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
December 21, 2018

  In This Update:  
  • MCC Applauds New Laws to Protect Children, Create Safe Environments
  • Priority Measure for MCC-Pro-Marriage, Anti-Poverty Legislation-Passes
  • Measure Retaining Webcam Abortion Ban Sent to Governor
  • Legislature Allows All Students to Access State Mental Health Services
  • Supplemental State Budget Includes New Round of School Safety Grants
  • Stillborn Tax Credit Clears Michigan Legislature with Unanimous Support
  • Safe Delivery Device Bills Move Forward for Final Signature
  • School Safety Measures Continue to Gov's Desk with Bipartisan Votes
  • Both Chambers Approve Donor Privacy Measure, Moves Next to Governor 
  • Petition Bill Continues to Governor Snyder 
NOTE: This week was the last week of the 2017-2018 Michigan Legislature. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) is grateful to the lawmakers who served during this legislative session and worked on measures impacting the common good of Michigan. The new 2019-2020 session begins on January 9, 2019. Staff looks forward to continuing our advocacy work.
  MCC Applauds New Laws to Protect Children, Create Safe Environments  
On Monday, December 17, 2018, Governor Rick Snyder signed six bills into law to help create safe environments for children, strengthen existing statutes, and give a greater voice to those harmed by sexual abuse. House Bills 5539, 5658, 5660-5661, 5794, and 5798 emerged out of months of deliberation in the House Law and Justice Committee and were actively supported by MCC throughout the legislative process. MCC released a statement this week, saying:

"We're grateful for the governor, Representatives Klint Kesto and Stephanie Chang, and many other elected officials on both sides of the aisle...Going forward, it is important to maintain vigilance in the fight against abuse and to ensure it is investigated and rooted out, regardless if the abuse occurs in private or public locations and institutions."

MCC is also grateful to the bill sponsors for their hard work: Representatives Kimberly LaSata (R-Bainbridge Twp), Laura Cox (R-Livonia), Leslie Love (D-Detroit), Diana Farrington (R-Utica), Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Twp), and Thomas Albert (R-Lowell). The bills become Public Acts 370-375 of 2018.
  Priority Measure for MCC-Pro-Marriage, Anti-Poverty Legislation-Passes  
Throughout the 2018 year, MCC has championed Senate Bill 752, a pro-marriage, anti-poverty bill that assists low-income families in Michigan's Family Independence Program (FIP). Current policy in this state forces low-income couples to choose between getting married or retaining need cash assistance benefits for their children. SB 752, sponsored by Senator Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), helps low-income couples instead build up financial stability, without forcing them to make this difficult choice. Specifically, the policy allows the State of Michigan to temporarily "disregard" a new spouse's income for FIP eligibility for a period of eighteen months. This change would remove an obstacle to marriage for low-income couples with children. In a statement released after the close of session, MCC said:

"We're grateful to Senator Schmidt, Speaker Leonard, Representative Rendon and the many Republicans and Democrats who voted in support of this pro-marriage, anti-poverty effort. Marriage is a societal stabilizer that provides an ideal setting in which to raise children and to teach values that help move the family toward self-sufficiency."

