FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(LANSING)—Recognizing the tremendous budget difficulties that lie ahead, Michigan Catholic Conference today announced that protecting statewide programs that benefit Michigan’s poor population will top its advocacy efforts during the 95th legislative session. The Conference will also lend its support to any legislation that limits and regulates the destruction of human embryos following the passage of Proposal 2 in November.
“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.”
Social welfare programs administered through the departments of Community Health and Human Services may come under fire as the state prepares to address a budget deficit of approximately $1.6 billion for the fiscal year that begins October 1. Last year Michigan Catholic Conference supported the preservation of Medicaid funding for 19 and 20 year old recipients and, within the Department of Human Services, supported the preservation of and increases for the State Disability Assistance Benefit grant, the Family Independence Program Benefit grant, and the Children’s Clothing Allowance grant. Of additional concern to the Conference is fully funding the Michigan Tuition Grant program, which benefits low-income individuals who wish to pursue higher education at private colleges and universities. MCC staff will closely monitor these essential funding dollars as proposals to balance the 2010 budget are put forth.
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.
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.
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