Because of the Martin Luther King holiday and the snow, it was a little quieter week at the Capitol than normal.

Senate Study Bill 1017, a bill allowing guns in vehicles in school parking lots, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 23 on a 12-2 vote despite the opposition of public and nonpublic schools. There have been many bills on gun ownership introduced at the legislature this year. The bishops’ priorities include opposing legislation that would restrict the state’s ability to regulate weapons.

Another priority of the Iowa Catholic Conference is to encourage passage of a state constitutional amendment which would affirm that the Iowa Constitution does not secure a right to an abortion. This is in response to last year’s Iowa Supreme Court decision which declared abortion to be a fundamental right in the state. The amendment was introduced Thursday as Senate Joint Resolution 9 by Sen. Jake Chapman and 28 other senators.

Many legislators are upset that the “heartbeat” abortion ban passed by the Iowa legislature last year was struck down last Wednesday, Jan. 23, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

The Iowa Catholic Conference opposes House File 62, a bill to bring back the death penalty in the state. So far, a subcommittee hearing on the bill has not been scheduled.

A ban on racial profiling in the justice system, Senate Study Bill 1038, has been introduced by the Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Brad Zaun. It was also introduced by Democrats in the House as House File 122. This is also a priority item for the bishops and we’ll keep you apprised of its progress.

The ICC has registered in support of several bills, including a minimum wage increase (HF 91), repealing English as the only official language (HF 70), and helping Dreamers receive “resident tuition” at the state universities (HF 101). Since these bills have been introduced by Democrats it’s unlikely they will receive a hearing.

To see copies of the above bills and to follow legislative action go to www.legis.iowa.gov.

UPCOMING DATES OF INTEREST

Catholic Schools Week is underway. This year’s theme, “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.,” focuses on the important spiritual, academic and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education firmly rooted in the Truth of the Gospel. Check with your local Catholic school about the week’s activities.

There will be arguments on the “BLinC” summary judgment motion this Wednesday, Jan. 30. The court case is in response to the University of Iowa “deregistering” some student groups because the groups required their leadership to subscribe to a particular faith statement. The U.S. Department of Justice has said the university violated the student groups’ First Amendment rights. Legislation to address the issue is most likely on the way.

Immigration advocates are sponsoring an advocacy day at the State Capitol on Monday, Feb. 4. It is hosted by Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors, a United Methodist immigration ministry, and the American Friends Service Committee. For more information go to www.tinyurl.com/2019iowaactiva. The Catholic Church supports a just and humane reformof our immigration system.

AND FINALLY,

After the introduction of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 (EICDA), Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, welcomed the legislation as an important step forward in addressing climate change.  See http://www.usccb.org/news/2019/09-020.cfm for the full statement.