In this issue of Lansing Update:
- Catholic Conference Releases 2009–2010 Advocacy Priorities
- Committee Assignments Announced, Legislature Begins New Session
- State Senate Adopts Resolution Honoring Catholic Schools Week
- Legislation of Interest
Recognizing the state’s $1.3 billion deficit for the 2009–2010 fiscal year, Michigan Catholic Conference announced this week that protecting vital state programs will top its advocacy agenda for the 95th legislative session. The Conference also pointed out that, considering the passage of the embryo destruction constitutional amendment in November, it will lend its support to any legislation that seeks to protect and defend the human embryo.
“Michigan’s significant budget deficit in the coming fiscal year certainly presents a major obstacle to protecting critical programs, but it is the mission of our organization to give a voice in the legislative process to the vulnerable and those who live on the margins of society,” said MCC Vice President for Public Policy Paul A. Long. “These legislative priorities, including protecting the poor and regulating the embryo destruction business that was created in November, illustrate the Conference’s mission to protect the dignity and life of each and every human person from conception until natural death.”
Michigan Catholic Conference’s advocacy agenda was approved in December by its Board of Directors and released through Focus, a periodic essay distributed to all Catholic parishes, schools, institutions and other locations and individuals across the state. Below is a detailed listing of additional public policy issues that are of interest to the Conference in the categories of Religious Freedom, Human Life, Children and Families, Health Care, Education, Economic Justice and Regulatory Policies, Restorative Justice and Federal Issues:
I. Religious Freedom
- The rights of faith-based providers and all individuals to conscience protections in the delivery of services, and
- The equal application of the law to all persons and institutions regardless of their faith.
II. Human Life
- State initiatives that provide alternatives to abortion and assistance to pregnant women,
- Legislation that seeks to protect the lives of unborn children,
- Regulations on human research to uphold the life and dignity of the human person,
- Opposition to insurance regulations mandating coverage for abortion or contraception,
- Upholding the ban on human cloning,
- Upholding the ban on assisted suicide, and
- Upholding the constitutional ban on the death penalty.
III. Children and Families
- Upholding the traditional definition of marriage and the family,
- Policies that protect the stability of the marriage bond and the institution of the family,
- Amending Michigan’s no-fault divorce laws, and
- Policies to streamline foster care services and payments to ensure critical services are provided to children in need.
IV. Health Care
- Expansion of health coverage for low-and moderate-income uninsured individuals and families,
- The protection of Medicaid funding,
- Opposition to legislation that threatens the institutional integrity of faith-based providers, and
- Opposition to legislation that threatens the Certificate of Need process.
- Mandatory consultation between public school districts and the non-public schools located within their jurisdiction regarding the appropriate distribution of federal program dollars,
- Protection of existing public school choice for all parents,
- Fair treatment of non-public school students regarding eligibility for college scholarship and financial aid programs,
- Protection of non-public schools from excessive regulation,
- Protection of virtual learning experiences and course content that includes dimensions of faith,
- Providing for expanded science and technology learning opportunities,
- Safe and adequate transportation for all students, and
- An end to the state constitutional ban on aid to non-public schools.
VI. Economic Justice and Regulatory Policies
- The allocation of scarce budget resources to preserve essential services for vulnerable persons,
- Affirmation of the recognized right to exercise religious conscience in the provision of publicly-funded services,
- Providing limited immunity for private human service providers for the provision of services otherwise provided by the state,
- Maintenance of the tax-exempt status for not-for-profit organizations,
- State identification card, drivers’ license, and marriage license policies that respect the dignity of residents who live in our State regardless of citizenship,
- Affordable housing for low and moderate income families and individuals,
- Polices that encourage workplace justice, including adequate wages for childcare workers,
- Affordable and accessible transportation options for low and moderate income workers, and
- Increasing the Unemployment Insurance multiplier.
VII. Restorative Justice
- Adequate and professional legal representation to all accused individuals regardless of economic status,
- The right of faith-based providers in the delivery of services to incarcerated individuals, regardless of citizenship,
- Reforming and enhancing the provision of health care services provided in Michigan prisons, including end of life care,
- A comprehensive approach to prisoner rehabilitation and re-entry programs that includes continuing education, adequate personal identification, transportation, housing and employment assistance, and
- Sentencing guidelines and parole practices that reflect an individual’s potential threat to society, including amending Michigan’s mandatory minimum sentencing statutes impacting juveniles and certain drug offenses, and elimination of life without parole for juveniles convicted as adults.
