In this issue of Lansing Update:
- Bills Promoting Adult Stem Cells Moving Through Legislature
- Legislature Again Seeking Limits on State Assistance Programs
- 2007–2008 Legislative Leaders Elected
The State Senate this week unanimously signed off on legislation that promotes the storage and preservation of adult stem cells through a statewide cord blood bank. The bills are related to a larger package of bills that seek the creation of the statewide bank and provide for its funding. Cord blood is collected from placentas as well as umbilical cords and contains a treasure trove of adult stem cells.
In order to encourage the use and availability of adult stem cells, the legislation does the following:
- Promote public awareness and increase knowledge about the statewide network of cord blood stem cell banks and the benefits of cord blood stem cells, and
- Make materials and information on cord blood stem cells available to the public through the Department of Community Health website, and provide copies at no charge to each health facility or agency and health care professional upon request.
Awaiting action in the State Senate are House Bills 6291-6295, a package of bills that would establish a statewide network of cord blood stem cell banks; provide a tax credit for donations of cash and cord blood to the banks; and appropriate $5 million from the 21st Century Jobs Fund to support the creation of the banks.
Adult stem cells that are retrieved from cord blood, as the general public is becoming more aware, are utilized to provide treatments and even cures for those who suffer from different diseases. According to the website www.stemcellresearch.org, which was founded and is continuously updated by several prominent physicians at the national level, some 72 different diseases are being treated with adult stem cells.
Michigan Catholic Conference supports Senate Bills 1353 and 1354, as well as House Bills 6291-6295, in order to promote the considerable successes that are occurring daily through adult stem cell research.
Last year the Michigan House of Representatives and State Senate approved measures that would impose sanctions and a 48-month time limit on welfare recipients. While Governor Granholm vetoed the package of bills, the Legislature is again moving to impose limits for those receiving state assistance.
This week the House of Representatives passed legislation that would still impose the 48-month lifetime limit and create 90-90-1 year sanctions, meaning a first and second violation would each sanction an individual for 3 months while a third violation would create a one year sanction. However, exemptions have been included in the bill.
For example, those receiving assistance would not be held to the 48-month time limit for the time that their county’s unemployment rate is above 9 percent, or when the individual or a relative for whom the individual is caring is temporarily or permanently disabled and has proper documentation.
A 12-month extension clause is also included in the legislation if a person faces barriers to unemployment, such as childcare or transportation dilemmas, or if the State can not meet its obligation to provide education and training services for which it is required. Recipients would also be able to have their first sanction terminated if they can show within two weeks of the violation that they are meeting their work requirements.
Michigan law pertaining to cash assistance programs are scheduled to expire at the end of the year, but may be extended should legislation call for such action. The Michigan Senate this week has done so, passing Senate Bill 1500, which would extend the sunset on the state’s welfare laws to September 30, 2007.
Michigan Catholic Conference has historically opposed legislation that creates a lifetime limit and punitive sanctions for the state’s most vulnerable population, arguing that tens of thousands of Michigan children will be immediately affected by such measures.
On November 14 the Democratic Party in the Michigan House of Representatives and the Republican Party in the Michigan Senate elected legislative leaders for the 2007–08 session. The new leaders are as follows:
House of Representatives
- Speaker of the House: Representative Andy Dillon (D-Redford Township)
- House Majority Floor Leader: Representative Steve Tobocman (D-Detroit)
- Speaker Pro Tempore—Representative Michael Sak (D-Grand Rapids)
- Majority Caucus Chair—Representative Kathy Angerer (D-Dundee)
- House Minority Leader: Representative Craig DeRoche (R-Novi)
- House Minority Floor Leader: Representative Chris Ward (R-Brighton)
- Assistant Minority Leader: Representative Kevin Elsenheimer (R-Bellaire)
- Assistant Minority Floor Leader: Representative Tonya Shuitmaker (R-Lawton)
- Minority Caucus Chair—Representative John Proos (R-St. Joseph)
- Senate Majority Leader: Senator Mike Bishop (R-Rochester)
- Senate Majority Floor Leader: Senator Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt)
- Senate Assistant Majority Leader: Senator Michelle McManus (R-Lake Leelanau)
- Senate Assistant Majority Floor Leader: Senator Cameron Brown (R-Sturgis)
- Senate Majority Caucus Chair: Senator Nancy Cassis (R-Novi)
- Senate Majority Caucus Whip: Senator Jason Allen (R-Traverse City)
- Senate Pro Tempore: Senator-Elect Randy Richardville (Monroe)
- Senate Assistant President Pro-Tempore: Senator Alan Sanborn (R-Richmond Twp)
- Senate Minority Leader: Senator Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek)
- Senate Minority Floor Leader: Senator Buzz Thomas (D-Detroit)
- Senate Minority Caucus Chair: Senator Gilda Jacobs (D-Huntington Woods)
For the 2007–08 legislative session, the Democratic Party will hold a 58-52 majority in the House of Representatives while the Republican Party in the Senate will hold a 21-17 majority.