For The Catholic Messenger
The Iowa General Assembly is working on a variety of issues and legislation since convening last week. In addition to movement on death penalty legislation (see Page 1), other bills are in progress. The proposal to amend Iowa’s Constitution to clarify it does not contain a fundamental right to an abortion (HSB 41) was to be considered by a House subcommittee at press time. The Iowa Catholic Conference supports the Protect Life Amendment. See the bishops’ statement in support of the Protect Life Amendment at https://iowacatholicconference.org/iowa-catholic-conference-supports-constitutional-amendment-on-abortion/.
Amending Iowa’s Constitution to provide a fundamental right to keep and bear arms (HSB 9) also was under consideration at press time in a House subcommittee. The ICC opposes this proposal, as it would virtually eliminate the ability of the state to regulate this right.
Gov. Reynolds proposes Education Savings Accounts
The ICC was pleased to hear Gov. Reynolds’ support for Education Savings Accounts (ESA) during her Condition of the State address last week. This has been a longtime priority of the ICC. The governor plans to introduce a bill to help parents more easily choose the best educational environment for their children.
ESAs would allow some parents not enrolling their child in a public district to receive a deposit of public funds into government-created savings accounts with restricted, but multiple, uses. A debit card for the parent would be issued. Those funds could cover private school tuition and fees, private instruction, tutoring or training.
A few other notes of interest from the governor’s speech:
• Proposed increasing public school spending by 2.5% in the 2022-23 ($27 million) and by $143 million in the 2023-24 school year. Schools will also receive another $20 million in pandemic aid.
• Proposed increasing state funding for the Mental Health system by $15 million for the next two years.
• Legislation to end racial profiling and to offer police more protections from rioting.
• Expand broadband access with S150 million in funding annually for three years.
• Double the affordable housing credit to $50 million and increase funding to make childcare more affordable and more available
• Create a re-entry pilot program for offenders, in addition to an amendment to restore the voting rights of people who have committed felonies.
• Safety requirements for chemical abortion drugs
In national news, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s request to reinstate its authority to enforce important health and safety requirements for mifepristone, a chemical abortion drug. For now, the drug will no longer be available by mail.
For more information on issues, visit the ICC website at iowacatholicconference.org.