The 86th General Assembly of the Iowa legislature begins this Monday, Jan. 12. Little legislative work gets done the first week other than the usual ceremonies and organizational meetings of committees.
Also coming up next week is Governor Branstad’s “Condition of the State” speech to the legislature on Tuesday and Chief Justice Cady’s “State of the Judiciary” address on Wednesday. While there are challenges to the state’s budget – including previous commitments to reimburse local government for property tax cuts, Medicaid funding and public education – generally speaking the state’s budget is in good shape.
Much of what we do at the state capitol depends on bills being proposed by legislators. However, in the months preceding the session, we meet with legislators and other groups to develop bills that we would like to see become law. This session some of those bills may include:
- Creating state-funded Education Savings Accounts to help parents choose the best education option for their children. We’ll also be encouraging other support for nonpublic schools.
- Providing assistance for refugees who are legally resettled in Iowa by groups such as Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.
- Making it possible for undocumented immigrants to receive a driver’s license.
- Restricting so-called “webcam” abortions provided over a videoconference.
While some of these items have a price tag, legislators tend to find money for those things they want to accomplish. You can find our entire list of legislative concerns at www.iowacatholicconference.org.
I’m scheduled to be on the “Spirit Morning” program on Spirit Catholic Radio in Nebraska at 7:05 a.m. next Thursday, Jan. 15. You can listen in at www.spiritcatholicradio.com. By then we’ll have listened to Gov. Branstad’s address to the legislature and know what he intends to emphasize this year.
Iowa Catholic Conference
P.S. There’s still time to register for the Midwest March for Life and the Iowa Institute for Social Action. Leading into the March, all four of the bishops in Iowa are scheduled to celebrate the Mass for Life at St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines on Saturday, Jan. 17 at 9 a.m. There’s a great line-up of speakers scheduled for both events.