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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
March 31, 2017
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • New Commercials Airing Across State for Freedom to Serve Effort
  • Education Budget Proposals Include Recognition of Nonpublic Schools
  • Higher Education Budget Proposals Include Increased Funding for Important Programs
  • Governor Snyder Signs Criminal Justice Package Into Law
  • House Committee Unanimously Approves Safe Delivery Update
  • Charitable Gaming Legislation Continues Forward to Full House
 
  New Commercials Airing Across State for Freedom to Serve Effort  
 
On Monday, March 27, MCC launched two 30-second versions of Little Simple Things and Hands of Service and Healing. These commercials are based on longer spots that have been airing on twenty-eight cable and network stations throughout the state. Additionally, a new 60-second commercial is running online to highlight the role Catholic schools play in Michigan communities. The video A Better Place highlights how Catholic schools help students to grow as individuals, each with their unique talents and passions. In Catholic schools, faith is integrated into daily learning, connecting what students are studying in the classroom to the larger world. The Freedom to Serve effort highlights the charitable, education, and health care work of the Catholic Church. Learn more at www.CatholicsServe.com.
 
  Education Budget Proposals Include Recognition of Nonpublic Schools  
 
This week, the Michigan House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees passed their respective education proposals for the 2017-2018 state budget year. Both maintain $2.5 million for nonpublic schools to comply with state health, safety, and welfare mandates. These mandates include activities such as conducting school safety drills, performing criminal background checks on school staff, and maintaining immunization records. Both the House and Senate also provide additional General Fund dollars for the state's First Robotics program. This will allow nonpublic schools, for the first time, to apply for competitive grants that help cover registration fees for competitions, stipends for coaches, or other expenses. Finally, both budgets nearly fully-fund the state's shared time program, which allow nonpublic and homeschool students to access non-core classes from the local public school district. Governor Snyder recommended capping the current $115 million program at $60 million. The House and Senate restored funding to $115 million and $113 million respectively. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) made the following comments after both budgets moved forward this week:
 
"For too long the state has overlooked nonpublic schools within the state budget. Restoring shared time funding, reimbursing for compliance with health and safety mandates, and equitable participation in the state's robotics grant program are common sense policies that treat students equally, regardless of the building in which they are educated."
 
Michigan Catholic Conference is thankful to Representative Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw), chairman of the House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee, and Senator Goeff Hansen (R-Hart), chairman of the Senate Appropriations K-12, School Aid and Education Subcommittee, for their leadership on the education budget proposals. MCC looks forward to further discussions pertaining to nonpublic schools and will continue to advocate for their inclusion in the final budget.
 
  Higher Education Budget Proposals Include Increased Funding for Important Programs  
 
For years, MCC has sought to protect tuition assistance programs in the state budget that assist low-income families continue their child's education after high school. The Tuition Grant means-based program provides funding for Michigan residents to attend independent colleges, while the Tuition Incentive Program helps Medicaid recipients attend public or independent colleges. This week, the Senate Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee both approved their budget proposals that now head to each chamber's respective appropriations committee.
  • Tuition Grant Program: Under Governor Snyder's recommendations, the budget would provide $38 million for the Tuition Grant Program, which is a $3 million increase from last year's appropriation. Additionally, the maximum a student could be awarded would be raised from $1,512 to $2,000. The Senate subcommittee agreed with these changes. The House subcommittee increased the program by $1.5 million, raising the student award maximum to $1,750.
  • Tuition Incentive Program: Both subcommittees agreed with the governor's recommendation to increase funding for this program by $5.3 million, bringing the total appropriation to $58.3 million.
Differences between the proposals will continue to be addressed throughout the budget process.
 
  Governor Snyder Signs Criminal Justice Package Into Law  
 

On Thursday, March 30, Governor Snyder signed eighteen bills into law (Senate Bills 5-10, 12-13, 15-24) to reform the criminal justice system. These bills focused on reducing crime and recidivism in a number of ways, including: modifying penalties for probationers who commit technical probation violations, defining recidivism, providing specialty programming to help rehabilitate younger prisoners, encouraging parole and probation officers to implement evidence-based supervision practices that reduce recidivism, and expanding participation in the intensive "Swift and Sure" Probation Supervision Program for high-risk felony offenders. Governor Snyder vetoed two measures in the original package, Senate Bills 11 and 50. One would have required additional data collection in the criminal justice system, and the other would have created a program to allow eligible prisoners to be housed in county jails. MCC is pleased to see the attention and bipartisan support this package received throughout the process.

 
  House Committee Unanimously Approves Safe Delivery Update  
 
The House Health Policy Committee considered an update to the Safe Delivery Law this week. Under current law, parents may surrender an infant up to three days old to an emergency service provider without risk of being charged with abandonment. The revised legislation would list parents of the child as "unknown" on the birth certificate and list the infant as "Baby Doe," protecting parental anonymity. Michigan Catholic Conference has supported the legislation, which will hopefully encourage parents in these situations to visit emergency providers, rather than put their child at risk. Members of the committee approved House Bill 4311 unanimously by a 16-0 vote. The measure now continues to the House floor for further discussion. The Senate version of the bill, SB 215, remains in the House Health Policy Committee awaiting further action after passing the Senate earlier in March. 
 
  Charitable Gaming Legislation Continues Forward to Full House  
 
The House Committee on Regulatory Reform approved two measures this week to address charitable gaming, Senate Bill 35 and House Bill 4081. Both measures create standards for charities and the companies that may be contracted to operate the gaming event, such as licensing practices, application fees, and requirements for event records and financial statements. Many charitable organizations have used gaming events to raise funds for their causes or mission.  Michigan Catholic Conference supported the legislation as it amends restrictive rules passed in 2014 that hinder the ability of charities to raise money. The bills, sponsored by Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) and Representative Tom Barrett (R-Potterville), now continue to the full House of Representatives for further debate.

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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, publicpolicy@micatholic.org