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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
March 13, 2020
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Supplemental Includes Funding for Trafficking Victims, Nonpublic Schools
  • Funding Allocated to Combat Coronavirus in Michigan; Schools to Close
  • Resolution Declares Pornography a Public Health Crisis
  • Public Policy Day Highlights Critical Education Issues
  • 2020 Census: It's Critical, Convenient, and Confidential
 
  Supplemental Includes Funding for Trafficking Victims, Nonpublic Schools  
 
This week, the Michigan Legislature considered two supplemental budget bills, which will help fill in needed funding for the rest of the October 2019-September 2020 Fiscal Year. Senate Bill 151, sponsored by Senate Appropriations Chair Jim Stamas (R-Midland), passed both chambers and includes funding for human trafficking survivors and the state's response to the Coronavirus. It will now go before Governor Whitmer. Specifically, this measure includes:
  • $1 million in one-time assistance for two long-term shelters that offer housing and comprehensive services for human trafficking survivors.
  • $25 million in emergency response funding for the Coronavirus (see update under heading two).
The second supplemental bill, Senate Bill 373, passed the House but requires another vote in the Senate. While it is likely to be approved soon, lawmakers held off on passing the measure in case more funding is needed for the Coronavirus response. SB 373 currently includes priority budget items for nonpublic schools, which are strongly supported by Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC). This bill, also sponsored by Senator Stamas, provides:
  • $250,000 to reimburse nonpublic schools for the cost of health, safety, and welfare mandates from the State of Michigan, such as conducting safety drills and performing background checks. Mandate funding from prior state budget cycles has not yet been distributed to schools, as the issue is currently before the Michigan Supreme Court. 
  • $300,000 to help nonpublic schools participate in First Robotics by covering expenses such as registration fees for competitions and stipends for coaches.    
 
  Funding Allocated to Combat Coronavirus in Michigan; Schools to Close  
 
Following the state's first confirmed cases, Michigan lawmakers also approved $25 million in emergency response funding to combat the Coronavirus (COVID-19), a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Of that amount, $10 million will be allocated to state preparedness and response activities, including monitoring, laboratory testing, tracing contacts that people with the virus have had, infection control, and continuation of critical state government activities, including the state's emergency crisis center. The remaining $15 million will be deposited in a Coronavirus Response Fund to be used in the future as other costs are identified. Additionally, Governor Whitmer announced this week that all K-12 schools (public and nonpublic) will be closed from Monday, March 16 through Sunday, April 5 in an effort to slow the spread of the Coronavirus in Michigan. In a statement, the governor said:

"This is a necessary step to protect our kids, our families, and our overall public health. I am working with partners across state government to ensure educators, parents, and students have the support they need during this time, and to ensure our children who rely on school for meals have access to food. I know this will be a tough time, but we're doing this to keep the most people we can safe. I urge everyone to make smart choices during this time."

More information on the virus and tips for reducing its spread can be found at www.michigan.gov/coronavirus and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/
 
  Resolution Declares Pornography a Public Health Crisis  
 
House Concurrent Resolution 14, sponsored by Representative Julie Calley (R-Portland), recognizes pornography as a public health crisis. The resolution states that pornography "leads to a broad spectrum of societal harms" and "requires education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and society level." This week, the House Health Policy Committee heard testimony on the HCR 14. Resolutions are non-binding, which means they do not have the force of law. However, they do play an important role in the policy process by raising awareness among the general public and by signaling topics of priority to the state. MCC supports this effort, which shines a light on the destructive nature of pornography, as well as its connection to sex trafficking, prostitution, and abuse. No vote was taken this week. If approved by both chambers, a copy will be sent to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. 
 
  Public Policy Day Highlights Critical Education Issues  
 
Nonpublic school educators from across the state participated in Public Policy Day at the State Capitol on Thursday, March 12. This event was sponsored by the Michigan Association of Non-public Schools (MANS), with MCC staff assisting educators with state legislative meetings. During these meetings, participants asked their state lawmakers to include the following items in the 2020-2021 state budget:
  • Mandate Reimbursement: to assist nonpublic schools in covering expenses related to compliance with State health, safety, and welfare mandates.
  • School Safety Grant: to provide competitive grant funding for school safety improvements, such as purchasing air and water filters, covering the cost of lead abatement, and implementing other building security measures. Governor Whitmer's recommendations only offer this grant opportunity to public schools.
  • Robotics Grant: to help cover expenses for nonpublic schools to participate in First Robotics, such as registration fees for competitions and stipends for coaches.
  • Teacher Reimbursement: to reimburse teachers up to $250 for out-of-pocket supplies. Governor Whitmer's recommendations only offer this funding to public school teachers.
Unfortunately, each of these items was either not included in the governor's 2020-2021 budget recommendations or did not extend to nonpublic schools. As lawmakers prepare their recommendations, however, MCC is hopeful these items will be added into the final budget proposal.

Photo: State Representative Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis) addresses principals at MANS Public Policy Day.
 
  2020 Census: It's Critical, Convenient, and Confidential  
 
From March until July, Michiganders will participate in the 2020 Census. This process is critical for Michigan, as it determines federal funding for local communities and the state's representation in government. Responding to the questions is more convenient than ever as people can respond one of three ways (by mail, phone, or online) and all information gathered will be kept confidential and secure. An invitation to record your responses should come from the federal government in the next several weeks (by latest April 1). Learn more at www.micatholic.org/2020Census and www.census.gov.

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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