The staff of the Iowa Catholic Conference wishes you a blessed and prayerful Easter season!

It looks like the Iowa Legislature is entering its last week or two of work for the year. We are pleased that both the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees have passed bills including an increase the School Tuition Organization tax credits. These tax credits help raise private money for scholarships for lower-income students to attend an accredited nonpublic school.

StMalachyschoolCurrently $13 million in tax credits are made available by the state to donors and we are asking the legislature to increase that to $20 million in coming years. The program does not take money from public school funding. In fact, the Iowa Department of Revenue estimates it saves the state more than $12 million a year.

Please take the time to send a message to your legislator in support. You can find more details on the issue and a sample message at https://www.votervoice.net/ICC/campaigns/65475/respond. If you have already sent a message to your legislators in support, thank you!

A bill legalizing sports betting passed the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 31-18, with literally no debate. It was a bipartisan vote; both Democrats and Republicans voted for and against the bill. The House is scheduled to debate the bill this week.

The legalization of sports betting, especially through mobile apps, would be one of the biggest gambling expansions in our history. The ICC opposes the legislation due to the potential of a greater number of people becoming addicted to gambling, and the resulting damage that gambling addiction causes to families. Our action alert is available at https://www.votervoice.net/ICC/campaigns/65184/respond.

The Iowa Catholic Conference also opposes an effort to make contraceptives available without a prescription. You can learn more about our perspective on the issue and send a message to your member of the Iowa House athttps://www.votervoice.net/ICC/campaigns/65371/respond.

In other news at the State Capitol, Senate File 603 passed the Senate unanimously and was sent to the House. The ICC supports the proposal because it allows nonpublic schools to enter into agreements with community colleges for “concurrent enrollment” classes. There would be state funding for smaller schools’ students.

“Concurrent enrollment” is when school districts contract with community colleges to offer college-level courses to eligible high school students. Currently nonpublic schools are able to enroll students in the classes only if there is space available.

FEDERAL CONCERNS

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to ask for solidarity with refugees. You are encouraged to contact your members of Congress and request they urge the Administration to admit 30,000 refugees in FY19 and 75,000 in FY20, and provide robust oversight and appropriations to achieve both goals.

Thank you to all who urged your U.S. representative to sign the discharge petition to force a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Many people are upset with the idea of babies being left alone to die after surviving an attempted abortion. The good news is that 199 House Members have signed the petition. But we still need 19 more to sign it to force a vote on this life-saving legislation. You can take action now to urge your member to sign the petition or to thank him or her for signing it.