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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
January 26, 2018
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Rally at State Capitol Celebrates National School Choice Week
  • National Catholic Schools Week Highlights Contributions of Catholic Education
  • Border District Dual Enrollment Expansion Continues to Governor
  • March for Life Sends a Strong Message of Love to Mothers and Children
  • USCCB Applauds New HHS Initiatives on Conscience and Religious Freedom
  • Federal Fix for Dreamers Remains an Ongoing Concern 
  • The Word from Lansing Column: New Laws Seek to Curb Opioid Crisis in Michigan
 
  Rally at State Capitol Celebrates National School Choice Week  
 
Michigan Catholic Conference was pleased to co-sponsor and participate in a rally for National School Choice Week at the State Capitol in Lansing this week. This event recognized the importance of allowing parents and students to choose the type of school that best fits their needs. Clay Curtin, a senior from Lansing Catholic High School, spoke about the sacrifices his parents made to send him to Catholic school and the impact school choice has made on his life:

"I cannot imagine how different my life would be had my parents not been able to choose the school where I could thrive in and out of the classroom every single day. Opportunities which push students to shape their lives into who they're called to be are available and encouraged throughout my days at Lansing Catholic...This beautiful Capitol building we're in now is the perfect setting to urge & show our gratitude to the Michigan Legislature for their support of school choice, whether it be traditional public, charter, home, or nonpublic, which I attend."
 
  National Catholic Schools Week Highlights Contributions of Catholic Education  
 
From January 28 to February 3, Catholic schools around the country will celebrate National Catholic Schools Week. This year's theme, "Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.," highlights the important spiritual, academic and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education. In observation of next week, the Michigan Senate adopted Senate Resolution 123, sponsored by Senator John Proos (R-St. Joseph), which recognized the value of the over 220 Catholic schools in this state. In part, the resolution reads: "Catholic schools instill a broad, values-based education, emphasizing lifelong development of moral, intellectual, and social values in our young people, making them responsible citizens in our state and in our nation." The Michigan House passed its version of the resolution this week as well. House Resolution 235, sponsored by Representative Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw), highlights that "the common good of the state of Michigan is strengthened through the continued existence of Catholic schools." MCC is thankful to both sponsors for these resolutions.
 
  Border District Dual Enrollment Expansion Continues to Governor  
 
Michigan high school students have participated for decades in dual enrollment opportunities, taking college or university courses for credit while still in high school. The 2017-2018 state budget appropriated funding to expand these opportunities, allowing public school students in districts near the Michigan border to dual enroll in secondary institutions outside of the state (but within 20 miles of the border). House Bill 4735, sponsored by Representative Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis), codifies this policy in the Michigan School Code and offers this opportunity to nonpublic schools as well. Throughout the legislative process, Michigan Catholic Conference supported the policy, which allows both public and nonpublic schools to access expanded educational opportunities. House Bill 4735 passed the House of Representatives in October by a 64-43 vote. This week, the Senate followed suit, voting 30-7 to send the bill to the governor for his signature.
 
  March for Life Sends a Strong Message of Love to Mothers and Children  
 
One week ago, groups from all over Michigan and around the country gathered in Washington D.C. for the March for Life. During this event, which marked the 45th anniversary of legalized abortion in the United States through Roe v. Wade, thousands stood up to recognize the dignity of the human person. This year's theme was "Love Saves Lives." Marchers heard from numerous speakers about the importance of the pro-life movement, including the President of the United States of America via satellite from the White House Rose Garden.  Michigan Catholic Conference's intern, Bailey LeBeau, attended the March for Life this year and reflected on what being pro-life means to her:

"One of the most common questions I am asked when I discuss being pro-life is 'Do you really have any hope of being successful?'  That question was raised again while I was at the March for Life this year. I can't help but smile when asked that question, because there is no doubt in my mind that we will succeed in restoring the dignity of every human life. Not only because the truth always wins, but because of who I see helping pave the way for the future of the pro-life movement. A good majority of those that make up the pro-life movement today are around my age (22). We are a generation that is not afraid to take a stand on the issue of abortion or speak out about the evil it procures.  I am the pro-life generation."   

While the March was taking place, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an important pro-life measure, the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act by a 241-183 vote. This legislation, sponsored by Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7), requires health care practitioners to ensure: 1) any child born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion receives the same care as any other child born at the same gestational age, and 2) that child is immediately admitted to a hospital.
 
  USCCB Applauds New HHS Initiatives on Conscience and Religious Freedom  
 
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced the formation of a new Division on Conscience and Religious Freedom in the HHS Office for Civil Rights. The department also proposed a regulation to protect Americans involved in HHS-funded programs and rescinded a guidance requiring states to provide Medicaid funding to family planning providers that perform abortions. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) applauded the actions, while also encouraging the passage of permanent legislative relief: 

"We urge Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act to give victims of discrimination the ability to defend their rights in court. No one should be forced to violate their deeply held convictions about the sanctity of human life."
 
  Federal Fix for Dreamers Remains Ongoing Concern  
 
Hundreds of thousands of "Dreamers" live in America, immigrants who came to this country without documents when they were children. These individuals were brought by their parents for a better life, and for many, the United States is the only country they have ever known. Back in September, the Trump Administration announced termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which had provided 800,000 of these Dreamers temporary work authorization and protection from deportation. Federal lawmakers are currently considering several proposals to address their future, as the program will officially expire on March 6, 2018. On January 22, the U.S. Congress passed a short-term spending bill to fund the government through February 8th. While it did not include a legislative solution for the Dreamers, both political parties have agreed to continue working towards one. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have expressed their support these bipartisan discussions and advocate for the adoption of "a just and humane [legislative] solution." Stay tuned for future updates, and check out other resources on this issue at the Justice for Immigrants website
 
  The Word from Lansing Column: New Laws Seek to Curb Opioid Crisis in Michigan  
 
Prescription medicines for pain, including opiates, have helped many facing difficult illnesses and conditions. Unfortunately, Michigan has seen greater abuse of these prescription medications in recent years, even among children. During the 2017-2018 legislative session, state lawmakers have been discussing policies that curb unnecessary or excessive opioid use, and many of these measures have become law. Michigan Catholic Conference's latest The Word from Lansing column details more on this discussion and the policy measures that have been enacted.

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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