- Michigan Legislature Protects Taxpayers from Funding Abortion Insurance Coverage
- Human Trafficking Legislation Progresses Before Winter Break
- Religious Liberty Measures a Continued Priority
- 2013 MCC Legislative Recap
- Legislature Has Adjourned for 2013
Following the hard work of churches and pro-life supporters across the state that conducted petition drives, the Michigan Legislature this week passed the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act by a 27–11 vote in the Senate and a 62–47 vote in the House [Link no longer available —Ed.]. Since the legislation is citizen-initiated, the measure does not need approval from the governor and is scheduled to go into effect mid-March, 2014. Michigan Catholic Conference issued the following statement after its passage:
“As a result of this citizen-initiated legislation, Michigan will continue its strong record of protecting taxpayers from financing another person’s elective abortion. The initiated legislation approved today will ensure, as the Affordable Care Act allows, that any health plan offered on the state exchange will not include insurance coverage for an elective procedure that destroys unborn human life. Abortion is not health care, and that fact cannot be overstated. Michigan Catholic Conference is thankful to legislators, both Republican and Democrat, who supported this citizen-initiative while looking past the ideological rhetoric of some opponents who sought to distort its intent and purpose. The vote to ensure that health plans on the exchange do not include taxpayer subsidized abortion coverage is to be commended, and we are grateful to legislative leaders for bringing this initiative to a vote in a timely manner. The passage of this measure will help to reinforce Michigan’s standing as one of the strongest pro-life states in the country.”
This month’s column for Catholic news outlets, The Word from Lansing, includes information about the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act and the journey it took from the petition drive this summer to passage earlier this week. To read the column and learn more about the measure, click here. MCC also wrote an op/ed for the Detroit News about the measure, which can be read here [Link no longer available —Ed.].
House Bills 4021, 5012 and 5026, which would expand the definition and penalties for kidnapping and provide a safe harbor for victims of human trafficking, passed with wide bipartisan support in the House last week. This legislation is victim-centered to ensure victims are treated as victims and not as criminals. This week, Senate Bills 584, 588, and 591 passed unanimously in the Senate. These bills extend the criminal statute of limitations for victims of human trafficking, provide an affirmative defense for victims who committed crimes, such as prostitution, while under the control of their trafficker, and allow for the expunction of those crimes. Michigan Catholic Conference is pleased to see such overwhelming support in both chambers for action to combat modern human slavery in Michigan.
Thank you to all of the Catholic Advocacy Network members who made contact with their elected officials concerning religious liberty legislation for faith-based child placement agencies (House Bills 4927, 4928 and 4991) and for health care workers and payers (Senate Bill 136). Well over 3,000 messages have been sent this year! While the measures did not pass before the end of this year, your impact was strongly felt by lawmakers, and MCC believes there is a strong chance in the New Year to see this legislation passed. House Bills 4927, 4928, and 4991 await a vote from the full House and Senate Bill 136 awaits a vote from the full Senate before either bill can be taken up by the other chamber. Further updates will be provided as they are available.
Several of legislative measures important to the Michigan Catholic Conference were approved and signed into law in 2013. Additionally, several priority budget measures were adopted, including funding for Real Alternatives, a program that provides support to women in crisis pregnancies and promotes alternatives to abortion, and an increase in the daily rate for private foster care agencies (to review other budget successes, click here). Highlighted below is a list of legislative measures that passed this year with MCC support:
- Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act (Public Act 182 of 2013, introduced as Initiated Legislation 1): prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion coverage on the state health care exchange and requires private health plans to offer elective abortion coverage only through the purchase of an additional rider.
- Medicaid Expansion and Reform (Public Act 107 of 2013, introduced as HB 4714): extends Medicaid coverage to those earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level and incentivizes healthy behaviors.
- Indigent Defense (Public Acts 93 and 94 of 2013, introduced as HB 4529 and SB 301): establishes a Michigan Indigent Defense Commission to create and implement minimum standards for indigent defense across the state to ensure low-income persons have access to competent legal counsel.
- Low-Income Energy (Public Act 95 of 2013, introduced as SB 284): creates an energy assistance fund for eligible low-income households and helps those individuals find a path to energy self-sufficiency.
- Medical Good Faith Act (Public Act 57 of 2013, introduced as SB 165): requires health facilities to make their policies involving life-sustaining or nonbeneficial treatment available to patients in writing, upon request.
Michigan Catholic Conference would like to thank all the members of its Catholic Advocacy Network for your support throughout this year. Through your sharing of MCC materials and emails, praying for elected officials and issues, and taking advocacy action, you have contributed to the public policy process in Michigan and the promotion of the common good. Thank you again, and have a blessed Christmas. The Michigan Legislature has adjourned for the year and is expected to return to session on January 8, 2014.
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