By Tom Chapman
For The Catholic Messenger
The 2018 session of the General Assembly convened Jan. 8. Much of the week was taken up by reports to the legislature by the executive branch, courts and the Iowa National Guard. The legislature returned to session Jan. 16 after taking a break for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Governor Kim Reynolds delivered her first Condition of the State address last week. She mentioned several items of interest to the Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC). The governor stated her commitment for school choice and also said that her upcoming tax reform plan will include support for federal 529 plans, which now provide federal tax benefits for private K-12 tuition.
The governor also acknowledged mistakes being made in the implementation of Iowa’s managed care Medicaid system and pledged to “make this right,” while affirming support for improving Iowa’s mental health care system.
Chief Justice Mark Cady’s Condition of the Judiciary speech on Jan. 8 expressed support for specialty courts. He said that statewide expansion of these courts will help offenders and save money for the state. Catholic Charities assists with these programs in some parts of the state.
Contact Congress in support of Dreamers
The bishops’ top federal priority right now is asking Congress to move quickly on legislation that would provide urgently needed relief for Dreamers. These are the more than 800,000 young people who entered the United States without documentation through no fault of their own. Dreamers were protected from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. However, that program is coming to a close in March.
The Iowa bishops have called upon our members of Congress to “move forward in a bipartisan manner and find a permanent legislative solution to ensure that DACA youth can remain in the United States and can continue to reach their God-given potential.”
Dubuque Archbishop Michael Jackels has released a video about the immigration issue and DACA. You can find it at https://tinyurl.com/y8vjgbxz.
A legislative fix of some sort for this situation seems to have bipartisan support. We have an updated action alert in support of the DREAM Act. Please visit the website at iowacatholicconference.org to view updates.
9 Days for Life
“9 Days for Life” is the U.S. bishops’ annual period of prayer and action focused on cherishing the gift of every person’s life. While the overarching intention of the centerpiece novena is the end to abortion, each day focuses on a different aspect of respecting each other’s God-given dignity. The novena starts Thursday, Jan. 18. In addition, we have a new informational resource on the Hyde Amendment, which limits funding of abortion. Visit the ICC website to view these resources.
The ICC looks forward to legislative action at the State Capitol picking up this week.
(Tom Chapman is executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference.)