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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
December 8, 2017
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop Case; USCCB Issues Comments
  • U.S. Bishops to Congress: Advance Tax Reform That Meets Key Moral Concerns
  • Prohibition of Nudity in Adult-Oriented Businesses with Liquor Licenses Continues to Full Senate
  • Medical Marijuana Warning Label for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers Continues to House
  • U.S. House of Representatives Unanimously Approves Increase of Federal FGM Penalties
  • Governor Signs Parental Rights and FGM Legislation Into Law
 
  SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop Case; USCCB Issues Comments  
 
On Tuesday, December 5, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case involves a Christian baker, Jack Phillips, who declined in 2012 to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony. State officials seek to compel Phillips to create such cakes under Colorado's public accommodations law.  Phillips argues that the state's action against him and his bakery violates the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) commented this week on the case:

"Today's oral arguments address whether our Constitution's guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion will be protected by the Supreme Court. Americans of every creed depend on these guarantees of freedom from unnecessary government coercion.  America has the ability to serve every person while making room for valid conscientious objection. We pray that the Court will continue to preserve the ability of people to live out their faith in daily life, regardless of their occupation. Artists in particular deserve to have the freedom to express ideas-or to decline to create certain messages-in accordance with their deeply held beliefs."
 
  U.S. Bishops to Congress: Advance Tax Reform That Meets Key Moral Concerns  
 
Over the last several weeks, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have passed their own versions of tax reform legislation. Now they are working to reconcile differences between the two proposals. Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, issued a statement this week on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, calling for lawmakers only to move forward if the final bill meets key moral concerns:

"Policy that is good for workers, families who welcome life, families who are struggling to reach (or stay in) the middle class, and the very poor, has by design been a part of our tax code for years. Any modifications to these important priorities of our nation should only be made with a clear understanding and concern for the people who may least be able to bear the negative consequences of new policy."

The bishops have highlighted serious problems that remain in one or both of the proposed bills, including the elimination of personal exemptions, repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual insurance mandate apart from broader health care reform, and failure to include changes that will protect against a steep drop in charitable giving, among others. As debate continues, look for further information and an opportunity to advocate on this legislation soon!
 
  Prohibition of Nudity in Adult-Oriented Businesses with Liquor Licenses Continues to Full Senate  
 
The Senate Regulatory Reform Committee approved Senate Bill 608 this week. This bill adjusts and restores a long-standing ban on nudity at adult-oriented businesses with liquor licenses, in light of a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in 2007. Under the measure, sponsored by Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), lower-body nudity would not be allowed, nor could depicted scenes of nudity be shown where alcohol is served. Additionally, other forms of nudity prohibited by law enforcement or local ordinances would also be banned from these premises. Michigan Catholic Conference supports this legislation, which now continues to the full Senate for further consideration.
 
  Medical Marijuana Warning Label for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers Continues to House  
 
House Bill 5222, sponsored by Representative Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), requires all medical marijuana sold in Michigan to include a health warning for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. This week, the House Law and Justice Committee approved the bill by a 11-0 vote, with one member abstaining. Michigan Catholic Conference supported the measure as a matter of safety for women and their babies. House Bill 5222 will continue forward for further discussion in the full State House of Representatives. 
 
  U.S. House of Representatives Unanimously Approves Increase of Federal FGM Penalties  
 
Currently in federal law, the maximum penalty for the female genital mutilation (FGM) of girls under age 18 is five years. Recently, state lawmakers at the Capitol in Lansing added a state penalty for this crime of fifteen years in prison. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives followed suit and passed legislation unanimously that would also increase the maximum penalty for FGM to fifteen years. One of the co-sponsors of H.R. 3317, or the Stopping Abusive Female Exploitation (SAFE) Act, is Michigan Representative Dave Trott (R-Birmingham). Further action awaits in the U.S. Senate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 513,000 U.S. women and girls last year have been cut or are at risk of being cut, due to their age or because their family belongs to a group that practices FGM. 
 
  Governor Signs Parental Rights and FGM Legislation Into Law  
 
Governor signed House Bill 4716 into law this week, which would allow a court to terminate parental rights to a child, if an individual was convicted of performing FGM on a minor or transporting a minor for the purposes of FGM, and if termination is in the best interests of the child. The measure now becomes Public Act 193 of 2017. Read last week's Lansing Update for more information.

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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