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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
February 7, 2020
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • MCC Responds to Governor's Budget Recommendations
  • New Faithful Citizenship Resources Available This Election Season
  • With Bipartisan Support, Marijuana Warning Label Bills Await Governor's Signature
  • Committee Approves Measure to Assist Stillborn Families
 
  MCC Responds to Governor's Budget Recommendations  
 
The Michigan Legislature and the governor's office both play a significant role in the formation of the state's yearly budget. On February 6, State Budget Director Chris Kolb presented the governor's executive recommendations for the upcoming 2020-2021 state budget to lawmakers. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) commented on several aspects of the proposal, recognizing its highs and lows:
 
"The proposed budget is an opportunity for the administration to indicate its commitment to the state as a whole, rather than specific interest groups or ideologies. The true indicator of the moral strength of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. We're appreciative of the governor's efforts to provide funding that fights opioid abuse and addiction, supports elder care and foster care, and maintains the state's shared time program. The governor's ongoing stance toward nonpublic schools and families, however, does nothing to promote the concept that all students and teachers in Michigan should be treated fairly, regardless of the school they attend or teach." 
 
Regrettably, Governor Whitmer's budget disregards the presence of over 100,000 students enrolled in Michigan's nonpublic schools by preventing eligibility for services unrelated to education or instruction.  Under her proposal, nonpublic schools may not apply for student health, safety, and well-being grants-including for air and water filters, lead abatement, and security measures-or funding to participate in the state's First Robotics program. The governor has also proposed reimbursing teachers up to $250 for out-of-pocket supplies, but only for public school teachers. 

Another element of the executive recommendations is called Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies. The governor's support for abortion on-demand raises reasonable concerns over how the administration plans to integrate "reproductive health care" within the program, especially in low-income, minority areas. 

"The governor's effort to provide support for vulnerable women during pregnancy deserves applause, especially in the areas of maternal mortality and those in need of postpartum support. MCC has long supported wrapping women and children with care - something the now-vetoed Michigan Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services program accomplished. It would thus be regrettable for a new program to become tainted with controversy should the administration seek to promote abortion. In this regard, clarity of intent is needed." 
 
Now that they have received the governor's recommendations, the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives will begin formulating their own budget proposals. MCC will remain engaged in the process and will urge adoption of budget policies that promote the common good for all Michiganders.
 
  New Faithful Citizenship Resources Available This Election Season  
 
As election season is now in full swing, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) offers new resources to help Catholics serve the common good and engage in public discussions with civility. 

New Videos for Prayer and Action as Faithful Citizens
USCCB offers five new videos that inspire prayer and action in public life. Each complement Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the bishops' teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics. The videos are available in four languages and highlight the following themes: 
Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate 
Catholics are called to bring the best of themselves and their faith to the public square. However, this task can seem overwhelming, especially with the harsh language that too often occurs in local and national conversations. Recognizing that no one wins when personal attacks replace honest debate, the USCCB created Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate. This non-partisan initiative focuses on the dignity of all people, even when disagreement exists. Relevant resources-including a pledge, a short reflection/bulletin insert, an examination of conscience , and a prayer for civility-are available at www.CivilizeIt.org. MCC encourages all to consider their role in contributing to an atmosphere of greater civility this election cycle.

 
  With Bipartisan Support, Marijuana Warning Label Bills Await Governor's Signature  
 
Last week, the Michigan Senate voted 32-2 in favor of requiring a health warning label on all marijuana sold in Michigan for pregnant and nursing mothers. The label would alert women that using marijuana could result in fetal injury, preterm birth, low birth weight, or development problems for the child. House Bills 4126-4127 would also require marijuana retailers, microbusinesses, and provisioning centers to make available a pamphlet of safety information related to minors and the poison control hotline. MCC supports the measures, which are sponsored by Representatives Tom Albert (R-Lowell) and Daire Rendon (R-Lake City), as a matter of safety. This week, the Michigan House concurred in the Senate's minor changes to the legislation. Now, HBs 4126-4127 will be sent to the governor for final consideration.
 
  Committee Approves Measure to Assist Stillborn Families  
 
Michigan enacted Public Act 589 in 2018, allowing parents of a stillborn child to claim an exemption on their taxes with a certificate of stillbirth from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). The exemption, which went into effect beginning in the 2019 tax year, helps grieving families defray expenses such as those associated with prenatal care, previously purchased baby items, and funeral arrangements. Building on that legislation, the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee voted in favor of House Bill 5289 this week by a strong, bipartisan margin. The bill, sponsored by Representative Julie Alexander (R-Hanover), would prohibit MDHHS from charging a fee when a family requests this certificate of stillbirth. After the vote, the measure will now be sent to the full House of Representatives. 

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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