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
June 2, 2017

  In This Update:  
  • USCCB Urges Broadening of HHS Mandate Exemption
  • Conference Committees to Meet Next Week on State Budget
  • Senate Committee Unanimously Reports Expert Witness Testimony Bill
  • Spina Bifida Information Bill to Be Considered Next By Full House
  • U.S. Bishops Regret President's Withdrawal From Paris Agreement
  • U.S. Bishops Provide Senators With Moral Principles for Health Care Reform
  USCCB Urges Broadening of HHS Mandate Exemption  
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, has issued an initial response to the apparent draft interim final regulations that were recently leaked, pertaining to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions:
"While they have yet to be formally issued and will require close study upon publication, the leaked regulations provide encouraging news. If issued, these regulations would appropriately broaden the existing exemption to a wider range of stakeholders with religious or moral objections to the mandated coverage-not just houses of worship. This not only would eliminate an unwarranted governmental division of our religious community 'between our houses of worship and our great ministries of service to our neighbors,' but would also lift the government-imposed burden on our ministries 'to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions (United for Religious Freedom, 2012).'" 
  Conference Committees to Meet Next Week on State Budget  
Discussions on the proposed state budget for October 2017-September 2018 are set to continue next week in conference committees. These committees consist of three state representatives and three state senators, tasked with reconciling differences between budget proposals passed previously by the House and the Senate. To read more about the policies and programs that Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) staff are watching during these budget discussions, click here. Below are the legislators that have been appointed to work on the various aspects of the budget MCC is watching:
  • Higher Education: Representatives Kim LaSata (R-Bainbridge Township), Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg), and Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo), as well as Senators Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton), Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford), and Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing).
  • Department of Health and Human Services: Representatives Ed Canfield (R-Sebewaing), Sue Allor (R-Wolverine), and Pam Faris (D-Clio), as well as Senators Jim Marleau (R-Lake Orion), Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford), and Vincent Gregory (D-Southfield).
  • School Aid: Representatives Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw), Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron), and Robert Kosowski (D-Westland), as well as Senators Geoffrey Hansen (R-Hart), David Hildenbrand (R-Lowell), and Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor).
  Senate Committee Unanimously Reports Expert Witness Testimony Bill  
Individuals who have been subject to human trafficking often face a number of obstacles after they have escaped their abuse, including the criminal trial of their abuser. As a result of their trauma, victims may sometimes behave in a way that seems confusing to the public, such as appearing sympathetic towards their trafficker. House Bill 4211, sponsored by Representative Pete Lucido (R-Shelby Township), would allow expert witness testimony on the behavioral pattern of victims to be submitted as evidence during the trial. MCC has advocated for the measure's passage to allow judges and juries greater insight into the mindset of victims. The measure passed the Michigan House in May, 106-1, and this week passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a unanimous vote. HB 4211 continues now to the full Senate.
  Spina Bifida Information Bill to Be Considered Next By Full House  
Discussion continued on House Bill 4584 this week, a measure which ensures parents receive up-to-date, evidence-based information when their child is diagnosed with spina bifida. The legislation, sponsored by Representative Hank Vaupel (R-Fowlerville), helps parents learn about the condition, treatments, and support programs and services that may be available. The House Health Policy Committee moved the bill forward to the full House by a 10-0 vote, with 6 legislators abstaining. MCC supports HB 4584 and will continue to advocate for additional measures that provide information to parents who receive poor prenatal diagnoses.
  U.S. Bishops Regret President's Withdrawal From Paris Agreement  
On June 1, President Donald Trump announced the United States will withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change. This agreement, ratified in November 2016, was signed by over 195 countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Most Reverend Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued a statement in response to the president's decision:
"The USCCB, along with Pope Francis and the entire Catholic Church, have consistently upheld the Paris agreement as an important international mechanism to promote environmental stewardship and encourage climate change mitigation. The President's decision not to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement is deeply troubling. The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and caring for each other in solidarity. The Paris agreement is an international accord that promotes these values...I can only hope that the President will propose concrete ways to address global climate change and promote environmental stewardship."
  U.S. Bishops Provide Senators With Moral Principles for Health Care Reform  
As the United States Senate turns its attention to federal health care reform, the United States bishops have provided lawmakers with a series of moral principles to consider in their discussions. In a letter sent to all senators on June 1, the U.S. bishops wrote of the Church's continued commitment to ensuring all have access to medical care and outlined their concerns with the legislation passed by the U.S. House, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The five principles emphasized by the U.S. bishops for a good reform policy include universal access, respect for life, true affordability, the need for high quality and comprehensive medical care, and conscience protections.

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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,