This week, the measure passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support (102-6). SB 752 had previously passed the Senate by a 33-3 vote. MCC now encourages Governor Rick Snyder to sign this critical legislation into law. 
  Measure Retaining Webcam Abortion Ban Sent to Governor  
In Michigan law, there currently exists a prohibition against webcam (telemedicine) abortions until December 31, 2018. This ban means physicians are required to be physically present to examine and diagnose a patient as pregnant before they can prescribe or dispense abortion drugs. SB 1198 makes this common-sense provision permanent. The bill, sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) and supported by MCC, received final approval in the Legislature this week and continues to the governor. 
  Legislature Allows All Students to Access State Mental Health Services  
Earlier this year, the state education budget for October 2018-September 2019 created a new School Mental Health and Support Services Fund sub-account within the School Aid Fund. This account included a little over $30 million to assist efforts that improve mental health outcomes and support Michigan K-12 students. A separate supplemental appropriations bill for the 2018-2019 year has been considered over this "lame duck" session to outline specifics of how the funding would be disbursed. Under the proposal that passed the Legislature, funding would be directed to local districts with school-based health clinics. MCC worked to ensure all students, including those from nonpublic schools, could access these critical services from local public schools. MCC staff is especially grateful to Representative Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw) and Senator Goeff Hansen (R-Hart) for their assistance in this effort. The measure, after clearing the Legislature, requires final approval from the governor.
  Supplemental State Budget Includes New Round of School Safety Grants  
Earlier this year, Michigan's state budget for 2018-2019 included $25 million in grant funding to support school safety initiatives. MCC supported the appropriation and successfully advocated to ensure nonpublic schools were included as eligible applicants. In October, the Michigan State Police announced the winners of that grant funding, including 114 public school districts, 42 nonpublic schools, 22 public charter schools, and 10 intermediate school districts/regional education services agencies. In the supplemental budget bill for the 2018-2019 year that passed this week, Senate Bill 601, the Michigan Legislature included another $25 million of school safety grant funding. MCC is pleased to see this funding, which prioritizes the safety of all Michigan's students and allows public and nonpublic schools to apply for the grants. The bill awaits a signature from Governor Snyder. If passed, grant application materials will be available in February 2019 and awards distributed by April 2019.
  Stillborn Tax Credit Clears Michigan Legislature with Unanimous Support  
Throughout this session, MCC has advocated for legislation that would allow a Michigan taxpayer to claim a one-time personal exemption for a stillborn child. House Bill 4522, sponsored by Representative Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Twp), recognizes the grief of families in this situation and helps parents meet costs that accompany the loss of their child, including prenatal care, previously purchased baby items, and funeral expenses. This measure received unanimous, bipartisan support in both the Michigan House of Representatives and the Senate. HB 4522 will now be sent to the governor. 
  Safe Delivery Device Bills Move Forward for Final Signature  
House Bills 5750, 5751, 5953, 5954 expand Michigan's Safe Surrender law. The measures allow a baby to be surrendered to avoid harm and to be placed for adoption during his or her first thirty days after birth. Current law allows the surrender to take place only during a child's first three days. The legislation also allows a child to be anonymously surrendered in a safe delivery device, or baby box. The device would automatically lock and notify an emergency provider of the infant's placement within thirty seconds, so the child could receive needed care. While receiving further consideration in the Senate this week, Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren) proposed an amendment that such devices could only be placed at a hospital or at an emergency service provider that has 24-hour, 7 day a week staff, to ensure the baby is retrieved in a timely fashion. MCC is grateful to Senator Bieda for this amendment and to the full Senate for strong bipartisan passage of the bills. Staff is hopeful the measures will become law soon.
  School Safety Measures Continue to Gov's Desk with Bipartisan Votes  
Several measures aimed at protecting school safety made it through the House of Representatives this week, including eight bills supported by MCC. These bills include:
  • SB 982, which creates the Office of School Safety. The Office would develop model school safety practices and training, as well as apply for federal school safety funds. 
  • SB 991, which requires schools to update emergency contact information with the Michigan State Police twice a year. 
  • HBs 5828-5829, which create the School Safety Commission and require all schools to designate a liaison to work with the Commission. 
  • HB 5850, which eliminates the sunset on the Student Safety Act and the OK2SAY school safety hotline. That Act is currently set to end on October 1, 2021 if the bill does not become law.
  • HB 5852, which requires law enforcement, fire arson investigators, and private college security officers to undergo active violence response training, starting in January 2020.
  • HBs 5942-5943, which increase penalties for threatening violent acts with a dangerous weapon against school students, employees, or property.
The sponsors of these measures include: Senator Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek), Senator Dale Zorn (R-Ida), Representative Jason Wentworth (R-Clare), Representative Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Twp), Representative Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Twp), Representative Joseph Bellino (D-Monroe), Representative Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain), and Representative Scott VanSingel (R-Grant). Each received bipartisan support and continue now to Governor Snyder.
  Both Chambers Approve Donor Privacy Measure, Moves Next to Governor  
Senate Bill 1176, sponsored by Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), would prohibit local and state government agencies from requiring nonprofit organizations to turn over their contributor lists (except through a criminal warrant or discovery in a lawsuit). The legislation would not 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 allows these individuals to support organizations freely, without fear of retribution or intimidation. After passing the Michigan House of Representatives and the Senate, the measure continues to Governor Snyder for his signature or veto. 
  Petition Bill Continues to Governor Snyder  
As mentioned in last week's Lansing Update, lawmakers had been debating a measure to tighten the state's signature-gathering process for ballot proposals. MCC worked with legislative leadership to improve the bill for volunteer signature gathers, as well as to improve time frames for submission. House Bill 6595, sponsored by Representative Jim Lower (R-Cedar Lake), passed the Senate this week by a 26-12 vote. After the House agreed to changes from the Senate with a concurrence vote, the measure was sent to Governor Snyder. 

On behalf of Michigan Catholic Conference, Merry Christmas to all, and Happy New Year. See you in 2019!

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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,