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
June 5, 2020

  In This Update:  
  • U.S. Catholic Bishops Speak Out Against Racism
  • MCC Offers Condolences in Death of Bishop Murray
  • Catholic Conference Supports Police Training Bills 
  • Michigan Values Life Petition Signatures in Verification Process
  • Dual Enrollment Expansion Bills Continue to Senate Floor
  • Legislation Would Expand Medicaid Access to Telemedicine
  U.S. Catholic Bishops Speak Out Against Racism  
Commenting on the death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests across the United States, the Catholic bishops have called for greater action against racism. Pope Francis expressed solidarity with the U.S. bishops, urging Catholics not to turn a blind eye to racism or exclusion in society. Two important actions expressed in the statements from the U.S. bishops are 1) listening to those who have historically been disenfranchised and 2) peacefully calling out injustice:

"We should all understand that the protests we are seeing in our cities reflect the justified frustration and anger of millions of our brothers and sisters who even today experience humiliation, indignity, and unequal opportunity only because of their race or the color of their skin. It should not be this way in America. Racism has been tolerated for far too long in our way of life. It is true what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, that riots are the language of the unheard. We should be doing a lot of listening right now. This time, we should not fail to hear what people are saying through their pain. We need to finally root out the racial injustice that still infects too many areas of American society. But the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost...We should honor the sacrifice of [George Floyd's] life by removing racism and hate from our hearts and renewing our commitment to fulfill our nation's sacred promise - to be a beloved community of life, liberty, and equality for all." Find Catholic resources on combating racism here.
  MCC Offers Condolences in Death of Bishop Murray  
Upon hearing of the death of Bishop James A. Murray, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, MCC wishes to extend to Most Reverend Paul Bradley, Bishop of the Diocese of Kalamazoo and the faithful of the Kalamazoo Diocese heartfelt condolences and prayers for the soul of Bishop Murray. Paul A. Long, MCC President and CEO, recognized Bishop Murray's service to the Catholic Conference:

"For over 50 years Bishop Murray participated in the life of the Michigan Catholic Conference by lending his insights, wisdom and guidance on numerous matters of significant public interest and organizational development.  Having first joined the MCC as a liaison officer in 1968, Bishop Murray spent the next five decades holding responsibilities that ranged from a member of the Board of Directors to being appointed to various committees and subcommittees. Bishop Murray was affectionately welcomed to the Conference on each occasion for his humor and wit, his vibrant personality, and his love of the priesthood and the Church.  He will be fondly remembered for contributing to the growth of the MCC, but more so for the wonderful and kind man that he was to the staff and many others who assisted Bishop Murray in his work." Read the full statement here.
  Catholic Conference Supports Police Training Bills  
This week, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) supported Senate Bill 945, which would require new law enforcement recruits to undergo training on de-escalation techniques, implicit bias, and mental health resources available for officers. Some Michigan police departments already cover these topics in their training standards, but the legislation from Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) would ensure all new officers receive the information for their initial certification, beginning in January 2022. An amendment from Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) was also adopted to require continuing education on these topics for officers who are already certified. MCC indicated its support for the measures as a matter of improving safety for the general public and for police officers. Senate Bill 945 passed the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and the full Senate with unanimous support. Now the measure will be sent to the House for further committee consideration.
  Michigan Values Life Petition Signatures in Verification Process  
As a result of pro-life action in 2019, Michigan Values Life was able to submit 379,419 signatures in December for a petition drive to end the dismemberment abortion procedure in this state. MCC strongly supported the petition drive and appreciated all the action of Catholic parishes and people of faith across every Michigan county to obtain the needed signatures. Currently, the petition signatures are before the Bureau of Elections (BOE) to ensure that enough valid signatures of registered Michigan voters were obtained to move the petition forward. Earlier in the year, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the stay-at-home order had delayed the verification process; however, now the Bureau has pulled its sample of 500 signatures, which is done in place of checking all submitted signatures.

On Monday, June 1, the pro-abortion group Planned Parenthood challenged the validity of the petition, arguing there are too many duplicate or non-registered voter signatures in the sample to continue forward. 
Michigan Values Life now has the opportunity to issue a counter-challenge to "revive" the signatures that are valid, although the deadline for that action has not yet been set. The group is confident in the validity of some of the signatures challenged by Planned Parenthood and is starting to go through additional efforts to check the status of others. MCC will provide additional updates soon and is hopeful that the initiative to end dismemberment abortion in the state will continue forward.
  Dual Enrollment Expansion Bills Continue to Senate Floor  
MCC has long supported dual enrollment opportunities, or the practice of obtaining college credit and vocational training while a student is still attending high school. For public school students, tuition and fees are paid by the school district. For nonpublic school students, tuition and fees are paid by the Michigan Department of Treasury. Currently, eligible courses are those offered by a postsecondary institution -such as a community college, state university, or independent nonprofit degree-granting college or university- that is not offered by the school district or that is offered but not available because of a scheduling conflict. High school students take these advanced courses during the school year. 

The Michigan Legislature is currently considering an expansion to dual enrollment in the state. House Bills 4546-4547, sponsored by Representatives Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian) and Ben Frederick (R-Owosso), would allow students to take a course when their high school is not in session (such as during the summer), if their school approves it. MCC supported the bills in the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee this week, as the measures would create additional educational opportunities for public and nonpublic students. Now HBs 4546-4547, which have already passed the Michigan House of Representatives, continue to the full Senate for further debate.
  Legislation Would Expand Medicaid Access to Telemedicine  
To expand access to telemedicine for those who have Medicaid, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee considered HBs 5414-5416 this week. If enacted, the legislation would require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to provide telemedicine coverage through the medical assistance and Health Michigan Medicaid programs and to allow for telemedicine through the state's mental health code. With many Catholic Charities agencies in the state providing behavioral health services to those in the Medicaid program, MCC supports this change. The three measures, sponsored by Representatives Phil Green (R-Millington), Frank Liberati (D-Allen Park), and Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Twp), each previously passed the House of Representatives with wide bipartisan support. On Thursday, June 4, the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee voted unanimously to advance the bills to the full Senate. 

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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,