State lawmakers address immigration, ‘wrongful birth,’ energy efficiency, gun rights


By Tom Chapman
For The Catholic Messenger

A priority of the Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) has been to defeat Senate File 481, the immigration enforcement bill. It passed the Iowa House Public Safety Committee last week by a vote of 11-10 and is now eligible for consideration by the Iowa House. When or if the bill passes the House, it would return to the Senate for further consideration.


Among other provisions, the bill requires local jails to comply with all requests from ICE (immigration control) to hold immigrants, even when federal law does not require it. People would be held for possible deportation, even for relatively minor offenses, when they otherwise normally would get released. This may cause the separation of families and imposition of a penalty that is out-of-proportion to the wrong that has been done. In addition, when local law enforcement officials participate in immigration enforcement notification programs such as detainers, they risk losing the local relationship and trust they have worked hard to build with the immigrant communities they serve.

The ICC supports the right of local governments to exercise reasonable and appropriate discretion in the handling of immigrant detainees, consistent with the need to maintain public safety. Please contact your member of the Iowa House in opposition to the bill.


A bill which would stop “wrongful birth” and “wrongful life” claims, House File 2405, passed out of subcommittee in the Senate. The ICC supports the bill, which stops parents from bringing lawsuits against physicians claiming a child should have been aborted because of a disability.

Senate File 2344, the campus free speech bill, passed a House subcommittee. The ICC supports a provision of the bill which would allow campus groups to choose their own leaders. The opposition asserts that state resources (student fees) should not be spent on organizations that “discriminate.”

The ICC testified in a subcommittee meeting in support of House File 2228, a tax credit for donations to nonprofit groups which conduct regenerative medicine research with adult stem cells. This would assist the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City. There may yet be another subcommittee meeting to discuss the bill.

The ICC is monitoring House File 2456, which will provide for additional core mental health services to be funded by the government.
Pope Francis, in his encyclical letter “Laudato Si” has called us to protect creation and care for our common home. Energy efficiency is a relatively inexpensive way to help us address our energy needs while lessening our reliance on fossil fuels. The ICC is discouraging legislators from undermining energy efficiency policies. Utility customers in Iowa are charged a fee for energy efficiency programs. Senate File 2311 would make participation in energy efficiency programs optional, which would likely reduce participation, and therefore reduce the level of investment utilities are required to make in energy efficiency programs. This in turn will reduce financial support for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). This program helps low-income people save on their utility bills.

Gun violence

In the aftermath of the tragic attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., two U.S. bishops urged national leaders to finally come together and address the crisis of gun violence in a comprehensive way. Here is an excerpt from a statement by Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Fla., chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop George Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, Ohio, Chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education: “We (also) continue our decades-long advocacy for common-sense gun measures as part of a comprehensive approach to the reduction of violence in society and the protection of life … We must always remember what is at stake as we take actions to safeguard our communities and honor human life. In the words of St. John, ‘let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth (1 Jn. 3:18).’”

Here in Iowa, the ICC opposes state constitutional amendments that would make the regulation of guns more difficult. Senate Joint Resolution 2009 and House Joint Resolution 2009 are proposed state constitutional amendments that would subject any restrictions of the right of the people to keep and bear arms to “strict scrutiny.” The ICC recommends opposition because it would have the effect of making any regulation of firearms difficult and may put current state law regarding background checks and permitting at risk. These amendments would have to pass both chambers this year, and then again next year, before going to a vote of the people of Iowa in 2020. Please send a message to your senator and representative in opposition at

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