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
July 31, 2020

  In This Update:  
  • Nonpublic School Advocates Tell Court Discrimination Must End
  • Last Day for Comments on Aid for Nonpublic Schools
  • MCC Supports Juvenile Expungement Bill in Committee
  Nonpublic School Advocates Tell Court Discrimination Must End  
In early July, Attorney General Dana Nessel, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice filed a national lawsuit seeking to withhold CARES Act dollars earmarked for nonpublic schools across the country. In effect, the Michigan litigants are seeking to hold back $16.5 million from nonpublic schools in this state that would assist with pandemic-related costs, despite federal legislation allowing for the schools to receive the funds. As a result, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) has joined a legal brief filed this week in federal court opposing that discriminatory litigation. The brief was filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty with thirty-seven other organizations, including the American Federation for Children, the Council for American Private Education, various state Catholic conferences, National Catholic Educational Association, Agudath Israel of America, Council of Islamic Schools of North America, Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools, the Great Lakes Education Project, and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. According to the legal brief filed today and supported by MCC: 

"Congress historically has, and continues to, recognize the importance of private schools as a vital part of the education sector. The pandemic significantly impacted all K-12 schools and the CARES Act was intended to help schools, both public and private, continue to serve students. The Department's rule is a continuation of that intent and commitment to ensuring that all families can access the school of their choice, and is a correct and appropriate implementation of the underlying requirements of the Act."

MCC added in a statement: "While the governor and attorney general have committed themselves to a mutually exclusive education system in Michigan, to the detriment of over 100,000 school children and their families, nonpublic school advocates are stepping up to say: 'this discrimination must end.'"
  Last Day for Comments on Aid for Nonpublic Schools  
Earlier this week, MCC urged members of the Catholic Advocacy Network (CAN) to submit comments on a Department of Education rule regarding the COVID-19 relief that has already been approved for nonpublic schools. While the CARES Act passed in the spring included $13 billion for all K-12 schools-public and nonpublic-to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, some states decided to deny aid to nonpublic schools. In response, the U.S. Department of Education issued an interim final rule to clarify the requirement that local school districts provide equitable services to students and teachers in nonpublic schools. Throughout July, thousands of CAN members have written emails and submitted comments to speak out in support of relief aid for nonpublic schools; thank you for this advocacy. 

Your continued action is needed. Today (Friday, July 21) is the last day to submit comments on the rule, so take a few minutes to contact the Department of Education today.
  MCC Supports Juvenile Expungement Bill in Committee  
This week, the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee considered the topic of expungement for juveniles, or the opportunity to erase a conviction from their record. Senate Bill 681, sponsored by Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), would set aside most juvenile convictions two years after the final judgement or settlement of the charge or on their eighteen birthday, whichever date is later. The bill includes several provisions to protect public safety:
  • Expungement would not be an option for those convicted of offenses punishable by life or those where the juvenile was tried as an adult.
  • Law enforcement, courts, and the governor would be able to access a private judicial file on the individual if necessary, but most employers would not be able to access the person's record. 
MCC supported the measure this week, as it gives youth who have committed crimes a path to a more productive future once they have been held accountable for their actions. The legislation finds a balance between the need to improve job prospects and outcomes for youth with the need to protect the general public from further crime. After passing the committee, the measure now continues 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,