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
March 9, 2018

  In This Update:  
  • Save-the-Date! Monday, March 12 is National Call-in Day for the Conscience Protection Act
  • Foster Families Speak Out Against ACLU Case
  • Nonpublic School Principals Meet with Legislators for MANS Public Policy Day
  • Medical Marijuana Warning Label for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers Continues Forward
  • Bills Protect Victims from Attending School with Their Attackers; Continue to Senate Committee
  • Court Action Temporarily Extends Some DACA Protections 
  • USCCB Urges Concrete Actions to Address Scourge of Gun Violence
  Save-the-Date! Monday, March 12 is National Call-in Day for the Conscience Protection Act  
On Monday, March 12, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is asking people of goodwill across the country to call or email their federal officials and urge passage of the Conscience Protection Act. This measure clarifies federal law and ensures that those who provide health care and health coverage can do so without being forced by the government to help participate in abortion. In a statement, the USCCB wrote:

"Nurses and other health care providers and institutions are being forced to choose between participating in abortions or leaving health care altogether. Churches and pro-life Americans are being forced to provide coverage for elective abortions-including late-term abortions-in their health care plans. Opponents and supporters of abortion should be able to agree that no one should be forced to participate in abortion. Congress must remedy this problem by enacting the Conscience Protection Act now as part of the FY 2018 funding bill."

On Monday, call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected with your U.S. representative or senator. Or email your Members here:
  Foster Families Speak Out Against ACLU Case  
There are approximately 13,000 children in the Michigan foster care system, and nearly 600 children "age out" of this system every year. Finding loving and stable homes for these children is critical. Faith-based agencies like St. Vincent Catholic Charities do just that, serving Michigan's most vulnerable children with love and providing needed support to foster and adoptive families. St. Vincent Catholic Charities is especially skilled at finding homes for sibling groups, older children, and children with special needs. Unfortunately in 2017, the ACLU sued the State of Michigan to shut down its partnerships with faith-based foster and adoption agencies, putting at risk thousands of children who desperately need homes. In a video from Becket Law, children and families share what is at stake in this case. 
  Nonpublic School Principals Meet with Legislators for MANS Public Policy Day  
On Thursday, March 8, close to a hundred principals and superintendents from Michigan nonpublic schools attended Public Policy Day at the State Capitol, which was hosted by the Michigan Association of Non-public Schools (MANS). MANS accredits nonpublic schools in the state, including schools affiliated with the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and Christian Schools International. These educators met with legislators and staff in the Michigan House and Senate, speaking out against cuts to the shared time program, the First Robotics Grant, and funding in the state budget to reimburse nonpublic schools for state health, safety, and welfare mandates. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) staff assisted conference attendees with lawmaker visits, and Policy Advocate Paul Stankewitz spoke to the group regarding the importance of continued advocacy. MCC is thankful to its friends at MANS for putting on the event, as well as to all the educators who came for their critical advocacy on these issues.

Photo: MCC Vice President for Public Policy Tom Hickson guides nonpublic school principals to Senate session and helps them pull lawmakers off the Senate floor for individual legislative meetings.
  Medical Marijuana Warning Label for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers Continues Forward  
House Bill 5222, sponsored by Representative Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), requires all medical marijuana sold in Michigan to include a health warning for pregnant and nursing women, that any use could result in fetal injury, preterm birth, low birth weight, or development disabilities for the child. This legislation is in line with recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Centers for Disease Control. A new version of the bill adopted by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week also requires the Department of Health and Human Services to establish standards for posting notices and information pamphlets for all medical marijuana provisioning centers and requires the centers to provide each patron with the Poison Control hotline number and safety information related to marijuana use by minors. MCC supports HB 5222 as a matter of safety. It continues now to the full Senate. 
  Bills Protect Victims from Attending School with Their Attackers; Continue to Senate Committee  
House Bills 5530-5532, sponsored by Representatives Lana Theis (R-Brighton) and Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit), protect victims of sexual assault from having to attend school with their attacker. Under the legislation, a pupil convicted or adjudicated of criminal sexual conduct would be expelled from the school if the victim also goes there. The bills also allow a victim to get a personal protection order against their attacker who is attending school in the same building. Under current law, schools may only expel the student if the attack happened on school grounds. The Michigan House of Representatives approved each bill with wide bipartisan support, and the measures continue now to the Senate.
  Court Action Temporarily Extends Some DACA Protections  
Michigan Catholic Conference has written previously about the federal discussion around relief for the Dreamers, or those who came to America as children without documents. March 5 was originally the deadline set by President Trump for U.S. Congress to act after the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provided temporary work authorization and deportation protection to 800,000 Dreamers. 

In January, however, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an injunction, prohibiting the government from terminating the DACA program. A federal judge in New York City imposed a second injunction in February. While the government is not required to accept new DACA enrollees, the court decisions mean that it must continue to process renewal applications. As a result, some current recipients be able to remain in the U.S. until at least 2020 (each request is granted for two years at a time). The Justice Department asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the injunction, in effect bypassing the Circuit Court.  The U.S. Supreme Court denied the request on February 26.

A federal judge in Maryland ruled earlier this week that the Trump administration's phaseout of the DACA program was legal, but this decision does not appear to impact the nationwide injunction already put in place by the California decision. More updates will be provided as this issue continues through the courts. Michigan Catholic Conference remains in conversations with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and would like to thank all who participated in the national call-in day for Dreamers.
  USCCB Urges Concrete Actions to Address Scourge of Gun Violence  
In the aftermath of the tragic attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, Ohio, Chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, urged national leaders to finally come together and address the crisis of gun violence in a comprehensive way. Here is an excerpt from that statement:

"Once again, we are confronted with grave evil, the murder of our dear children and those who teach them. Our prayers continue for those who have died, and those suffering with injuries and unimaginable grief. We also continue our decades-long advocacy for common-sense gun measures as part of a comprehensive approach to the reduction of violence in society and the protection of life. Specifically, this moment calls for an honest and practical dialogue around a series of concrete proposals-not partisanship and overheated rhetoric."

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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,