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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 11, 2019
 

  In This Update  
 
  • Post Budget Fallout: Week One
  • Raise the Age Packages Approaching Finish Line
  • Senate Committee Approves Forensic Science Commission Bills
  • Dual Enrollment Legislation Moves Forward
  • REMINDER: Petition Drive to End Dismemberment Abortion Continues Throughout Respect Life Month
 
  Post Budget Fallout: Week One  
 
One week ago, Governor Whitmer issued an unprecedented 147 line item vetoes to the state budget and used a little-known mechanism to shift over $625 million through the State Administrative Board. That action by the governor included eliminating funding for Pure Michigan, autism navigators, law enforcement on county roads, and programs supported by the Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) for crisis pregnancies, school safety, and robotics grants.

Almost immediately, the governor called for the legislature to go to work to "repair" the budget through a supplemental appropriation bill. The legislature responded by indicating they already sent her a good budget and want to work with the Governor on policy issues such as Raise the Age and long-term road funding.

It is clear that the relationship between the legislature and governor will need some time to heal and to rebuild trust. So far, the governor has outlined some specific items she would like to see in a proposed supplemental, namely in the areas of public safety and education. This week, the legislature introduced 23 supplemental appropriations bills aimed at restoring 23 of the line items cut, with some overlap of the governor's interests. These bills are mechanisms by which the legislature could choose to attempt to override the governor's vetoes for those specific programs.

What is encouraging, so far, is the willingness of all parties to move forward with policy areas of mutual interest. It is also clear that most lawmakers do wish to restore most of these cuts. It will likely take time for this to happen, but MCC stands ready to work with the legislature and the governor to restore the funding to programs that have taken great effort over the years to put in place.
 
  Raise the Age Packages Approaching Finish Line  
 
On the heels of a budget process that has resulted in many key programs being slashed and the relationship between the governor and legislature being stressed, some policy items might be the balm needed to heal (see previous article). One policy item which portends to fit that bill is the Raise the Age proposal.

In Michigan all 17-year old children who commit a felony or a misdemeanor is tried as an adult by default. Michigan is one of only four states who do not set this age at 18. The package of bills would bring Michigan in line with the rest of the nation.

Earlier in the year, the House and Senate passed their respective versions of this important legislation, only to see it stall amid budget negotiations. This week, it was announced that a deal was finally reached to iron out the items of difference in the variant versions passed by the House and Senate. Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the entire House package of bills to the Senate floor and next Tuesday, the House intends to take the same action on the Senate package. Also, next week both chambers are expected to send those packages back to the chambers of origin for concurrence. The bills would then be sent to the governor for her approval.

MCC has been very supportive of these bills and involved in promoting this policy for the last three legislative sessions and finally it appears that the finish line is in sight.
 
  Senate Committee Approves Forensic Science Commission Bills  
 
The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee approved legislation 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. The bills now to go the full senate for its approval.
 
  Dual Enrollment Legislation Moves Forward  
 
Dual enrollment is the practice of obtaining college credit and vocational training while still attending high school. For public school students, tuition and fees are paid by the school district using the state per pupil funding allowance. For nonpublic school students, tuition and fees are paid by the state Department of Treasury. Currently, eligible courses are those offered by a postsecondary institution (i.e., a community college, state university, or independent nonprofit degree-granting college or university) that either is not offered by the school district or is offered but not available because of a scheduling conflict. High school students take these advanced courses during the school year. House Bills 4546 and 4547, sponsored by Representatives Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian) and Ben Frederick (R-Owosso), would also allow students to enroll in college courses that are only offered when their high school is not in session (i.e. the summer). This week, the House Education Committee approved the legislation 14-0, which now proceeds to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration. MCC supports the bills as it creates additional educational opportunities for students in public and nonpublic schools.
 
  REMINDER: Petition Drive to End Dismemberment Abortion Continues Throughout 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.

If you have not yet signed the petition to end dismemberment abortion, check with your local parish for opportunities to sign 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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Be sure to visit our website at www.micatholic.org
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