All Michigan schools - including nonpublic and Catholic schools - would have access to $27.5 million in funding to improve safety measures under a bill signed by the Governor last week.
The supplemental spending bill sets aside $15 million to implement risk assessments and $12.5 million for critical incidence mapping for all schools across the state.
Risk assessments would help comprehensively identify the status of schools' campus safety and determine where further investments are needed, and critical incidence mapping is intended to ensure emergency plans are effective and in place, according to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in her announcement of signing the bill.
The legislation also provides nearly $10 million in direct aid to Oxford Community Schools, the site of the tragic shooting in late 2021 that killed four students and injured seven other people. The legislation, House Bill 6012, was sponsored by Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Twp.).
The passage of the school safety bill comes after several highly publicized mass shootings have recently taken place across the country, including a school in Texas where 19 children and 2 teachers were shot and killed.
Both Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) and the U.S. Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have advocated for implementing gun reforms at the state and national levels, respectively, which would provide for reasonable restrictions on access to guns.
This past week, the USCCB commended a bipartisan proposal supported by 20 U.S. senators, including Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, that would take steps to address gun violence. According to Politico, the recently announced proposal involves extra scrutiny for gun buyers under the age of 21, grants to states to implement red flag laws, and new spending on mental health treatment and school security.
The USCCB, in a statement, commended these members of Congress for developing a "framework to help prevent senseless violence, which includes reasonable gun safety measures."
A resolution introduced in the state House this week formally condemns the attacks on pregnancy centers that have taken place across the nation in the past month.
Sponsored by Rep. Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale) along with several other lawmakers, House Resolution 317 states that "crisis pregnancy centers have been vandalized and destroyed by extreme pro-abortion protestors," adding that "while some centers have been vandalized with graffiti, others have been victim to arson and other violent acts."
The USCCB noted in a statement this week that since the release of an unofficial draft opinion in the Dobbs Supreme Court case that proposes to overturn Roe v. Wade, "charities that support pregnant mothers in need have been firebombed, and pro-life organizations have been attacked almost daily and terrorized, and even the lives of Supreme Court justices have been directly threatened."
The House resolution notes that "it is crucial to provide services to women and babies across the country. Many pro-life organizations offer crisis pregnancy centers to help those who have become pregnant and need options that support life...crisis pregnancy centers provide services that prevent abortion and promote the value of life."
MCC commends Rep. Fink and other lawmakers who recognize the importance of pregnancy centers and are calling attention to the violence being committed against the innocent people who serve these centers. The resolution has been referred to the House Health Policy Committee for further consideration.
Along the same lines, the USCCB this week also called attention to the rise of vandalism and attacks on Catholic churches in the past two years.
According to the USCCB, at least 139 incidents have occurred across 35 states and the District of Columbia since May 2020, with these incidents including arson; statues beheaded, limbs cut, smashed, and painted; gravestones defaced with swastikas and anti-Catholic language and American flags next to them burned; and other destruction and vandalism.
"Above all, each of us must choose the path of peace and open our hearts to the love that God has for his children," the USCCB stated. "O Sacred Heart of Jesus, touch our hearts and make them like your own."
An expanded tax credit intended to help the working poor was recently vetoed by the Governor.
House Bill 4568 would have increased the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 20% from the current 6%, which would have increased the amount working low-income families could have received to help pay for their basic necessities.
According to media reports, the Governor argued the bill was unconstitutional because its scope had expanded from its original purpose of extending a tax filing deadline. Gov. Whitmer has said she supports increasing the EITC, as have lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
An increase to the EITC, which MCC and more than 80 other organizations have been championing this year, could still be enacted as part of a deal on the budget for next year, which the Legislature and the Governor are still working on. A standalone bill to increase the EITC to 30%, Senate Bill 417, is still pending as well.
In observance of Juneteenth on Sunday, MCC offices will be closed Monday, June 20.
MCC has supported recognition of Juneteenth as an official state holiday, which commemorates the day in 1865 when African Americans in Galveston, Texas learned they had been freed from slavery two years earlier by the Emancipation Proclamation. MCC highlighted the significance of Juneteenth in its 2021 FOCUS on African-American Catholics.
This week, the state Senate adopted Senate Resolution 155, sponsored by Sen. Marshall Bullock (D-Detroit) and a host of other senators, which commemorated Juneteenth and called attention to the "devastating legacy of American slavery," and further encouraged "all citizens of Michigan to educate each other and future generations on the history of slavery in order to ensure that this tragedy will never be forgotten or repeated."
The resolution noted that African Americans "continue to experience the vestiges of slavery from challenges with voting rights, to inadequate public education systems, lack of access to capital lending institutions, police brutality, and other social and economic injustices."
The USCCB has pointed out that "today's continuing inequalities in education, housing, employment, wealth, and representation in leadership positions are rooted in our country's shameful history of slavery and systemic racism."
In honor of Juneteenth and in the spirit of the ongoing work to root out racism in our country, we offer the following prayer, courtesy of Xavier University:
We pray, O Lord, for change.
Jesus you revealed God through your wise words and loving deeds, and we encounter you still today in the faces of those whom society has pushed to the margins.
Guide us, through the love you revealed, to establish the justice you proclaimed, that all peoples might dwell in harmony and peace, united by that one love that binds us to each other, and to you.
And most of all, Lord, change our routine worship and work into genuine encounter with you and our better selves so that our lives will be changed for the good of all. Amen.