Iowa lawmakers pass bills that benefit families, nonpublic schools


By Tom Chapman
For The Catholic Messenger

The Iowa Legislature concluded its 2019 session on April 27. In the closing days, the Legislature passed a tax “clean-up” bill, House File 779, which included a $2 million increase in the School Tuition Organization tax credits for a total of $15 million. If all the tax credits are expended, that would mean about $23 million was raised annually for scholarships to help lower-income students attend a Catholic or other nonpublic school.

The bill also included a helpful provision for adoptive parents to receive a credit for all costs incurred in an adoption, rather than just the one year in which the adoption was finalized. HF 779 passed the Senate 44-4 and the House 90-8. State Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) played a key role in passage of the bill.

Senate File 603, related to concurrent enrollment, passed both chambers. The bill makes $1 million available to the community colleges to pay for access by nonpublic school students. The bill also helps smaller public and nonpublic schools supplant one math or science course with a community college course. Many people deserve thanks for making this happen but particularly State Sen. Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton) and State Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt (D-Cedar Rapids).


House File 766 allocates about $2 billion to government human services. A provision of the bill removes a five-year waiting period before Medicaid could cover pregnant women who are lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States.

Republican leaders also included a provision which stops Medicaid from paying for “gender reassignment” surgeries. The Catholic Church believes that men and women have been willed by God in “their respective beings as man and woman” (No. 369, Catechism of the Catholic Church).

HF 766 also stops several funding streams from going to non-hospital abortion providers (such as Planned Parenthood), including Title X family planning, sexual risk avoidance education and community adolescent pregnancy prevention.

Once we have an opportunity to review everything and the governor has an opportunity to sign or veto bills, we’ll post a report on the legislative session regarding issues of interest to the Iowa Catholic Conference. Thanks for your support of our work.

(Tom Chapman is executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, the office public policy voice of Iowa’s bishops.)

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