In This Week’s Lansing Update:
- MCC Launches Catholic Advocacy Network (CAN) Video
- Update on the State Budget
- Update on Religious Liberty Legislation
With the help of its staff and internal video resources, Michigan Catholic Conference has recently developed a brief video message to help promote the Catholic Advocacy Network. The video displays a new Catholic Advocacy Network logo along with a new website link (www.micatholic.org/can/) that provides resources for participants and parishes. In the coming weeks, MCC will also be releasing other helpful resources regarding grassroots advocacy and the policy issues on which the Conference is actively engaged. Please share this video with friends, family, and email lists and encourage others to sign up to receive important CAN updates and alerts!
In early February, Governor Snyder presented his recommendations for the 2013–2014 state budget. Since then, the Michigan House and Senate appropriations subcommittees have been reviewing those proposals, as well as listening to testimony from interested groups and individuals, in order to prepare the first version of the budget bills. The following items of interest are included in the various bills, which have been reported from their respective subcommittees. Michigan Catholic Conference has been monitoring these developments:
- Funding for Real Alternatives, a program which provides support to pregnant women in crisis. MCC has worked with the Senate, House, and administration to promote its passage. The House version provides $700,000 for this program and the Senate version provides $1 million.
- The expansion to Medicaid with $1.3 billion in federal funds to cover all individuals up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
- Funding in the Department of Human Services budget for the Family Independence Program, clothing allowance, state disability, adoption subsidies, and foster care per diem rates. In the House version, foster care providers are in a position to receive a $3.00 per child increase per day.
- Funding for the Tuition Grant Program and Tuition Incentive Program. In the governor’s proposals, the Tuition Grant Program is expected to keep a static amount from last year at $31.7 million and the Tuition Incentive Program will receive a $3.2 million increase.
- Funding for dual enrollment opportunities for students at non-public high schools. The funding has been set for $1 million based on the amount of students who have taken advantage of the program so far, which has been in effect since October 1, 2012. If more students decide to participate in these opportunities, MCC will advocate for an increase in the funding level.
These critical items are poised to be moved out of their chamber of origination in the next two weeks, with final versions slated to be presented to the governor by Memorial Day. MCC will keep you apprised of important developments.
Michigan lawmakers returned from their spring recess this week and have resumed discussions on the budget and other legislation. In the coming weeks, the Senate is expected to consider and vote on Senate Bill 136, the Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act. It is important that our elected officials hear a strong message of support before this vote. If you have yet to email your State Senator, send him or her a message urging passage of health care conscience rights today! [Link no longer available —Ed.]
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