Catholic Advocacy Network Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram
CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
February 12, 2021
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • MCC Testifies on Behalf of Support for Pregnant Women, Mothers
  • Catholic Conference Urges State Lawmakers to Act on Education Funding 
  • Executive Recommendations Include Several MCC-Priority Items; Continued Work Needed 
  • Advocacy Report on the 100th Michigan Legislature Released by MCC
 
  MCC Testifies on Behalf of Support for Pregnant Women, Mothers  
 
Throughout its nearly sixty-year history, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) has regularly supported legislation that respects the value of every human person and provides comprehensive support to women and children. In the past several legislative sessions, MCC helped advocate for the Michigan Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services Program, a state-budget initiative that assisted nearly 9,000 Michigan women and their babies with services such as pregnancy counseling, prenatal health information, parenting support, education, and material goods. Unfortunately, despite wide legislative and public support, Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed the program two years ago and it remains unfunded.

This week, continuing in the organization's tradition of walking with women and children in need, MCC testified in support of House Bill 4189 along with representatives from Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County and Women's Care Center of Niles. The legislation, sponsored by Representative Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Twp.), would provide funding to promote maternal and infant health and assist pregnancy resource centers in providing needed support for women in unexpected or crisis pregnancies. The funding proposal includes:
  1. $1.5 million for pregnancy resource center grants, up to $10,000 per center, which would help centers to provide wraparound assistance and promote childbirth and alternatives to abortion.
     
  2. $500,000 to fund pregnancy and parenting student service offices on college and university campuses.
     
  3. $10 million for marketing programs to promote the adoption of infants and develop factual educational resources on adoption as an alternative to abortion. 
     
  4. $3 million for Maternal Navigator Pilot Programs, which would grant funding to nonprofit counseling or similar services that promote childbirth and alternatives to abortion, in order to provide holistic care to pregnant women.
During the testimony this week, MCC shared the significance of the funding:

"The legislation provides a rare opportunity to highlight irreplaceable work that is taking place in communities across our state. Work that is often done without any recognition. This is the work of walking with pregnant women in need - and providing a helping hand. Many women who experience an unexpected pregnancy feel alone in their crisis, and like they have no options, no support. But pregnancy resource centers, adoption service providers, and a number of our Catholic Charities agencies meet the individual needs of pregnant woman, every day, addressing their unique burdens and obstacles and ultimately empowering them to have a true choice, including the choice of childbirth...Helping women through their pregnancy should not be controversial. Given the positive impact of previous state funding and broad community support, MCC encourages support for the new initiatives in House Bill 4189. Its funding would facilitate the services that help to strengthen our communities, one woman at a time."

While the House Appropriations Committee heard testimony this week, no vote was taken on HB 4189.

NOTE: This week, State Budget Director Dave Massaron presented Governor Gretchen Whitmer's executive recommendations for the October 2021-September 2022 state budget. The $67.1 billion proposal was made to a joint session of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Michigan Catholic Conference has broken up the executive recommendations and the organization's comments into two sections below: 1) education items (see paragraph two) and 2) Department of Health and Human Services and other budget items (see paragraph three). Staff will continue to remain engaged in the budget process, especially in areas that impact the common good and the most vulnerable, as the Michigan Legislature forms its recommendations.
 
  Catholic Conference Urges State Lawmakers to Act on Education Funding  
 
During the budget presentation this week, State Budget Director Dave Massaron outlined a number of the governor's proposals that impact the health of Michigan students and schools. MCC was pleased to see the governor included funding in the 2021-2022 proposed state budget for:
  • Tuition Grant and Tuition Incentive Programs, which help low-income students attend college. The governor's proposal provides $117.5 million total for these two items.
     
  • Increased mental health services, which are available to Michigan students attending public and nonpublic schools. The governor's proposal provides $36.9 million for this item.
** Additionally, following an application filed by the State of Michigan, Michigan Catholic Conference is hopeful that the Biden administration will approve approximately $86 million in federal dollars to assist Michigan nonpublic schools with COVID-related expenses. Within the $900 billion coronavirus relief package passed by Congress and signed into law in December 2020, $2.75 billion has been set aside for nonpublic schools. Each state is required to opt-in to the Emergency Assistance to Nonpublic Schools program. MCC expressed gratitude to the state for completing the opt-in process, saying: "We are grateful for the request from the Governor's office for Michigan to opt-in to the federal EANS program, which recognizes the fact that nonpublic schools are an integral part of education policy both in Michigan and across the country."

