CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR IN OPPOSITION TO GUN AMENDMENT

Several bills providing for additional rights for persons to carry guns are advancing in the Legislature. The ICC encourages you to contact your legislators in opposition to a state constitutional amendment that would subject any restrictions on the right of the people to keep and bear arms to “strict scrutiny.”

We believe that sensible regulation of guns should be allowed in Iowa. Click here for the action alert and sample message to your legislators: https://www.votervoice.net/ICC/campaigns/63644/respond.

There will be a news conference and a “Day of Action” this coming Wednesday in opposition to the gun amendment and “permit-less carry” bills.

VOTING RIGHTS BILL TO BE HEARD

The Iowa Senate has scheduled a subcommittee hearing later this week on Senate Study Bill 1046, a constitutional amendment to return voting rights to felons after they have served their sentence. Iowa is one of only two states that withhold ex-offender voting rights. We believe the measure promotes the civic engagement of those re-entering the community.

SPORTS BETTING BILLS ADVANCE

A bill to enable casinos in Iowa to offer betting on sports was passed by the Senate State Government Committee last week. A House subcommittee passed a similar bill. The ICC opposes the measures because of anticipated effects on families.

The bill was opposed by Democrats in committee because they wanted more specifics on license fees and for casinos to be required to make charitable contributions from sports betting proceeds. A Republican also voted no.

E-VERIFY REQUIREMENT CONSIDERED

Senate File 243 passed a subcommittee last week. The bill would require all employers to use the federal “e-verify” database to check every employee’s Social Security number against government records to make sure they are legal to work.

A study estimates that about one out of every 30 e-verify “hits” are incorrect, which will mean a lot of people in Iowa would have to go through an appeal process to keep their job if the bill would pass. The bill will put some burden on small organizations without human resources personnel, including parishes, because all will have to use the e-verify system when they are hiring.

The ICC opposes the bill because it is likely people would lose their jobs unjustly, or not be able to be hired. The bishops support leaving federal immigration enforcement issues to the federal government.

FIRST AMENDMENT PROPOSALS IN PLAY

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) bill, Senate File 240, passed out of subcommittee last week.

The House has scheduled a subcommittee meeting this week on House File 276, its version of the campus free speech/religious liberty bill. Alert readers will recall a similar bill has already passed out of a Senate committee (SF 274). The bill would allow student groups, including religious ones, to choose their leadership in alignment with their beliefs.

OTHER LEGISLATIVE ACTION

  • House File 257, a bill to withhold Title X family planning funds from abortion providers, passed out of subcommittee.
  • House File 277 passed subcommittee. The bill would help nonprofit groups doing regenerative medical research, like the John Paul II Medical Research Institute, raise funds.
  • A bill to expand the exemption for vaccinating children failed in a Senate subcommittee. ICC opposed the bill.
  • A bill to bring back the death penalty, Senate File 296, has been filed in the Senate.
  • Senate Study Bill 1170 passed a subcommittee last week. It contains enhanced criminal penalties for someone who ends a pregnancy (other than abortion).
  • The ICC supports House File 455, which would prohibit government from using hotels that do not receive training on the prevention of human trafficking. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Des Moines provides this type of training in Southwest Iowa.
  • House Study Bill 42 was amended in a positive way to get rid of a proposed one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits.

You can contact your lawmakers at any time on these or other bills at www.votervoice.net/icc/home or on the Votervoice app.

STAYING IN TOUCH WITH LAWMAKERS

The Iowa Catholic Conference held its annual breakfast for legislators on Feb. 19. Check out our Facebook page for some photos. The bishops had an opportunity to speak with legislators about such issues as support for public and private schools, voting rights for ex-offenders, and an amendment to clarify that our state Constitution does not contain a right to an abortion.

FEDERAL ISSUES

Earlier this month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced its plans to weaken crucial protections for payday loan customers.A proposed change would do away with the common-sense requirement, typical of other types of loans, that lenders should have to verify a borrower’s ability to repay a loan before issuing it.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities USA has signed on to a letter expressing concern about the revision of the 2017 rule. There are harmful consequences of unaffordable loans, such as defaulting on expenses or having to quickly re-borrow. On average, borrowers in Iowa take out more than twelve loans a year to repay the original loan.

The U.S. Senate has scheduled a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S. 311)for Monday, Feb. 25. Even if you have already urged your senators to vote for the bill, please contact your senators again and urge them to be present for the vote and to vote for S. 311. Also, please urge your representative to co-sponsor the House version of the bill (H.R. 962) and sign the discharge petition when it becomes available in April. Go to https://www.votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns/63579/Respond for the alert.

AND FINALLY,

ROME—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued a statement on the final day of a four-day meeting attended by Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences from across the globe.

In part, the statement read:

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

“These have been challenging, fruitful days. The witness of survivors revealed for us, again, the deep wound in the Body of Christ. Listening to their testimonies transforms your heart. I saw that in the faces of my brother bishops. We owe survivors an unyielding vigilance that we may never fail them again.

How then to bind the wounds? Intensify the Dallas Charter. Pope Francis, whom I want to thank for this assembly, called us to ‘concrete and effective measures.’ A range of presenters from cardinals to other bishops to religious sisters to lay women spoke about a code of conduct for bishops, the need to establish specific protocols for handling accusations against bishops, user-friendly reporting mechanisms, and the essential role transparency must play in the healing process.

Achieving these goals will require the active involvement and collaboration of the laity … Enhanced by what I experienced here, we will prepare to advance proposals, in communion with the Holy See, in each of these areas so that my brother bishops can consider them at our June General Assembly.”

The full statement is available at http://www.usccb.org/news/2019/19-039.cfm.