By Tom Chapman
Under the direction of the bishops of Iowa, the Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) advocates for the common good in the state of Iowa and works with other groups to promote public policies that respect the human person. The ICC serves as the lobbyist in the Iowa Legislature on issues important to the Church and society. In addition, the conference works to encourage people to inform their conscience and participate in the political process. Iowa’s four bishops lead the ICC Board of Directors whose members also include priests, religious women, deacons and lay people. The board’s primary activity is approval of legislative priorities that the ICC staff work on each year. The 2014 priorities:
• Supports expanding tax credits for individuals, businesses or financial institutions that contribute to a “school tuition organization” that provides scholarships to low- and middle-income children who want to attend a nonpublic school.
• Supports the equitable participation of nonpublic school children in federal- and state-funded programs.
• Supports full funding of public schools for the transportation of nonpublic school students.
• Supports parental choice in education by broadening financial assistance to families through education savings accounts, tax credits or other means to allow their children to attend the school of their choice.
• Supports parents as the first and primary educators of their children.
• Supports continuation of assistance for students enrolled in accredited nonpublic schools through technology and textbook appropriations.
• Supports full funding of the Area Education Agencies and on-site special education assistance through the AEAs.
Families and Children
• Supports efforts to expand family strengthening programs, improve childcare programs and increase welfare payments to poor families and children in Iowa.
• Supports amending the Iowa Constitution to recognize marriage only as a union of one man and one woman.
• Supports efforts to provide comprehensive programs for domestic violence victims and for those who commit these crimes.
• Supports governmental assistance that strengthens families, encourages and rewards work, and protects all vulnerable children, born or unborn, including those with developmental disabilities. Supports adequate funding for job training and child care.
• Supports legislation that promotes and funds chastity and abstinence education.
• Oppose eliminating the legal waiting period before a divorce.
• Supports protection of human life and dignity as a foundational principle, including limitations on late-term and “webcam” abortions.
• Supports alternatives to abortion for women by providing funding to programs that assist women in crisis pregnancies.
• Supports efforts to provide women with a choice to be fully informed about abortion.
• Opposes any state efforts to legalize assisted suicide and/or euthanasia.
• Supports funding for research using non-embryonic stem cells.
• Opposes the use of taxpayer funds for abortions, human cloning or embryonic stem cell research.
• Opposes the death penalty.
• Supports legislation to promote adoption programs.
• Opposes embryo creation and destruction for stem cell research.
• Supports a statute to allow a civil claim following the death of an unborn child caused by a wrongful act or negligence.
• Support initiatives that protect religious liberty and the legitimate exercise of the freedom of conscience.
• Supports legislation that prohibits sentencing juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
• Supports sentencing reform that will emphasize community-based corrections for prisoners who are not a threat to the community.
• Supports sentencing reform that will give greater latitude to judges when deciding appropriate penalties.
• Opposes disproportionate cuts to programs that support the poor and vulnerable.
• Supports legislation to limit predatory lending practices.
• Supports a progressive tax system, a just living wage and fair and reasonable labor practices by employers.
• Opposes legislation that would allow for additional taxes and/or fees for services to be imposed on not-for-profit organizations.
• Supports measures to provide effective programs for those who are poor and elderly, including health care, transportation, housing and nutrition.
• Supports development of programs which would provide for a full continuum of care for moderate and low-income families, including care in the home, assisted living care and nursing home care, etc.