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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
April 13, 2018
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • House of Reps Introduces Package of Child Protection Measures
  • House HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Moves 2018-2019 Budget Recommendation
  • Appropriations Subcommittees Move Education Budget Proposals Forward
  • Coercion Expansion in Human Trafficking Law Sent to Governor's Desk
  • House of Representatives Unanimously Approves Stillborn Tax Exemption 
  • Driver's License Bills Amended; Continue to the House of Representatives
  • Michigan Catholic Conference Receives Four Awards for PR Excellence
 
  House of Reps Introduces Package of Child Protection Measures  
 
This week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the State House of Representatives introduced a package of eighteen bills regarding child protection and sexual misconduct prevention. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) is reviewing details of the package but is pleased overall with the positive direction of these bills, which are focused more accurately at creating safe environments for children. These House bills stand in direct contradiction to Senate Bill 872, which passed the State Senate in March, seeking to retroactively change the civil statute of limitations. MCC remains opposed to retroactive legislation, which does nothing to keep children safe now or in the future. In the coming weeks, as the House Law and Justice Committee begins holding hearings on the favorable House bills, Michigan Catholic Conference will keep members of the Catholic Advocacy Network informed of any updates. Please stay tuned for opportunities to email your lawmakers and urge their support for measures that create safe environments for children.
 
  House HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Moves 2018-2019 Budget Recommendation  
 
This week, the House Health and Human Services (HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee voted for its initial state budget recommendations for the October 2018-September 2019 Fiscal Year. The proposal included $650,000 of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding for the Michigan Pregnancy and Parenting Support Program, which provides support to women in crisis pregnancies and promotes alternatives to abortion. For years, MCC has supported funding in the state budget for this important program and is thankful for the leadership of Representative Dr. Ed Canfield (R-Sebewaing), chair of the subcommittee, on this budget recommendation. The proposed budget continues now to the full House Appropriations Committee. The Senate HHS Appropriations Subcommittee has not yet voted on its proposal.
 
  Appropriations Subcommittees Move Education Budget Proposals Forward  
 
Over the past several weeks, the Senate and House Higher Education and School Aid Subcommittees met and approved their funding proposals for the 2018-2019 budget year. Michigan Catholic Conference is following a number of important measures and their funding levels in the Senate and in the House of Representatives.
  • First Robotics: provides grant funding for First Robotics programs in nonpublic schools. Last year, 38 programs were awarded this grant, which covers registration fees for competitions, stipends for coaches, and other such expenses. The Senate and House School Aid Subcommittees again included $300,000 for the program, which was cut in the governor's proposal. 
  • Nonpublic Health, Safety, and Welfare Mandates: reimburses nonpublic schools for expenses related to state health, safety, and welfare requirements. This funding has been included in the state budget for the past two years. Unfortunately, neither the governor's budget nor the proposed Senate budget continues this item. However, MCC is pleased to see $2.5 million included in the House version for these mandate costs.
  • Shared Time: allows for a nonpublic student to enroll in a "non-essential" course through a public school if the student's school does not offer the class. The governor's proposed budget severely cut funding for shared time services, providing a $64 million cap when the program currently spends approximately $135 million. The Senate School Aid Subcommittee proposal partially restores funding to $119.3 million, eliminates kindergarten as an eligible grade, further limits the number of shared time courses a student can take, and caps annual growth in students counted for membership for shared time programming. The House School Aid Subcommittee retains the current spending level of $135 million with several technical changes.
  • Tuition Grant Program: provides low-income students with financial assistance to Michigan's independent colleges or universities. The governor's proposed budget decreased funding for the Tuition Grant Program, from $38 million to $32 million. The Senate and House Higher Education Subcommittees maintain the current funding at $38 million.
MCC will continue to collaborate with the Michigan Association of Non-public Schools (MANS) and state lawmakers on these and other issues of importance to nonpublic schools.
 
  Coercion Expansion in Human Trafficking Law Sent to Governor's Desk  
 
Human trafficking, or modern-day slavery, is the exploitation of a person for forced labor or services, including commercial sex. To prove the crime of human trafficking was committed against an adult, prosecutors must show that force, fraud, or coercion was used to control that victim. House Bill 5438, sponsored by Representative Laura Cox (R-Livonia), expands the state's coercion definition to include controlling or facilitating a person's access to controlled substances. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) supports the measure, which recognizes how some traffickers are drawing in victims with drugs and keeping them in a cycle of enslavement. This week, the bill received final approval in the Michigan Legislature and will now be sent to the governor. To learn more about human trafficking and find resources for spreading awareness about this crime, visit the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Anti-Trafficking Program page.
 
  House of Representatives Unanimously Approves Stillborn Tax Exemption  
 
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 stillborn child. The legislation, if passed, would allow for the exemption to begin for tax years after 2017. 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. This week, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to approve the bill, which will now be sent to the Senate Committee on Finance for further consideration. 
 
  Driver's License Bills Amended; Continue to the House of Representatives  
 
Last month, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee began considering House Bills 5686-5687, which propose a new requirement that a state ID card or license be visually marked to reflect the expiration of a person's legal presence. At the bills' introduction from Representatives Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township) and Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan), Michigan Catholic Conference opposed the legislation due to the potential consequences of an explicit visual display of an individual's legal presence expiring. One concern was the burden it could place on local law enforcement to evaluate an individual's legal presence, without knowing if that individual is in the process of renewing or applying to renew their immigration status (during this period, they are still considered legally present). 

Since the legislation's introduction, MCC has actively worked to improve the legislation with interested stakeholders, the Michigan Secretary of State, and the bill sponsors to more accurately reflect the federal law. Under federal law, only some sets of driver license and identification cards, issued to a few specified categories of immigrants, need to visually display that they are licenses some way limited besides just expiration date of the card. Federal law has allowed this limitation to be indicated by displaying a "LT" to indicated limited term license without indicating anything regarding an individual's immigration status. This week in committee, the legislation was amended to reflect MCC's concerns and the requirements of federal law. Michigan Catholic Conference is now neutral on these measures, which were reported to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
 
  Michigan Catholic Conference Receives Four Awards for PR Excellence  
 
The Central Michigan Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (CMPRSA) presented Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) with four awards during the 2018 PACE Awards on Thursday evening, April 12. This year's celebration, held at The Cadillac Room in Lansing's REO Town, recognized mid-Michigan's best public relations and communications tactics and campaigns produced during 2017. Michigan Catholic Conference received CMPRSA's highest honor for excellence in public relations, the Pinnacle Award, in three categories: annual reports, newsletters, and video programs. Staff also received an Excellence Award in the websites category. MCC issued a statement after the awards ceremony:
 
"These awards are a testament to the hard work carried out by MCC staff every day in pursuit of the common good in Michigan. MCC is pleased to accept these awards with profound humility and extends its cordial appreciation to the judges and many fine agencies that also submitted entries."

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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