Happy Easter Monday!

The Iowa Catholic Conference has posted two action alerts for your consideration. We encourage you to send a message to your legislator on these bills. Follow the links to learn more:

Support the “Baby Olivia” bill

HF 2617 requires middle and high school curriculum to include a video showing fetal development. The proposal would ensure students can see the miracle of life and how it develops in the womb. It will show the humanity of the unborn child. HF 2617 does not require the usage of any specific video.

Support additional insurance coverage for moms on Medicaid

Virtually everyone agrees that access to health care is critical for new moms and families. To improve maternal health outcomes, Gov. Reynolds has proposed extending health care coverage for new mothers who have Medicaid coverage from the current two months after the birth of a child to a full year, ensuring access to vital postpartum care. The proposal is found in HF 2583. The Senate has already passed its own version, SF 2251. Unfortunately, the bills scale back income eligibility for mothers from 375% of the federal poverty level to 215%, which would cause some moms to lose coverage. The ICC is working to “have our cake and eat it too” by increasing the length of Medicaid coverage and keeping the existing eligibility rate.

AEA bill signed

Gov. Reynolds has signed the bill reforming Iowa’s Area Education Agencies following the Senate agreeing to the House’s version. AEAs are regional groups which provide services for special education to students and professional development for schools across the state. Some provisions of the bill:

  • The Department of Education will be responsible for compliance and oversight of special education. The department will hire at least one full-time staff member to be a liaison with nonpublic schools in the division of special education.
  • Special education services will continue to be provided by AEAs.
  • Starting in the Fall of 2025, all professional development-type funding and media services funding will go to the public school district. Public schools will decide how to spend it rather than AEAs.
  • Findings from the 2022 task force on special education services in nonpublic schools are included, which will encourage services to be provided at the location of the nonpublic school.
  • 2.5% increase in funding for public schools.
  • Over two years, there will be an increase in the minimum public school teacher salary to $50,000. We are told this will put us Iowa among the top 5 states.
  • Over two years, there will be an increase in the minimum salary for public school teachers with 12 years of experience to $62,000. $14 million is provided to districts for paraeducator salary increases in public schools.

HJR 2006 passed the Iowa House by a vote of 61-35 and goes to the Senate. The ICC opposes this constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds supermajority approval of the legislature for personal or corporate income tax increases. If the proposal is put in the state Constitution, it could allow a minority to veto such proposals. If a tax increase is necessary, Catholic social teaching would generally suggest higher income taxes rather than a higher sales tax that carries a heavier burden on lower-income people as they purchase necessities.

HF 2637, increasing the state income tax credit for adoptive parents to $20,000, was passed by a subcommittee of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The ICC supports the bill, which passed the House unanimously.

Iowa Religious Freedom Day coming up

Don’t forget to sign up for the Iowa Religious Freedom Day events on Wednesday, April 10. ICC staff will be among those providing some short remarks in the first floor rotunda at around 9:30 a.m. The theme is “What Good Is Religion in the 21st Century?”

Please stop by this nonpartisan event and learn how to engage with your legislators. For more information go to www.iowareligiousfreedomday.org. Among the co-sponsors of the breakfast along with the ICC are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Des Moines Area Religious Council.