ICC updates on immigration law, heart beat law, income tax


By Tom Chapman
For The Catholic Messenger


Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed SF 2340, the “illegal entry by certain aliens” bill scheduled to take effect July 1. The Iowa Catholic Con­ference (ICC), which opposed the bill, will collaborate with diocesan staff and community groups to help educate the public on the bill.

Some provisions of the law:

  • Makes it an aggravated misdemeanor for a person previously denied admission or deported from the U.S. to be in Iowa.
  • Does not allow police to make arrests on school property, church grounds or hospitals.
  • Requires a judge, after a finding of probable cause for an arrest under the bill, to order the person released and to leave the country.

The governor also signed SF 2252, a corrective bill for the Iowa MOMS (More Options for Maternal Support) law. It will allow Iowa groups to apply to be the administrator of the program, which connects expectant mothers with resources such as counseling and baby supplies from pro-life organizations.


Bills in progress

The ICC also supports HF 2690, which relates to the “Medicaid for employed people with disabilities” (MEPD) program. The bill would allow employed people with disabilities who are married to retain more monetary resources (up to $21,000) before going over the limit and losing coverage. The ICC has supported similar bills that help people with disabilities and lessen any disincentive to marriage. The bill is eligible for consideration on the House floor.

Arguments took place April 11 in the Iowa Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of the state’s prohibition on abortions after detection of a heartbeat. A decision is expected in June. We are hopeful the Court will send the case back to district court and ask it to apply a rational basis test so the law could go into effect in the meantime.

HJR 2006, a constitutional amendment proposal regarding income tax, which the ICC opposed, passed the Senate, 31-13. The House previously passed the measure, which waits for possible future action in the legislature next session. If the Iowa Legislature approves the proposal during the next two years and then the people of Iowa ratify it, a two-thirds vote of the legislature would be required to increase the personal or corporate income tax. The House is considering another constitutional amendment proposal requiring a single tax rate.

The Senate passed HF 2586, 30-14 and returned it to the House for consideration. The bill includes a process for school staff to receive professional permits to carry weapons and offers public school staff qualified immunity from liability for the application of reasonable force at the school. The bill aims to help schools get insurance coverage when they arm staff and was amended to eliminate grants for School Resource Officers. Democrats called for alternatives such as an “extreme risk protective order,” allowing people to go to court to remove temporarily a person’s gun rights, and additional funding to lower teacher-student ratios in public schools. 

The Senate also passed HF 2276 by a vote of 42-3 and sent it to the governor. The bill provides for zoning of maternity group homes as residential property, much like group homes for people with disabilities. This solves an issue regarding potential opposition to a maternity group home receiving a conditional use permit to move into a neighborhood.

A Senate subcommittee approved HF 2672, which would allow counties to eliminate the forestry tax credit. The ICC has opposed the bill. We encourage care for the environment and encourage legislators to look ahead to the coming decades and to ask themselves whether it is a good idea to disincentivize forestry. Trees are a water and air quality tool. We know that Iowa is losing trees at an alarming rate to storms, diseases and pests. Some farmers spoke in favor of the bill because they believe they are paying more property taxes than necessary because other people with forestry acres get a tax credit.

USCCB actions

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) filed an amicus brief in the case of City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson et al. The City of Grants Pass has made it a crime to be homeless. This conflicts with principles of western tradition and Catholic teaching, which have long held that punishment should be proportionate to an offense and that persons who lack shelter should be aided, not punished.

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