An update from the ICC on the Iowa Legislature’s actions

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By Tom Chapman
For The Catholic Messenger

Chapman

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed the Iowa House last week by a vote of 61-33 and is on its way to the governor. The bill, SF 2095, creates a balancing test for a court to weigh a person’s right to be religious against the government’s desire to pursue its interests in a way that violates that right. The Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) has supported the proposal for many years.

The Iowa Senate has approved SF 108, which would make the federal E-verify program mandatory for employers in the state. E-verify is currently a voluntary program that allows businesses to confirm the employment eligibility of their workers. The ICC opposes the bill, which awaits consideration by the Iowa House. This bill is duplicative in part because the federal government is authorized to investigate employment violations as they relate to immigration law.

Similar legislation has passed the Senate before but failed to advance in the House. You can take action on the immigration enforcement bills in the Legislature by visiting the ICC website (iowacatholicconference.org) and click on “Take action.”

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A bill to increase the tax credit for adoptions in the state to $20,000 (HF 2243) passed the House Ways and Means Committee unanimously. 

Legislation to reform the state’s Area Education Agencies (AEA) passed the House and moves to the Senate. The ICC is pleased to see that several proposals from a recent task force on special education in nonpublic schools are included in HF 2612. We will continue to work on clarifying how other educational services will be funded.

Other issues of concern:

HF 2575 is eligible for debate in the House. It defines an unborn baby as a person when offenders attack or otherwise harm a pregnant woman. The ICC supports this bill.

HF 349 is now in the Iowa Senate. This bill proposes to shorten probation for offenders who are employed or pursuing education. This bill, which the ICC supports, would help reintegrate offenders into the community when it is safe. The bill passed the House 99-1 last year but is stuck in the Senate.

The “Med Act” medical conscience bill, SF 2286, is in the Senate. This bill provides needed conscience protections for medical personnel. Federal law does not protect rights of conscience for healthcare workers in some contexts such as assisted suicide and prescribing unnecessary opiates to patients requesting them. The ICC supports this bill.

The ICC has registered in opposition to HF 2093, allowing counties to eliminate the forestry tax credit. For many years, Iowa law has provided for an exemption for property established as a forest or fruit tree reservation. This law was intended to help as a source of farm income but also for erosion control, watershed protection and game cover. ICC’s legislative principles support care for creation and protecting the gifts God gave to us.

IVF in the news 

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that embryos created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) should be considered children in the law. This aligns with the Church’s belief that life begins at conception. The Alabama case involved three couples who sued a clinic after a hospital patient entered the clinic’s cryo-preservation unit and dropped a tank of the embryos “owned” by the couples and destroyed them. The need to accompany and support the increasing number of families struggling with infertility is very real but we believe protecting IVF isn’t the way to go.

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), many members of Congress — including those who consider themselves pro-life — are trying to impose a new national “right” to IVF and other such technologies that threaten preborn human lives and treat people like property (like surrogacy, gene editing and cloning). Please tell your members of Congress to oppose these proposals.

(Tom Chapman is executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference.)


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