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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
January 8, 2021
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • USCCB Condemns Violent Protests and Prays for Safety
  • Michigan Legislature to Begin 2021-2022 Session Next Week
  • State Supreme Court Upholds Appropriation to Nonpublic Schools
  • Governor Signs Several MCC-Supported Bills Into Law 
 
  USCCB Condemns Violent Protests and Prays for Safety  
 
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following statement after this week's violence in the United States Capitol:

"I join people of good will in condemning the violence today at the United States Capitol. This is not who we are as Americans. I am praying for members of Congress and Capitol staff and for the police and all those working to restore order and public safety. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of this great nation. In this troubling moment, we must recommit ourselves to the values and principles of our democracy and come together as one nation under God. I entrust all of us to the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May she guide us in the ways of peace, and obtain for us wisdom and the grace of a true patriotism and love of country." 
 
  Michigan Legislature to Begin 2021-2022 Session Next Week  
 
On January 13, 2021, a new state legislative session begins as the Michigan House of Representatives and Senate meet for the first time in 2021. The House of Representatives brings together twenty-seven new representatives and eighty-three returning members. The House will have a 58-52 Republican majority. While the Michigan Senate was not on the 2020 ballot, two Senators won election to local county-wide offices, leaving their seats vacant until special elections can be held. The Senate currently consists of a 20-16 Republican majority.
  • If you would like to look up your state legislators for the 2021-2022 session, visit http://bit.ly/3a3Ou26 and enter your zip code.
  • To find more information on the schedule and the ongoing work of the 2021-2022 session, visit the main Michigan Legislature page at http://bit.ly/3s6wQBq
 
  State Supreme Court Upholds Appropriation to Nonpublic Schools  
 

Since 2016, the Michigan Legislature has appropriate funding to reimburse nonpublic schools for expenses related to state health, safety, and welfare mandates, such as conducting background checks on staff. In total, $5.25 million has been set aside for this purpose, but ongoing litigation on the constitutionality of the appropriation prevented the Legislature from disbursing any funds.

On December 28, the Michigan Supreme Court issued a split 3-3 ruling that will require the state Court of Claims to review each mandate and determine which ones are eligible for reimbursement by examining the following criteria: 1) it does not constitute excessive entanglement with religion and 2) it is incidental to the operation of a school. Michigan Catholic Conference has supported the reimbursement policy for at least three legislative sessions and is now encouraging the Court of Claims to move quickly in order for the funds to be reimbursed. In a statement, MCC commented:

"We're pleased that the Court of Appeals decision has been upheld and that Section 152b has been found constitutional by the state's highest court. Since the case has been remanded to the Court of Claims, our hope would be for the Court to quickly dispense with its review in order to allow for nonpublic schools to access the long-awaiting funding. We believe that every student in Michigan should be treated equally in terms of health and safety, regardless if they attend a public or nonpublic school."
 
  Governor Signs Several MCC-Supported Bills Into Law  
 
After the 2019-2020 Michigan Legislature adjourned, Governor Gretchen Whitmer had the opportunity to consider a number of bills that were sent to her desk for final approval. Michigan Catholic Conference is pleased to share that the following measures the organization supported during the year are now law:
  • House Bills 5417-5419 allow a parent to execute a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order on behalf of his or her medically frail minor child if certain procedures are followed to prevent abuse. They now become Public Acts 363-365 of 2020.
     
  • Senate Bills 681-682 allow for expungement to be offered for juveniles who commit certain crimes. The laws make expungement available within two years after the final judgement, the settlement of the charge, or on their eighteen birthday, whichever date is later. They also include protections for public safety and now become Public Acts 361-362 of 2020.
     
  • House Bills 5844, 5846-5847, 5849-5857 eliminate mandatory minimums for certain criminal sentences and incentivize rehabilitation. They now become Public Acts 375-386 of 2020.
     
  • Senate Bills 700, 893-894, 1046-1051 limit how long juveniles can be detained for offenses or actions that are only crimes for juveniles, incentivize sentences that include community corrections, and seek to reduce the number of those who receive jail time for probation and court order violations. They now become Public Acts 389-391 and 393-398 of 2020.
     
  • Senate Bill 1006 revokes the law prohibiting individuals with multiple drug felonies from receiving federal food assistance. It now becomes Public Act 392 of 2020.
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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