Iowa News

Well, it's snowing again in parts of Iowa. But since we're halfway through the legislative session spring can't be that far away, can it?


Legislative leadership released their "budget targets" last week so committees can begin putting together the major appropriations bills. This means that debate on the state's budget will begin in early March. The targets anticipate more than $200 million less in estimated expenditures compared to the current fiscal year. The biggest hit is to the Health and Human Services department, which includes Medicaid.

The last bill of the session, called the "standing appropriations" bill, is not included in the target amounts; therefore we don't know what the total budget will be.

Earlier in the week, the House passed the state reorganization bill 98-0. The bill, Senate File 2088, is estimated to save the state more than $250 million. Since it was amended in the House, the bill returns to the Senate.


As we reported last week, the bills providing conscience protections for religious organizations regarding marriage did not make it out of committee. Some legislators oppose the bill because they are not interested in addressing the marriage issue or religious freedom at all; others oppose it because they believe the bill would legitimize same-sex marriage. Many other legislators support the bills as a way to continue Iowa's long-standing traditions of religious freedom.

It is our position that mitigating the damage to religious freedom from same-sex marriage should be supported, as we continue to work for an amendment to Iowa's constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Sometimes people ask, "What's the real problem? Why does the church care?" A perfect example came last week as Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C. was told that the agency would be ineligible to continue its 80-year-old foster care and public adoption program because it will not place children with same-sex couples. The District of Columbia's new same-sex marriage law is scheduled to go into effect next month.

I have to ask: Why is it that here in Iowa, the chairs of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Committee both introduced religious conscience bills to take care of problems like this, but could not receive a hearing?

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