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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 9, 2017
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Lawmakers Greet Michigan's Bishops at State Capitol Luncheon
  • U.S. Bishops to Gather for Mass of Prayer and Penance for Survivors of Abuse
  • Conference Committees Pass Revised Budget Proposals for 2017-2018 Year
  • Human Trafficking Expert Testimony Legislation Awaits Governor's Consideration
  • Knights of Columbus Fundraising Bill Continues to Full Senate
  • After Passing the House, Senate Committee Next Stop for FGM Package
  • Sanctuary City Debate: MCC Neutral on Legislation But Raises Concerns
  • Opioid Measures Continue Forward in Both Chambers
  • Bill on Local Governments and School Sale Passes House Committee
 
  Lawmakers Greet Michigan's Bishops at State Capitol Luncheon  
 
This week, Michigan Catholic Conference's Board of Directors, which includes the bishops of each arch/diocese in the state, met with lawmakers at the State Capitol in Lansing. All members of the House and Senate, as well as other elected officials, were invited to attend and to have the opportunity to meet their bishops. After the event, Most Reverend Steven Raica, bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord, gave the opening prayer to begin the House of Representatives session. Here is an excerpt from his prayer:
 
"We pray today for the women and men who comprise the House of Representatives and their dedicated support staff. May they be imbued with knowledge, understanding and wisdom to represent well the needs of those they represent here in this House. Through cordial dialogue and mutual respect, may the deliberations of this House on the many pressing issues of our day find reasonable solutions that reflect the inestimable dignity and worth of all, safeguard the vulnerable among us, and through positive outcomes, ensure the welfare of the citizens of Michigan."
 
MCC would like to thank Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall (R-White Lake), House Majority Floor Leader Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway), and the State Capitol staff for their assistance in helping to prepare for this event. Thanks also to Patrick Yockey of Senate Communications for this wonderful photo.
 
  U.S. Bishops to Gather for Mass of Prayer and Penance for Survivors of Abuse  
 

On Wednesday, June 14, the U.S. bishops will gather in Indianapolis for their Spring General Assembly. On that day, the bishops will also gather at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral for a Mass of Prayer and Penance for survivors of sexual abuse within in the Church. This Mass will be an opportunity to gather in solidarity to pray for victims and to acknowledge the pain caused by the failures of the Church in the past. The bishops will also recite a commemorative prayer that has been written for survivors of abuse. All dioceses and eparchies have been provided with prayers to use at any time of their choosing after June 14 and may choose to schedule their own local Masses or events to promote healing.

 
  Conference Committees Pass Revised Budget Proposals for 2017-2018 Year  
 
During the week, conference committees met to consider various aspects of the 2017-2018 state budget and to reconcile differences between the House and Senate proposals. Each committee includes members of both the Michigan House of Representative and Senate. Among other aspects, Michigan Catholic Conference was pleased to see $2.5 million in funding included to reimburse nonpublic schools for health, safety, and welfare mandates, as well as $650,000 in funding included to help women in crisis pregnancies and their babies. As there may be some final adjustments in the budget proposals before they are voted on, a more detailed report about issues of concern to MCC will be sent out to members in a later Lansing Update.
 
  Human Trafficking Expert Testimony Legislation Awaits Governor's Consideration  
 
In last week's Lansing Update, Michigan Catholic Conference wrote about a bill allowing expert witness testimony on the behavioral pattern of human trafficking victims to be submitted as evidence during trial. This legislation is a critical part of improving understanding around human trafficking cases, both with the judge and jury, so that their decisions can take the impact of trauma into account. House Bill 4211, sponsored by Representative Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Township), unanimously passed the Senate this week. Since the measure has already passed the House of Representatives by a 106-1 vote, it will now continue to Governor Snyder for his consideration.
 
  Knights of Columbus Fundraising Bill Continues to Full Senate  
 
This week, the Senate Transportation Committee unanimously approved a bill that would allow a Knights of Columbus fundraising license plate to be created. Senate Bill 354 requires the Secretary of State to issue a special plate that is available for purchase, with $25 from each sale going into a fund for the Knights of Columbus. In an effort to support this Catholic organization, which does great work for those in need in our communities, Michigan Catholic Conference advocated for the measure.
 
