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
January 18, 2019

  In This Update:  
  • March for Life Promotes the Value of the Human Person
  • MCC Issues Priorities for 2019-2020 State Legislative Session
  • Legislative Committees for 2019-2020: What Role Do They Serve?
  • USCCB Recognizes MLK's Example for Society in Advance of Holiday
  • National Catholic Schools Week Begins January 27
  March for Life Promotes the Value of the Human Person  
Each year, the March for Life in Washington D.C. sends a strong signal that every human life has value, including the unborn. The event began in 1974 ago as a peaceful protest of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion in America-Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton-in 1973. The March for Life includes pro-life speakers, a march, and usually, legislative advocacy. This year's theme is "Unique from Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science," and several Catholic dioceses in the state sent busloads of high school students to the rally today (January 18, 2019). During the March for Life, President Donald Trump announced through a video message that he will veto any measures that are sent to his desk to repeal or weaken existing pro-life laws or policies. The U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops (USCCB) thanked the president for this commitment and for all the actions the administration has taken to protect unborn children and their mothers from abortion.

If you were not able to attend the March for Life or a similar event in your area, take some time to pray for the value of human life to be recognized in our culture.

Looking for additional opportunities for action? Currently, "riders" on government funding bills, like the Hyde Amendment, stop federal tax dollars from being used to provide or promote abortion, with narrow exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. But these "riders" are NOT permanent law. They can go away if Congress decides not to include them in their funding bills each year. Take a few minutes to support the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and urge lawmakers to enact this critical prohibition into law!
  MCC Issues Priorities for 2019-2020 State Legislative Session  
On Wednesday, January 9, 2019, state lawmakers of the 100th Michigan Legislature began their two-year session. During this time, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) will advocate for policies that promote the common good and respect the inherent dignity of all persons. MCC is committed to working with lawmakers of both parties on these critical issues for Michigan. Accordingly, MCC has issued A Blueprint for the Common Good, its guiding principles for advocacy in the new session. Policies of interest are categorized into subjects, including human life and dignity, preferential option for the poor and regulatory policies, religious liberty, education, children and families, health care, restorative justice, immigration and refugees, and care for creation. MCC will advocate especially for several issues, including:
  • "Raise the Age" legislation, which would allow seventeen-year-olds to remain in the juvenile justice system, except in the most serious cases. Current law automatically treats these youth as adults-even for minor, non-violent offenses-which is misguided and ineffective. 
  • The inclusion of critical programs in the upcoming state budget for pregnant women and their children, low-income families, and Michigan students.
  • The creation of a Forensic Science Commission, which would regulate and oversee crime labs and medical examiners. MCC supports this measure as matter of restorative justice, as improving accuracy in evidence-gathering and in convictions improves public safety and keeps the innocent out of prison.
  Legislative Committees for 2019-2020: What Role Do They Serve?  
When a bill is first introduced into either the House of Representatives or Senate, it is sent to a committee with expertise in the relevant subject matter. For example, a bill relating to medicine or the health care system would likely go to the Health Policy Committee for review and possible modification. The Michigan Senate has twenty permanent or "standing committees," and the House has twenty-two. These committees are open to the public and allow individuals and groups to testify about how the policy would likely impact their life or work. Legislation that provides state funding for a given item or project must go through the Appropriations Committee, which divides its work into Subcommittees in various issue areas. For a measure to continue forward in the legislative process to the full chamber, it must pass its assigned committee with majority approval.

This year, the House of Representatives added an additional rule. Any bill introduced in that chamber must go through either the House Appropriations, Government Operations, Judiciary, or Ways and Means Committee before it can go to the floor. That rule will mean in some cases, a bill will have to go through two House committees (instead of one, as previously was the case) before it can be put before all the members of the House. The Senate has no such rule.

Both the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives have released leadership and membership for the committees that will meet during the 2019-2020 session, which can be found at the links below:
  USCCB Recognizes MLK's Example for Society in Advance of Holiday  
On Monday, January 21, Americans will celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose commitment to racial equality and justice was a critical piece of this nation's history. In a statement, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops highlighted Martin Luther King Jr.'s example and urged continued action against racism, saying:
"Today more than ever, our societies need 'artisans of peace' who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family. Pope Francis' words, given in his 2019 World Day of Peace address, remind us how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was such an artisan of peace. Dr. King was a messenger and true witness to the power of the gospel lived in action through public life. This year, as we again mark the anniversary of his life, and reflect upon the 51st anniversary of his death, we are thankful for the path forged by Dr. King and the countless others who worked tirelessly and suffered greatly in the fight for racial equality and justice. As a nation and as a society, we face great challenges as well as tremendous opportunities ahead."
  National Catholic Schools Week Begins January 27  
From January 27 to February 2, Catholic dioceses around the country will be celebrating National Catholic Schools Week with the theme "Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed." This year's theme focuses on the important contributions Catholic education provides, assisting students in becoming critical thinkers, strong communicators, and active members of society. In 2017, over 51,000 Michigan students received a Catholic education in 224 schools, leaving a significant positive impact on the state's communities.

Note: Next week, on Wednesday, January 23, MCC will cosponsor a National School Choice Week event at the State Capitol in Lansing. The event highlights the importance of providing parents access to the best K-12 education options for their children, including nonpublic schools, traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, online academies, and homeschooling. 

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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,