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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
June 8, 2018
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Conference Committees Reach Agreement on 2018-2019 Budget Proposals
  • Sexual Assault Package Moves Forward to Full Senate
  • House Committee Approves Marriage Disregard Legislation With MCC Support
  • House Passes MCC-Opposed Healthy Michigan Work Requirement 
  • School Safety Measures Debated in Michigan Legislature
  • Dual Enrollment Bill Moves to Full Senate
  • FOCUS: Promoting Religious Freedom Through Interfaith Dialogue
  • USCCB Applauds SCOTUS Decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop Case
  • U.S. Bishops Urge Administration to Keep Families Together
 
  Conference Committees Reach Agreement on 2018-2019 Budget Proposals  
 
Over the past week, conference committees have met to determine the final budget proposals for Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018-September 2019). Conference committees are made up of three members of the House and three members of the Senate for each budget area (i.e. Department of Health and Human Services budget or School Aid budget) to work towards a final proposal that eliminates differences between the House and Senate versions. Now, these proposals will be voted on in the full House and Senate before going to the governor for his signature. Read more about what each MCC-supported item or program listed below does by reading the May 4 Lansing Update. The Conference Agreements include:
  • First Robotics: $300,000 in grant funding for nonpublic schools.
  • Tuition Grant Program: $38 million for low-income students.
  • Dual Enrollment: $2 million for nonpublic students.
  • Michigan's Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services Program: $700,000.
  • Shared Time: $132 million.
  • Nonpublic School Health, Safety, and Welfare Mandates: $250,000. This is lower than last year, but there are sufficient funds carrying forward from previous years to help cover school costs.
 
  Sexual Assault Package Moves Forward to Full Senate  
 
This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee cleared a package of twenty-four House bills aimed at combatting sexual assault and abuse. Some elements of the package improve awareness, training, and prevention of sexual assault or abuse. For example, the package expands the list of mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect to athletic trainers, physical therapists, and (previously removed in the House version) paid coaches and assistant coaches; requires schools to provide information on sexual assault and harassment to students; and requires a training package of materials to be distributed to mandatory reporters. The package also holds offenders accountable by increasing penalties for the aggravated production, financing, distribution, and possession of more than one hundred images of child pornography and increasing penalties for health professionals misrepresenting medical procedures for the purpose of sexual misconduct. Finally, to assist victims, the bills expand who can give a victim impact statement at a sentencing hearing and prevent students who report being sexually assaulted from being expelled for the incident. MCC supported a majority of the package, including all measures mentioned above, to create safe environments for children and to prevent future abuse. Next, all the bills will receive further consideration on the Senate floor. 
 
  House Committee Approves Marriage Disregard Legislation With MCC Support  
 
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 and to transition more slowly off state assistance. A few changes have been made since the bill's introduction to ensure consistency with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) current process. The measure received bipartisan support in the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee this week, as members voted to move it forward to the full House. MCC issued a statement urging action of the House floor before summer break: 

"We are grateful to Chairwoman Daire Rendon as well as Vice-chairs Jeff Noble and Frank Liberati for their leadership in passing common sense, bipartisan legislation that removes a government barrier to marriage. People should not base their decision on whether or not to get married based on a governmental rule. Marriage is a great economic stabilizer, and this legislation will allow people to decide to get married without fear of immediately losing their benefit. The bill should pass out of the full House before summer recess." 
 
  House Passes MCC-Opposed Healthy Michigan Work Requirement  
 
Since its introduction in March, lawmakers in the Senate and House have debated a measure that would introduce work requirements on able-bodied recipients of Medicaid between the ages of nineteen and sixty-four. In Senate Bill 897's latest form, the work requirements would apply only to Healthy Michigan recipients (expanded Medicaid for individuals at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level), not the full Medicaid program. Additionally under the most recent version, the requirement would apply to individuals ages nineteen through sixty-two. The measure, sponsored by Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake), would require Healthy Michigan recipients to show they are working, pursuing job training, participating in work-related education or an internship, participating in substance abuse treatment, performing community service, or searching for jobs. In the most recent version, individuals would have to show they are participating in approved work-related activities for an average of eighty hours a month (previously: twenty-nine hours a week). Those who are exempted from the work requirement include individuals such as pregnant women, former foster children twenty-years-old or younger, caretakers of a disabled dependent or incapacitated individual (only one parent may claim the exemption), full-time students, those who are "medically frail" or have a disability that limits their ability to work, and those who have been incarcerated within the past six months. MCC appreciates several of the changes to the measure, but staff remains concerned with predicating one's health coverage on his or her employment status. Senate Bill 897 passed with a 62-47 vote in the full House this week and was concurred in by the Senate. The measure will continue now to Governor Snyder for his signature or veto.
 
