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
December 13, 2019

  In This Update  
  • DEADLINE TODAY: Petition Forms to End Dismemberment Abortion Must be Postmarked or Delivered to Right to Life of Michigan TODAY!
  • Some Budget Vetoes Restored by Legislature; More Work to be Done
  • Governor Files Brief Declaring Nonpublic School Mandate Reimbursement Unconstitutional
  • MCC Opposes Legislation to Expand Payday Lending
  • Marijuana Warning Label Requirement Passes Senate Committee
  • School Safety Building Code Changes Moving Forward
  • Suicide Prevention Commission Bill Headed to Governor
  • Legislature Adjourns Until January 8, 2020
  • Merry Christmas!
  DEADLINE TODAY: Petition Forms to End Dismemberment Abortion Must be Postmarked or Delivered to Right to Life of Michigan TODAY!  
The initiative to end dismemberment abortion, which began in late June, wraps up today. All remaining forms must be postmarked TODAY, Friday, December 13th, or delivered to Right to Life of Michigan offices. MCC and the Catholic bishops in Michigan have strongly supported the initiative and are grateful for the enthusiastic response of the Catholic community over the past six months. Thank you for your participation with this important initiative! Once all petitions are received and processed, the signatures will be submitted to the State Board of Canvassers for approval. Upon approval that at least 340,047 valid signatures have been submitted, the legislature will have 40 calendar days to consider the citizen-initiated measure. With a simple majority vote in both legislative chambers, the measure will become law without needing the governor's signature and will put an end to the gruesome dismemberment abortion procedure in our state.
  Some Budget Vetoes Restored by Legislature; More Work to be Done  
After months of stalemate, the legislature and governor this week negotiated the restoration of $573 million of the $947 million vetoed by the governor at the start of the fiscal year. This supplemental budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year included funding for the Michigan Tuition Grant Program, rural hospitals, secondary road patrols for county sheriffs, and autism navigators.

There are indications that there may be a second supplemental budget after the holidays to restore funding for many of the other vetoed programs. MCC remains committed to advocating for budget allocations that impact Catholic and other nonpublic schools in the state.

Please stay tuned to Lansing Update as we will be asking for your assistance in restoring funding for nonpublic school safety and pregnancy centers when the legislature reconvenes in January.
  Governor Files Brief Declaring Nonpublic School Mandate Reimbursement Unconstitutional  
For the past three legislative sessions, MCC has supported an appropriation passed by the legislature to reimburse nonpublic schools for expenses related to health and safety requirements, such as the maintenance of immunization records, conducting safety drills, and performing criminal background checks.

This policy was challenged in court by several public school organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union in 2017. In 2018, the Michigan Court of Claims declared the appropriation to be in violation of Article VIII, Section 2 of the Michigan Constitution as it "supports the employment of nonpublic school employees." Later that year, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed that decision stating that reimbursement of costs to comply with mandates is permissible, provided it is "incidental to teaching and providing educational services to private school students (non-instructional in nature), it does not constitute a primary function or element necessary for a nonpublic school's existence, operation, and survival, and it does not involve or result in excessive religious entanglement." That decision was then appealed by the plaintiffs to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Late last Friday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Rice filed a brief agreeing with the contention that the appropriation was unconstitutional except for mandates related to student transportation. This was highly unusual in that a governor typically defends state law that is litigated. MCC issued a news release faulting the legal reasoning, contending that "the state has an obligation to ensure all children are educated in healthy and safe environments." MCC and the Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools will file a brief defending the appropriation later this month. The Michigan Supreme Court will decide the case in 2020.
  MCC Opposes Legislation to Expand Payday Lending  
This week, the House Committee on Regulatory Reform approved legislation expanding payday lending in Michigan. House Bill 5097, sponsored by Representative Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Township), would give payday lenders the authority to make small loans, up to $2,500, with no limit to the length of the loan. These small loans, as defined in the bill, are subject to an 11% monthly surcharge on the amount owed and cannot be paid back prior to 90 days. Currently, payday loans, also known as deferred presentment, are limited to a $600 loan for 31 days. The measure now is before the House Committee on Ways and Means for further consideration. MCC issued a news release opposing the measure, noting:

It is unfortunate that legislation to expand payday lending, without proper consumer protections, passed committee today. We are concerned about the impact that this 132 percent interest rate loan will have on poor people in the State of Michigan.

MCC will continue to advocate for safeguards on payday lending products to protect vulnerable people.
  Marijuana Warning Label Requirement Passes Senate Committee  
This week, HBs 4126-4127 were approved with bipartisan support by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. 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, which are sponsored by Representative Tom Albert (R-Lowell) and Daire Rendon (R-Lake City). The legislation now awaits consideration by the full Senate.
  School Safety Building Code Changes Moving Forward  
House Bill 4689, introduced by Representative Scott VanSingel (R-Grant) would amend the Construction of School Buildings Act to allow temporary door barricade devices to be installed in school buildings. These are anchoring mechanisms installed on the interior side of a door that, when engaged, secures the door against forced entry. Schools would have to notify local law enforcement and fire departments before installing such a device and would have to provide training to staff members on how to utilize the devices during an emergency. MCC supports the legislation as a means of increasing school safety. The bill was approved 108-0 by the House of Representatives on November 5 and approved by the Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform this week. It is now before the full Senate for further consideration.
  Suicide Prevention Commission Bill Headed to Governor  
Legislation that would create a Michigan Suicide Prevention Commission was concurred in this week by the Senate and will be presented to the governor. Senate Bill 228, sponsored by Senator Jim Runestad (R-White Lake), details the groups and individuals that would be represented on the commission, as well as the purpose of the proposed commission: to research the causes of suicide and present recommendations for addressing risk factors. MCC supports the legislation in order to provide additional life-affirming support and care to Michiganders and to reduce the suicide rate in the state.
  Legislature Adjourns Until January 8, 2020.  
The Michigan House and Senate are currently in recess, with the legislative session scheduled to resume January 8, 2020.
  Merry Christmas!  
As this will most likely be the final Lansing Update for 2019, Michigan Catholic Conference wishes you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and blessed New Year!

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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,