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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
June 14, 2019
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • MCC Advocates for Low-Income Workers
  • State Budget Updates for 2019-2020
  • House Committee Reviews Vulnerable Adult Coercion Bill
  • MCC Named to Consensus Complete Count Committee
  • AMA Reaffirms Opposition to Assisted Suicide
  • 911 Bill Continues to Governor's Desk
  • USCCB Commends NIH Discontinuation of Fetal Tissue Research
 
  MCC Advocates for Low-Income Workers  
 
This week, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) joined with a broad coalition of groups to speak to the importance of the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for working families. The Coalition specifically urged legislators to support a proposal to boost the state Earned Income Tax Credit to twelve percent of the federal credit, up from the current six percent rate. During the press conference, MCC addressed its longtime support of the policy and spoke to the need for the change:
 
"Michigan Catholic Conference supports the dignity of the human person, from conception until natural death. We work to ensure every person has access to critical human needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and health care. That's why we support expanding the state EITC."
 
These groups included the Capital Area United Way, Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, Council of Michigan Foundations, Michigan Association of United Ways, Michigan Community Action, Michigan League for Public Policy, Michigan Nonprofit Association, National Association of Social Workers- Michigan Chapter, and United Way of Southeastern Michigan. Video of the press conference, hosted by MCC, is available on our Facebook.
 
  State Budget Updates for 2019-2020  
 
This week, the House of Representatives approved its version of the 2019-2020 state budget. Below is a list of priority items for MCC advocacy, along with the funding levels provided in each of the executive, Senate, and House budget proposals:
  • Michigan Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services Program: provides support to pregnant women and promotes alternatives to abortion. Over 8,000 women and their babies have been helped by its services since it began in 2013. The governor eliminated the funding, Senate proposes $750,000, and the House includes $700,000.
     
  • Services for Pregnant University Students: helps establish and operate a pregnant and parenting student services office (according to guidelines in law that do not allow for abortion referrals). The governor and Senate do not include this funding, but the House includes $150,000 in restricted funds for this purpose.
     
  • Private Foster Care Administrative Rate: appropriates funding for administrative rates to child placing agencies and residential service providers that serve foster children awaiting safe, permanent homes. Each of the three proposals includes a minimum rate of $46.20 per day.
     
  • Children's Clothing Allowance: helps low-income families purchase clothing for the school year. Each of the three state budget proposals maintains the funding at $7.23 million.
     
  • Emergency Shelter Services: includes funding for the diem rates for emergency shelter services for the homeless. All three proposals include $1.9 million for homeless programs and maintain the increase in per diem rates for emergency shelter services from $16 to $18 per bed night provided by Public Act 618 of 2018. 
     
  • Human Trafficking Services: provides intervention, housing, and comprehensive services to survivors of human trafficking. All three proposals included $200,000 for intervention services for human trafficking victims. The House also included onetime funding of $700,000 for two long-term shelters that address victim housing and service needs, but this funding was not included in the Senate or governor's proposal.
     
  • Nonpublic School Mandate Funding: reimburses nonpublic schools for expenses related to State health, safety, and welfare requirements, including criminal background checks and safety drills. The governor eliminated this item, the Senate recommends $250,000 plus carry-over funds from previous years, and the House recommends $100,000 plus carry-over funds.
     
  • First Robotics Funding for Nonpublic Schools: proposes competitive grant funding for programs such as First Robotics in nonpublic schools. The governor eliminated this item, the Senate recommends $300,000, and the House proposes $800,000 (while also expanding the STEM extracurricular activities that qualify as eligible programs).
     
  • Mental Health Funding: ensures nonpublic school students (like their public school counterparts) can access mental health counseling, educational awareness programs, and enhanced mental health and clinical services. The governor, Senate, and House all provide funding for this purpose, although the Senate proposal includes several million more than the other two budget recommendations.
     
  • Dual Enrollment: allows nonpublic high school students to enroll in a post-secondary institution class while still enrolled in high school. The governor, the Senate, and the House retain last Fiscal Year's funding at $2 million.
     
  • Tuition Grant Program: provides financial assistance to help low-income students attend one of Michigan's independent colleges or universities. The governor and Senate retain funding at its current level of $38 million, while the House includes an extra $500,000 for this program for a total of $38.5 million.
     
