Last Friday marked the second legislative “funnel” deadline, where a bill is required to have passed one chamber and through a committee in the other chamber to remain eligible for further consideration. The deadline does not apply to appropriations or tax legislation. Here’s our funnel report:

Addressing migration issues

The ICC was pleased to see that HF 2608, the “human smuggling” bill that had passed the House, was dropped from the agenda of the Senate Judiciary Committee. We appreciate the many messages sent to legislators asking them to oppose the bill.

Other immigration enforcement bills have been set aside in the Iowa Legislature as well, but a proposal that does not align with our principles remains alive for consideration.

SF 2340 has passed the Iowa Senate and been sent to the House. SF 2340 and its companion bill, HF 2567, would create a state crime of “illegal entry into the state by an alien.” We believe these bills are pre-empted by federal law and the U.S. Constitution. It is problematic that these bills would explicitly allow state officials to prosecute an individual for state immigration crimes, even if that person’s application for immigration relief is pending before federal authorities.

Catholic social teaching recognizes a country’s right and responsibility to manage its borders in accordance with the common good. At the same time, serving newcomers is compelled by Sacred Scripture and Catholic social teaching and is a core ministry of the Church. Under federal law and the U.S. Constitution, only the federal government has the authority to investigate violations of immigration policy.

The ICC encourages you to contact your member of the Iowa House in opposition to SF 2340/HF 2567.

Working on school safety

The legislature is continuing to work on proposals with a goal of making schools safer in the wake of the shootings in Perry, Iowa.

The Senate Education Committee voted to advance HF 2586, which provides a grant program to help pay for school resource officers and legal immunity for public school staff who receive a professional permit to carry weapons in school.

HF 2652 passed the Iowa House last week and was sent to the Senate. It contains a grant program for public schools to purchase weapons and for school staff to obtain a professional weapons permit. All schools, public and nonpublic, would be required to obtain a public safety radio, paid for by a separate grant program.

Technically speaking we believe it is already legal for a school to purchase weapons. That being said, the Catholic bishops do not support the initiative making it easier for schools to buy weapons. The bishops support helping public schools pay for school resource officers and having public safety radios in schools.

Other issues relating to human life and dignity

Unfortunately, HF 2575, a bill defining an unborn child as a person for the purpose of the state’s criminal code other than abortion, did not make it to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s agenda last week due to concerns about IVF. About 40 states treat the killing of an unborn child as a form of homicide, including the states bordering Iowa. Our view is the bill would not have affected the legality of IVF procedures. The Church offers pastoral care to people struggling with infertility, although IVF procedures are not supported by the Church.

The Senate Education Committee passed legislation requiring middle and high school to show a three-minute video showing fetal development. HF 2617 passed the House late last month.

The ICC supports legislation to increase the tax credit for adoptive parents to $20,000. HF 2637 passed the House last week by a unanimous vote, 99-0, and goes to the Senate.

We were also pleased to see the Senate Commerce Committee pass HF 2276 before the deadline, which would allow maternity group homes to be zoned as residential properties. This proposal will help the group homes to avoid “not in my backyard” problems when they purchase a home.

HF 2319 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. It prohibits local governments from testing universal basic income programs. The concern among legislators supporting the bill is that people will stop working if they receive money with few obligations attached to it. The ICC opposes the bill. While universal basic income (UBI) programs may not necessarily be the answer to poverty, they are being researched in different parts of the country. Catholic social thought does not exclude the possibility of UBI programs being a good idea.

During a subcommittee hearing for HF 2319, ICC staff had the opportunity to discuss the importance of work in Catholic social thought. Work does not only mean paid labor for wages. Our tradition also upholds the dignity of “caregiving” work and argues that caregiving work in the home deserves “economic compensation in keeping with that of other types of work.”

Contact your Iowa legislators on any of these issues here.

‘Civilize It’ webinar coming up

In a polarized climate that threatens the unity of the Body of Christ and distances us from our brothers and sisters, how is the Church called to respond? Join in virtually on Wednesday, March 20 at 3 p.m. to reflect on the challenge of polarization and on tools from our Catholic tradition that can help us heal Church and society.

Gloria Purvis, renowned Catholic speaker and host of The Gloria Purvis Podcast from America Magazine, will moderate the conversation. Panelists include: Kerry Alys Robinson, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, and Rev. Aaron Wessman, G.H.M., author of The Church’s Mission in a Polarized World. This virtual event is co-sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, Glenmary Home Missioners, and the Jesuit Conference.