VIII. Federal Issues
When addressing federal legislative issues, the Michigan Catholic Conference works in collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Only when the USCCB has taken a position on an issue will the MCC engage with the Michigan congressional delegation.
With a primary focus on resolving a $1.3 billion budget deficit for the 2009–2010 fiscal year, the Michigan Legislature has kicked-off the 95th legislative session. This week the Speaker of the House announced committee assignments for the House of Representatives, which are listed here:
- Agriculture [Link no longer available —Ed.] (7 Democrats, 4 Republicans)
- Simpson (chair), Huckleberry (majority vice chair), Barnett, Haase, Mayes, Nerat, Valentine, Tyler (minority vice chair), Daley, Hansen and Kurtz.
- Appropriations [Link no longer available —Ed.] (19 Democrats, 11 Republicans)
- Cushingberry (chair), Hammel (majority vice chair), Bauer, Bennett, T. Brown, Dean, Espinoza, Durhal, Gonzales, Gregory, Jackson, Lahti, LeBlanc, McDowell, Miller, Smith, Spade, Switalski, Tlaib, Moss (minority vice chair), Agema, Booher, Caul, Genetski, Green, Haines, Lori, Proos, Rogers and Schuitmaker.
- Banking and Financial Services [Link no longer available —Ed.] (6 Democrats, 4 Republicans)
- Coulouris (chair), Scripps (majority vice chair), Clemente, Johnson, Mayes, Nathan, Booher (minority vice chair), Calley, Kowall and Marleau.
- Commerce [Link no longer available —Ed.] (12 Democrats, 7 Republicans)
- Robert Jones (chair), R. Schmidt (majority vice chair), Byrum, Clemente, Haase, Haugh, Huckleberry, Lemmons, Nathan, Nerat, Sheltrown, Womack, Hansen (majority vice chair), DeShazor, Knollenberg, Meekhof, Meltzer, Opsommer and Walsh.
- Education [Link no longer available —Ed.] (14 Democrats, 9 Republicans)
- Melton (chair), L. Brown (majority vice chair), Bledsoe, Byrum, Corriveau, Geiss, Haase, Kennedy, Lindberg, Nathan, Polidori, Roberts, Sheltrown, Valentine, Pavlov (minority vice chair), Amash, Ball, DeShazor, McMillin, Pearce, P. Scott, Tyler and Walsh.
- Energy and Technology [Link no longer available —Ed.] (12 Democrats, 7 Republicans)
- Mayes (chair), Geiss (majority vice chair), L. Brown, Clemente, Lipton, Ebli, Huckleberry, Johnson, Lindberg, Melton, Roberts, Scripps, Horn (majority vice chair), Crawford, Marleau, Opsommer, Proos, Schuitmaker and W. Schmidt.
- Ethics and Elections [Link no longer available —Ed.] (6 Democrats, 3 Republicans)
- Angerer (chair), Haase (majority vice chair), L. Brown, Donigan, Scripps, Slavens, Meltzer (minority vice chair), Kurtz and Pearce.
- Families and Children’S Services [Link no longer available —Ed.] (5 Democrats, 4 Republicans)
- Valentine (chair), Womack (majority vice chair), Neumann, Slavens, Liss, Pearce (minority vice chair), Kurtz, McMillin and Moore.
- Government Operations [Link no longer available —Ed.] (5 Democrats, 3 Republicans)
- Constan (chair), Liss (majority vice chair), Corriveau, Simpson, Slezak, Walsh (minority vice chair), Daley and McMillin.
- Great Lakes and Environment [Link no longer available —Ed.] (9 Democrats, 6 Republicans)
- Warren (chair), Nerat (majority vice chair), Bledsoe, Ebli, Kennedy, Leland, Meadows, Roberts, Scripps, Meekhof (minority vice chair), Daley, Haveman, Rick Jones, Pavlov and W. Schmidt.
- Health Policy [Link no longer available —Ed.] (13 Democrats, 8 Republicans)
- Corriveau (chair), Segal (majority vice chair), Byrum, Coulouris, Donigan, Johnson, Liss, Neumann, R. Schmidt, Simpson, Slavens, Valentine, Womack, Marleau (minority vice chair), Ball, Calley, Crawford, Denby, Green, Moore and P. Scott.
- Insurance [Link no longer available —Ed.] (9 Democrats, 7 Republicans)
- Byrum (chair), Young (majority vice chair), Lipton, Constan, Lemmons, Neumann, Polidori, Segal, Sheltrown, Denby (minority vice chair), Green, Haveman, Lund, Marleau, Moore and Rocca.
- Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs [Link no longer available —Ed.] (7 Democrats, 4 Republicans)
- Donigan (chair), Barnett (majority vice chair), Bledsoe, Haugh, Robert Jones, Kennedy, Young, Lund (majority vice chair), Denby, Meekhof and W. Schmidt.
- Judiciary [Link no longer available —Ed.] (9 Democrats, 6 Republicans)
- Meadows (chair), Lipton (minority vice chair), L. Brown, Constan, Corriveau, Coulouris, Kandrevas, B. Scott, Warren, Schuitmaker (minority vice chair), Amash, Haveman, Rick Jones, Kowall and Rocca.
- Labor [Link no longer available —Ed.] (6 Democrats, 4 Republicans)
- Lindberg (chair), Kennedy (majority vice chair), Kandrevas, B. Scott, Slezak, Young, Amash (minority vice chair), Daley, Haveman and McMillin.
- Military and Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security [Link no longer available —Ed.] (5 Democrats, 4 Republicans)
- Polidori (chair), Roberts (majority vice chair), Byrnes, Liss, R. Schmidt, Rick Jones (minority vice chair), Agema, Amash and Kurtz.
- New Economy and Quality Of Life [Link no longer available —Ed.] (7 Democrats, 4 Republicans)
- Clemente (chair), Stanley (majority vice chair), Byrnes, Geiss, Griffin, Leland, Segal, Knollenberg (minority vice chair), Bolger, Denby and Tyler.
- Oversight and Investigations [Link no longer available —Ed.] (4 Democrats, 2 Republicans)
- Griffin (chair), Bledsoe (majority vice chair), Angerer, Warren, Bolger (minority vice chair) and Horn.
- Regulatory Reform [Link no longer available —Ed.] (7 Democrats, 4 Republicans)
- Johnson (chair), Haugh (majority vice chair), Byrnes, Griffin, Melton, B. Scott, Stanley, Rocca (minority vice chair), Crawford, Rick Jones and Stamas.
- Senior Health, Security and Retirement [Link no longer available —Ed.] (5 Democrats, 4 Republicans)
- Neumann (chair), Slavens (majority vice chair), Constan, Robert Jones, Lemmons, Ball (minority vice chair), DeShazor, Moore and Tyler.
- Tax Policy [Link no longer available —Ed.] (10 Democrats, 7 Republicans)
- Ebli (chair), Melton (majority vice chair), Barnett, Lipton, Coulouris, Robert Jones, Kandrevas, Mayes, Slezak, Warren, Calley (minority vice chair), Kowall, Lund, Meekhof, Meltzer, Stamas and Walsh.
- Tourism, Outdoor Recreation and Natural Resources [Link no longer available —Ed.] (7 Democrats, 4 Republicans)
- Sheltrown (chair), Slezak (majority vice chair), Ebli, Huckleberry, Lindberg, Simpson, Stanley, Stamas (minority vice chair), Bolger, Hansen and Horn.
- Transportation [Link no longer available —Ed.] (10 Democrats, 7 Republicans)
- Byrnes (chair), Kandrevas (majority vice chair), Donigan, Geiss, Griffin, Haugh, Leland, Nerat, R. Schmidt, Young, Opsommer (minority vice chair), Bolger, DeShazor, Knollenberg, Pearce, W. Schmidt and P. Scott.
- Urban Policy (8 Democrats, 3 Republicans)
- Leland (chair), Nathan (majority vice chair), Barnett, Meadows, Segal, Stanley, Womack, P. Scott (minority vice chair), Hansen, Meltzer and Pavlov.
In an effort to recognize the role Catholic schools play in the State of Michigan, the State Senate this week adopted a resolution that honors Catholic Schools Week, which runs from January 25–January 31. According to Senate Resolution 4, which was sponsored by the chair of the Senate Education Committee Sen. Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland), “The Catholic Church sees the parents as the primary educators and that parental supervision and involvement play a major role in the education of students.”
According to official estimates, there are approximately 16,621 students who attend a Catholic high school and some 50,836 students who attend a Catholic elementary school, with the parents saving taxpayers and the State of Michigan some $493 million annually.
“Michigan Catholic Conference is grateful to the State Senate for recognizing Catholic Schools Week, and for reminding all elected officials of the public savings realized by the presence of a strong non-public education system in Michigan,” said Paul Stankewitz, MCC Associate for Public Policy. “Catholic schools are among the best in the state not only because of their excellent curriculum, but also because of their dedication to teaching morals and providing parents with a disciplined and structured learning environment for their children.”
