Feb 2010

ACC Takes Defensive Action on Several Bills

ACC Takes Defensive Action on Several Bills\

This week was the last week for bills to receive committee hearings in their house of origin.  Consequently, there was a flurry of activity as sponsors attempted to get their measures heard so that they could stay alive.
Fortunately, the Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC) can report that its efforts to defeat extremely problematic measures relating to both assisted suicide (SB 1298) and the provision of morning after pills (HB 2737) were successful when they were both denied a hearing.
Other problematic bills, however, did receive committee hearings, including a bill (HB 2597) that would have put a sunset on all tax credits.  Following testimony from the ACC opposing the bill because of its impact on both the tuition tax credits and the charitable organization tax credit, the House Ways and Means Committee defeated the bill.
Meanwhile, yet another bill of concern (HB 2632) was heard in the House Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee.  HB 2632 is a parallel measure to SB 1070 (which has passed the Senate) and pertains to local police enforcing immigration laws.
The ACC testified in opposition to this bill primarily out of concerns for public safety and the fact that crime victims and witnesses who are in the country unlawfully may not come forward and report crimes unless they have clear assurances that they will not be deported for doing so.  Although the bill was significantly improved by an amendment, concerns remain over public safety and the creation of a new crime of criminal trespass for those merely present in the country unlawfully.
Despite all of the defensive action taken on bills this week, there was also positive movement to report on bills supported by the ACC.  The most significant development in this regard was the passage by the full House of a measure (HB 2148) to provide a preference for married couples in public adoptions.
There are no committee hearings scheduled for next week as both the House and Senate focus their energies on the budget.  Nonetheless, it is expected that both chambers will take action on a number of bills that are ready for the floor. 


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?

Please use the sample message on our website at
www.capwiz.com/iowanasccd or call on your legislator to help.

Health Care as a Basic Right

This edition of FOCUS seeks to advance the Church’s support for universal health care, to detail what policy positions must be included in any effort to reform the nation’s health care delivery system, and to provide additional resources for Catholics to learn more about this critical, and morally relevant public policy. View document…
Read more…

Minnesota Catholic Bishops Urge Legislature To Support A Reformed General Assistance Medical Care Program

Saint Paul – In a February 18, 2010 letter to members of the Minnesota House of Representatives, the Minnesota Catholic bishops urged lawmakers to support a reformed General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) program that “not only guarantees accessible and quality care to our neighbors with the greatest needs, but does so in a way that safeguards human life and dignity.” The bishops continued, “when we deny health care for any human person, we ignore their human dignity. And when we ignore their human dignity, we fail to recognize and value human life itself.”
GAMC is an essential state-funded health care program that annually provides basic care to 77,000 of Minnesota’s poorest and most vulnerable adults. It is scheduled to end on April 1, 2010. The majority of Minnesotans receiving GAMC have as their only income the $203 per month they receive from General Assistance payments. One-third of Minnesotans enrolled in GAMC are homeless, more than half suffer from mental illness or chemical dependency, and nearly one-third live with a chronic medical illness. The bishops stated that the focus of GAMC reform efforts must be “providing accessible health care coverage to our neighbors in need.”
The Minnesota House of Representatives is expected to vote on a reformed GAMC program (House File 2680) during today’s 11:00 a.m. floor session.
Read more…

News from Kentucky


Iowa Catholic Conference legislative update

Read More . . .
FUNNEL REPORT Friday was the deadline for Senate bills to be reported out of Senate committees and House bills out of House committees. Let’s take a look at how some issues of interest to the Iowa Catholic Conference fared: We were pleased that House File 2269 did not make it out of committee. The bill would have required require all schools, public and private, to offer “comprehensive” sexuality education each year from kindergarten through high school. We opposed requiring Catholic schools to offer instruction that is quite likely to be in opposition to the church’s moral teaching. I would like to thank those who contacted their legislator about this issue – you made a big difference!

