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
January 31, 2020

  In This Update:  
  • School Choice Week Rally Highlights Need for Educational Options
  • Legislature Recognizes Michigan Catholic Schools for Benefiting Society
  • MCC Advocates on Poverty Programs, Education at Annual Gathering 
  • March for Life Provides Inspiring Witness for Life, MCC Reflects
  • Governor Delivers State of the State to Michiganders 
  School Choice Week Rally Highlights Need for Educational Options  
This week, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) co-sponsored a rally for School Choice Week at the State Capitol. This event recognized the importance of allowing parents and students to choose the school that best fits their needs. One of the featured speakers, Molly Yonker, is a senior at Sacred Heart Academy (SHA) in Mt. Pleasant. She shared how educational choice has impacted her life:

"Having a choice in schools not only allows me to have smaller class sizes, where teachers form relationships with students, but also allows me to practice my faith freely in a family-friendly atmosphere. At SHA, students learn in a safe, welcoming, and caring environment. They are held to high academic standards, and moral values are of the utmost importance...We have a diverse student body with students from different ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and faith backgrounds, and we are given the opportunity to celebrate weekly Mass together. Because I have the choice to attend a Catholic school; it has allowed me to excel in all aspects of my life. I wish every student could have the same choice."
  Legislature Recognizes Michigan Catholic Schools for Benefiting Society  
Catholic education-with its emphasis on academics, faith, and service-helps students grow as individuals, leaders, and community members. From January 26 through February 1, people across the country participated in Catholic Schools Week, celebrating how beneficial Catholic schools are to families and communities. This year's theme of "Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed." highlights the spiritual, academic, and societal contributions made by a Catholic education. Throughout Michigan, many of the state's 221 Catholic schools (with over 50,000 students) filled the week with service projects, dress-up days, and other fun activities. Both the Michigan Senate and the House of Representatives have passed resolutions in honor of the annual event, which recognized that "Catholic schools are part of a solution to form productive lives for future generations" (SR 93 of 2020 and HR 221 of 2020). MCC is grateful to Senator Kim LaSata (R-Bainbridge Twp) and Representative Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Twp) for sponsoring the resolutions and wishes all a happy Catholic Schools Week.
  MCC Advocates on Poverty Programs, Education at Annual Gathering  
Michigan Catholic Conference staff and hundreds of other Catholic leaders participated this week in the Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, D.C. The annual event, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, focused this year on the theme Bearing Witness: Life and Justice for All. As part of the gathering, MCC met with the offices of fourteen of Michigan's sixteen elected officials in D.C., including the staffs of both the state's senators. During these meetings, the group discussed several critical advocacy issues, including programs that help the poor-at home and abroad-and educational assistance for families in public and nonpublic schools. Photo by Bobby Kinkela: Five Catholics from Michigan, including MCC staff, meeting with Senator Gary Peter's Office during the 2020 Social Ministry Gathering.
  March for Life Provides Inspiring Witness for Life, MCC Reflects  
Last week, several MCC staff attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C. to stand up for the protection of human life. One of MCC's Policy Advocates, Rebecca Mastee, reflected this week on her experience during the March:

"What a blessing and a privilege it was to be among the mass of pilgrims in D.C. for March for Life 2020. This year, we remember almost 62 million babies in the U.S. who lost their lives due to legalized abortion in the past 47 years. While this is often noted about the March, it is worth noting again: The youth participation is significant and so heartwarming. While marching, I held my sign that declared 'women deserve better than abortion.' I pondered how each and every one of us walking was necessary in order to create the mass of humanity that was peacefully providing witness along Constitution Avenue as we approached Capitol Hill that day. It was by far the largest crowd I've experienced at the annual March, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have been there. Brave souls greeted us at the end outside the U.S. Supreme Court, sharing their stories of abortion, noting: 'I regret my abortion' and 'I regret lost fatherhood.' Through their witness, we are reminded that there is always hope and opportunity for healing - visit or call 888-456-HOPE."
  Governor Delivers State of the State to Michiganders  
On Wednesday, January 29, Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered her 2020 State of the State address. The speech provided observations on Michigan's successes and failures of the past year, as well as offered the governor's upcoming priorities for the state. Among other aspects, she presented her intention to pursue executive action on the roads, asking the State Transportation Commission to issue $3.5 billion in bonds. These bonds will help with the costs of major state road projects. Governor Whitmer also shared proposals about health care, services for pregnant and postpartum women, and birth control. Staff will be closely following these proposals and will advocate for conscience protections for individuals and Catholic health systems regarding birth control coverage, if needed. For those who were unable to watch the speech, the text is now available on the governor's website.

Reminder: Next week, attention will turn towards the governor's presentation of her executive budget recommendations before a joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. These proposals, which will be presented on Thursday, February 6, will be the starting point of discussion for the Fiscal Year 2021 state budget (October 2020-September 2021). Stay tuned for further updates.

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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,