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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 29, 2019
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • USDA Requests Comments on Proposed SNAP Change
  • Continued Pressure Needed: Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act
  • U.S. House Calls for Action on Equality Act; USCCB Opposes
  • U.S. Bishops Praise Expanded Mexico City Policy
  • The Word from Lansing: Prioritizing the Vulnerable in the State Budget
NOTE: Michigan lawmakers are currently back in their home districts for the spring legislative recess. They will return to Lansing for regular session on Tuesday, April 9.
 
  USDA Requests Comments on Proposed SNAP Change  
 
At the federal level, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation's foremost anti-hunger program. Each year, SNAP lifts millions of low-income Americans out of food insecurity. On February 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a proposed rule that would increase SNAP work requirements and limit state flexibilities to adapt the needs of low-income and working families in the state. As a result of these changes, more than 755,000 individuals would lose SNAP benefits over the next three years. Even individuals living in areas that have persistent unemployment above 6.9 percent (almost double the current unemployment rate) would be ineligible for waivers. This means less local control, more food insecurity, and more people in need. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholic Charities USA, and Society of St. Vincent de Paul have issued joint comments in opposition to the proposed change. Take a few minutes to tell the USDA to withdraw or modify the rule so that it:
  1. Protects access to necessary food and nutrition programs, and 
  2. Adheres to the bipartisan policies implemented in the recently-passed 2018 Farm Bill.
 
  Continued Pressure Needed: Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act  
 
In an earlier update, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) shared about a piece of federal legislation that has been introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives called the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S. 311 and H.R. 962). The legislation would prohibit infanticide by ensuring that a child born alive following an abortion would receive the same degree of care to preserve his or her life and health as would be given to any other child born alive at the same gestational age. While a 2002 law is already in existence to protect children born alive after an abortion, that law does not currently include the necessary penalties to enforce its provisions. Passage of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is critical, therefore, to allow for the law's enforcement. As many may remember, in the first week of March, the U.S. Senate failed to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. However, that is not the end of the story. Your help is needed to continue to push for this critical legislation. Take a few minutes and urge your U.S. Representative to sign a discharge petition for H.R. 962. This petition would allow for the House of Representatives to take a vote on the measure, despite opposition from the majority party. Thank you in advance for your action.
 
  U.S. House Calls for Action on Equality Act; USCCB Opposes  
 
Last week's Lansing Update shared about recently introduced federal legislation called the Equality Act, which would add the terms "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the definition of "sex" in federal civil rights laws. The Catholic Church seeks to promote justice and human dignity, and so Catholics are opposed to unjust discrimination. Unfortunately, the reality of this measure would retract religious freedom, endanger privacy, regulate speech, hinder quality health care, and threaten charitable organizations and those whom they serve. The USCCB, therefore, opposes the bill. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has prioritized the Equality Act (HR 5) for quick action in the House of Representatives. The USCCB expects a vote before June 30 but possibly as soon as April. Urge your U.S. Representative to vote no on the Equality Act when it comes up for a vote.
 
  U.S. Bishops Praise Expanded Mexico City Policy  
 
This week, the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities thanked President Trump's Administration following its announcement of the expansion of the Mexico City Policy and its enforcement of the Siljander Amendment, which both address funding for abortion or abortion-related groups. The Mexico City Policy (also known as the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance) requires foreign non-governmental organizations receiving U.S. aid to certify they will not perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in developing nations. The expansion ensures that taxpayer dollars are not going to organizations that perform or promote abortions themselves or that fund other organizations that do. The Siljander Amendment prohibits federal dollars from funding groups that lobby for or against abortion. In a statement, the USCCB applauded the administration's actions: 

"Taxpayer dollars should never fund abortion-and especially not in developing countries where many women need genuine, life-sustaining support for themselves and for their children. International organizations should be providing real assistance, real healthcare, and real opportunities for women, instead of offering to end the lives of their unborn children."
 
  The Word from Lansing: Prioritizing the Vulnerable in the State Budget  
 
On March 5, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and State Budget Director Chris Kolb presented their Executive State Budget Recommendations for the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year. These recommendations included several positive elements, including a doubling of the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The Word from Lansing for March delves further into these elements, as well as budget items not included in the governor's proposal but that MCC will continue to advocate for during the budget process. 

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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