Lansing Update: Act to Oppose Payday Lending, Catholic Schools Week, and more…

In this update:

Catholic Education Takes on Renewed Importance Amid Pandemic Uncertainties

This past week (Jan. 30-Feb. 5) was observed as Catholic Schools Week across the nation, a time to celebrate the important role Catholic schools play in the life of the Church but also in greater society.

The value of a Catholic education has taken on new meaning as the COVID pandemic continues and parents seek the best opportunities for their children's education. Nearly everyone agrees - especially parents -- that in-person learning is the most effective form of learning.

Catholic schools have been known by and large to have kept classrooms in-person through much of the pandemic, a trend that has played out nationally.

With the demand for in-person learning, and Catholic schools stepping up to provide it, perhaps it's no surprise the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Diocese of Lansing announced this week their schools have seen recent enrollment increases.

For the Archdiocese, it reported its enrollment has increased 7% across grade schools over the past two school years and is up 11% since last year. The Diocese of Lansing said its 6% rise in student numbers this past year is the largest year-on-year increase in enrollment for 20 years.

Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) is dedicated to supporting Catholic schools through engaged public policy advocacy. These efforts include ensuring Catholic schools are equitably awarded federal COVID aid money and supporting legal efforts to reimburse non-public schools for state-imposed health and safety mandates.

MCC is continually working to ensure parents have choices for their children's education, especially Catholic education.Additional advocacy for Catholic schools includes inclusion in state funding for school safety and robotics grants as well as funding college dual enrollment opportunities for Catholic high school students.

MCC also continues to support removing the Article 8, Section 2 "Blaine Amendment" from the Michigan Constitution, a relic of anti-Catholic bigotry from the past and a deterrent to providing all students, especially those from low-income homes, with an excellent education.

To recognize Catholic schools and their contributions to education in Michigan, both the Michigan House and Senate adopted resolutions to mark the week. MCC appreciates Senator Kim LaSata (R-Bainbridge Township) and Representative Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township) for sponsoring Senate Resolution 103 and House Resolution 220.

Take Action to Oppose Predatory Payday Lending Bill in Next Week's Hearing

Over the past three years, MCC has worked hard to oppose the expansion of predatory lending legislation known as "payday" lending. This legislation harms vulnerable people because of the massive interest rates assessed on borrowers.

Earlier this session, in 2021, House Bill 4004 was introduced to create a new type of loan for up to $2,500 at an interest rate of 132%. Such high interest rate is not only wrong but does nothing to help low-income individuals. There are many other local, low interest loan programs that can help people who are truly in a financial bind.

Next week, a hearing has been scheduled to consider House Bill 4004 in the House Regulatory Reform Committee, set for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8. We encourage members of the Catholic Advocacy Network to click here to contact state representatives to oppose the bill.

The Catholic Advocacy Network - which includes these weekly updates -- has been instrumental in getting lawmakers to join with us in opposition to this bad legislation, and members of the Catholic Advocacy Network like you have been crucial in holding off a hearing on this bill up until now.

MCC Supports No Taxes on Diapers for Children, Adults

Children's diapers, adult briefs and incontinence pads would no longer be taxed in Michigan, under a pair of bills that moved unanimously out of a House committee this week.

MCC supports House Bill 5611 and House Bill 5612, which would exempt people from having to pay sales and use taxes on adult and children's diapers.

Diapers and incontinence products are necessary and essential health items for both children and older adults to maintain proper hygiene. It is estimated that children's diapers cost approximately $80 per month per child, along with a $5 tax burden. MCC supports alleviating this tax burden and recognizing the additional costs regularly borne by both families with young children and older adults.

The bills - both sponsored by Rep. Julie Alexander (R-Hanover) -- advanced from the House Families, Children and Seniors to the House floor unanimously, where they await further action.

Gov to Make Budget Presentation, Kicking Off Process for Next Year's Spending Plan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is scheduled to make her presentation for the next state budget on Wednesday, Feb. 9.

Whitmer's presentation of her budget recommendations begins the process to put together the spending plan for next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. After receiving her budget presentation, both the state House and Senate will come up with their own plans.

The Governor and Legislature then typically come together to agree on a final product. Under current state law, the Legislature must submit a budget for the Governor's consideration no later than July 1.

MCC will be monitoring the Governor's budget proposals and the legislative appropriations process that plays out afterward and will offer support or opposition to various funding proposals if necessary. More updates will come in future months.

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