Catholic Advocacy Network Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram
CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
May 19, 2017
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Defer and Dismiss Bill for Human Trafficking Victims Headed to Governor's Desk
  • Revenue Estimating Conference Shows General Fund Down, School Aid Fund Up
  • Senate Unanimously Approves FGM Bills; Discussion Turns to House of Representatives
  • Human Trafficking Expert Witness Testimony Bill Moves to Michigan Senate
  • Spina Bifida Information Bill Considered in Committee
  • MCC Introduces June FOCUS: Confronting Michigan's Opioid Crisis
  • The Word from Lansing Column: Religious Freedom-An American Right for All
 
  Defer and Dismiss Bill for Human Trafficking Victims Headed to Governor's Desk  
 
For individuals trafficked in the commercial sex trade, many have a hard time finding employment, housing, or qualifying for student loans due to multiple prostitution-related arrests. Michigan law currently allows victims who have been charged AND already convicted of a prostitution-related offense the opportunity to have the crime removed from their record. The Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking has also recommended legislation to help dismiss charges against victims for crimes they were forced to commit while being trafficked. Under current law, some victims of sex trafficking are able to receive a one-time deferred sentence on prostitution-related charges committed as a result of being trafficked, as long as they have never had previous convictions on their record.  House Bill 4219, sponsored by Representative Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian), would extend this opportunity to include human trafficking victims with previous prostitution convictions. The bill would also allow for multiple state or local prostitution-related charges to be dismissed under the law. Victims would be eligible for a "discharge and dismissal" program, which defers the charge(s) while they undergo probation. When probation is completed, which could include participation in mental health or substance abuse counseling, the charges would be fully dropped. MCC has supported this measure through the process to help victims receive services instead of jail time. HB 4219 passed the House of Representatives and Senate unanimously. Governor Snyder now has the opportunity to sign the bill into law.
 
  Revenue Estimating Conference Shows General Fund Down, School Aid Fund Up  
 
This week, the Senate Fiscal Agency, the House Fiscal Agency, and the State Budget Office all met for the second Revenue Estimating Conference of the year. These conferences, usually held in January and May, project available state revenues. These estimates help lawmakers as they continue to formulate their state budget proposals. According to the new projections, Michigan's General Fund revenue for 2016-2017 is now estimated to be $10.111 billion, down $178.8 million from the January 2017 forecast. School Aid Fund revenue is now estimated to be $12.783 billion, up $152.9 million. For the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year, the state's overall revenue is expected to include $10.408 billion in General Fund, down $114.1 million from the January estimate. School Aid Fund revenue is now estimated to be $12.970 billion, up $187.4 million. These estimates have implications for the upcoming state budget proposals, as lawmakers now are expected to have lower General Fund revenues, but higher School Aid revenues, with which to formulate the budget. Michigan Catholic Conference will continue to examine how these new numbers impact policies and programs of concern in the October 2017-September 2018 Fiscal Year.
 
  Senate Unanimously Approves FGM Bills; Discussion Turns to House of Representatives  
 
In last week's Lansing Update, MCC wrote about the Michigan Senate's efforts to address female genital mutilation (FGM), or various degrees of painful cutting on female genital organs. This week, the Michigan Senate unanimously approved bills which prohibit FGM on a minor in state law, create felony sentencing of up to fifteen years in prison for any violations of the law, and prohibit a person from knowingly transporting someone in Michigan for the purpose of performing FGM. Senate Bills 337, 338, 368, and 369 continue now to the House Committee on Law and Justice for further consideration. MCC supports the measures, which were sponsored by Senators Margaret O'Brien (R-Portage), Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton), Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), and Judy Emmons (R-Sheridan).
 
  Human Trafficking Expert Witness Testimony Bill Moves to Michigan Senate  
 
Due to the trauma and abuse they have experienced, human trafficking victims may sometimes behave in a way that is different from societal expectations. For example, some victims may seem sympathetic towards their captors when testifying in court or have gaps in their stories, which makes their testimony seem unreliable. Members of society, including jurors, may question why a victim did not escape from their situation, without understanding the impact the trauma or abuse had on that person and their actions. Under legislation sponsored by Representative Pete Lucido (R-Shelby Township), expert witness testimony on the behavioral pattern of victims would be allowed as evidence in human trafficking cases. Michigan Catholic Conference supports the bill, which allows judges and juries to gain greater insight into victims of human trafficking and to make more informed decisions. The measure, a recommendation from the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission, is also supported by the Michigan Attorney General and the Michigan State Police. During the week, the Michigan House of Representatives voted 106-1 to continue House Bill 4211 forward in the legislative process. It now awaits consideration from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
 
  Spina Bifida Information Bill Considered in Committee  
 

When expectant or new parents hear their child has spina bifida, the diagnosis can be overwhelming, and many have questions about the condition or about what treatments are available. House Bill 4584, sponsored by Representative Henry Vaupel (R-Fowlerville), ensures these parents are given medically accurate information by the health provider about the condition, as well as up-to-date information about possible outcomes, medical treatment, and spina bifida support programs. The measure was discussed this week by the House Health Policy Committee, but no vote was taken. MCC supported this bill as substituted in committee, but is also encouraging the adoption of more comprehensive measures that help parents who receive a variety of poor prenatal diagnoses. For example, Senate Bill 367 provides parents with medically-accurate information about treatment, support, and assistance for babies with a variety of prenatally diagnosed health conditions. The bill also provides parents with referral information to perinatal hospice programs, which allow families whose child is likely to die before, or shortly after birth, with the opportunity to go through the natural grieving process. The measure, sponsored by Senator Jim Marleau (R-Lake Orion), awaits action in the Senate Health Policy Committee.

 
  MCC Introduces June FOCUS: Confronting Michigan's Opioid Crisis  
 
The statistics surrounding opioid abuse are distressing, but even more distressing is the pain of those impacted by addiction, which includes relatives, neighbors, friends, parishioners, and community members. This issue of FOCUS explores the growing opioid crisis - abuse of prescription drugs and use of heroin - and efforts to address addiction by the Catholic Church and the State of Michigan. Contact MCC to order additional copies of this publication at no cost to the parish, school, or other Catholic entity.
 
  The Word from Lansing Column: Religious Freedom-An American Right for All  
 
Early in May, a presidential Executive Order was signed to address religious liberty. One aspect of the Order directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to issue amended regulations that regarding conscience-based objections to the HHS contraceptive mandate. MCC welcomed the shift in policy and encouraged discussions to continue to alleviate unnecessary restrictions on people and organizations of faith. The Word from Lansing column for May discusses the freedom of these same individuals and organizations to serve others, motivated by their religious beliefs. The column also touches on the need for further action at all levels of government to protect conscience rights.

If this email was forwarded to you, please click here to join the Catholic Advocacy Network, which will enable you to receive regular electronic updates and alerts.

For other news and information, click here to follow MCC on Twitter, like MCC on Facebook, follow MCC on Instagram, or visit MCC's webpage.

 
 
Share this with your friends!

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Pinterest Bookmark and Share
Be sure to visit our website at www.micatholic.org
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