- MCC Calls for Religious Liberty Legislation to Be Priority in Lame Duck
- House Approves Nuisance Legislation Related to Human Trafficking
- House Committee Passes Bill to Enact Human Trafficking Health Advisory Board
- The Word from Lansing in November Addresses Lame Duck Session
MCC Calls for Religious Liberty Legislation to Be Priority in Lame Duck
On Wednesday, November 12th, legislation was introduced by House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) to create a state Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). House Bill 5958 would mirror federal legislation that was passed in 1993 with bipartisan support, and it would protect individual religious freedom from government interference. Michigan Catholic Conference issued the following statement after the bill was introduced:
“In the name of tolerance, religious organizations and individuals are not being tolerated. The increased level of hostility and intolerance toward faith-based institutions and persons—and how they integrate in the public square—has made religious liberty a priority. Speaker Bolger deserves credit for seeking to protect First Amendment conscience rights that have been a cornerstone of this nation’s history.”
The statement pointed to several examples at the state and federal level of discrimination against institutions and individuals who are living out their faith beliefs to demonstrate the need for this legislation. To read it in full, click here. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary for further consideration.
House Approves Nuisance Legislation Related to Human Trafficking
House Bill 5230, sponsored by Representative Phil Cavanagh (D-Redford Township) would allow property used for purposes related to human trafficking to be declared a public nuisance, which can then be seized and forfeited by local units of government. Current law declares a place to be a public nuisance for other crimes, such as gambling, prostitution, and animal fighting, among others, but does not specifically address human trafficking. This measure, which was approved by a 77 to 33 vote in the Michigan House and supported by MCC, was a recommendation of Michigan’s 2013 Report on Human Trafficking. It will now await further consideration from the Michigan Senate.
House Committee Passes Bill to Enact Human Trafficking Health Advisory Board
Senate Bill 596, sponsored by Dave Robertson (R-Grand Blanc), creates a Human Trafficking Health Advisory Board within the Michigan Department of Community Health. Its primary tasks would be to establish a program to improve public awareness of the medical and mental health services available to victims, to make recommendations to the Legislature about how to improve laws and rules related to medical and mental health services, and to collect and analyze information regarding human trafficking. This board would work closely with the State Human Trafficking Commission, which was created by legislation passed in October as Public Act 325 of 2014 (formerly known as House Bill 5158). Michigan Catholic Conference is supportive of the measure, which passed the House Criminal Justice Committee this week, as it will allow Michigan to take the next necessary steps towards addressing the health needs of victims. It now awaits consideration from the full House.
The Word from Lansing in November Addresses Lame Duck Session
The Michigan Legislature, as announced in last week’s Lansing Update, has now begun its “Lame Duck” session, or the time between the election and the start of next year’s term. This month’s column from Michigan Catholic Conference focuses on the characteristics of lame duck as well as the results from the November election.
If you haven't done so already, please join the Catholic Advocacy Network to receive regular public policy updates—including Lansing Update—via email.