Lansing Update
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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
February 17, 2017

  In This Update:  
  • Hundreds Join National and Statewide Speakers for MCC Human Trafficking Conference
  • House Tax Committee Passes Income Tax Rollback
  • Lawmakers Begin Work on State Budgets, Challenge Cap on Shared Time
  • USCCB Chairmen Call for Action on Religious Liberty Executive Order
  • 2017-2018 Advocacy Principles and 2015-2016 Advocacy Report Available Online
  Hundreds Join National and Statewide Speakers for MCC Human Trafficking Conference  
On Saturday, February 11, Michigan Catholic Conference sponsored a day-long conference on human trafficking titled From Darkness to Light: Human Trafficking and Our Response. Approximately 275 participated in the day, which highlighted modern-human slavery in Michigan communities and what is being done to address the problem.  The day began with a welcome and invocation from Bishop Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing and culminated in news coverage that helped to spread awareness of this important topic. Participants heard from featured speakers Bridgette Carr, the founding director of the University of Michigan Human Trafficking Law Clinic; Andy Soper, the founder of the Manasseh Project; and Joyce Dixson-Haskett, a clinical social worker and human trafficking survivor. Participants also gathered in breakout sessions and panel discussions to hear from experts from law enforcement, health care, victim service organizations, and advocacy groups. Michigan Catholic Conference would especially like to thank the Diocese of Lansing, Livingston County Catholic Charities, and St. Vincent Catholic Charities for their assistance in planning the event. Staff would also like to thank all the speakers, vendors, and participants for being a part of the day, Lansing Catholic High School for hosting, Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing for beginning the day with prayer, and the St. Francis Retreat Center catering for providing the meals.
  House Tax Committee Passes Income Tax Rollback  

This week, the House Tax Policy Committee approved House Bill 4001, a measure that would reduce the state's income tax from 4.25 percent to 3.9 percent and then phase it out by 0.1 percent each year until 2057. If the measure sponsored by Representative Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) were to become law, the state would see an immediate revenue reduction of over $600 million in the first year. The second year, reductions would be $1.1 billion and approximately $400 million each year thereafter for the next forty years. According to State Treasurer Nick Khouri, the state currently has a one-time surplus of $500 million, meaning the budget would still need to be cut over $100 million in the upcoming fiscal year. In any proposed tax policy, Michigan Catholic Conference evaluates how the legislation would impact policies that provide basic necessities to Michigan's poorest citizens. MCC has concerns about the legislation and will continue to evaluate it for a final position.

  Lawmakers Begin Work on State Budgets, Challenge Cap on Shared Time  

As mentioned in last week's update, Governor Snyder recently revealed his recommendations for the 2017-2018 state budget. Included in his proposal was a significant reduction in funding for shared time services that benefit both public and nonpublic schools. Shared time allows nonpublic school students to access non-core classes, such as gym, art, music, or foreign language from the local public school district. The governor recommended capping the $115 million shared time program at $60 million, a reduction of 53 percent. During legislative appropriations subcommittees this week, senators and representatives expressed their concerns to the state budget office about the proposed cut. MCC will continue to oppose this policy and will work with the Michigan Association of Non-Public Schools and the public school community to ensure appropriate funding for this successful program is available.

  USCCB Chairmen Call for Action on Religious Liberty Executive Order  
In early February, several media outlets reported that President Donald J. Trump was considering an Executive Order that would establish a government-wide policy to protect religious liberty rights. Several committee chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a joint statement this week, calling for action on such a measure. Among those items referenced by USCCB that are in need of government protection include:
  • Relief from the mandate of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that forces the Little Sisters of the Poor and others to facilitate the provision of contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs and devices in their health plans,
  • Preservation of tax-exempt status for nonprofits that hold beliefs based on marriage, human sexuality, and the protection of human life at all stages,
  • The ability of religious organizations that partner with the federal government to act according to their beliefs regarding marriage, human sexuality, and the protection of human life at all stages,
  • A broad religious exemption to Executive Order 13672 so that faith-based organizations can continue to partner with the federal government to provide much-needed services here at home and abroad,
  • The ability of religiously affiliated child welfare providers to provide adoption, foster, or family support services for children in accordance with their religious beliefs,
  • Protection of accreditation for religious schools based on their beliefs, and
  • Conscience protections regarding abortion in the individual health insurance market.
Take a minute now to send message of support for this executive order to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
  2017-2018 Advocacy Principles and 2015-2016 Advocacy Report Available Online  
This week, parishes, schools, charity agencies, legislators, members of the news media, and others received Michigan Catholic Conference's guiding advocacy principles document, "A Blueprint for the Common Good." The publication, approved by the Board of Directors in December, lists categories and specific legislation that are of interest to Michigan Catholic Conference as the 2017-2018 legislative session moves forward. The document lists nine issue categories of importance to the Conference, including human life and dignity, the preferential option for the poor and regulatory policies, religious liberty, education, children and families, restorative justice, immigration and refugees, health care, and select federal issues.
This week, Michigan Catholic Conference also released its advocacy report on the previous 2015-2016 legislative session. The report analyzes legislation of interest to the Michigan Catholic Conference and also itemizes various communications pieces and publications that were released over the two-year period. During the 2015-2016 legislative session, Michigan Catholic Conference staff worked on issues to protect life, to promote education and religious liberty, to assist the poor and vulnerable, and to encourage reforms in criminal justice, among others. To check out the full report, click here.

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Michigan Catholic Conference, 510 South Capitol Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48933 Michigan Catholic Conference: The Official Public Policy Voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan Phone: (517) 372-9310, Fax: (517) 372-3940,