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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
October 4, 2019
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Governor Uses State Administrative Board to Move Funds, Liberally Uses Line Item Veto Power in State Budget Row
  • MCC Testifies at House Financial Services Committee Hearing on New Safeguards for Payday Lending
  • Respect Life Month Theme: "Christ Our Hope: In Every Season of Life"
  • REMINDER: Petition Drive to End Dismemberment Abortion During Respect Life Month
 
  Governor Uses State Administrative Board to Move Funds, Liberally Uses Line Item Veto Power in State Budget Row  
 
After budget talks between Governor Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leadership broke down in advance of the end of the fiscal year, it had been unclear how the governor would handle being presented a budget in which she had no part in negotiating. After Monday's fiscal year end, we now have those answers.

While signing the budget bills to avoid a shutdown, Governor Whitmer wielded the line item veto pen in record fashion. In a move largely designed to bring legislative leadership back to the table on long term road funding negotiations, Whitmer issued 147 line item vetoes totaling $947 million. Programs axed in this move include funding supported by the Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) for the Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services, public safety in nonpublic schools, robotics competition grants for nonpublic schools, and tuition grant assistance for low-income students attending private colleges. The MCC supported programs that were line item vetoed are in good company as $375 million in road and bridge repairs, funding for the Pure Michigan campaign, and funds to hold state felons in county jails were also slashed.

Additionally, Governor Whitmer utilized an extremely rare tool of transferring $625 million in funds within individual budgets using the State Administrative Board to circumvent legislative approval.

In the days after the veto, the governor called on the legislature to restore some of the funding back to the budget via a supplemental budget bill. The immediate response from Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson) and House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) was that the budget has been completed and it is now time to move forward with other legislation and securing a deal on road funding. Clearly, many of the line item vetoes attack legislative priorities, so discussion on a supplemental budget will occur, but the timing is unclear.

MCC is hopeful that the last chapter on these line item vetoes is far from over and will continue advocating for the Pregnancy and Parenting Support program as well as the vetoes that impact nonpublic schools and low-income college students.
 
  MCC Testifies at House Financial Services Committee Hearing on New Safeguards for Payday Lending  
 
On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee took testimony on House Bill 4251, legislation sponsored by Representative William Sowerby (D-Clinton Township), which would add some important safeguards to payday lending. Payday lending is a financial lending institution, where someone can get an advance on their paycheck for a two week loan of up to $600. Fees for that term of a loan would be $76, scaled down for lower loan amounts. Annualized, that is a loan with an effective interest rate in the triple digits.

The legislation would have initially capped effective interest rates at thirty-six percent, but that provision was stricken in order for it to have a hearing. Remaining in the bill are important provisions to help protect vulnerable consumers from the cycle of debt. Currently in Michigan, someone can have up to two $600 loans out at one time. This is problematic considering that seventy-one percent of payday loans are issued immediately after one is paid off, according the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

To address this cycle of debt in the payday lending industry, House Bill 4251 would allow only one loan per person at a time and would incorporate a thirty-day cooling-off period between loans. Lastly, the bill would not allow a lender to issue a loan to anyone whose debt to income ratio exceeded forty-one percent.

The Michigan Catholic Conference testified in support of this legislation as an important step to protect consumers who are in a financially vulnerable position.

Interestingly enough, the most recent issue of Faith Magazine in the Diocese of Lansing highlights a micro-loan program administered by St. Vincent Catholic Charities which caps a $750 loan at three percent, to be paid back in eighteen months.
 
  Respect Life Month Theme: "Christ Our Hope: In Every Season of Life"  
 
This coming Sunday, October 6, is recognized as Respect Life Sunday. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of Kansas City in Kansas and Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, celebrated the launch of Respect Life Month:
 
"Although we must cherish, protect, and defend human life year-round, the Catholic Church in the United States sets aside each October as Respect Life Month.

This year's theme, "Christ Our Hope: In Every Season of Life," is particularly suited for our times. While attacks against human life seem to grow ever more numerous and callous, we know that Christ has conquered sin and death. Through our Christian hope in the Resurrection, we are given the grace to persevere in faith..."
 
New Respect Life parish resources and an Action Guide are available at www.respectlife.org, with a Catholic Education Leader's Kit also available for use in classrooms. Featured articles cover a variety of topics, including abortion and post-abortion healing, adoption, infertility, assisted reproductive technologies, assisted suicide, advanced medical directives, preparing for death, and how to build a culture of life.
 
  REMINDER: Petition Drive to End Dismemberment Abortion During Respect Life Month  
 
Throughout October and Respect Life Month, parishes are presented with an ideal time to gather signatures on the Citizen's Initiative Petition to End Dismemberment Abortion. Since June 26, more than 200,000 signatures have been collected to ban this particularly brutal abortion procedure in our state. A goal of 400,000 signatures from Michigan voters is needed to bring the legislation before state lawmakers. MCC and the Catholic bishops of Michigan are strongly supportive of the initiative to end dismemberment abortion and are pleased with the enthusiastic reaction thus far in the Catholic community.

Check with your local parish for opportunities to sign the petition form or visit the Michigan Values Life website to request a petition form to sign and circulate among family and friends in your county: https://michiganvalueslife.org/request-materials/.

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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