  • Tuition Incentive Program: helps Medicaid recipients attend a public or independent college. The governor's proposal drops funding down to $59.8 million, while the Senate and House retain the current level of funding for the program at $64.3 million.
     
  • Shared Time: allows a nonpublic student to enroll in "non-essential" elective courses at a public school and be considered a part-time pupil in the public school for state aid purposes. The governor, Senate, and House maintain last year's level of funding.
 
  House Committee Reviews Vulnerable Adult Coercion Bill  
 
The House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee considered House Bill 4076 this week, which would prohibit a person from requesting, persuading, convincing, threatening, commanding, forcing, or coercing a vulnerable adult into providing another person with sexually explicit visual material of themselves. MCC supported the measure, which was sponsored by Representative Padma Kuppa (D-Troy), for its protection of the dignity of vulnerable adults. The House Committee is expected to hold another hearing on the matter in the coming weeks. 
 
  MCC Named to Consensus Complete Count Committee  
 
On Tuesday, June 11, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a new executive order, Executive Order No. 2019-15, to establish a Census Complete Count Committee. This Committee would be charged with assisting in a complete and accurate census count in Michigan: identifying barriers that might prevent a full count, creating and implementing an action plan to overcome those barriers, and identifying opportunities to coordinate with other entities working towards a complete count. Governor Whitmer outlined in her order that the committee will consist of at least fifty members from various organizations and communities across the state, including MCC. MCC is grateful to the governor for including the organization in the process, as having an accurate census is critical in determining the funding needed to carry out important programs that advance the common good, strengthen families, and reduce poverty. On Thursday, June 13, Governor Whitmer and the newly created Census Complete Count Committee held a press conference to kick-off the initiative.

Pictured: MCC President and CEO Paul Long and Michigan Nonprofit Association President and CEO Donna Murray Brown.
 
  AMA Reaffirms Opposition to Assisted Suicide  
 
Over the past several years, supporters of physician assisted suicide have been pressuring medical associations such as the American Medical Association (AMA) to adopt positions of "neutrality" about the legalization of assisted suicide. Thankfully, this week the AMA reaffirmed its position of opposition to legalized assisted suicide by a 2 to 1 margin. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) applauded the action and re-emphasized the grave consequences that assisted suicide poses for society, especially for those living with illness, disabilities, or socioeconomic disadvantages. With this vote, the position of the AMA will continue to be as follows: "Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia is fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks."
 
  911 Bill Continues to Governor's Desk  
 
The Michigan Public Service Commission recently issued rules regarding buildings and organizations with multi-line telephone systems, as well as requirements for upgrades to those systems. Buildings with multi-line telephone systems, like schools, allow for multiple people within a building to place and receive calls at the same time through a centralized system. The Public Service Commission's required upgrades were intended to assist emergency workers heading in determining where a call was placed, so that assistance can be given in a more timely fashion once they arrive at a given building or complex (especially for a 911 call). A measure making its way through the Legislature, House Bill 4249, helps to implement the rules in law, while also providing some flexibility for smaller organizations as to when the changes can be made, due to the high expenses associated with the changes. Michigan Catholic Conference worked with the bill sponsor, Representative Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton), to ensure the language adequately addressed the situation of parishes and schools. The Senate approved the bill unanimously this week, which goes now before Governor Whitmer.
 
  USCCB Commends NIH Discontinuation of Fetal Tissue Research  
 
On June 5, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced that it will discontinue research conducted within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) involving the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortion. In the announcement, DHHS also announced it will ensure that efforts to develop ethical alternatives are funded and accelerated. The USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following statement after the announcement:
 
"We strongly commend the Trump Administration for taking actions to move our tax dollars away from research using body parts from aborted babies and toward ethical alternatives. Scavenging and commodifying the body parts of abortion victims for use in research gravely disrespects the bodies of these innocent human beings. Their remains deserve the same respect as that of any other person. To subsidize this degrading practice with our taxpayer dollars is deeply offensive to millions of Americans. Further, the use of fetal tissue procured from aborted babies also can lead to legitimizing the violence of abortion by suggesting that body parts procured in abortion are necessary for research. In truth, research using fetal tissue from aborted babies is neither ethical nor necessary. Researchers have demonstrated the ability to pursue excellence in medical research without collaborating with the abortion industry to further victimize aborted babies."
 
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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