FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Lansing, Mich.) — Legislative efforts to defend human life and dignity, religious liberty and policies that assist the poor and vulnerable are at the forefront of Michigan Catholic Conference’s advocacy principles for the 2015–2016 legislative session. Titled A Blueprint for the Common Good, the Conference’s advocacy framework for the 98th Michigan Legislature also calls for greater educational choice, defending the traditional definition of the family, restorative justice policies, and comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level of government.
“The work of promoting the dignity of the human person involves policies that address the beginning and the end of life, with equal attention to the years in between,” said Paul A. Long, Michigan Catholic Conference President and CEO. “We’ve published A Blueprint for the Common Good to call attention to the Conference’s advocacy on behalf of all human life, including the sick and the destitute, the abandoned and the unborn. In the coming two years, we hope to further advance the common good in Michigan and contribute to sound public policies that foster a morally-sound society where every person is dignified.”
At the beginning of each legislative session Michigan Catholic Conference Board of Directors approves the organization’s agenda for the coming two years. Specific legislative policies typically fall into the categories of Human Life and Dignity, Economic Justice and Regulatory Policies, Religious Liberty, Education, Children and Families, Health Care, Restorative Justice and Immigration. Federal issues are addressed in collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“The Catholic Church’s involvement in the public square is intended to propose rather than impose,” said Long. “As an organization with goals that do not neatly fit into an ideological or partisan box, the Church’s efforts are focused on the person rather than politics. The breadth of policies to which we are called to address are both unique and necessary.”
A Blueprint for the Common Good was approved in December by the MCC Board of Directors and is being released this week through FOCUS, a periodic publication distributed to all Catholic parishes, schools, institutions and other locations and individuals across the state. Below is a detailed listing of public policy issues that are of interest to Michigan Catholic Conference in the categories mentioned above:
Human Life and Dignity
- State initiatives that provide and expand alternatives to abortion and assistance to pregnant women,
- Measures to limit abortion and promote the safety of women,
- Regulations on human embryo research, and
- Upholding the constitutional ban on the death penalty and the statutory ban on assisted suicide.
Economic Justice and Regulatory Policies
- Amending tax policies that negatively impact the working poor,
- The allocation of scarce budget resources to provide essential services for vulnerable persons,
- Affirmation of the recognized right to exercise religious conscience in the provision of publicly-funded services,
- Maintenance of the tax-exempt status for not-for-profit organizations,
- Affordable housing for low and moderate income families and individuals, and
- Affordable and accessible transportation options for low and moderate income workers.
- The rights of faith-based providers, institutions, and all individuals to conscience protections in the delivery of services and in their practices,
- The equal application of the law to all persons and institutions regardless of their faith,
- Opposition to insurance regulations mandating coverage for abortion, contraception or sterilization, and
- Adoption of a state Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
- Reimbursement to non-public schools for state mandated, non-educational services,
- Expansion of shared time services to include kindergarten instruction,
- Continued equitable participation of non-public schools in federal programs in districts that are undergoing reform efforts,
- Policies that seek to improve the quality of public education,
- Requirement that all public school districts have open enrollment policies,
- Protection of non-public schools from excessive regulation,
- Adequate funding for the Michigan Tuition Grant and Tuition Incentive Programs, and
- Amending Article VIII Section 2 of the Michigan Constitution to allow the Michigan Legislature greater flexibility for necessary education reforms.
Children and Families
- Promoting the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,
- Policies that protect the stability of the marriage bond and the institution of the family,
- Policies that strengthen the long standing relationship between the State of Michigan and non-profit agencies in the provision of child placement services,
- Amending Michigan’s no-fault divorce laws, and
- Policies that combat Human Trafficking.
- Protection of health coverage for low and moderate income individuals and families,
- Appropriate Medicaid funding to ensure adequate coverage for recipients and payments to providers, and
- Opposition to legislation that threatens the integrity of institutional and individual faith-based providers.
- Policies that seek to reduce violence in society, including the reduction of gun violence,
- Policies that provide just compensation to crime victims, and treatment for their physical and emotional injuries,
- Policies that incentivize intensive probation programming in order to reduce recidivism,
- Adequate state funding to ensure accused indigent persons receive professional legal representation,
- Sentencing guidelines and parole practices that reflect an individual’s potential threat to society, and
- Elimination of life without parole sentencing for juveniles convicted as adults, and the opportunity for a parole hearing for those sentenced as juveniles prior to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miller vs. Alabama.
- Uphold the human dignity of all persons and work against any injustice which would compromise the dignity of immigrants, and
- Recognize and promote the values that immigrants provide to Michigan’s culture and economy.
- Efforts to overturn the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that requires all employers to add objectionable services to health benefits offered to employees,
- Legislation that extends full legal protection to individuals and institutions regarding conscience rights in health care, child placement services, and employment decisions,
- Comprehensive immigration reform that promotes family unity, streamlines the process for legal immigration, includes a path for low-skilled workers to work in the United States, and includes a path toward citizenship for undocumented persons already in the U.S., and
- Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), with equitable participation of non-public school students and teachers in all federal educational programs.
While some of the policies mentioned above may be addressed this legislative session, it is likely that additional policies of interest to the Conference will come forward that may not be included in this list. Michigan Catholic Conference staff will evaluate those policies based on whether or not they promote the common good and take action as deemed necessary.
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.
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