  School Safety Measures Debated in Michigan Legislature  
 
The House Judiciary Committee approved two measures this week related to school safety. House Bills 5942 and 5943, sponsored by Representatives Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) and Scott VanSingel (R-Grant), create a two-tiered penalty structure for those who make threats involving dangerous weapons against students or school employees. A written or verbal threat determined to be harmful or "dangerous to human life" would be considered a misdemeanor (imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of up to $1,000, or both). If the person who made the threat had specific intent or had taken a specific action towards carrying out the threat, the punishment would be a felony (imprisonment of up to ten years or a fine of up to $2,000, or both). Michigan Catholic Conference supported the legislation, which now continues to the full Michigan House.

The full Senate also considered and approved a package of bills, supported by MCC, that helps protect students and school staff in Michigan. The bills, which continue now to the House Committee on Appropriations, would:
  • Eliminate the sunset on the OK2Say hotline, which helps individuals confidentially report threats against students or school employees to law enforcement (SB 957).
  • Require schools to report any attempted acts of violence or threats that were prevented to the Department of State Police (SB 958).
  • Require all law enforcement officers seeking licensure to undergo training for active shooter situations in schools (developed by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards) after January 1, 2020 (SB 959).
  • Create an Office of School Safety in the Michigan State Police to create model practices and administer a school safety grant program (SB 982). 
  • Require public school districts and public school academies to consult with local law enforcement on any major renovations or new construction (SB 990).
  • Require the governing body of a school to provide current emergency contact information to the Department of State Police (SB 991).
 
  Dual Enrollment Bill Moves to Full Senate  
 
Senate Bill 980, sponsored by Senator Joe Hune (R-Hamburg), would lift the cap on the number of dual enrollment courses a public or nonpublic high school student may take. Currently, the Postsecondary Enrollment Options Act includes guidelines for how many postsecondary courses a student can take while still in high school (dual enrollment). Michigan Catholic Conference supported SB 980 in the Senate Education Committee, as the measure provides greater educational choice for parents and their children. The Committee voted to move the bill forward, and it will now be sent to the full Senate.
 
  FOCUS: Promoting Religious Freedom Through Interfaith Dialogue  
 
Religious freedom is a cornerstone value for all Americans. Promoting Religious Freedom Through Interfaith Dialogue, June's FOCUS, illustrates how collaborative efforts with individuals of other faiths can help to defend this important value. The FOCUS also highlights the comments given by Most Reverend Allen Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit, at the November 7, 2017 Interfaith Religious Freedom Conference. 
 
  USCCB Applauds SCOTUS Decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop Case  
 
On Monday, June 4, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case involves a Christian baker named Jack Phillips who declined in 2012 to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony. State officials sought to compel Phillips to create such cakes under Colorado's public accommodations law. The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Phillips under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement after the decision was announced:

"[The] decision confirms that people of faith should not suffer discrimination on account of their deeply held religious beliefs, but instead should be respected by government officials. This extends to creative professionals, such as Jack Phillips, who seek to serve the Lord in every aspect of their daily lives. In a pluralistic society like ours, true tolerance allows people with different viewpoints to be free to live out their beliefs, even if those beliefs are unpopular with the government."
 
  U.S. Bishops Urge Administration to Keep Families Together  
 
The Department of Homeland Security has recently acknowledged implementation of the policy of separating families arriving at the U.S./Mexico Border. Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement in response:

"Forcibly separating children from their mothers and fathers is ineffective to the goals of deterrence and safety and contrary to our Catholic values...My brother bishops and I understand the need for the security of our borders and country, but separating arriving families at the U.S./Mexico border does not allay security concerns. Children and families will continue to take the enormous risks of migration-including family separation-because the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle remain: community or state-sanctioned violence, gang recruitment, poverty, and a lack of educational opportunity. Any policies should address these factors first as we seek to repair our broken immigration system."

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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