Pictured: The bill sponsor, Senator John Proos (R-St. Joseph), poses with Monsignor Michael Osborn, Director of the Office of Vocations in the Diocese of Kalamazoo (left), and Most Reverend Paul Bradley, bishop of the Diocese of Kalamazoo (right).
 
  After Passing the House, Senate Committee Next Stop for FGM Package  
 

This week, the House Law and Justice Committee considered both the House and Senate packages of bills aimed at prohibiting female genital mutilation (FGM), or various degrees of painful cutting on female genital organs. The issue of FGM has gained national attention in recent months due to alleged cases on children in the Detroit area. Among other aspects, the measures would prohibit FGM of a minor in state statute, create felony sentencing for violations of the law of up to fifteen years in prison and $25,000 in fines, prohibit a person from transporting a child for the purpose of performing FGM, encourage education to communities about the harm caused by the practice, and revoke the medical license of a doctor found to have conducted the practice. Michigan Catholic Conference supported House Bills 4636-4640, 4642; House Resolution 105; and Senate Bills 337-339 during the committee and will continue to advocate for their approval to ban the practice and to protect children. Towards the end of the week, the full House of Representatives approved the House measures, which will be sent to the Senate for further consideration. The Senate bills await further consideration by the full House.

 
  Sanctuary City Debate: MCC Neutral on Legislation But Raises Concerns  
 

Around the country, a number of local governments have instituted "sanctuary city" policies, which vary but generally limit the extent to which law enforcement and other government employees can assist the federal government on immigration matters. Several Michigan cities have their own local versions of this policy, stating that the local police department is prohibited from soliciting immigration status from individuals who seek police services, report crimes, or are witnesses. Status can be solicited, however, if it is relevant to the investigation of a criminal offense, or when processing an arrested person. The House Local Government Committee this week considered two measures aimed at sanctuary city policies. House Bills 4105 and 4334, sponsored by Representatives Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township) and Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain), prohibit a local unit of government or county from enacting or enforcing any law which limits cooperation with federal officials about a person's immigration status. The Catholic Church does not have a position on the concept of sanctuary cities, but the bishops - as well as Pope Francis himself, have spoken clearly about the human dignity of immigrants and refugees. MCC is neutral on the legislation but expressed several concerns with the legislation during testimony. Staff pointed out that immigration policy and enforcement is a federal responsibility, not a state responsibility, so violations should be dealt with by the U.S. Department of Justice, not the state legislature. Additionally, MCC expressed this legislation may undermine security by sending a signal to immigrants that contact with law enforcement should be avoided. The committee voted the legislation forward on a party-line vote.

 
  Opioid Measures Continue Forward in Both Chambers  
 

The Senate Health Policy Committee approved measures this week to curb opioid abuse, including bills that would require licensed prescribers to run and review a report on a patient's prescription history before prescribing or dispensing a controlled substance to that patient. The package also requires, among other provisions, a licensed prescriber to have a bona-fide relationship with the patient and provide follow-up care if possible. Senate Bills 47, 166-167, 236-237, 270, 273-274, and 360 all await further action on the Senate floor. This week, the House approved its own package of bills also aimed at addressing opioid abuse, House Bills 4403-4408, which will now continue to the Senate Health Policy Committee for further consideration. Among other aspects, the measures regulate pain management clinics, add requirements for schools to teach about opioid abuse, and require parents to provide consent for their children to receive their first prescription of opioids. MCC is monitoring the legislation. To learn more about the Church's response to the opioid crisis, click here and read the Conference's most recent FOCUS publication.

 
  Bill on Local Governments and School Sale Passes House Committee  
 
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 policy 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. The measure recently passed the Senate and this week passed the House Education Reform Committee. Michigan Catholic Conference supports Senate Bill 249, which now continues to the full House of Representatives for further consideration.
 
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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