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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
May 12, 2017
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Measures Move Forward in the Michigan Senate to Address Human Rights Issue
  • MCC: Senate E-Cigarette Bill Does Not Do Enough to Protect Children
  • Senate Committee Approves Measure Regarding Local Governments and School Sale
 
  Measures Move Forward in the Michigan Senate to Address Human Rights Issue  
 

Over the past several weeks, the Michigan Legislature has begun to tackle the topic of female genital mutilation (FGM), or various degrees of painful cutting on the female genital organs. This topic has recently been highlighted in the news as allegations of this happening in the Livonia area have surfaced. According to the World Health Organization, the procedure has no health benefits for girls and women, and it can lead to short and long-term medical complications. While this practice is most commonly found in thirty countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, research shows approximately 500,000 girls in the United States have had or are at risk for the procedure due to their age and as a member of a cultural group that practices FGM. United States federal law prohibits the practice on anyone under the age of 18 and offers up to a five year sentence in prison for those who violate this law, but currently, there are no prohibitions in state law against FGM.

 

Recently, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed Senate Bills 337-338, which would prohibit female genital mutilation of a minor in state statute and create felony sentencing for any violations of the law of up to fifteen years in prison. This week, two more measures-Senate Bills 368 and 369-passed the same committee to also prohibit a person from knowingly transporting a person in Michigan for the purpose of performing FGM. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has spoken out against violence against women in all forms, such as female genital mutilation, recognizing that women possess equal personal dignity to men and deserve to be treated with respect. Michigan Catholic Conference supports efforts to ban the practice and to protect children. Staff is thankful to the bills' sponsors, Senators Margaret O'Brien (R-Portage), Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton), Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), and Judy Emmons (R-Sheridan), for their leadership on this important human rights issue.
 
  MCC: Senate E-Cigarette Bill Does Not Do Enough to Protect Children  
 
For years, the Michigan Legislature has been discussing the best way to regulate e-cigarettes and prohibit their sale to minors. This year, legislation sponsored by Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) regulates e-cigarettes as vapor products, not tobacco products. Although Senate Bill 37 does prohibit the sale of these products to minors, which is laudable, MCC opposes the bill because this type of regulation does not do enough to protect children. In January 2015, Governor Snyder vetoed a similar bill, echoing similar concerns. During testimony in the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee this week, MCC joined with a number of other groups, including the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, and the Michigan State Medical Society, in writing a letter to the committee explaining concerns with the legislation. Lawmakers on the committee voted to move the bill forward to the full Senate for further consideration.
 
  Senate Committee Approves Measure Regarding Local Governments and School Sale  
 
Under current law, school districts may not prevent buildings they are selling, leasing, or renting from being used for other legal educational purposes, if that is the sole reason for denying the property transfer or use. This would include the use of a building as a school, owned or operated by a private or charter entity. Senate Bill 249, introduced by Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), would extend this same policy to properties owned by local governments. Under the bill, a local government could not prevent, nor be required, to sell, lease, or rent property to an educational institution or private school solely because of its intended use for a lawful educational purpose. This week the Senate Education Committee approved the measure by a 4-1 vote, which now continues to the full Senate with Michigan Catholic Conference support.
 
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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