The Word from Lansing: Our Plan to Advance the Common Good This Legislative Session
Over the past two years, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) continued its mission as the voice of the Catholic bishops in Michigan before the state Legislature.
MCC witnessed to the dignity of human life by defending the lives of unborn children and advocating for the needs of vulnerable mothers and the providers who support them.
We were a voice for the poor by ensuring the state budget includes resources for energy assistance programs and emergency homeless shelters, and we continued opposition to expanding the predatory practices of payday lending.
Our conviction that parents are the primary educators of children was reflected in our advocacy to enhance education options and to provide nonpublic schools with equitable state resources and support.
Inspired by Pope Francis’s teaching, our advocacy reached people on the margins, as we worked to advance legislation to protect vulnerable adults from exploitation and ensure people with HIV or a disability have access to organ donations.
The new year brings a new session of the Michigan Legislature. And with this new session comes new leadership, as Democrats now control the House and the Senate for the first time in 40 years.
This dynamic provides new opportunities to advance the common good, which the Church defines as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily.”
We expect the Legislature to approve a significant increase to the state's Earned Income Tax Credit, a policy the MCC has long worked to support, which promotes the dignity of work and allows low-income working families to keep more of their income.
We also will work with the Legislature on gun safety measures, such as requiring gun owners to securely store their firearms to keep children safe, which is currently not required.
And we will continue to advance legislation to allow immigrants and refugees to apply for and receive basic state identification so they can safely drive to work and provide for their children’s needs.
MCC supported these policy measures in past sessions and our hope is that continued advocacy may help these bills become law.
But while much is new this session, the principles of Catholic social teaching that inform our public policy advocacy remain the same.
The principle that stands above all else is the recognition that human life is sacred, and that each person – from conception to natural death - has a right to dignified living. While our policy priorities are divided into nine areas, they all connect to the primary one: The dignity of human life.
No matter the makeup of the Legislature or the status of our state and national laws, MCC as an instrument of the Catholic Church will continue to proclaim that every human person has the right to the necessities of life with opportunities for families and children to flourish.
The same applies for MCC to defend religious liberty, which protects the rights for faith-based organizations to serve freely in the public square through schools, hospitals, and social service providers. Those organizations, staffed and operated by individuals who carry out their faith in their daily lives, contribute to the common good and assist with caring for “the least of these.”
But advocating for the common good does not rest with MCC alone. All Catholics are called to be faithful citizens, even during these times when there is no immediate election. Join the Catholic Advocacy Network mailing list to stay informed and receive opportunities to reach lawmakers on pressing matters. To sign up, visit micatholic.org.
The Word from Lansing is a regular column for Catholic news outlets. Through these columns, MCC outlines current advocacy issues of importance to the Conference and discusses the Catholic position and role in the political process. This publication complements the more regular updates provided by MCC’s Catholic Advocacy Network. Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.