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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
March 15, 2019
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • MCC Testifies on Behalf of "Raise the Age" Package
  • Nonpublic School Educators Meet with State Lawmakers 
  • Hospice Fixes to Opioid Law Pass Committees
 
  MCC Testifies on Behalf of "Raise the Age" Package  
 
Following up on last week's hearing, the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee heard further testimony on Thursday, March 14 regarding a package of bills that would "Raise the Age" in Michigan. The policy is needed because currently, all seventeen-year-olds in this state are automatically treated as adults when they commit a crime, even for a first-time, non-violent offense. Michigan is one of only four states that still has this misguided policy. The "Raise the Age" bill package would instead treat most seventeen-year-olds in the juvenile system, except in the most serious cases. By transferring these cases to the juvenile system, children will be able to access age-appropriate rehabilitative services, to receive greater family participation in treatment, and oftentimes, to remain within their own communities and schools. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) testified in support of the measures this week, emphasizing that this policy would respect the dignity of seventeen-year-olds and reduce future victimization in communities. No vote was taken this week but the package is expected to receive further consideration next Thursday.
 
  Nonpublic School Educators Meet with State Lawmakers  
 
On Thursday, March 14, nearly one hundred Michigan nonpublic school educators came together for Public Policy Day at the State Capitol. MCC was pleased to be able to attend and speak at this event, which was sponsored by the Michigan Association of Non-public Schools (MANS). MANS accredits nonpublic schools, especially those affiliated with the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and Christian Schools International. During meetings with their State Representatives and Senators, attendees spoke about the need to restore the following critical items in the 2019-2020 (Fiscal Year 2020) state budget, including:
  • Reimbursements to nonpublic schools for the cost of complying with State health, safety, and welfare mandates.
  • Grant funding for nonpublic students to participate in Michigan's FIRST Robotics program.
  • Inclusion of nonpublic schools as eligible schools for hydration stations, which will provide filtered, clean water to students (the governor's recommendation included these hydration stations only for public schools).
During the event, the group also heard from Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) about the importance of nonpublic schools and parental choice in education. Senator Shirkey reminded that for government to work, "all citizens need to be diligent and engaged," and that these educators should continue to share their experiences with lawmakers to improve the policies that are made in Lansing regarding education.
 
  Hospice Fixes to Opioid Law Pass Committees  
 
During 2017, Michigan prohibited licensed providers from prescribing a Schedule 2-5 controlled substance, unless the prescriber has a bona fide relationship with the patient. This law was part of a larger legislative package to address the opioid crisis, but in practice, it unintentionally hinders certain doctors, especially those who are providing hospice care to patients. This week, lawmakers in both chambers considered amendments to the law, which would exempt hospice patients from the bona fide requirement. The Senate and House legislation would also exempt a person under the care of hospice from the requirement that a prescriber obtain and review a Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) report before prescribing or dispensing more than a three-day supply of opioids for them, under certain conditions. MCC is supportive of this change, which will allow hospice and other providers to continue giving needed care and medication to end-of-life patients in a timely manner. 

Senate Bills 127-128, sponsored by Senators Curt Vanderwall (R-Ludington) and Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing), both passed the Senate Health Policy Committee this week. The legislation will now go before the full Senate. House Bills 4224 and 4225, sponsored by Representatives Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton) and Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian), will also move forward after the House Health Policy Committee's vote this week. They move next to the Committee on Ways and Means before they can be considered by the full House of Representatives.

Note: This week, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced it would be providing Michigan with $10 million to fight the opioid epidemic and overdoses across the state. To learn more about the opioid crisis and what the Catholic Church is doing to respond to the needs of those battling substance abuse, read MCC's June 2017 FOCUS.
                                                               
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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