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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
October 2, 2020
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • TAKE ACTION! Protect and Support Life 
  • Governor's Veto of Health and Safety Line-Item Neither Just Nor Fair
  • State Budget Retains Many MCC-Supported Programs
  • USCCB Decries Exclusion of Catholic School Students in Proposed Aid 
  • Executive Order Ensuring Legal Protections for Babies Applauded by USCCB
  • Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Resolution Passed
  • MCC Election Webpage Offers Conscience Formation Resources
  • The Word from Lansing: Promote Civility, Love Others, and Build Community This Election
  • Food Assistance Bill Passes Senate, Continues to House Committee
  • Senate Jail Reform Measures Clear Committee This Week
  • Justice for Immigrants Initiative Celebrates Fifteen-Year Anniversary
 
  TAKE ACTION! Protect and Support Human Life  
 
For people of goodwill looking to advocate for the dignity of all persons, MCC offers a number of ideas for the month of October:
  1. Celebrate Respect Life Sunday. This Sunday, October 4, is Respect Life Sunday, an opportunity within the Catholic Church to reflect more deeply upon the dignity of every human life. During this event and throughout October, Catholics are encouraged to strive to "see in every human face the face of Christ" (EV 81) and treat each person as they would treat Christ Himself. Numerous educational resources for reading and sharing are available at www.RespectLife.org. 
     
  2. Support legislation to regulate chemical abortions. Catholic Advocacy Network members can encourage passage of the newly-introduced Support and Value Expectant (SAVE) Moms & Babies Act (H.R. 4399 and S. 3072) at the federal level. The act would codify current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety regulations that require physicians to dispense chemical abortion pills; prevent providers from dispensing these drugs remotely, by mail, or via telemedicine; and prevent the FDA from approving new chemical abortion drugs or from making labeling changes to existing abortion drugs. This legislation is important as COVID-19 is only expected to contribute to greater numbers of women seeking chemical abortions at home. TAKE ACTION NOW.
     
  3. Thank Sanofi Pasteur for an ethically-produced polio vaccine. In a recent Lansing Update, Michigan Catholic Conference mentioned that the company Sanofi Pasteur discontinued use of unethically-made polio vaccines and moved towards production of an ethically-made version. As this is a welcome change, MCC encourages individuals across Michigan to take a few minutes and send them a message, thanking them for this decision. EMAIL SANOFI PASTEUR TODAY.
 
  Governor's Veto of Health and Safety Line-Item Neither Just Nor Fair  
 
This week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed $100 from the state's 2020-2021 fiscal year budget that would have gone to reimbursing nonpublic schools for health and safety regulations mandated by the State of Michigan. The $100 would have been added to $5.25 million previously appropriated by the Michigan Legislature that is currently on hold while the program is reviewed by the State Supreme Court. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) responded with the following comments, stating that while the veto was expected, "just and fair, it certainly was not:" 

"The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled in support of ensuring every student in the state is educated in a healthy and safe environment, regardless of where they attend school. As the policy awaits oral arguments at the state Supreme Court, the legislature had inserted a budget placeholder should the high court agree with the lower court's ruling. While Governor Whitmer continues to insist on a two-tiered education system in the state, where some students are more important than others, her veto of the placeholder was to be expected. Just and fair, it certainly was not."

For the last three legislative sessions, MCC has supported this state appropriation to reimburse nonpublic schools for complying with regulations that mandate certain health and safety protocols.  While public schools are reimbursed for those costs within its per pupil foundation grant, nonpublic schools have not been similarly reimbursed.  MCC has supported the legal defense of the appropriation as numerous public school advocacy groups have filed suit against the reimbursement. The Michigan Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments pertaining to the case in November.
 
  State Budget Retains Many MCC-Supported Programs  
 
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the governor signed Michigan's 2020-2021 state budget into law this week, which went into effect Thursday, October 1. MCC was pleased to see most of the programs and budget items outlined in last week's Lansing Update were retained in the final law, including funding for nonpublic schools to participate in First Robotics, shared time, the Tuition Grant Program, the Tuition Incentive program, emergency homeless shelters, the annual clothing allowance, and more. Unfortunately, in addition to the veto mentioned above related to health and safety funding for nonpublic schools, the governor also highlighted several sections of boilerplate which she declared unenforceable. This included boilerplate "that purports to restrict access to reproductive services," which reiterates the state's longstanding policies to not contract with or provide grants to organizations which provide election abortions. The governor declared the same unenforceable with last year's budget. 
 
  USCCB Decries Exclusion of Catholic School Students in Proposed COVID Aid  
 
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider the new COVID-19 aid package presented by House Democrats, also known as the revised Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The bill includes $225 billion for education, including $182 billion for K-12 schools. However, the bill provides no equitable services for students in non-public schools and maintains language that prohibits any funds from being used to provide financial assistance to non-public school children. This has the effect of excluding virtually any aid to students, families, and teachers in non-public schools. The USCCB commented on the proposal this week:

"The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all Americans, including those whose children are enrolled in Catholic and non-public schools. It is unconscionable that this latest aid proposal would exclude these American children and the schools they attend from emergency aid that would ease the financial burdens they have borne as a result of the pandemic. The pandemic's economic devastation has already led to the closure of at least 150 Catholic schools, many in low-income areas that serve children of color. Congress and the White House must come together to support emergency aid that prioritizes the health and safety of all students, including non-public school children and the nearly two million students enrolled in Catholic schools."

