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
October 6, 2017

  In This Update:  
  • Michigan Catholic Conference and U.S. Bishops Comment on Revised HHS Mandate
  • Measure Regarding FGM and Parental Rights Continues to Michigan Senate
  • Bipartisan Support Propels Immigration Resolution to the State Senate
  • Full House of Representatives Next to Consider Latest Pieces of Opioid Package
  • Prohibition on Local Excise Taxes for Food Receives Vote in Both Chambers
  Michigan Catholic Conference and U.S. Bishops Comment on Revised HHS Mandate  
Today the Trump Administration announced broad religious and moral exemptions from the federal Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, which required health insurance coverage of morally objectionable drugs and devices. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) commented on the decision, saying these revisions should provide greater assistance to religious entities that have been forced to defend their First Amendment rights in federal court. Here is an excerpt from MCC's statement

"Since its creation the mandate has represented a divisive and unnecessary attempt on the part of the government to force its ideology into the lives of religious institutions, something wholly unprecedented in American history. Michigan Catholic Conference now looks forward to resolving its ongoing legal dispute over the HHS Mandate and settling its case against the federal government."

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomed the announcement, saying:

"The Administration's decision to provide a broad religious and moral exemption to the HHS mandate recognizes that the full range of faith-based and mission-driven organizations, as well as the people who run them, have deeply held religious and moral beliefs that the law must respect. Such an exemption is no innovation, but instead a return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state. It corrects an anomalous failure by federal regulators that should never have occurred and should never be repeated."
  Measure Regarding FGM and Parental Rights Continues to Michigan Senate  
The state's Juvenile Code provides the circumstances for which Family Court may terminate the parental rights of a child. These instances are always tragic. One such circumstance, for example, occurs if a parent has been convicted of a serious crime, such as first-degree murder or criminal sexual conduct, and if the Court believes continuing a relationship with that parent would be harmful to the child. House Bill 4716, sponsored by Representative Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Township), adds another circumstance to the Juvenile Code's parental termination laws for the courts to consider: if the parent is convicted under state or federal law of knowingly performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on a child or knowingly transporting a child for that purpose. FGM, a painful cutting of female genital organs, has no health benefits and can lead to short and long-term emotional and physical health complications. The measure will not impact every child, but does allows the Court to consider whether it is in the best interest of the child to remain with the parent/parents who have been found by clear and convincing evidence to have subjected the child to FGM. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) supported House Bill 4716, which was also supported by the Michigan State Police. This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to move the bill forward, which passed the House back in September.   
  Bipartisan Support Propels Immigration Resolution to the State Senate  
The full House of Representatives approved a resolution this week which would urge the U.S. Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform. Michigan Catholic Conference staff encouraged support for this measure as an indication to federal lawmakers that reforming the nation's broken immigration system should be a critical priority. If the resolution is also adopted by the Michigan Senate, it will then be sent to Congress. Here is an excerpt from House Concurrent Resolution 15, which is sponsored by Representative Jim Lilly (R-Park Township): 

"For too long, comprehensive immigration reform has been an unaddressed priority of both political parties and in many states, including the state of Michigan. The absence of such reform leaves in place a patchwork of policies that creates confusion, uncertainty, and fear within immigrant communities and for employers, universities, and congregations of various faiths. Moreover, our nation's imperfect immigration system dampens tourism and burdens our state and local governments with high enforcement and legal costs. Only a bipartisan solution to our nation's immigration woes will ensure that our nation's physical and economic well-being are secure."
  Full House of Representatives Next to Consider Latest Pieces of Opioid Package  
The House Health Policy Committee approved several bills this week aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic in this state. Among other aspects, these measures address the importance of having a bona fide physician-patient relationship before the prescription of opioids, limiting the number of opioids that can be prescribed for a patient at one time, and require physicians to run a patient's name through the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) before prescribing controlled substances. Each of these bills is part of a larger package to curb opioid abuse, while still managing the pain care needs of Michigan residents. Michigan Catholic Conference recently distributed a letter to members of the House and Senate Health Policy Committees, encouraging the Michigan Legislature to continue its important discussion on the crisis. The legislative package now continues forward to the full House of Representatives.  

Read Michigan Catholic Conference's FOCUS on confronting the state's opioid crisis.
  Prohibition on Local Excise Taxes for Food Receives Vote in Both Chambers  
Senate Bill 583, sponsored by Senator Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford), and House Bill 4999, sponsored by Representative Rob VerHeulen (R-Walker), would prevent local governments from imposing taxes or fees on the manufacturing, distribution, or sale of food, except as otherwise stated in state and federal law. This week, Senate Bill 583 passed the full Senate by a 31-5 vote and House Bill 4999 passed the House by a 101-7 vote. Now, each measure will switch to the opposite chamber for further consideration. Michigan Catholic Conference has indicated support for both of these measures, as these taxes and fees have a disproportional effect on the poor and vulnerable. 

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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,