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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 16, 2018
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • MCC Continues to Support Safe Environments While Opposing Retroactive Measures
  • In 104-2 Vote, House Approves Hospice Fix Regarding Opioids
  • Stillborn Tax Exemption Legislation Receives Consideration
  • MCC Expresses Concerns with State ID and Driver's License Bills
  • Federal STOP School Violence Act Clears U.S. House of Representatives with Wide Support
  • Pope Francis Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary of Election to Papacy
 
  MCC Continues to Support Safe Environments While Opposing Retroactive Measures  
 
On March 14, 2018 the Michigan Senate approved a package of bills intended to, in part, address child sexual abuse in society. Several of the bills are supported by Michigan Catholic Conference, including legislation that would prospectively expand the criminal statute of limitations, expand the pool of mandatory reporters, enhance penalties against repeat abusers, and lengthen the sentences for those who deal in the heinous practice of child pornography. The Senate also passed legislation, Senate Bill 872, that would retroactively reopen the civil statute of limitations for public and private institutions in Michigan, a highly controversial measure opposed by nearly every sector of society in the state. MCC commented on the legislation's passing this week:

"Michigan Catholic Conference is grateful the Senate has passed legislation that will protect children and create safer environments in our state. Senate Bill 872, however, is dangerous public policy that will do nothing to protect children today but rather subject a vast portion of the State of Michigan to currently barred civil actions. MCC applauds Senators Darwin Booher, Patrick Colbeck, Judy Emmons, Dave Hildenbrand, Jim Marleau, Phil Pavlov and Mike Shirkey for opposing the retroactive legislation."

The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Law and Justice. Michigan Catholic Conference remains committed to supporting policies that create safe environments while at the same time adamantly opposing retroactive measures that do nothing to protect children.
 
  In 104-2 Vote, House Approves Hospice Fix Regarding Opioids  
 
In 2017, Michigan adopted a requirement that a licensed provider may not prescribe a Schedule 2-5 controlled substance, unless the prescriber has a bona fide relationship with the patient. This new law, Public Act 249 of 2017, was part of a larger package to address the opioid crisis, but in practice, it unintentionally hinders certain doctors. This week, lawmakers considered an amendment to this Act, House Bill 5678, which redefines bona fide relationship to allow someone with delegated authority of the prescriber to also review patient medical history. Michigan Catholic Conference is supportive of this change, which will allow hospice and other providers to continue giving needed care and medication to end-of-life patients. The measure was introduced by Representative Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian), received a 104-2 vote of approval in the Michigan House, and was sent to the Senate for further consideration.
 
  Stillborn Tax Exemption Legislation Receives Consideration  
 
House Bill 4522, sponsored by Representative Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township), would allow a Michigan taxpayer to claim a one-time personal exemption for a stillbirth child. The legislation, if passed, would allow for the exemption to begin for tax years after 2017. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) supports House Bill 4522, which recognizes the loss of a child for families with stillborn births and helps parents meet costs associated with the child's loss, including funeral expenses. The measure awaits a vote in the House Committee on Tax Policy. 
 
  MCC Expresses Concerns with State ID and Driver's License Bills  
 
Michigan law prohibits the Secretary of State from issuing a state personal identification card or driver's license for a term beyond a person's legal presence in the United States. House Bills 5686-5687, introduced this session by Representatives Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township) and Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan), add this provision to other sections of the Vehicle Code and the State Personal Identification Card Act. The bills also propose, when applicable, a new requirement that the state ID card or license be visually marked to reflect the expiration of their legal presence.

Individuals who are renewing or applying for renewal of their immigration status are still considered legally present, even after the expiration of their current federal document. Because of long re-verification wait times at the federal level, a Michigan resident who is here legally while renewing their status could be holding a driver's license that flags them as not legally present. Currently, when law enforcement see the expiration date, they would most likely write a ticket for the ID/license holder for having an expired license. Under these bills, however, the visual mark that legal presence has expired could raise greater consequences, as local law enforcement would not necessarily know if a person's legal presence has truly expired. Because of these concerns, Michigan Catholic Conference opposed the bills this week in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which did not hold a vote on the measures. MCC staff is working with the bill sponsors, as well as the Secretary of State's office, to improve the legislation.
 
  Federal STOP School Violence Act Clears U.S. House of Representatives with Wide Support  
 
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act, a measure that reauthorizes and increases funding for the federal Secure Our Schools grant program. House Resolution 4909, sponsored by Representative John Rutherford (R-Florida), provides $50 million in funding annually (through Fiscal Year 2028) that will be distributed through the Department of Justice for violence prevention training and the development and operation of anonymous reporting systems. An additional $25 million is also included annually for schools to make physical improvements for school safety, such as metal detectors and stronger locks. The STOP School Violence Act received wide bipartisan support, moving forward to the Senate after a 407-10 vote. 

Michigan Catholic Conference is pleased the legislation allows for both public and nonpublic schools to apply for the grant funding, as previously, only public schools were eligible. Last week, staff from MCC and other members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Federal Advisory Commission spoke with House leadership in D.C., urging nonpublic schools to be added to those eligible to apply.

Photo: MCC Policy Advocate Paul Stankewitz and Archdiocese of Detroit Superintendent Kevin Kijewski met with U.S. Congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. as part of the Federal Assistance Advisory Commission, a group that assists the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on education policy.
 
  Pope Francis Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary of Election to Papacy  
 
Five years ago, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina became the new pope of the Catholic Church. In honor of the anniversary this past week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Administrative Committee issued the following statement to Pope Francis: 

"Most Holy Father: The members of the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, now gathered in ordinary session on the 13th day of March 2018, take this opportunity to express our filial affection on the fifth anniversary of your election to the Chair of St. Peter. May the Lord bless you with His grace as you confirm all the brothers and sisters in unity and shepherd us in charity." 

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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