Iowa legislative update: religious freedom, support for moms in need


By Tom Chapman
For The Catholic Messenger


Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act last week. The law creates a balancing test for a court to weigh a person’s right to act in accord with their religious beliefs 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.

Support the “Baby Olivia” bill

Even though it is late in the session, we encourage you to send a message to your state senator ( in support of House File 2617, the “Baby Olivia” bill. HF 2617 requires middle and high school curriculum to include a video showing fetal development. The proposal would ensure students get to view the miracle of life and development in the womb. It will show the humanity of the unborn child. HF 2617 does not require the use of any specific video.


Bills go to the governor

The Iowa House passed SF 2252, a bill to correct some issues with the Iowa MOMS (More Options for Maternal Support) program. It will allow Iowa groups to apply to be the third-party administrator of the program. Previously, the program required administrators to have three years of experience, which no in-state organization had because the MOMS program is new. This program connects expectant mothers with resources such as counseling and baby supplies from pro-life organizations. 

On a bipartisan vote, the House also approved SF 2251, which extends Medicaid health insurance for new mothers to a full year after the birth of a child. Previously the state offered two months of coverage after the birth. Unfortunately, fewer mothers will qualify for Medicaid because the bill scales back income eligibility but at least the lowest-income moms will receive the extended coverage. Rep. Devon Wood, the bill’s manager, said she was committed to continuing work on the income eligibility issue.

The Legislative Services Agency estimates the bill will make about 1,300 women who would currently be eligible for coverage ineligible under the lower income levels. Some of those women will be shifted over to HAWK-I (another state insurance program). Mothers currently receiving post-partum services under Medicaid will be covered by the expansion regardless of their income. Both SF 2251 and SF 2252 go to the governor for her signature.

Constitutional amendment proposal advances

The Senate passed a constitutional amendment proposal that would mandate a single rate for individual state income taxes. SJR 2004 now goes to the Iowa House for consideration. The ICC’s legislative concerns call for maintaining a progressive tax code and revenues sufficient to meet the basic needs of the poor and vulnerable. The proposal would not permit a legislature to adopt a lower tax rate for lower-income people. 

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

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *