Catholic Advocacy Network Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram
CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
January 24, 2020
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • March for Life Draws Enormous Crowd in D.C.
  • MCC Supports Measures for Minority Mothers, Stillborn Families
  • Legislature Issues Catholic Schools Week Resolutions
  • Blaine Case Opportunity to "End Shameful Legacy"
  • USCCB Grateful for Federal Religious Freedom Measures   
  • Upcoming Dates: State of the State and the Budget Process 
 
  March for Life Draws Enormous Crowd in D.C.  
 
On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States issued its decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, legalizing abortion through all fifty states during all three trimesters of pregnancy. These cases have had an enormous impact on the nation, destroying millions of lives before birth and leaving many families grieving. This week, pro-lifers from across the country remembered the solemn 47th anniversary by participating in the March for Life in Washington D.C., including several Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) staff. In recognizing the anniversary, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reiterated the Church's commitment to mothers: 

"As the Church and growing numbers of pro-life Americans continue to advocate for women and children in courthouses and legislatures, the Church's pastoral response is focused on the needs of women facing pregnancies in challenging circumstances. While this has long been the case, the pastoral response will soon intensify. The Committee on Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking bishops to invite parishes in their dioceses to join a nationwide effort from 3/25/2020 through 3/25/2021 entitled, 'Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service...We pray [the year] will help us reach every pregnant mother in need, that she may know she can turn to her local Catholic community for help and authentic friendship."

More information about the year of service can be found at www.walkingwithmoms.com.
 
  MCC Supports Measures for Minority Mothers, Stillborn Families  
 
In the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee this week, MCC supported two measures that seek to support women and families. 

House Resolution 123, sponsored by Representative Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac), urges the U.S. Congress to establish and fund programs that support positive health practices for minority mothers. The resolution mentions the racial disparities that exist in maternal mortality rates, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that black mothers in the United States die at three to four times the rate of white mothers. Additionally, black mothers have higher rates of pregnancy-related conditions, such as preeclampsia, placenta previa, and postpartum hemorrhage. The resolution mentions the importance of improving prenatal care, overall maternal heath, the rates of breastfeeding, and nutrition. The House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee unanimously passed the resolution, which was also approved by the full House of Representatives this week.

House Bill 5289, sponsored by Julie Alexander (R-Hanover), would prohibit the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) from charging a fee when a family requests a certificate of stillbirth. This measure builds on legislation passed in 2018 (Public Act 589 of 2018) that allows parents of a stillborn child to claim an exemption on their taxes if they provide documentation-a  certificate of stillbirth-from MDHHS. The exemption is offered for the first time for the 2019 tax year. Representative Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township) introduced the measure in the previous legislative session to provide some financial relief to families in their time of grief.  The exemption could help defray expenses such as those associated with prenatal care, previously purchased baby items, and funeral arrangements. The committee heard testimony on the bill, but no vote was taken.
 
  Legislature Issues Catholic Schools Week Resolutions  
 
Both chambers of the Michigan Legislature passed resolutions this week to recognize January 26 through February 1 as Catholic Schools Week. This annual celebration honors the positive contributions of Catholic schools to Michigan communities and to the state's students. Senator Kim LaSata (R-Bainbridge Twp) sponsored Senate Resolution 93 of 2020, and Representative Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Twp) sponsored House Resolution 221 of 2020. According to these documents, the Michigan Legislature: "[supports] the continued dedication of Catholic schools across Michigan toward academic excellence as well as the key role that Catholic schools play in promoting and ensuring a brighter, stronger future for students." MCC appreciates the resolution sponsors and state lawmakers for honoring Catholic schools in this way. 
 
  Blaine Case Opportunity to "End Shameful Legacy"  
 
On Wednesday, January 22, the Supreme Court of the United States began hearing oral arguments in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, a case challenging a decision from the Montana Supreme Court on education funding. In that ruling, the Montana Supreme Court invalidated a tax credit scholarship program because it benefited some families who sent their children to religiously affiliated schools, a violation of the Montana state constitution's "Blaine Amendment" against aid to religious schools.  The USCCB commented this week, saying:

"The case before the Supreme Court today concerns whether the Constitution offers states a license to discriminate against religion. Our country's tradition of non-establishment of religion does not mean that governments can deny otherwise available benefits on the basis of religious status. Indeed, religious persons and organizations should, like everyone else, be allowed to participate in government programs that are open to all. This is an issue of justice for people of all faith communities. But this case is not only about constitutional law. It is about whether our nation will continue to tolerate this strain of anti-Catholic bigotry. Blaine Amendments, which are in 37 states' constitutions, were the product of nativism. They were never meant to ensure government neutrality towards religion, but were expressions of hostility toward the Catholic Church. We hope that the Supreme Court will take this opportunity to bring an end to this shameful legacy."

The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, arguing in favor of preserving Montana's tax credit scholarship program and thus overturning the Montana court's ruling.
 
  USCCB Grateful for Federal Religious Freedom Measures  
 
On Religious Freedom Day (January 16), when the Constitutional protection of conscience and the freedom to exercise one's religious faith is celebrated nationwide, the Administration announced measures that would strengthen the protection of religious liberty for individuals and for faith-based organizations. The USCCB issued the following release after the announcement:

"We wish to express our gratitude for these steps to ensure that the Constitutional right of individual students and teachers to pray voluntarily in public schools is protected. This fundamental right ensures that persons may freely worship without sacrificing full participation in schools and in society. We are also heartened by the Administration's action to ensure federal agencies are fully compliant with the Supreme Court's decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer. That decision properly concluded that it is unconstitutional for government to exclude faith-based organizations from public benefits simply because of their religious status. Today's action and the Court decision it echoes both honor the American tradition of embracing the contributions of faith-based organizations and enrich the work of social justice by harnessing the efforts of these vital institutions of civil society. Lastly, we are grateful for the proposal to lift certain regulatory burdens from faith-based organizations. This will help ensure a level playing field for religious and secular social service providers."
 
  Upcoming Dates: State of the State and the Budget Process  
 
On Wednesday, January 29, Governor Gretchen Whitmer will deliver her 2020 State of the State address. This speech is the governor's second opportunity to reflect upon the current state of affairs in Michigan and to outline her top priorities for the state going forward. Once the State of the State has been delivered, attention in Lansing will turn towards the state budget process. Governor Whitmer will present her executive budget recommendations before a joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees on Thursday, February 6. These recommendations will be the starting point of discussion for the Fiscal Year 2021 state budget (October 2020-September 2021). Following that presentation, House and Senate will begin building their own departmental budgets through their respective appropriations committees and subcommittees. MCC will monitor the recommendations, update advocacy members on items of interest, and actively engage in the process as needed.  

If this email was forwarded to you, please click here to join the Catholic Advocacy Network, which will enable you to receive regular electronic updates and alerts.

For other news and information, click here to follow MCC on Twitter, like MCC on Facebook, follow MCC on Instagram, or visit MCC's webpage.
 
 
Share this with your friends!

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
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