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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
September 13, 2019
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Nonpublic Schools Maintain Strong Presence in Education Budget
  • REMINDER: Sign the Petition Drive to End Dismemberment Abortion
  • Marijuana Warning Label Bill Passes House with Bipartisan Support
  • Inmate Medicaid Coverage Resolution Approved by Full House
  • Forensic Science Commission Bill Reviewed by Senate Committee
 
  Nonpublic Schools Maintain Strong Presence in Education Budget  
 
Since February, the Michigan Legislature has been working to create a 2019-2020 state budget, aided by the Executive Recommendations from Governor Whitmer and committee testimony from the various departments and interested stakeholders. Both the Senate and House have passed their respective versions of the budget and are now meeting to create one final legislative proposal through the Conference Committee process. Conference Committees bring together three senators and three representatives, both Republican and Democrat, on a particular departmental budget to address differences between the two proposals and to agree to compromise policy. While some Conference Committees will meet next week, the Conference Committees on Higher Education and K-12 School Aid issued their recommendations this week. Below are the appropriations agreed to for the items of interest to Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC):
  • Nonpublic School Mandate Funding: includes $250,000 to reimburse nonpublic schools for expenses related to State health, safety, and welfare requirements, including criminal background checks and safety drills. These funds are most welcome and follow the $5.25 million appropriated in the last three state budgets for this purpose. Unfortunately, reimbursement requests from those previous budgets have yet to be disbursed due to ongoing litigation from anti-choice advocates, which is currently before the State Supreme Court. Previously unexpended funds will carry forward into the new 2019-2020 budget.
  • School Safety: provides $3.8 million for a school panic button system for all schools, which would allow school personnel to connect easily and quickly with 911 and first responders during an emergency. The budget proposal also includes $6.2 million in competitive grants available for school safety projects, $1 million of which is available for nonpublic schools.
  • First Robotics Funding for Nonpublic Schools: proposes $300,000 in competitive grant funding for programs such as First Robotics or Science Olympiad in nonpublic schools.
  • Mental Health Funding: appropriates $23 million for Michigan students to access mental health counseling, educational awareness programs, and enhanced mental health clinical services. These services will also be available for nonpublic school students to access upon request.
  • Tuition Grant Program: maintains the current spending level of $38 million in financial assistance to help low-income students attend one of Michigan's independent colleges or universities, including Catholic colleges.
  • Tuition Incentive Program: retains $64.3 million to help Medicaid recipients attend a public or independent college.
  • Abortion Referral Prohibition: revises language that requires Michigan public schools to adopt a disciplinary policy preventing staff from referring students for an abortion.
MCC would especially like to thank Senator Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) and Representative Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis) for their leadership and inclusion of these important items during the appropriations process. Stay tuned for further updates from Conference Committees, as recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services budget are likely next week.
 
  REMINDER: Sign the Petition Drive to End Dismemberment Abortion  
 
Since June 26, Michiganders began collecting signatures for a Citizen's Initiative Petition to end dismemberment abortion in this state. The brutal procedure, most commonly used during the second trimester of pregnancy, dismembers a living unborn child, removing him or her from the womb limb by limb. The Michigan Values Life Committee leading the effort needs the signatures of approximately 400,000 Michigan voters to bring this ban forward to state lawmakers. MCC and the Catholic bishops of Michigan are strongly supportive of this petition and are pleased with the enthusiastic reaction thus far in the Catholic community.

There is still time to have your signature counted, especially as many parishes are continuing to collect signatures through the next several weeks. Check with your local parish for opportunities to sign the petition form or visit the Michigan Values Life website to request a petition form, which you can sign and get friends or family in your county to sign also: https://michiganvalueslife.org/request-materials/.
 
  Marijuana Warning Label Bill Passes House with Bipartisan Support  
 
This week, HBs 4126-4127 cleared the House floor with nearly-unanimous, bipartisan support: a 105-4 vote. If adopted into law, these measures would require all recreational and medical marijuana sold in Michigan to include a health warning for pregnant and nursing women. The warning label would alert women that any marijuana use could result in fetal injury, preterm birth, low birth weight, or development problems for the child. The legislation would also require marijuana retailers, microbusinesses, and provisioning centers to make available a pamphlet regarding safety information related to minors and the poison control hotline. MCC supports the bills, sponsored by Representative Tom Albert (R-Lowell) and Daire Rendon (R-Lake City). They now face consideration in the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.
 
  Inmate Medicaid Coverage Resolution Approved by Full House  
 
The Michigan House of Representatives approved, by a voice vote, a resolution to urge the U.S. Congress to support Medicaid coverage for jail and prison inmates. Current federal rules do not allow Medicaid matching dollars to be used for those in prison or jail, even if they previously have received Medicaid coverage. As a result of these federal rules, health care costs for those incarcerated are covered by state and local governments, which can make it more difficult to maintain a continuity of care or to navigate the transition over to Medicaid after an inmate's release. House Resolution 0093 of 2019, sponsored by Representative Hank Vaupel (R-Handy Township), does not have the full force of law (as all resolutions are non-binding). However, it sends a message to Congress about the importance of providing consistent, reliable treatments to those in Michigan's prisons and jails, especially those struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues. MCC has supported the resolution throughout the legislative process. With its passage in the House, it will now be forwarded to the U.S. Congress.
 
  Forensic Science Commission Bill Reviewed by Senate Committee  
 
The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee considered two measures this week that, if enacted, would create an 11-member Michigan Forensic Science Commission. The Commission would have the ability to regulate and oversee crime labs, as well as forensic medical examiners. The bills, introduced by Senators Tom Barrett (R-Potterville) and Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), also require the Commission to begin verifying the accreditation of all Michigan crime labs in January 2020. MCC supports Senate Bills 276-277, which would establish higher standards for state crime labs, ensure more accurate analysis of criminal evidence, and improve accuracy in convictions. No vote was taken this week in the committee.

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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