Unfortunately, several items of note were not included in the governor's 2021-2022 proposal, including:
  • Reimbursements to nonpublic schools for expenses related to State-mandated health, safety, and welfare requirements, such as maintaining vaccination records, conducting criminal background checks on school staff, and taking attendance. 
     
  • Competitive grant funding for nonpublic schools to participate in the First Robotics program. The funding, which was included in last year's budget, covers registration fees for competitions, stipends for coaches, and other related expenses. Similar grant funding is also available for public schools and provided for in this year's executive budget recommendations.
     
  • Language in the K-12 School Aid budget to require school districts to have a disciplinary policy for staff who refer students for abortion. The governor eliminated this language from her proposal.
     
  • Language in the higher education budget that would require public and private organizations that conduct human embryonic stem cell derivation to report their activities to the Department of Health and Human Services. 
Afterwards, MCC issued a statement encouraging the Legislature act in these areas and to specifically appropriate funding to reimburse nonpublic schools for health and safety mandates, saying: "We believe the Governor's budget missed an opportunity to further protect all students in Michigan schools with critical public health and safety funding to help offset state mandated requirements. Reimbursing nonpublic schools for these expenses will further enhance safety for tens of thousands of school children, many of whom have been attending in person for much of the pandemic."
 
  Executive Recommendations Include Several MCC-Priority Items; Continued Work Needed  
 
In addition to the education initiatives mentioned above, Michigan Catholic Conference is also monitoring several other budget items mentioned in the governor's proposal. MCC has supported many of these items in the past because of the way they incorporate a concern for the poor and assist programs seeking to promote the dignity of the vulnerable, both of which are central to the teachings of the Catholic faith. Specifically, staff was pleased to see the governor included funding in the executive recommendations for:
  • The children's clothing allowance, a program that provides an annual clothing allowance for low-income children in the Family Independence Program. The governor's proposal provides $7.23 million for this item.
     
  • Administrative rates for private adoption agencies that serve children in foster care awaiting safe and permanent homes. The governor maintained the current rate of not less than $46.20.
     
  • Maintaining the "Heat and Eat" policy, which utilizes the state low-income energy assistance program to help individuals in need to qualify for additional food assistance from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 
     
  • Intervention services for victims of human trafficking, maintaining the current funding level for the initiative at $200,000.
     
  • Maintaining homeless programs and runaway youth grants at current funding levels.
     
  • Behavioral health crisis and domestic violence training for law enforcement at the amount of $10.2 million. 
     
  • The Elder Abuse Task Force, which investigates financial crimes against seniors, at the amount of $387,500.
     
  • The implementation of "Raise the Age" reforms -passed in 2019- that raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to eighteen and give judges discretion when charging a 17-year-old as an adult based on the severity of the crime. Previously, all 17-year-olds in Michigan were required to be tried as an adult for an offense they committed, even for first-time, non-violent offenses. The governor's proposal provides $29.1 million for this item.
     
  • Improvements to the access and consistency of behavioral health services for Medicaid enrollees and for those served by child welfare system at the level of $91 million. 
As mentioned previously, MCC staff is continuing to explore and advocate for programs that will support pregnant women and mothers (and their babies), especially after the governor's prior veto of the Michigan Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services Program. Stay tuned for further updates. 
 
  Advocacy Report on the 100th Michigan Legislature Released by MCC  
 
Over the course of the 2019-2020 state legislative session, Michigan Catholic Conference worked diligently with lawmakers and legislative staff of both political parties to advance the common good. In a February report, MCC details its advocacy work from the past two years and highlights critical legislative achievements for Michiganders, especially those that recognize the dignity of the human person and address the needs of the vulnerable.
 
If this email was forwarded to you, please click here to join the Catholic Advocacy Network, which will enable you to receive regular electronic updates and alerts.

For other news and information, click here to follow MCC on Twitter, like MCC on Facebook, follow MCC on Instagram, or visit MCC's webpage.
 
 
Share this with your friends!

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Be sure to visit our website at www.micatholic.org
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