ACTION ALERTS

Please contact your legislator regarding House File 265, the successor bill to HSB 67. The bill is a piece of “enforcement-only” immigration legislation. It passed the House Public Safety Committee last week and is eligible for debate on the floor. Additional information about the bill is available here.

A subcommittee meeting is scheduled tomorrow (Monday) in the House to consider Senate File 2. The bill passed the Senate on Feb. 2. It sets up a state-funded family planning program, which is intended to duplicate a current federal-state program. The main change is that abortion providers would not be able to receive funding. Click here to send a message to your House member in support of the bill.

BILLS MOVING ON PUBLIC SECTOR COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Identical bills, which significantly change collective bargaining rights for public sector workers, were introduced at the legislature last Tuesday. The bills, House File 291 and Senate File 213, are moving quickly through the process and may reach the floor for debate as soon as tomorrow.

In light of the legislature’s debate on the issue, the Iowa Catholic Conference has again released its statement on “Labor and the Common Good” issued in 2011. The statement was created in response to previous efforts to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. It has been sent to all legislators and the governor.

The statement recalls the Church’s teaching on the common good and the rights of workers. It reflects the teachings of the Catholic Church beginning with Pope Leo in 1891 and the writings of Popes Pius XI, St. John XXIII, Paul VI, St. John Paul II, Benedict and Francis.

The bishops are particularly concerned about provisions which limit the items that can be bargained as well as what an arbitrator can award for a pay raise.

“It’s important to remember that the benefits many of us enjoy today are the result of negotiations between unions and management,” said Bishop Richard Pates of the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines. Bishop Pates is also the chair of the Iowa Catholic Conference board. “It is safe to assert, I believe, that ‘compensation’ today includes not just the money in the pay envelope but items like healthcare insurance, paid vacations, a 40 hour work week, a minimum wage, retirement considerations and disability insurance. The bills being proposed make substantial changes to what can be negotiated in terms of benefits and even additional dollar compensation. They are also selective in terms of whom the terms of the proposed legislation apply to.”

The bishops also acknowledge the challenges the government faces in balancing its budget. Click here for the rest of the news release.

Go to our Action Center if you would like to find your legislator and make a contact on the legislation.

OTHER NEWS FROM THE STATE CAPITOL

We’re disappointed that neither chamber has taken action to increase the minimum wage. The minimum wage in Iowa has fallen behind other nearby states. The only bill moving is HSB 92, which, among other provisions, makes it impossible for cities to increase the wage on their own. The Iowa Catholic bishops have supported an increase in the minimum wage because of its current failure to provide sufficient resources for individuals to form and support families.

SF 52, a bill to prohibit the trafficking of fetal parts, passed out of subcommittee on Feb. 7.

Polling was released last week by the Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education showing strong support to create an Education Savings Accounts (ESA) program in Iowa.

Results showed 70 percent of Iowans – a super-majority – indicated their support for the creation of Education Savings Accounts that provide all families with a grant of state funds to pay for approved educational expenses for school, including private school tuition, tutoring, therapies for special needs, or some combination.

TV ads to educate the public about ESAs are now running in many parts of the state. Click here for a sample message to send to your legislators in support of ESAs.

We would appreciate your prayers for our bishops and legislators as they get together for the annual ICC Legislative Breakfast on Tuesday at the State Capitol. It’s an informal way for the bishops and our board and committees to talk issues with legislators.

SUPPORT FOR THE CONSCIENCE PROTECTION ACT

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and Archbishop William E. Lori – as chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, respectively – wrote to both Houses of the United States Congress on Feb. 8, urging support for the Conscience Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 644, S. 301).

The Conscience Protection Act, they wrote, is “essential legislation protecting the fundamental rights of health care providers…to ensure that those providing much-needed health care and health coverage can continue to do so without being forced by government to help destroy innocent unborn children.”

The full text of their letter to Senate is posted at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/Conscience-Protection-Act-Dolan-Lori-Ltr-to-Senate-02-08-17.pdf.

AND FINALLY,

Don’t forget to download the VoterVoice app on your smartphone, then enter your email address and search for “Iowa Catholic Conference.” It’s the easiest way to find your member of the General Assembly and take action on our alerts.