The 88th Iowa General Assembly is set to convene next Monday, Jan. 14. Legislative leaders will address the chambers about their plans for the session. On Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds will present her budget and “Condition of the State” message to the Legislature. The State of the Judiciary and Condition of the National Guard speeches are scheduled for next week as well.

As a result of the mid-term elections the Republicans retained control of the Iowa Senate by a 32-18 margin and the House by a count of 54-46 (pending a challenge). Several suburban Republican lawmakers lost their seats in November, further contributing to an urban/rural split in the legislature. Almost all urban legislators are Democrats and the great majority of rural ones are Republicans.

So far Republican leaders have not released an expansive legislative agenda. As far as our work is concerned, you can find a copy of the ICC principles and priorities at http://iowacatholicconference.org/2019-legislative-principles-and-concerns/.

Among the items we expect to be working on during the upcoming legislative session:

  • Increasing the amount of tax credits available through the School Tuition Organization program, which helps raise money for scholarships for lower-to-middle income Iowans to attend nonpublic schools
  • Advocating for policies that respect the human dignity of undocumented immigrants
  • Urging lawmakers to reject a state constitutional amendment that would restrict the state’s ability to regulate weapons
  • Supporting efforts to reduce racial profiling in Iowa’s criminal justice system (the U.S. Catholic bishops’ released a statement against racism called “Open Wide Our Hearts: the Enduring Call to Love)
  • Encouraging an “abortion-neutrality” amendment to Iowa’s Constitution
  • Promoting healthy families by increasing the availability of affordable housing and health care

Our goal is to keep you informed about what’s happening at the Capitol on issues that are important in protecting human life and dignity so you can decide how to get involved. When we talk about the “dignity” of a person, we’re not saying they’re dressed nice or have good manners. We are recognizing the fact that they are created in the image and likeness of God. Our lives are all equal in that way!

So how can you help?

Those who receive this newsletter by email will also receive ICC “action alerts” on important legislation. We also encourage you to sign up for our occasional text messages by texting the word “IOWACATHOLIC” to 50457.

Another way to stay in touch is to download the “Voter Voice” app on your iPhone or Android device. Once you enter your email you can search for “Iowa Catholic Conference.”

For some advocacy tips check out our toolbox atiowacatholicconference.org/action-center/lobbying-resources.

COURT TO DECIDE ON ABORTION LAW

The Iowa “heartbeat” abortion ban passed last session is being held up in court. We will find out in the coming weeks whether the law will be dismissed by summary judgment or if there will be a trial in Polk County District Court.

Unfortunately the Iowa Supreme Court decided last year that abortion is a fundamental right in the State Constitution. As mentioned above we are encouraging the Legislature to pass a state constitutional amendment which would declare that the Iowa Constitution does not contain a right to an abortion. This would put the question back in the Legislature’s hands.

A nine-day novena for life begins Monday at www.9daysforlife.com.

AND FINALLY,

We are now returning to our usual weekly newsletter schedule during the legislative session. We would appreciate it if you could put the work of the Iowa Catholic Conference in your prayers from time to time.