The Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) reports that HSB 254, an omnibus bill regarding the right to keep and bear arms is under consideration. The bill would eliminate the requirement to have a valid permit when carrying a firearm in a city and bans local ordinances on carrying. The ICC has opposed these types of bills as the Iowa bishops have consistently supported measures that control the sale and use of firearms and other sensible regulations.
In other legislative matters, several bills are under consideration that relate to parental choice in education, including HSB 240, which contains a substantial increase in the tuition and textbook tax credit for school parents. HSB 240 passed a subcommittee.
Earlier this week, the House planned to have the first hearing on the Student First scholarship plan to help some students attend a nonpublic school (HSB 243) and on a bill to establish a pathway to public charter schools started by private organizations (HSB 242). In addition, a bill (SF 168) to require public schools to offer special education services at the location of the nonpublic school is eligible for consideration by the Senate Education Committee.
The ICC anticipates future opportunities for legislation to help some parents have a real choice in the educational options for their children, said ICC Executive Director Tom Chapman.
The prospects of two bills the ICC supports in the House Judiciary Committee are uncertain:
• HF 377, which provides for a new committee on commutations to review life sentences in Iowa.
• HF 442 provides additional legal protections to residents of mobile home parks.
Last week at the Capitol:
• Both the Senate and House Labor Committees passed their versions of bills opposed by the ICC (SSB 1172 and HSB 203) that slice unemployment benefits for bigger families and implement a one-week waiting period for benefits.
• The Senate Labor Committee also passed SSB 1029, which would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees based on pregnancy or childbirth. However, an amendment would weakens the bill’s impact.
• The House Judiciary Committee passed HSB 143, a constitutional amendment proposal to allow people coming out of prison to vote.
• Along party lines, the Iowa Senate passed SF 389, which creates a new eligibility verification system for Iowans enrolled in public assistance programs. In itself, the creation of a new verification system is not necessarily problematic. However, the bill also eliminates “categorical eligibility” for SNAP (food stamps) which, according to a proponent, would kick 50,000 people off food stamps in Iowa. Categorical eligibility means a person qualifies for SNAP because they qualify for another government assistance program.