country have adequate time to fully understand and debate the consequences of any tax bill so that decisions serve the dignity of the human person and the common good. This is not a moment for hurried action, but thoughtful deliberation.
It is imperative, too, that lawmakers consider the tax bill through the lens of the moral principles outlined in our letter of one week ago:
A clear understanding and careful consideration of the impacts of these tax proposals is essential for the sake of all people, but particularly the poor."
HELP PERSECUTED RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST
You are urged to contact our Senators in support of H.R. 390. Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities have suffered greatly at the hands of the Islamic State and various extremist groups. They have been attacked and killed, women and girls raped, churches destroyed or desecrated, homes and properties looted. Thousands have been displaced, some multiple times, fleeing with just the clothes on their backs.
H.R. 390, the "Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act," aims to provide much needed assistance for survivors of genocide and would direct U.S. funding to faith-based organizations (such as Catholic Relief Services) that are already providing humanitarian relief and rebuilding assistance to these populations. This bill would help direct U.S. funding to genocide survivors and also seeks to hold those responsible for these atrocities accountable for their actions in order to prevent future genocides.
HHS MANDATE EXPANSION MARKS ‘RETURN TO COMMON SENSE’
The Oct. 6th decision to expand the HHS mandate exemption is a “return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state,” according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the USCCB, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, hailed the Trump Administration’s announcement to provide a broad religious and moral exemption from the mandate requiring health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions.
Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop Lori said:
“The Administration’s decision to provide a broad religious and moral exemption to the HHS mandate recognizes that the full range of faith-based and mission-driven organizations, as well as the people who run them, have deeply held religious and moral beliefs that the law must respect. Such an exemption is no innovation, but instead a return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state. It corrects an anomalous failure by federal regulators that should never have occurred and should never be repeated…”
CFPB ISSUES FINAL PAYDAY LOAN RULES
Last month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a final rule to address payday and short-term loans. According to Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), the rule establishes an ability-to-repay principle for short-term loans and payment protections for short-term and certain longer-term loans. Payday lenders are expected to push for a repeal of the rule under the Congressional Review Act.
“We commend the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for seeking to protect vulnerable individuals and families in time of financial crisis from debt traps designed around the borrowers’ inability to repay their loan,” said Brian Corbin, executive vice president of member services and social policy for CCUSA. “At the same time, we are deeply concerned that the proposed rule permits an exception from the borrower’s ability to repay standard and would allow for six 300 percent interest payday and car title loans in a year.”
SPECIAL ELECTION IN SENATE DISTRICT 3
Dec. 12 has been set as the date of the special election to replace Sen. Bill Anderson (R-Pierson) in Senate District 3. Anderson resigned to become the executive director of the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation.