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 18, 2018

  In This Update:  
  • House Committee Continues Debate, MCC Urges Opposition to Civil Retroactivity
  • Catholic Conference Applauds AG's Decision on Mandate Appeal
  • Revenue Estimating Conference: More Funding Available for the State
  • School Safety Measures Move Forward to Full Senate
  • Full House Approves Safe Delivery Device Bill
  • MCC Supports Energy Freedom Bills in Concept in House Committee
  House Committee Continues Debate, MCC Urges Opposition to Civil Retroactivity  
The House Law and Justice Committee heard from a number of individuals and groups this week about Senate legislation addressing the criminal and civil statute of limitations for sexual assault cases. As mentioned in previous updates, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) has supported measures that prospectively extend the criminal statute of limitations, but opposes a bill that would allow for previously-barred legal claims from decades past to be brought forth. The measure 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. Further, the legislation does nothing to protect children. This week, former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and Department of Human Services director, Maura Corrigan, expressed strong opposition to civil retroactivity (Senate Bill 872), including its constitutionality and potential chilling impact on attracting and recruiting foster parents and child protective service workers. 

No vote was taken this week on the Senate package, although a vote is slated for next week. MCC will continue to oppose Senate Bill 872 and will instead focus on supporting measures that protect children and create safe environments. Take a minute to email your House lawmakers on this important topic here.
  Catholic Conference Applauds AG's Decision on Mandate Appeal  
This week, Michigan's Office of Attorney General announced that it would appeal a Court of Claims ruling that prevents reimbursement to nonpublic schools for certain health and safety mandates, such as conducting criminal background checks on staff and school safety drills. The $5 million in state funding, passed by the Legislature in the 2016 and 2017 budget appropriations, are "noninstructional in character" and help ensure all Michigan children are cared for and kept safe. In a statement, MCC said:
"The Attorney General is to be applauded for appealing the ruling from the Court of Claims. The provisions of Article 8, Section 2, upon which the lawsuit relies, are wrongly being applied to common-sense policies that would benefit communities across the state. As a matter of fairness and to protect the general welfare of all students, the appropriation should be upheld. Michigan Catholic Conference is grateful for the appeal and will support efforts that defend the mandate reimbursements going forward."
  Revenue Estimating Conference: More Funding Available for the State  
Good news emerged for the State of Michigan out of this week's Revenue Estimating Conference in Lansing. During this event, directors of the Senate Fiscal Agency and House Fiscal Agency, along with the State Treasurer, met to agree on the funding that is available to be spent by the State. State tax collection revenues have been higher than anticipated, and, as a result, approximately $315.4 million more is available for the current Fiscal Year-and $182.4 million for the next Fiscal Year beginning October 1-than previously expected. These revised estimates are expected to factor into the state budget discussions, especially as conference committees meet to resolve differences in the House and Senate versions of the 2018-2019 state budget.
  School Safety Measures Move Forward to Full Senate  
Michigan Catholic Conference supported two bills regarding school safety in the Senate Education Committee this week. Senate Bill 957, sponsored by Senator Kenneth Horn (R-Frankemuth), eliminates the sunset on the OK2Say program. The program offers a confidential reporting system for threats or incidents of violence, self-harm, or other crimes against students or school personnel, connecting individuals with law enforcement to improve school safety. Senate Bill 991, sponsored by Senator Dale Zorn (R-Ida), requires all schools to provide the State Police with an emergency contact name twice a year. Both measures await further discussion and a vote in the committee.
  Full House Approves Safe Delivery Device Bill  
Michigan has a Safe Delivery of Newborns Law, enacted in 2000, which allows parents to surrender a newborn within their first three days to an employee at an emergency service provider. As a result, the lives of hundreds of newborns have been saved. 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 trigger a 911 call within 30 seconds of a newborn's placement in the device, so the infant can be immediately transferred to the hospital for needed care. The House of Representatives approved the measures, which MCC supports, by a wide margin. All of the bills await further consideration now in the Senate Families, Seniors, and Human Services Committee.
  MCC Supports Energy Freedom Bills in Concept in House Committee  
The House Energy Policy Committee met this week to begin hearing testimony on an "Energy Freedom" package of bills. House Bills 5861-5685 would:
  • Allow low-income customers to participate in community energy programs.
  • Remove the cap on how much residential solar power can enter the grid (net metering).
  • Provide a fair price to those who sell power to the grid.
MCC supports the concept of these bills. Similar legislation was introduced in 2014, but never received a hearing. Testimony is expected to continue before a vote is taken. The bipartisan legislative package is sponsored by Representatives Gary Glenn (Larkin Township), Scott Dianda (D-Calumet), Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor), Tom Barrett (R-Potterville), and Steve Johnson (R-Wayland).
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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,