Senate File 494 has passed the Senate and is now up for consideration in the Iowa House. The Iowa Catholic Conference is registered against the bill, which changes the process for how Iowans apply and qualify for public assistance such as food stamps and Medicaid.

There is a public hearing about the bill tomorrow (Tuesday) at 9:30 a.m. Written comments are also accepted.

SF 494 passed the House Appropriations Committee last week on a 13-11 vote. Three Republicans joined Democrats in voting no. We encourage you to learn more and send a message in opposition to your state representative.

Second funnel deadline

Friday was the second legislative “funnel” deadline, when a non-budget bill needed at least to have passed one chamber and a committee in the other chamber to remain alive.

Supported by the ICC, House File 349 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee to beat the deadline. The bill has already passed the House. It gives a person on probation a discharge credit for each month the person successfully completes the terms of probation, an education credit for earning various degrees/certificates and workforce credit for each six-month period the probationer works 30 hours a week. It does not allow for a reduction of more than 60% of the probation term.

We believe the bill will help persons reintegrate into society without undermining public safety. It aligns well with the ICC legislative principles on restorative justice.

We were also pleased that two other bills did not advance past the deadline: Senate File 108, mandatory e-verify, and Senate File 357, bringing back the death penalty. Thanks for sending your comments to legislators on these bills.

The House Education Committee passed but made substantial changes to Senate File 496. The bill is now eligible for debate in the House. The bill includes provisions that would prohibit instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in elementary school and require schools to notify parents if a student requests to use new pronouns. The bill includes several other House proposals related to education.

The House Appropriations Committee passed Senate File 326, which would allow pharmacists to provide hormonal contraceptives over the counter. The ICC opposes that  provision but not the part of the bill that allows for pharmacists to administer epi-pens.

While House File 510, the Human Life Protection Act, did not advance past the first funnel, the ICC is working to enhance the Iowa MOMS program with additional funds. The purpose of the program is to provide grants for further support for pregnant mothers and new moms. We are pleased that the Health and Human Services Department has released a Request for Proposal for a vendor to manage Iowa MOMS.

Subcommittees in the House and Senate passed constitutional amendment proposals that would require a two-thirds vote in each chamber before taxes could be raised. The ICC opposes the bills. Our main concern is that putting this provision in the state constitution could prevent an appropriate government response to what the people of Iowa might need at a future time. It’s difficult to get a two-thirds vote on anything that has any controversy attached to it.