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
April 19, 2019

  In This Update:  
  • ACTION NEEDED! Urge Support for Raise the Age in Both Chambers
  • MCC Offers Support for Federal Lawsuit, Buck v. Gordon
  • Engagement With Officials Addressed by MCC at Muslim Capitol Day
  • Senate Approves Hospice Exemption Bills
  • The Word from Lansing: Standing Against Religious Bigotry
On behalf of Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC), have a blessed Holy Week and Happy Easter!
  ACTION NEEDED! Urge Support for Raise the Age in Both Chambers  
This week, the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee both voted in favor of their respective "Raise the Age" legislative packages with significant bipartisan support. The legislation would change current policy, which automatically treats seventeen-year-olds in the adult system when a crime is committed. Instead, the bills would allow most seventeen-year-olds to receive age-appropriate rehabilitative services in the juvenile system, unless a judge or prosecutor chooses to charge them as an adult in cases of serious crimes. A vote is likely in both the House of Representatives (HBs 4133-4146, 4433, and 4452) and Senate (SBs 84 and 90-102) as soon as next week. 

Your support is needed to encourage both chambers to continue this critical policy forward. Please take action now to urge your State Representative and your State Senator to support this "Raise the Age" package. Sending them an email only takes a few minutes, but it is vital that they are hearing from their constituents before the vote. Thank you in advance for your action. 
  MCC Offers Support for Federal Lawsuit, Buck v. Gordon  
This week, the Becket law firm filed a federal lawsuit in the Western District of Michigan, seeking to protect the conscience rights of faith-based child placement agencies. The lawsuit claims that a recent settlement agreement reached between Attorney General Dana Nessel and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which sued the State in 2017 over its cooperation with faith-based agencies, violates the First Amendment and was intended to stop the State from working with religious placement agencies. After the announcement, MCC commented:

"For decades, Catholic agencies have anchored communities and families by offering humanitarian aid to those in need and placing vulnerable children in loving homes. Faith-based child placement agencies help to provide diverse options for families and work to stabilize difficult living conditions for kids across the state. The Attorney General/ACLU settlement agreement does nothing to serve the best interest of children. The lawsuit [filed on behalf of Chad and Melissa Buck, Shamber Flore, and St. Vincent Catholic Charities] will push-back against the ongoing adversarial efforts to move the Catholic Church and the services they provide out of the public square."

Photo Credit: Becket law firm.
  Engagement With Officials Addressed by MCC at Muslim Capitol Day  
This week, the Michigan Muslim Council invited Michigan Catholic Conference to be a part of a panel at Muslim Capitol Day called "Engaging Elected Officials After Capitol Day." MCC's Policy Advocate, Paul Stankewitz (pictured right), was joined by Karen Holcomb Merrill from the Michigan League for Public Policy (pictured middle), and Aamina Ahmed (pictured left), a former School Board candidate. During this session, the panelists spoke to the importance of getting to know one's elected officials, sharing personal experiences and concerns, so that good public policies can be made for the common good. MCC reminded the audience that as Americans, each person is free to live their faith in the public square, not just in their place of worship:

"It is important that members of Michigan's faith community, regardless of tradition, understand our fundamental right to participate in civic affairs as guided by our faith. It is equally important that we stand together in the defense of religious liberty. Any diminishment of that freedom for one group lessens the freedom of us all."
  Senate Approves Hospice Exemption Bills  
Last week, the Michigan House of Representatives approved House Bill 4225, which would introduce two exemptions from opioid-related requirements for those caring for hospice patients. This week, the Michigan Senate approved its version of the measure, Senate Bill 127, by a 36-0 vote. These bills allow hospice and other providers to continue giving needed care and medication to end-of-life patients in a timely manner. The exemptions include the following:
  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.
SB 127 is sponsored by Senator Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) and has the support of MCC. The measure now continues to House committees for further consideration.
  The Word from Lansing: Standing Against Religious Bigotry  
The Catholic Church strongly believes in protecting religious freedom, not just for Catholics but also for those of other faiths-or no faith at all. An important component in this protection is also standing up against incidents of religious bigotry in society. The Word from Lansing for April shares examples of religious bigotry today and encourages people of goodwill to instead take the lead in fostering a climate of respect and religious tolerance. 

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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,