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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
January 4, 2019
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Newly Elected Officials Head to Lansing in 2019
  • Priority Pro-Marriage, Anti-Poverty Bill Becomes Law
  • Webcam Abortion Ban & Safe Delivery Device Bills Vetoed
  • New MCC-Supported Law Recognizes the Grief of Stillbirth for Families
  • MCC Applauds Governor's Signature of School Safety Measures and Funding
  • With Governor's Signature, Petition Bill Becomes Law 
  • Donor Privacy Measure Vetoed in Final Days of 2018
 
  Newly Elected Officials Head to Lansing in 2019  
 
This new year begins with state and federal elected officials (chosen by voters in November) completing their oaths of office. On January 1, Gretchen Whitmer was officially sworn in as Michigan's 49th governor. Governor Whitmer has announced that she is expecting to deliver her State of the State speech, which will outline her priorities for Michigan, in early February. Next week, on Wednesday, January 9, the 2019-2020 State Legislature will begin its new two-year legislative session. Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) will serve as the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Jim Ananich (D-Flint) as the Senate Minority Leader, Representative Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) as the Speaker of the House, and Representative Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) as the House Minority Leader. 
 
  Priority Pro-Marriage, Anti-Poverty Bill Becomes Law  
 
Senate Bill 752, a measure championed by Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC), became Public Act 574 of 2018 in December with the governor's signature. This pro-marriage, anti-poverty bill assists low-income families in Michigan's Family Independence Program (FIP). Under previous policy, too many low-income couples with children were forced to choose between getting married or retaining needed cash assistance benefits for their kids. SB 752, sponsored by Senator Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), allows the State of Michigan to temporarily "disregard" a new spouse's income when determining the family's FIP eligibility, for a period of eighteen months. As a priority measure for this session, MCC is pleased to see it become law. 
 
  Webcam Abortion Ban & Safe Delivery Device Bills Vetoed  
 
At the end of the 2017-2018 legislative session, lawmakers approved SB 1198, which would have retained Michigan's previous prohibition against webcam, or telemedicine, abortions. The measure, sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba), would have required physicians to be physically present to examine and diagnose a patient as pregnant before prescribing or dispensing abortion drugs. MCC was extremely disappointed that the governor vetoed this common-sense provision in December, now allowing for webcam abortions in this state. MCC staff will continue to explore ways to revive the ban for the protection of women's safety.

Governor Snyder also regrettably vetoed House Bills 5750, 5751, 5953, 5954, sponsored by Representative Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian) and Daire Rendon (R-Lake City). These measures would have expanded Michigan's Safe Surrender law, which allows for the surrender of a baby to emergency service providers, in order to avoid harm and to place him or her up for adoption. The legislation would have extended this policy to allow a child to be anonymously surrendered to a safe delivery device, or baby box, at a hospital or emergency service provider staffed 24/7. The device would have automatically locked and immediately notified an emergency provider so that the child could receive needed care. 
 
  New MCC-Supported Law Recognizes the Grief of Stillbirth for Families  
 
With unanimous support, the 2017-2018 Michigan Legislature approved a measure 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. MCC advocated for this bill, which Governor Snyder signed into law as Public Act 589 of 2018.
 
  MCC Applauds Governor's Signature of School Safety Measures and Funding  
 
Governor Snyder signed eight new measures into law that aim to improve school safety protections. Each are listed below and had the support of MCC and Democrat and Republican lawmakers. 
  • SB 982 (Public Act 435 of 2018) 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 (PA 669 of 2018) requires schools to update emergency contact information with the Michigan State Police twice a year. 
     
  • HBs 5828-5829 (PAs 548-549 of 2018) create the School Safety Commission and require all schools to designate a liaison to work with the Commission. 
     
  • HB 5850 (PA 550 of 2018) eliminates the sunset on the Student Safety Act and the OK2SAY school safety hotline. That Act was previously set to end on October 1, 2021.
     
  • HB 5852 (PA 552 of 2018) requires law enforcement, fire arson investigators, and private college security officers to undergo active violence response training, starting in January 2020.
     
  • HBs 5942-5943 (PA 532 and 636 of 2018) increase penalties for threatening violent acts with a dangerous weapon against school students, employees, or property. 
The governor also approved the supplemental budget bills for the 2018-2019 year. Senate Bill 601 included another $25 million of school safety grant funding that is available, by application, for public and nonpublic schools. Grant application materials will be available in February 2019, and awards will be distributed by April 2019. Senate Bill 149 outlines how $30 million in funding for school mental health services will be distributed to local school districts with school-based health clinics. All students-public and nonpublic-may access these critical mental health services.
 
  With Governor's Signature, Petition Bill Becomes Law  
 
House Bill 6595, sponsored by Representative Jim Lower (R-Cedar Lake), tighten the state's signature-gathering process for ballot proposals. MCC staff supported the measure after working with legislative leadership to improve the bill for volunteer signature gathers, as well as improve time frames for submission. At the end of 2018, Governor Snyder signed the bill into law as Public Act 608 of 2018. 
 
  Donor Privacy Measure Vetoed in Final Days of 2018  
 
In 2018, MCC supported Senate Bill 1176 as a measure that would allow individuals to support churches and charitable organizations freely, without fear of retribution. The bill, sponsored by Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), would have prohibited 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). While SB 1176 passed the Michigan House of Representatives and the Senate in December, Governor Snyder vetoed the measure. 

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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