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
May 11, 2018

  In This Update:  
  • Opposition to Retroactive Legislation Continues to Grow 
  • Stillborn Tax Exemption Unanimously Clears Senate Committee
  • MCC Testifies on Behalf of FIP Grace Period for Marriage Bill
  • School Safety Measures Pass House; Continue to Senate 
  • House Families Committee Hears Testimony On Safe Delivery Device Bill
  • Happy Mother's Day from Michigan Catholic Conference
  Opposition to Retroactive Legislation Continues to Grow  
The House Law and Justice Committee continued to take testimony on various measures related to child protection, abuse prevention, and sexual assault. This week, the testimony focused on legislation that came over from the Senate, including measures pertaining to the criminal and civil statute of limitations. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) has supported measures that prospectively extend the criminal statute of limitations, but opposes other measures debated this week that would allow for previously barred legal claims from decades past to be brought forth. The bills would make it difficult to properly investigate and nearly impossible to defend such claims; the employee in question may no longer work for the institution (or even still be living), and neither witnesses nor evidence may be present. MCC has also learned how similar policies have crippled outreach ministries that assist the marginalized and vulnerable in dioceses outside of Michigan. The following organizations have also expressed their opposition to the retroactive legislation: Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan Association of School Administrators, Michigan Community Colleges Association, Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Townships Association, Michigan Municipal League, and ACLU. The Michigan Nonprofit Association and Michigan Association for Association Executives have alerted their members to the legislation. Both The Detroit News and Crain's Detroit Business have opined against the bills, while judges from local circuit courts to former chief justices of both the Michigan Supreme Court and Michigan Court of Appeals have expressed their opposition or strong concerns. MCC will continue to support measures that help to protect children and create safe environments. No vote was taken in committee this week, and additional testimony on the Senate bills is expected next week.
  Stillborn Tax Exemption Unanimously Clears Senate Committee  
A one-time tax exemption to parents of a stillborn child unanimously passed the Senate Finance Committee this week. Under House Bill 4522, parents who provide a certificate of stillbirth from the Department of Health and Human Services with their taxes could claim an exemption for that year. While the measure, sponsored by Representative Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township), cannot take away the grief families experience, it can provide some financial relief ($4,050 exemption for 2018) for costs incurred such as prenatal care, previously purchased baby items, and funeral arrangements. MCC is supportive of the bill. With the vote in committee this week, House Bill 4522 continues to the full Senate. The measure has already passed the Michigan House. 
  MCC Testifies on Behalf of FIP Grace Period for Marriage Bill  
The Family Independence Program (FIP), administered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, provides cash assistance to families with children. Low-income families with at least one minor child who are receiving assistance through FIP often face a disincentive to get married. Current policy calculates the new spouse's income into eligibility requirements, which may cause one's benefits to be immediately reduced or terminated. As a result, some delay or forgo marriage altogether, making the decision based on retaining benefits to provide for their child/ren.

MCC has worked with Senator Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) on Senate Bill 752, which would remove this marriage penalty by providing an eighteen-month grace period for newly married families on FIP. This grace period will allow low-income families to gain financial stability before losing any necessary assistance. Numerous studies have shown that marriage benefits the economic well-being of children and has strong social, educational, and psychological value for them as well. By raising children in married households, there is greater opportunity to provide the stability to break the cycle of poverty. This week, MCC staff testified on behalf of the legislation in the House Families, Children, and Human Services Committee, where it awaits a vote.
  School Safety Measures Pass House; Continue to Senate  
The Michigan House approved a package of school safety bills this week. Among other provisions, the bills would create a School Safety Commission to evaluate and inspect school buildings for safety measures, provide grants to schools to make suggested improvements, require schools to report all attempted acts of violence to the Michigan State Police, and require law enforcement officers to complete active violence response training, starting in 2020. Michigan Catholic Conference is supportive of House Bills 5828, 5829, 5851, and 5852 and is neutral on House Bill 5830, which would require new school buildings or renovations to incorporate three out of four safety measures into their construction: building schematics, surveillance technology, remote door locks, or reinforced entryways. Since the safety measures for each project will be determined by the School Safety Commission, which has not been approved or formed yet, MCC believes it is premature to make building code requirement changes in law. Staff wrote about these bills in greater detail in the May 4 Lansing Update and April 27 Lansing Update. After passing the Michigan House this week, the bills continue now for further discussion in the Senate Education Committee. Senate leaders have mentioned that other school safety bills may be introduced into the Senate in the next few weeks.
  House Families Committee Hears Testimony On Safe Delivery Device Bill  
In 2000, Michigan adopted its Safe Delivery of Newborns Law, which allowed parents to surrender a newborn to an emergency service provider, within the first three days after the infant's birth. This law has saved the lives of hundreds of newborns. House Bills 5750, 5751, 5953, and 5954, sponsored by Representatives Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian) and Daire Rendon (R-Lake City), would outline procedures and policies for the safe surrender of newborns using newborn safety devices at an emergency service provider. The device, a padded and temperature-controlled box, would allow a parent to drop of the child anonymously up to thirty days after birth. The device would then trigger a 911 call to provide notification within 30 seconds of the newborn's placement in the device, so that the infant can be immediately transferred to the hospital for needed care. The House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee voted the bills out with large bipartisan support. Michigan Catholic Conference supports the bills.
  Happy Mother's Day from Michigan Catholic Conference  
"To be a mother is a great treasure. Mothers, in their unconditional and sacrificial love for their children, are the antidote to individualism."-Pope Francis 

Michigan Catholic Conference would like to wish all mothers, physical and spiritual, a happy Mother's Day! Here is a prayer from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for this special day:

"Loving God, as a mother gives life and nourishment to her children, so you watch over your Church. Bless our mother. Let the example of her faith and love shine forth. Grant that we, her family, may honor her always with a spirit of profound respect. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen."

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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,