According to SR 4: “Based upon Michigan’s minimum public school foundation allowance of $7,316, the Catholic schools of our state save taxpayers in excess of $493,515,412 annually.” The resolution also states: “Catholic educators are dedicated to producing academically strong students who also commit themselves to service.”
The following bills have been introduced since the beginning of the new legislative session and are of interest to the Michigan Catholic Conference:
- SJR A Legislature; sessions; limitation of legislative session and repeal of term limits for legislators first serving in 2011 or later; provide for.
- SR 0004 A resolution recognizing January 25–31, 2009, as Catholic Schools Week in the state of Michigan.
- SB 0003 Law; other; definition of individual; specify to include fetus for purposes of statutory interpretation.
- SB 0007 Elections; initiative and referendum; approval of ballot question petition language prior to circulation, checking petitions for duplicate signatures, and penalizing a circulator for knowingly obtaining a signature through fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; provide for.
- SB 0014 Health; occupations; scope of practice for marriage and family therapists; clarify.
- SB 0025 Labor; youth employment; youth employment standards; revise maximum number of hours a minor may work.
- SB 0036 Education; curricula; internet safety instruction in schools; require.
- SB 0043 Local government; other; local regulation of adult entertainment business employees act; create. Creates new act.
- SB 0044 Taxation; other; adult entertainment tax act; create and impose. Creates new act.
- SB 0046 Energy; conservation; school loans for net metering programs; provide for. Amends
- SB 0056 Education; examinations; MEAP test; replace with nationally recognized, commercially available assessment instruments.
- SB 0057 Corrections; parole; parolable life sentence prisoners; revise parole hearing schedule.
- SB 0058 Corrections; parole; parole procedure for parolable life sentence prisoners; clarify.
- SB 0064 Insurance; health care corporations; prescription coverage; expand to include certain contraceptives.
- SB 0073 Income tax; property tax credit; homestead property tax credit income eligibility; increase.
- SB 0075 Sales tax; exemptions; sales tax holiday for back-to-school clothing and school supplies; provide for.
- SB 0079 Health; smoking; smoking in places of employment; prohibit, and expand smoking prohibition in food service establishments.
- SB 0100 Family law; child support; support and parenting time enforcement act; make miscellaneous changes.
- SB 0114 Health; smoking; smoking in places of employment; prohibit, and expand smoking prohibition in food service establishments.
- SB 0116 Corrections; other; life sentence parole panel for prisoners who are sentenced to life imprisonment and have served 30 years; establish, and grant power to parole.
- SB 0117 Education; other; reduction of class size for K-3; require over 5-year period.
- SB 0122 Education; attendance; mandatory enrollment for 5-year-olds and full-day kindergarten; provide for.
- SB 0143 Campaign finance; campaign practices; identifying statement for radio or television campaign advertisements and websites; revise.
- SB 0144 Campaign finance; committees; reporting requirements for ballot question committee; modify.
- SB 0147 Health; abortion; partial-birth abortions; prohibit.
- SB 0148 Criminal procedure; sentencing guidelines; sentencing guidelines for crime of performing a partial-birth abortion; enact.
- SB 0159 Education; discipline; policy prohibiting harassment and bullying at school; require.
- HB 4005 Children; parental rights; rights of putative father; require document notarization before termination.
- HB 4006 Records; adoption; issuance of certified copy of original certificate of live birth to certain adopted individuals; allow.
- HB 4015 Children; adoption; access to certain adoption records; allow unless a denial is on record.
- HB 4030 Education; attendance; compulsory age for attendance; increase to age 18.
- HB 4047 Education; school districts; number of pupils enrolled in school district to determine status as a first class school district; modify.
- HB 4063 Education; public school academies; community college to act as authorizing body for charter schools in first class school district; allow.
- HB 4099 Health; smoking; smoke-free workplace and food service establishments; require.
- HB 4112 Corrections; prisoners; certain prisoner reentry programs, including issuance of identification card and copies of other identifying documents; require, and require prisoners to obtain certain records.
- HB 4113 State; identification cards; forms of identification necessary to apply for a state identification card; include corrections identification card and allow access to certain department of corrections data.
- HB 4114 Traffic control; driver license; forms of identification necessary to apply for driver license; include corrections identification card.
- HB 4115 Criminal procedure; sentencing; certain records necessary to obtain identification documents; assist convicted persons in obtaining.