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

  In This Update:  
  • 2017-2018 State Budget Proposals Continue to Full House and Senate
  • USCCB Pro-Life Chair Calls Pro-Abortion Pledge Extreme, Disturbing, Intolerant
  • Safe Delivery Update Passes House Unanimously
  • Senate Approves Measure to Eliminate Prostitution Exemption
  • House Approves Charitable Gaming Bill Package With Bipartisan Support
  2017-2018 State Budget Proposals Continue to Full House and Senate  
This week, the Appropriations Committees in both the House and Senate approved their respective state budget proposals for the 2017-2018 year. Included below is information of interest to MCC.
Nonpublic School Mandates and Robotics Program: Both chambers' proposals maintain $2.5 million for nonpublic schools to comply with state health, safety, and welfare mandates. Each proposal also allows nonpublic schools to apply for competitive grant funding for the First Robotics program, which covers registration fees for competitions, stipends for coaches, and other expenses. The House and Senate plans provide $250,000 in grant funding that will be divided up among award winners.
Shared Time: Shared time allows nonpublic school students to access non-core classes from the local public school district. The House plan includes $115 million in funding, and the Senate plan includes $113 million. The Senate language also includes a reimbursement cap of 0.75 full time equivalent status per student. MCC would like to see this limitation on participation removed before the final budget is adopted.
Tuition Grant: Through this policy, low-income students can receive financial assistance to Michigan's independent colleges and universities. The House proposal includes $36.5 million, an increase of $1.5 million from last year's budget, and increases the maximum amount of funding per student from $1,512 to $1,750. The Senate proposal includes $38 million, an increase of $3 million from the previous year.
Tuition Incentive: The policy provides Medicaid-eligible students with tuition assistance for the first two years of schooling at a public or independent college. Both proposals include $58.3 million for the policy, which is an additional $5.3 million from last year's budget.
Dual Enrollment: Through the policy, nonpublic students can take community college or university classes for college credit while still in high school. Both proposals include $2 million for this purpose.
Pregnancy and Parenting Support Program: This program provides counseling, parenting education, and material support to women in crisis pregnancies and their babies, up through twelve months after the child's birth. The House proposal now includes a full year's funding in the budget proposal at $700,000. The Senate proposal provides $400,000. MCC will advocate for the full $700,000 in the final budget.
Heat and Eat: The Heat and Eat policy helps low-income residents receive additional food assistance by providing a certain level of state heating assistance. With the Senate proposal restoring funding for Heat and Eat this week, both chambers' proposals now include $6.8 million in state energy assistance, a little more than $20 per family. With this, approximately 338,173 low-income families will then be able to qualify for an average of $76 more per month in federal food assistance.
Behavioral and Mental Health (Section 298) Funding: Based upon the Section 298 report, which is a result of a year-long workgroup with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and other stakeholders, the Legislature is tasked with integrating behavioral and physical health services. The House proposal recommends that the department implement a statewide behavioral health managed care organization. The proposed language also calls for a pilot program based on a full physical and behavioral health integrated service model.
This week, the proposal was amended to also include up to three pilot programs that use a single contract between the state and licensed health plans. The Senate proposal allows the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct pilot projects and demonstration models for bringing the delivery of mental and physical health services together. The Senate also includes non-binding language that by the end of Fiscal Year 2020, the state should have mental and physical health Medicaid services managed through a single licensed health plan contract. An amendment this week requires the managing Medicaid health plan to reinvest any savings it might realize through a pilot program to be reinvested in behavioral health services. Michigan Catholic Conference has concerns with both proposals because they are seen as avenues towards privatization of behavioral health care.
Children's Clothing Allowance: The allowance helps Michigan's low-income families who qualify for the Family Independence Program (FIP) purchase clothing for their children as the school year begins. The House proposal increases the rate to $160 per child per year, while the Senate's plan maintains the $140 per child per year rate.
Per Diem Rates for Foster Care Agencies: This funding provides for the per diem administrative rate for private foster care agencies contracting with the Department of Health and Human Services (such as Catholic Charities). Last budget cycle, this rate was $45.00. The House raises this rate to $45.60 and restores a fifty-fifty cost sharing between the county and the state for the rate. The Senate increases the rate to $46.20 but continues to hold the county harmless from contributing to this rate.
Homeless Emergency Shelter Per Diem Rate: This funding helps provide emergency shelter for Michigan's homeless and assists their transition into permanent housing. The House proposal includes $3.7 million in additional funding to increase the per diem rate for emergency shelters from $12 to $16 per bed night. The Senate proposal still includes a $100 placeholder to ensure the discussion continues.
Human Trafficking Intervention Services: The funding supports initiatives of the Human Trafficking Health Advisory Board, helps develop strategies to eliminate human trafficking, and provides necessary community programs and care services. Both proposals provide $200,000 for this purpose.
Next, the full House and Senate will vote on their respective proposals to continue the budget forward.
  USCCB Pro-Life Chair Calls Pro-Abortion Pledge Extreme, Disturbing, Intolerant  
This week, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, responded to an announcement from the chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, who pledged to only back candidates who support abortion rights. Here is Cardinal Dolan's full statement on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
"The recent pledge by the Democratic National Committee chair to support only candidates who embrace the radical unrestricted abortion license is very disturbing. The Democratic Party platform already endorses abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy, even forcing taxpayers to fund it; and now the DNC says that to be a Democrat-indeed to be an American-requires supporting that extreme agenda. True solidarity with pregnant women and their children transcends all party lines. Abortion doesn't empower women. Indeed, women deserve better than abortion. In the name of diversity and inclusion, pro-life and pro-'choice' Democrats, alike, should challenge their leadership to recant this intolerant position."
  Safe Delivery Update Passes House Unanimously  
The Michigan House of Representatives approved updates to the state's safe delivery law this week by a unanimous vote. Under current law, parents are able to surrender an infant up to three days old to an emergency service provider without risk of being charged with abandonment. House Bill 4311, sponsored by Representative Hank Vaupel (R-Fowlerville), improves parent anonymity in the law, listing parents as "unknown" on the birth certificate and lists the infant as "Baby Doe." The measure now awaits further action in the Senate Committee on Families, Seniors and Human Services. The Senate version of the measure, Senate Bill 215, has passed the Senate and awaits further action in the House Health Policy Committee.
  Senate Approves Measure to Eliminate Prostitution Exemption  
Senate Bill 275 passed the Senate unanimously to remove an exemption in the prostitution code. Michigan is currently the only U.S. state with a law still on the books that grants on-duty police officers immunity from prosecution if they have had sex with a prostitute during an investigation. Local and state police say they do not include or use this tactic in undercover training. The measure, sponsored by Senator Judy Emmons (R-Sheridan), continues now to the House Law and Justice Committee. There it will join its House counterpart, House Bill 4355, sponsored by Representative Gary Glenn (R-Larkin Township). MCC will continue to advocate in support of these measures.
  House Approves Charitable Gaming Bill Package With Bipartisan Support  
Two measures addressing charitable gaming received consideration this week. House Bill 4081 and Senate Bill 35 create standards for charities and the companies that may be contracted to operate the gaming event. Many charitable organizations have used gaming events to raise funds for their causes or mission, but in 2014, restrictive rules that were adopted hindered charities in their ability to raise money this way.  Legislators in the House passed the bills, which are supported by MCC, by a 100-9 bipartisan vote. House Bill 4081, sponsored by Representative Tom Barrett (R-Potterville), awaits further consideration in the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee. Senate Bill 35, sponsored by Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), previously passed the Senate but will receive another vote there to agree to the House's changes.
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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,