New resources posted on Education Savings Accounts

We are working to encourage state legislators to pass an Education Savings Account program this year. Some new resources have been posted on our website, including a link to a recent webinar and the Iowa bishops’ statement.

You are invited to attend a “National School Choice Week” event this Wednesday, Jan. 25, 10 a.m. at the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines. Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds are the featured speakers. It will be a one-hour celebration of all of Iowa’s educational opportunities! Also, save the date – the annual Education Celebration at the capitol will be April 6.

Action alerts

An Iowa Senate subcommittee is scheduled to consider Senate File 2 this week. The bill would redirect government health care funds away from abortion providers. Abortion is a direct assault on human life and dignity. We think it makes sense that family planning funds would not be diverted to organizations that perform and promote abortion instead of the stated purpose of reducing them. Please contact your state senator in support of reprioritizing government funding.

The ICC opposes Senate Joint Resolution 2, a proposed Iowa constitutional amendment that would prohibit the licensing, registration, or special taxation of guns. The Catholic Church has been a strong advocate for the reasonable regulation of firearms. The Church recognizes that recourse to self-defense is legitimate but also that guns are simply too easily accessible. Please contact your state senator about the legislation.

Today the U.S. bishops’ Human Life Action group is issuing an urgent call to action on H.R. 7, The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. Please contact your member of the U.S. House to support and work for enactment of this much-needed legislation which would ensure that tax dollars are not used to fund or promote abortion. A vote may happen as early as tomorrow.

In addition, please consider joining the greater Iowa Pro-Life Fellowship on Tuesday, Feb. 7 for a full day of prayer, fellowship, and fighting side-by-side for life. Go to the Iowans for Life website for more information.

Bishops speak out on health care policy

As Congress discusses the possible repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, the Chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, is urging members of the House and Senate to provide a replacement plan concurrently so that millions of Americans will continue to have access to vital health care.

In a letter sent to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate on January 18, 2017, Bishop Dewane also underscored the importance of creating a replacement plan that will: 1) safeguard human life from conception to natural death, 2) protect conscience rights, and 3) offer adequate healthcare services for the poor as well as healthcare for immigrants. The bishops’ conference believes health care reform should be truly universal and affordable.

Click here for the full text of the letter.

Making sure that all people have access to health care has consistently been a legislative priority of the Church. The Iowa bishops have marked funding for regional mental health services for special attention by ICC staff. Services are currently provided through regions made up of counties and funded by county property taxes. There is a dollar cap determining how much property tax revenue counties can dedicate to mental health care. Discussions are taking place at the capitol on possible improvements to the system.

The ICC does not typically take a position of specific tax rates; however, we have worked to change budget policies, such as a dollar cap, that may prevent an appropriate government response to the needs of the poor and vulnerable.

‘Justice for Immigrants’ campaign rolls out updated website

The U.S. Catholic bishops’ Justice for Immigrants campaign has placed updated resources on Church teaching and public policy on the immigration issue. Click here for the latest updates, including a document on so-called “sanctuary” cities, and the Church’s principles on migration.

And finally,

Pope Francis congratulated Donald Trump on his inauguration as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, praying that God will grant him wisdom and strength.

“At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding farsighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide,” the Pope wrote in his Jan. 20 message.

“Under your leadership, may America’s stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need who, like Lazarus, stand before our door. With these sentiments, I ask the Lord to grant you and your family, and all the beloved American people, his blessings of peace, concord and every material and spiritual prosperity.”