The Iowa House passed House File 573 last Thursday by a vote of 57-39. The bill requires that prior to performing an abortion, a physician must certify that the woman has undergone an ultrasound imaging of the baby and that the woman was given the opportunity to view the ultrasound image. HF 573 supports an informed consent process for women and would reduce the number of abortions. The bill moves to the Iowa Senate. We’ll be encouraging the Senate to take action, and have an updated alert on our website soon.

Please visit the Action Center now to review and send a message to your member of the Iowa House in support of Senate File 269, which would increase the minimum wage in Iowa to $8.75.

As leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities have said, “We write not as economists or labor market experts, but rather as pastors and teachers who every day, in our ministries and churches, see the pain and struggles caused by an economy that simply does not produce enough jobs with just wages.” The current minimum wage falls short for its failure to provide sufficient resources for individuals to form and support families.

The Iowa Senate last week passed Senate File 227 by a vote of 32-17. The bill would allow public and nonpublic schools to set their “start date” based on the best educational interests of their students. The final vote was unusual because a substantial number of Democrats and Republicans were found on both sides of the issue.

Our perspective has been that we support our Catholic schools’ ability to set their own start date according to local community and education needs.

The issue is before the legislature because Iowa law requires schools to start no earlier than the week that contains the first day of September. For many years the Department of Education has granted waivers to allow earlier start dates. However, following objections from the tourism industry and the Iowa State Fair, the governor has decided not to allow any waivers. We’ll see what the House does with the bill.

Last week we told you the House Commerce Committee passed House Study Bill 138, related to the regulation of payday loans. The ICC supported HSB 138, which allowed borrowers a 90-day period to pay off the debt without the repeat borrowing that characterizes the industry. Unfortunately, the committee approved an amendment that would allow payday lenders to continue to lend to people who are in debt. The new number for the bill coming out of committee is House File 598. Hopefully we can still improve the bill.

At the federal level, the respective chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, have written to members of Congress in support of H.R. 1299, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2015.

The Inclusion Act protects the religious liberties and moral convictions of all child welfare providers. No providers are excluded by the Act. Specifically, the Inclusion Act prohibits discrimination by the federal government and state governments (and their subdivisions) against child welfare providers on the bases of their religious beliefs and moral convictions.

AND FINALLY,

For those of you who couldn’t make it to Education Celebration due to the weather, our friends at the Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education have made a YouTube video available so you can now experience what you missed.