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
October 22, 2021

  In This Update:  
  • House and Senate Pass Student Opportunity Scholarship Bills
  • Pregnancy Tax Exemption Passes Senate Committee
  • Additional Sexual Abuse Prevention Measures Advance from House Committee
  • House Committee Considers Legislation to Ensure Accuracy of Background Checks
  • Senate Adopts Religious Liberty Resolution
  • Biden Administration Rescinds "Protect Life Rule" in Family Planning Program
  • November 18 "Pray for Dobbs" Nationwide Prayer Event
  House and Senate Pass Student Opportunity Scholarship Bills  

Legislation giving Michiganders a state income tax credit for donating to organizations that would in turn provide scholarships to students was approved by the House and Senate on party-line votes this week.  House Bills 5404 and 5405, and their identical counterparts, Senate Bills 687 and 688, approved in their respective chambers, would prioritize at-risk children, those receiving free and reduced lunch, youths in foster care and students with disabilities. Scholarship recipients attending public or nonpublic schools could use funds for tutoring, dual enrollment courses, testing fees, online instruction, or tuition and fees. Democrats argued that the legislation violated the Michigan Constitutional ban on aid to nonpublic schools, with Republicans stating that recent United States Supreme Court rulings, and a current lawsuit in federal court, negate that argument.  Bill sponsors are Senator Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte), Senator Lana Theis (R-Brighton), Representative Bryan Posthumus (R-Cannon Twp.), and Representative Phil Green (R-Millington). A spokesperson for Governor Whitmer said the legislation is a "nonstarter." Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) is following this issue closely and will report on any further developments.

  Pregnancy Tax Exemption Passes Senate Committee  

This week, the Senate Committee on Finance passed House Bill 4644, sponsored by Representative Rodney Wakeman (R-Saginaw Township). The measure would amend the state Income Tax Act to allow for a dependency tax exemption to be claimed for an unborn child under certain circumstances. The exemption could be applied during the year of pregnancy, if the taxpayer was at least twelve weeks pregnant, had obtained prenatal care, and her physician provides a medical statement attesting to these facts. HB 4644 now awaits consideration by the full Senate. MCC supports the bill, which would recognize the dignity of the unborn and provide some financial relief for families who are expecting a child.

  Additional Sexual Abuse Prevention Measures Advance from House Committee  

To accompany those previously reported, this week, the House Judiciary Committee passed additional sexual abuse prevention measures supported by MCC. House Bills 4853 and 4855, sponsored by Representatives Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township) and Roger Hauck (R-Mount Pleasant) would lengthen the time required for health professionals to keep medical records on invasive procedures and treatments, with certain exceptions, and provide felony penalties for noncompliance. The measures would also require professional medical boards to provide guidance on proper protocols for such invasive procedures. House Bills 4857 and 4858 would enact sanctions for the crime of sexual penetration under the guise of medical treatment, including disciplinary action and a potential revocation of one's medical license. These bills are reintroductions from previous sessions and are sponsored by Representatives Annette Glenn (R-Midland) and Daire Rendon (R-Lake City). The sexual abuse prevention measures now await consideration by the full House.

  House Committee Considers Legislation to Ensure Accuracy of Background Checks  

According to new rules issued by the Michigan Supreme Court, as of January 1, 2022, courts would be prohibited from releasing personal identifying information on publicly accessible court records, including one's date of birth. This rule, however, has implications for employers and others who rely upon background checks and will make it very challenging to accurately verify an individual's record. To remedy this situation and ensure accuracy of background checks, Representative Graham Filler (R-DeWitt) sponsored House Bill 5368. The bill would require that records in Michigan courts must not redact a defendant's name or date of birth, unless otherwise required by law. The House Judiciary Committee considered the bill this week and passed it to the House floor. MCC supports the measure.

  Senate Adopts Religious Liberty Resolution  

The Michigan Senate adopted Senate Resolution 88 this week, which states that the religious liberty of Michigan citizens should be protected and that their ability to act in accordance with their religious conscience and beliefs should not be infringed upon.  The resolution notes, in part, that "good governance and civic institutional integrity rest on the virtue of its citizens. Religious ideas support and nurture this virtue and should, therefore, always be permitted within the marketplace of ideas." MCC commends Senator Curtis VanderWall (R-Ludington) for offering the resolution.

  Biden Administration Rescinds "Protect Life Rule" in Family Planning Program  

Effective November 8, 2021, a new federal rule will rescind the "Protect Life Rule" used to govern the Title X family planning program. The "Protect Life Rule" helped to ensure compliance with federal law by stipulating that Title X projects may not share office space or financing with abortion facilities and are not required to refer for abortion.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops previously filed comments objecting to the new rule and the recission of the "Protect Life Rule." Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities also issued a statement noting that the bishops "have long supported efforts to ensure that abortion is kept physically and financially separate from family planning under Title X." The archbishop also states that "The Administration is wrong to allow taxpayer dollars to fund abortion providers who participate in a pre-pregnancy program specifically designed to exclude abortion."

  November 18 "Pray for Dobbs" Nationwide Prayer Event  

On December 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in an abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. This case will address the constitutionality of a 15-week abortion ban passed into law in Mississippi and may reconsider the legal precedent of Roe v. Wade. Please join individuals around the country in praying for the court and a just decision. A virtual, nationwide prayer event has been scheduled for November 18th at 8PM. More information and resources to share with your family, friends, church, schools, and ministries are available at


For other news and information, follow MCC on Twitter, like MCC on Facebook, follow MCC on Instagram, or visit MCC's webpage.

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