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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
November 30, 2018
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • MCC Applauds House Committee For Passing 'Raise the Age' Bills 
  • School Safety Measures Clear Senate Education Committee
  • Senate Passes Measure to Retain Webcam Abortion Ban  
  • Donor Privacy Measure Moves to House Committee
  • Wrongful Imprisonment Fix Now Before Full House
  • MCC Supports Legislation to Establish Forensic Science Commission
 
  MCC Applauds House Committee For Passing 'Raise the Age' Bills  
 
Michigan is currently one of only four states in the country that continues to automatically charge 17-year-olds as adults, regardless of the severity of the crime committed. This week, the House Law and Justice Committee passed legislation that would raise the age for youth sentencing to 18 years old. Prosecutors would retain the ability to charge a 17-year-old as an adult if warranted by the crime committed. House Bills 4607, 4653, 4659, 4662, 4664, 4675-4678, 4685, 4696, 4741, 4744, 4753, 4793, 4969, 5637, and 6396 now await consideration from the full House of Representatives. In a statement after passage, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) said:

"For the purpose of providing better rehabilitation options for youth who commit minor, nonviolent crimes, this legislation is a most welcome step in the right direction. We applaud Representative Kesto and members of the Law and Justice Committee for their action today."

Today MCC spoke on the Steve Gruber Show about "Raise the Age" policies and the need for quick action. With only a few weeks left in the 2017-2018 legislative session, time is running out to pass these important measures. Take a few minutes to urge your lawmakers to support the bills today!
 
  School Safety Measures Clear Senate Education Committee  
 
The Senate Education Committee passed three school safety measures this week. House Bills 5828 and 5829, sponsored by Representatives Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) and Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Twp), would enact the "Comprehensive School Safety Plan Act." The legislation creates a School Safety Commission in the Department of State Police. This Commission would be charged with reviewing and making recommendations to the Office of School Safety (within the Michigan Department of Education) every two years about model practices for school safety. Additionally, the boards or governing bodies of all public and nonpublic schools would be required to designate a liaison to work with the School Safety Commission and the Office of School Safety. HB 5850, sponsored by Representative Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Twp), would retain the School Safety Act and the OK2Say program, which is a hotline for individuals to confidentially report potential harm, criminal acts, or self-harm impacting students and staff. If this legislation is not passed, the Act is set to sunset (be eliminated) on October 1, 2021. MCC supported all three measures, which seek to improve school safety for all Michigan's schools, students, and staff. The bills, which have already passed the Michigan House, now continue to the full Senate. 
 
  Senate Passes Measure to Retain Webcam Abortion Ban  
 
In 2012, MCC successfully advocated for several abortion-related, women's safety measures in state law, one of which included a ban on webcam (or telemedicine) abortions. A webcam abortion is when a physician prescribes for a medical abortion without being in the same location as the pregnant woman and allows someone else to dispense the drug to her. As a result of the law, Michigan currently requires a physician to be physically present to examine and diagnose the patient as pregnant prior to the prescribing and dispensing of abortion drugs. A "sunset" provision was originally added to the law, allowing it to be effective only until December 31, 2018. Senate Bill 1198, sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba), would remove the sunset and keep the current practice in place. Michigan Catholic Conference supports SB 1198, which is a matter of safety for women. The bill passed the Senate Health Policy Committee this week and then the full Senate by a 25-12 vote. It now awaits a hearing in the House Health Policy Committee.
 
  Donor Privacy Measure Moves to House Committee  
 
The Senate Michigan Competitiveness Committee and the full Senate both voted to move Senate Bill 1176 forward this week. The measure, sponsored by Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), would prohibit local and state government agencies from requiring nonprofit organizations (501c3s) to turn over their contributor lists (except through a criminal warrant or discovery in a lawsuit). Nothing in the legislation would affect Campaign Finance requirements. MCC supported the measure for the privacy protections it would provide to donors at churches and other charitable agencies. The bill would allow these individuals to support organizations freely, without fear of retribution or intimidation. SB 1176 now continues to the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee for further consideration. 
 
  Wrongful Imprisonment Fix Now Before Full House  
 
This week, the House Law and Justice Committee considered a legislative fix to preserve the intent of the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act passed in 2016. The Act had allowed anyone wrongfully convicted, imprisoned, and released from custody before the Act to file a compensation claim within 18 months of the law's effect. Unfortunately, several compensation cases were dismissed in the Court of Claims due to a requirement elsewhere in law for a shorter filing window. Senate Bills 895-896, sponsored by Senators Steven Bieda (D-Warren) and Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), would extend the window for these individuals to apply for compensation from the State of Michigan. The measure would also exempt Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act claims from the existing filing deadlines, so such conflicts do not arise again. The bills, which have already passed the Senate, received an 11-0 bipartisan vote from the House Committee. SBs 895 and 896 are now before the full House. 
 
  MCC Supports Legislation to Establish Forensic Science Commission  
 
The House Judiciary Committee considered House Bill 6026 this week, which would create a 10-member Michigan Forensic Science Commission. The Commission would have the ability to regulate and oversee crime labs, as well as forensic medical examiners. The bill, introduced by Representative Tom Barrett (R-Potterville), also requires all Michigan crime labs to be accredited by January 2020. Several individuals who had been wrongfully imprisoned and later exonerated testified about the need for this legislation. MCC supports HB 6026, which would establish higher standards for state crime labs, ensure more accurate analysis of criminal evidence, and improve accuracy in convictions. No vote was taken this week in committee. 

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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