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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
July 24, 2020
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • Dismemberment Abortion Petition Comes to End; Catholic Conference Pledges Continued Efforts
  • Catholic Teaching Affirms Dignity of Black Lives
  • Bill for Families Grieving Stillbirth Continues to Senate
  • DNR Orders for Minors Unanimously Pass Committee
  • Agreements Reached for 2019-2020 Supplemental Bills
  • Legislation to Reduce Unnecessary Incarceration Moves Forward
  • USCCB Urges President to Rescind Census Memorandum
 
  Dismemberment Abortion Petition Comes to End; Catholic Conference Pledges Continued Efforts  
 
This week, Right to Life of Michigan ended its efforts to bring a citizen-initiated ban on dismemberment abortion before the State Legislature. Sadly, the Michigan Values Life petition drive was found to have an insufficient number of valid signatures. In light of the news, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) expressed appreciation for the efforts of the pro-life community:

"After countless hours and with myriad people volunteering at hundreds of Catholic parishes across the state to collect signatures that this outcome is disappointing. Each and every person who assisted in this petition drive is cherished and thanked. We have incredible gratitude for their pro-life dedication and the tremendous effort to raise awareness while gathering signatures. Saint Teresa of Calcutta taught us that God does not require us always to be successful, but rather to be faithful; indeed, the effort to protect human life through this petition drive was immense. Despite this setback, the drive to protect unborn human life will continue in earnest. Women and children deserve better."

While similar legislation passed both chambers during the 2019-2020 session, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has indicated she would veto any pro-life legislation, including a dismemberment abortion ban. MCC will keep Catholic Advocacy Network members updated about future opportunities to support women and children within this state.
 
  Catholic Teaching Affirms Dignity of Black Lives  
 
The Detroit News published an op/ed from Michigan Catholic Conference on Monday, July 20, which challenges Catholics to "not shy away from Jesus' teaching to love God and neighbor" and to participate in efforts to eliminate the evil of racism. The article also references further resources from the Church about combating racism, including a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' page and the website of the National Catholic Black Congress. Together, as people of good will reflect on this topic, here is a prayer to say for communities to overcome racism: 

"Mary, friend and mother to all, through your Son, God has found a way to unite himself to every human being, called to be one people, sisters and brothers to each other. We ask for your help in calling on your Son, seeking forgiveness for the times when we have failed to love and respect one another. We ask for your help in obtaining from your Son the grace we need to overcome the evil of racism and to build a just society. We ask for your help in following your Son, so that prejudice and animosity will no longer infect our minds or hearts but will be replaced with a love that respects the dignity of each person. Mother of the Church, the Spirit of your Son Jesus warms our hearts: pray for us. Amen."
 
  Bill for Families Grieving Stillbirth Continues to Senate  
 
After passing the Michigan House of Representatives back in March, a measure to assist families who have experienced a stillborn child sailed unanimously through the Senate Families, Seniors, and Veterans Committee this week. House Bill 5289, sponsored by Representative Julie Alexander (R-Hanover), would lessen the burden on families as they seek to obtain a certificate of stillbirth, which allows parents who have a stillborn child to claim an exemption on their state income tax. The exemption, which was enacted in recent years, helps families defray expenses after their loss such as those associated with prenatal care, previously purchased baby items, and funeral arrangements. Under this proposed legislation, a family could request up to two free copies of a certificate of stillbirth from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Any copies above that number would cost the usual rate. MCC has supported this policy and the assistance it provides to grieving families. House Bill 5289 continues now to the full Senate. 
 
  DNR Orders for Minors Unanimously Pass Committee  
 
In May, the Michigan House of Representatives voted to move three bills forward that would allow a parent to execute a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order on behalf of his or her medically frail (minor) child. If enacted into law, House Bills 5417-5419 would:
  • Allow a DNR for a child under 18 who is diagnosed with an advanced illness by a physician.
  • Require the order to be signed by the parent(s), the minor's physician, and two adult witnesses. 
  • Provide rules for school districts about receiving, filing, and following a minor's DNR orders. 
This week, the Senate Families, Seniors and Veterans Committee unanimously passed the bills. MCC supports the legislation, after diligently working with the sponsors and the National Catholic Bioethics Center to ensure the language respected the dignity of the human person, protected children, and prevented abuse. The bills, which are sponsored by Representatives Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) and Daire Rendon (R-Lake City) will now be sent to the full Senate.
 
  Agreements Reached for 2019-2020 Supplemental Bills  
 
With a $2.2 billion shortfall in the current Michigan 2019-2020 budget, the governor and lawmakers came to a consensus to adjust state expenditures accordingly. With agreement from Governor Whitmer, the Legislature approved Executive Order 2020-155, House Bill 5265, and Senate Bill 373. Together, these measures would allow $224.7 million in budget reductions, including $80.8 million that would lapse from prior-year work projects. Thankfully, $5.25 million that has been in escrow for nonpublic school health, safety, and welfare reimbursements was not part of those reductions. Additionally, federal COVID-19 aid, as well as funding transferred from the state's Rainy Day Fund, has been allocated to complete the deficit elimination. MCC is pleased that the value of the state's nonpublic schoolteachers has been recognized, as they are slated to receive $500 per teacher utilizing federal COVID-19 relief funds along with their public-school counterparts. Note: The Legislature will begin addressing the 2020-2021 state budget after the August Revenue Estimating Conference.
 
  Legislation to Reduce Unnecessary Incarceration Moves Forward  
 
A bipartisan package of bills considered in the State Legislature this week would ensure that Michiganders are not forever criminalized for their mistakes. If passed, House Bills 5551, 5684-5698, and 5802-5804 would:
  • Reclassify a number of current misdemeanors as civil infractions-such as license plate or registration violations-which would result in civil fines rather than jail time.
  • Eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for dozens of misdemeanors and allow for greater judicial discretion in these cases.
MCC has supported these common-sense measures, which give discretion back to judges to determine the appropriate response. Each passed the full chamber with near unanimous support and continue now for further debate in the Senate.
 
  USCCB Urges President to Rescind Census Memorandum  
 
On July 21, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce ordering that undocumented people counted in the 2020 Census be excluded from consideration when determining the number of U.S. Representatives each state is allotted in the U.S. House of Representatives. The USCCB issued the following statement this week in response:

"As we have stated before, we urge all people to be counted and fully included in the Census. Counting the undocumented in the Census and then denying them and the states in which they reside their rightful representation in Congress is counter to the Constitution and a grave injustice. Furthermore, such a policy makes people feel invisible and not valued as human beings. This action is simply wrong and divisive. We follow the lead of Pope Francis, who has noted that in the face of 'profound and epochal changes' that the present moment offers 'a precious opportunity to guide and govern the processes now under way, and to build inclusive societies based on respect for human dignity, tolerance, compassion and mercy.' We urge the President to rescind this Memorandum and instead, to undertake efforts to protect and heal our nation and all who are living in our country."

If you have not yet filled out the 2020 U.S. Census, visit https://my2020census.gov/. In just ten minutes, you can provide ten years of benefits for your community.

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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