Since its introduction, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) has been a strong advocate for the federal Emergency Assistance to Non-public Schools (EANS) program, which provides funding to assist nonpublic schools with costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible expenses include item such as supplies for sanitation and personal protection equipment. Almost $87 million in EANS funding has been approved by the U.S. Congress for Michigan. Although the money was awarded to the state by the federal government, the Michigan Legislature is required to appropriate the funds through a budget bill in order for them to be disbursed. Recently, legislation intended to distribute the funding was vetoed by Governor Whitmer for a second time. It is also important to note that the Michigan Legislature had not voted to grant the provisions of the measure immediate effect. Without granting immediate effect, the needed relief for schools would not have been distributed until 2022, even if the governor had signed the bill into law. MCC remains committed to advocating for legislation regarding the EANS program and looks forward to elected officials coming to a solution so that funds can be distributed. Many Michigan nonpublic schools have already begun preparing their applications for the EANS funding.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, state lawmakers have considered legislation to provide additional eligibility or flexibility for certain educational assistance offered to Michiganders. House Bills 4055 and 4056, sponsored by Representatives Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) and Scott VanSingel (R-Grant), would:
Allow scholastic achievement to be considered as an alternative to achieving the requisite score on a standardized test for purposes of scholarship eligibility for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Grant undergraduates in private colleges and universities for the 2020 spring term and the 2020-2021 academic year to have two extra semesters of eligibility for the Tuition Grant program. The Tuition Grant Program provides financial assistance to low-income families and students attending one of Michigan's independent colleges and universities.
This week, as the Michigan Legislature returned from its spring recess, the House of Representatives passed both measures by 107-3 votes. Now, the bills will continue to the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee. MCC supports these measures, as well as other efforts to assist students.
This week, the House of Representatives passed HBs 4149, 4151, and 5152, which would reclassify several fishing and hunting misdemeanors as civil infractions. Under the change, individuals who commit the violations would receive civil fines rather than jail time. MCC supported these measures in an effort to ensure that Michiganders are not forever "criminalized" and to offer judges more discretion to determine the appropriate response to a crime. The bills are sponsored by Representatives John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs), Steven Johnson (R-Wayland), and Gary Howell (R-North Branch). Each now continues to the Senate for further consideration.
The United States Food and Drug Administration announced this week that they will no longer be enforcing the "in-person dispensing requirement" for the chemical abortion pills during the remainder of the COVID-19 public health emergency. This requirement was put in place by public health officials over twenty years ago, under President Bill Clinton, as a necessary precondition to ensure that pregnant women do not have contraindications that would make the abortion pills even more unsafe and possibly deadly for the woman. In response, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the following statement:
"It is difficult to see the FDA's decision to not enforce important safety protocols as anything other than callous capitulation to the requests of abortion activists without regard for the health and safety of the women involved. An in-person evaluation by a medical professional is necessary to accurately determine the age of the baby (abortion pills are only approved for use in the first 70 days), whether the pregnancy is ectopic (which the woman has no way of knowing on her own), and to test and treat for Rh-incompatibility between mother and baby. Without this information and proper treatment, a woman's health, future fertility, and life are placed in serious jeopardy. With this decision, not only are women being sold the lie that abortion will solve their problems, but also that chemical abortion is a safe and easy way to go about it. By pushing women away from medical oversight, abortion advocates are luring women into isolated, unsafe, and medically unwise decisions. The inalienable dignity of women and their unborn children deserves so much more."
Discussing end of life decisions can be difficult. Whether you are the patient, a family member, or chosen Patient Advocate, there are a number of things to consider when deciding upon and executing, or accepting, an advance health care directive. To aid individuals and families making these decisions, Michigan Catholic Conference offers a variety of resources that are consistent with Catholic Social Teaching. On a new webpage launched in December, MCC provides its Guidelines for End of Life Decisions booklet and accompanying Designation of Patient Advocate forms. Learn more at http://bit.ly/34nG4z8.