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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
April 12, 2019
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Committees Consider "Raise the Age"; MCC Testifies
  • MCC Raises Concerns on Sanctuary City Bills
  • Hospice Exemption Bills Continue to House Floor
  • MCC Submits Public Comments on MI-Post Forms
  • Suicide Prevention Commission Bill Has MCC Support
 
  Committees Consider "Raise the Age"; MCC Testifies  
 
This week, both legislative chambers considered their respective bills within the "Raise the Age" package, which would allow most seventeen-year-olds who commit crimes to be treated in the juvenile system. Under current law, all seventeen-year-olds are automatically placed in the adult system, even for a first-time, non-violent offenses. The House Judiciary Committee's hearing was the first on the topic, and therefore, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) testified in support of House Bills 4133-4146. During testimony, MCC highlighted the way the bipartisan package honors the human dignity of Michigan's seventeen-year-olds, reduces victimization, and improves public safety. Staff also pointed out that despite concerns raised by some groups about funding the change, the legislation includes an adequate funding solution to ensure the counties are not left paying the entire burden of increased juvenile services. The bill sponsors include Representatives Roger Hauck (R-Port Huron), Douglas Wozniak (R-Shelby Twp), Julie Calley (R-Portland), Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp), Michael Webber (R-Rochester Hills), Daire Rendon (R-Lake City), David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids), Brian Elder (D-Bay City), Leslie Love (D-Detroit), Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming), Graham Filler (R-Ovid), and Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Twp). The committee will hold another hearing before hopefully moving the package forward to the full Michigan House. 

The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee also conducted its third hearing on the Senate "Raise the Age" package, which also has received wide bipartisan support. The bill sponsors include Senators Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), Pete Lucido (R-Shelby Twp), Michael MacDonald (R-Sterling Heights), Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), Adam Hollier (D-Detroit), Curtis Hertel Jr (D-East Lansing), Marshall Bullock (D-Detroit), Ruth Johnson (R-Holly), Jim Runestad (R-White Lake), and Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit). A vote is expected soon to move the measures forward to the full Senate. 
 
  MCC Raises Concerns on Sanctuary City Bills  
 
On Tuesday, April 9, the House Committee on Military, Veterans and Homeland Security considered two measures addressing immigration and local law enforcement policy. Specifically, House Bills 4083 and 4090 would prohibit the enactment of local laws that prevent local officials from cooperating with federal authorities regarding an individual's immigration status. MCC is neutral on the legislation, which is sponsored by Representatives Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Twp) and Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain). However, staff expressed several concerns with the measure as currently written: 
  1. Immigration policy/enforcement is a federal responsibility.  If a local government violates federal law regarding immigration enforcement, then the U.S. Department of Justice is the appropriate party to deal with that situation, not the State Legislature.
     
  2. The bills contain language regarding "communication" and "cooperation" between federal and local law enforcement officials that is not well-defined and could lead to confusion or misinterpretation.  
     
  3. This legislation may signal to immigrants in Michigan that contact with law enforcement officers should be avoided, leaving them vulnerable to crime and exploitation. The bills may also signal to the nation that Michigan does not welcomes immigrants, even if that is not the intent.  
     
  4. These measures contain similar language to federal law (8 U.S.C. § 1373) that has been deemed unconstitutional in full or in part by several federal district courts.  It may be beneficial to pause and see how the issue is resolved in the federal courts before acting on HBs 4083 and 4090.
During the committee, the titles of the bills were changed from the "Sanctuary Policy Prohibition Acts" to the "Local Government Law Enforcement Protection Act" and "County Law Enforcement Protection Act." Both measures were approved by a 5-4 vote and now advance to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.  
 
  Hospice Exemption Bills Continue to House Floor  
 
Both the House Ways and Means Committee and full House considered House Bill 4225 this week, which would introduce two exemptions from opioid-related requirements for those caring for hospice patients. 
  1. Prescribers for hospice patients would be exempted from the requirement that they must have a bona fide relationship with the patient to provide them with Schedule 2-5 controlled substances, such as opioids.
     
  2. A prescriber would not have to obtain and review a Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) report before prescribing or dispensing more than a three-day supply of opioids or other Schedule 2-5 controlled substances for hospice patients, 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. The House Ways and Means Committee and then the full House of Representatives unanimously voted in favor of continuing the measure, sponsored by Representative Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian), forward. A similar bill (Senate Bill 127), sponsored by Senator Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), awaits action in the full Senate. 
 
  MCC Submits Public Comments on MI-Post Forms  
 
In November 2017, then Governor Rick Snyder signed four measures into law that created the Michigan Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) program (Public Acts 154-157 of 2017), which:
  • Helps health care professionals honor the wishes of their seriously ill adult patients who voluntarily document their treatment decisions on the standardized POST form. 
     
  • Allows for discussion and certain medical decisions to be made prior to a crisis so a patient's wishes can be followed regarding treatment or non-treatment. 
MCC worked to improve protections in the bills and supported their final passage. Following enactment of the laws, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) convened an ad-hoc committee to create a standardized state POST form and procedures. DHHS recently conducted a public comment period on the MI-Post form, draft rules, and draft information sheet that emerged from that committee. In consultation with the National Catholic Bioethics Center and the Catholic health systems in Michigan, MCC provided several suggestions to improve the guidance documents and to bring them more fully in line with the intent of the legislation. Now DHHS will consider the public's comments and decide on final language for these implementation documents.  
 
  Suicide Prevention Commission Bill Has MCC Support  
 
To address Michigan's rising suicide rates, the State Legislature is now considering Senate Bill 228, sponsored by Senator Jim Runestad (R-White Lake). This legislation would create a 25-member Suicide Prevention Commission, which would include representatives from a variety of disciplines. This Commission would be tasked with researching the causes and possible underlying risk factors of suicide in Michigan, as well as offering recommendations for reducing those factors. The Commission would provide a preliminary report to the Michigan Legislature by January 1, 2020 and an annual report thereafter. This week, the Senate Committee on Health Policy and Human Services heard testimony regarding the legislation, which MCC supports.  No vote was taken at this meeting. 

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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