Bill Filing Deadline Arrives

th of the following year.
The House Health and Human Services Committee, meanwhile, approved bills that would improve the reporting of abortion statistics (HB 2649) and extend the waiting period for divorces from 60 days to 180 days (HB 2650).
On a less positive note, the Senate tentatively approved SB 1070 on Thursday relating to local police enforcement of immigration laws and the creation of new trespass crimes.  SB 1070 was amended, however, to slightly improve some of the problematic provisions so that police may not be required to report crime victims and witnesses who are undocumented immigrants.  It is expected that the Senate will have a formal vote on this measure next week.
Next week is also slated to have much more action on a number of pro-life, pro-family, and pro- school choice bills in both the Senate and the House.
The filing deadline for bills in both the Senate and the House has now passed with a total of 1,382 measures being introduced.  Even though new bills can no longer be introduced, various proposals can still come into being by virtue of strike-everything amendments and other tactics.  In reality, these tactics mean that nothing is really over until the legislative session ends.
For its part, the Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC) will continue to monitor all of the bills and amendments for their potential impact on the interests of the Catholic Church throughout the entire session.
With regard to the highlights of legislative activity this week, the House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation (HB 2664) to provide more transparency and accountability to the individual tuition tax credit.  Additionally, the Senate gave tentative approval to a bill (SB 1274) that would allow taxpayers to make contributions to school tuition organizations up until April 15

Lansing Update

The current issue of Lansing Update has been posted to the Michigan Catholic Conference Web site at:


1.  Governor Details 2010–11 Budget Recommendations Amidst $1.7 Billion Deficit

2.  "Body Parts" Bill Moves on to Full Senate    


Under SB 1070, all local police officers would be required to investigate the immigration status of anyone with whom they make "legitimate contact" and have a "reasonable suspicion" that they may be present in the country unlawfully.  Under such a policy, victims of crimes and witnesses are much less likely to report crimes because of a legitimate fear that they will be deported.
Other areas of concern with SB 1070 include language that may compel law enforcement agencies to ignore more pressing criminal matters in favor of doing a much larger amount of immigration enforcement.  Local police are facing potential budget cuts and need discretion as to how to best focus their efforts in protecting the public.
Finally, it is worth noting that SB 1070 creates a crime of trespass for all undocumented immigrants.  A second trespass offense is then elevated to a felony.  Many undocumented immigrants were brought to this country at a very early age and are here through no fault of their own.  SB 1070 will treat these people as criminals, even if they have committed no other crime.
For the reasons above, and others, please take a minute to respectfully ask your Senator to vote no on SB 1070 by following the "Take Action" link and then following the very easy instructions.
SB 1070 is a problematic anti-immigrant bill that will soon reach the floor of the Arizona Senate.  While finding meaningful solutions to immigration issues is not easy, there are some efforts that may unintentionally have a negative impact on public safety.  Such is the case with SB 1070.

Big Week for Catholic Schools

Big Week for Catholic Schools

The Catholic Schools Rally was a huge success at the Capitol yesterday.  Despite predictions of rain, the weather was perfect and the large crowd of Catholic students, teachers, and parents were treated to a great day of fun and learning. 
The rally was not the only thing happening at the Capitol this week, however, as movement occurred on some very positive pieces of legislation relating to school choice.  In particular, the Senate Education Committee yesterday approved legislation that would allow donors to wait until April 15

th of the following year to make their tuition tax credit contributions.
Additionally, it was announced that two important bills relating to tuition tax credits (HB 2663 and HB 2664) will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee next Monday at 2:00 p.m..  Both of these bills are meaningful efforts that will improve an already beneficial tax credit program by providing additional transparency and accountability.   HB 2664 also would increase the tuition tax credit limits to $750 for individuals and $1,500 for married couples.
Other positive news came this week when the House Health and Human Services Committee approved a measure (HB 2148) that would provide a preference for married couples in public adoptions.  A similar measure failed to pass in the Senate a few years ago, but there is more optimism for this year's bill.
Finally, there was not much movement on immigration bills this week, but SB 1070 is an anti-immigrant measure that may make it to the Senate Floor next week.  There are many concerns with SB 1070, including the fact that it likely would deter crime victims and witnesses from coming forward out of a fear of being reported to immigration authorities.  The bill also creates a felony trespass crime for those who are merely present in the country unlawfully.
For more information on these bills, and many others, please make sure that you are signed up to receive these free updates at


Iowa Catholic Conference newsletter

Coming up in our newsletter …

  • Governor’s budget message
  • Regulation of payday loans
  • Iowa Workforce Opportunities Act
  • Technology for nonpublic school students
  • Marriage amendment
  • Health care reform – national and state
  • Pro-life rally
  • Medicaid Family Planning Waiver
  • Woman’s Right to Know Act

Read more . . .