The USCCB supports robust education aid for all students and has asked the Congress to include the bipartisan School Choice Now proposal in any COVID aid package. School Choice Now would provide emergency tuition scholarships to hard-hit families. The USCCB has also advocated for equitable services for Catholic and other non-public schools. Non-public schools have had access to equitable services since 1965 and have been included in all recent federal emergency aid bills until now.
 
  Executive Order Ensuring Legal Protections for Babies Applauded by USCCB  
 
Late on Friday, September 25, President Trump released an Executive Order to ensure that federally-funded hospitals are aware of, and compliant with, current legal protections intended to ensure that babies born alive, no matter the circumstances of their birth, receive a medical assessment and appropriate care. The executive order also calls for more funding for research to improve outcomes for babies born prematurely or with disabilities. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement after the announcement of the Order:

"We applaud this action by President Trump to ensure that babies born prematurely or with disabilities receive a basic medical assessment and appropriate care as required by our federal laws.  In addition to our laws, basic human rights demand that no baby born alive should be abandoned and left to die due to being disabled or premature.  Every human life, regardless of its stage of development or condition, is precious and irreplaceable and deserves a shot at life."
 
  Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Resolution Passed  
 
Last week, the Michigan House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 317 to declare October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in this state. The resolution, sponsored by Representative Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan) and supported by MCC, recognizes the tragedy experienced by many Michiganders and encourages greater support of these families. In part, the resolution reads: "We recognize the grief of the families who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss and wish to help heal and comfort these families in a time of pain and heartache, to give the families hope for the future, and to assist women and families across the state in understanding their experience."
 
  MCC Election Webpage Offers Conscience Formation Resources  
 
In the guidance document for elections and political action, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls for Catholics to consider how they can best serve their communities through their election choices, equipped with a well-formed conscience. MCC offers a number of resources at www.micatholic.org/2020Election to assist individuals in reflecting upon Catholic teaching, issues to consider before voting, and questions to evaluate candidates on the ballot. In particular, MCC would like to draw attention to the following five resources for your consideration:
  1. FOCUS: The Issues, The Candidates, and Your Vote 2020
  2. Catholic Church Condemns Racism, Recognizes Human Dignity
  3. What Does it Mean to Form My Conscience?
  4. Priorities At the Polls
  5. Questions for Evaluating Candidate Positions
 
  The Word from Lansing: Promote Civility, Love Others, and Build Community This Election  
 
Together, people of faith have the opportunity to elevate the tone of political discussions and contribute to a greater sense of civility this election season. The Word from Lansing column for September addresses the importance of committing to such actions, especially through the nonpartisan Civilize It campaign. It also highlights resources to help Catholics prepare for voting, including ten insights from Catholic saints that apply to action in the public realm. 
 
  Food Assistance Bill Passes Senate, Continues to House Committee  
 
By a 32-6 vote, the Michigan Senate approved Senate Bill 1006, a measure to revoke Michigan's law that prohibits individuals with multiple drug felonies from participating in federal food assistance. Further detail on the legislation was included in last week's Lansing Update. MCC supported the measure, which is sponsored by Senator Jim Ananich (D-Flint), as it eliminates unnecessary barriers for those who have served their time and are trying to rebuild their lives. The legislation will continue to the House Committee on Families, Children, and Seniors.
 
  Senate Jail Reform Measures Clear Committee This Week  
 
This week, MCC supported jail reform measures approved by the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee on Thursday, October 1: SBs 700, 893, 894, 1046-1051. The measures 1) limit how long juveniles could be detained for offenses or actions that are only crimes for juveniles and 2) incentivize sentences that include community corrections solutions and seek to reduce the amount of people who receive jail time for probation and court order violations. The bill sponsors of this package include Senators Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit), Roger Victory (R-Georgetown Twp.), Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Michael MacDonald (R-Macomb Twp.), and Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan). Those bills continue to the Michigan Senate for further consideration.
 
  Justice for Immigrants Initiative Celebrates Fifteen-Year Anniversary  
 
In 2004, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops made immigration reform a major public policy priority of the Catholic Church in the United States. In 2005, after engaging broad stakeholders, the USCCB created the Justice for Immigrants (JFI) campaign in an effort to unite and mobilize a growing network of Catholic institutions and individuals in support of humane treatment of immigrants and refugees and immigration reform. On the occasion of the fifteen-year anniversary of the establishment of the JFI campaign, the USCCB issued the following statement:

"We celebrate 15 years of the Justice for Immigrants initiative and the amazing accomplishments of Catholic organizations to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate immigrants and refugees coming to and living in the United States. While we are pleased to highlight the work that has been done by the Church and Justice for Immigrants to advance the humane treatment and legalization for immigrants, we note that the work is far from done. The Church redoubles its commitment to the Justice for Immigrants initiative and to recognizing the human dignity and rights of immigrants and refugees and the promotion of legalization and legislative reform. Our efforts are rooted in the Gospel and the need to recognize the face of Jesus in every person."

To commemorate the fifteen-year anniversary, Justice for Immigrants will be conducting a webinar series, among other actions. Visit www.justiceforimmigrants.org  for more information.

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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