As we try to stay warm during the latest deep-freeze, here’s a couple of news items followed by our annual preview of the legislative session . . .
We were pleased that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor temporarily blocked the HHS contraceptive mandate from going into effect on Jan. 1 for the Little Sisters of the Poor religious order. The Obama Administration responded that the mandate is essential to women’s health and that the mandate did not impose a substantial burden. Stay tuned.
This week is National Migration Week. You are encouraged to take part in three advocacy activities to support humane immigration reform:
LEGISLATIVE SESSION PREVIEW
Last year the legislature agreed on some contentious issues: property tax reform (the largest tax cut in Iowa’s history), education reform, and health care coverage for lower-income people. However, since this year is an election year, the legislature might be a little more reluctant to take on controversial issues. Generally the session ends a little early in an election year so candidates can get on the campaign trail.
The session begins next Monday. As it stands now, the Iowa House is controlled by Republicans, 52-47, pending a special election. Democrats control the Iowa Senate by a 26-24 margin. Divided control makes it more difficult to pass legislation through both chambers.
Another piece of the puzzle is that the 2013 General Fund budget of the state ended the fiscal year with a record surplus of nearly $928 million. The balances in the state’s two reserve funds are also at a record level of $650 million. While much of this is already spoken for (for example, many Iowans will receive a new $54 tax credit this year), it still leaves money for the legislature to consider spending and there will be no lack of ideas for that
Among the issues we anticipate working on this year at the capitol:
These are just a few of the items we plan to work on during the legislative session, although there are always surprises. Every legislator has his or her ideas about what is best for the people of Iowa.
In addition to working with legislators, our goal during the session is to keep you well informed about the issues of concern to the Catholic Church. This will help you in your discernment about how to get involved and when to contact your state legislators. You can have a real impact!
ICC CHANGES COMMITTEE STRUCTURE
The Iowa Catholic Conference has changed its committee structure. We have merged the Family Life, Social Concerns and Pro-Life Committees into a new Human Life and Dignity Committee. This will make it clearer that our legislative efforts are directed towards the same purpose – protecting the life and dignity of every person, from conception until natural death.
We will continue to have an Education Committee for advice on issues that relate to Catholic schools, and while we no longer will have an official Communications Committee, we will continue to collaborate with the communications staff of the dioceses.
SAVE THE DATE – RALLY FOR LIFE
The annual Rally for Life will be held Monday, Feb. 17 at St. Anthony Parish and at the state capitol. The keynote speaker will be Wesley Smith of the Discovery Institute on the topic of euthanasia. Watch this space in the coming weeks for more information.
Please feel free to share our newsletters and ask others to join our legislative network. You can find the entire list of our legislative concerns at www.iowacatholicconference.org. We have a Facebook page and you can find us on Twitter at @iacatholicconf.
Thanks for being part of our legislative network.
Iowa Catholic Conference