Lansing Update: September 27, 2013
Posted September 26, 2013
- Adoption Conscience Bills Pass House Committee
- MCC Staff Joins Effort to Combat Human Trafficking
- Common Core Standards Resolution Passes House of Representatives
- Marriage and Religious Freedom Act Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives
- Michigan Catholic Conference Launches The Word from Lansing
Last week, Michigan Catholic Conference and staff from St. Vincent Catholic Charities testified in favor of House Bills 4927, 4928 and 4991, which would ensure that faith-based adoption agencies are able to continue to serve children according to their religious beliefs. This week, the bills passed [Link no longer available —Ed.] the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee by a 6-2 vote, with one representative abstaining. MCC released the following statement after the committee’s approval of the bills:
“It is vitally important for the Michigan Legislature to uphold first amendment religious liberty rights. Protecting the religious mission of adoption and foster care agencies will not only ensure diversity in child placement, it will also safeguard such agencies from undue discrimination. This legislation does not prohibit adoption to any classification of person; it merely codifies into state law the work that non-public, faith based agencies have conducted for decades on behalf of Michigan’s most vulnerable children and families. Michigan Catholic Conference applauds Representative Kenneth Kurtz for his leadership on this matter, and the Conference now urges the full House to support the civil rights of religious organizations.”
The next step for the bills is consideration from the full House. Your support is still needed to ensure this important legislation is brought up for a vote. Please continue to make contact with your State Representative [Link no longer available —Ed.] and let them know that this issue is important to the residents of Michigan!
On Thursday, a press conference was held at the State Capitol in Lansing to welcome the introduction of bills that will address human trafficking (modern human slavery). Michigan Catholic Conference participated in the events, including giving a section of the prayer prior to the press conference. The nineteen bills highlighted in the press conference are aimed not only at stopping traffickers, but also at improving services for victims. Next month, Attorney General Bill Schuette and the Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking are expected to present findings from their meetings and introduce further legislation.
Michigan Catholic Conference is appreciative of Senator Judy Emmons (R-Sheridan) for her leadership on this issue and welcomes the opportunity to work with both Republicans and Democrats to address this affront to human dignity. The Catholic Advocacy Network will provide future updates on the nineteen-bill package and any further legislation that may be introduced on this topic. Please take a moment to view pictures from yesterday’s event at the Michigan Catholic Conference’s Facebook page.
This week, the Michigan House of Representatives approved a resolution that permits previously budgeted funds to be expended by the Michigan Department of Education for the implementation of Common Core State Standards. According to proponents, the Common Core, which is being implemented in other states as well, introduces a new set of standards for student learning and success. Michigan Catholic Conference is monitoring the legislation and does not have a position on these standards, as they do not apply to Catholic schools. Catholic schools may voluntarily recognize certain aspects of the standards if they so choose.
Last week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) praised the introduction of the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act,” in the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 3133 would, among other aspects, prevent the federal government from denying individuals and organizations a grant, contract, or employment because of their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who chair USCCB committees on marriage and religious liberty, released the following statements:
“This non-discrimination bill is significant, indeed, very important. It would prevent the federal government from discriminating against religious believers who hold to the principle that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This is of fundamental importance, as increasingly such individuals and organizations are being targeted for discrimination by state governments – this must not spread to the federal government.”
“I strongly support the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act. In a growing climate of intolerance against individuals and organizations who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, this Act is an important step in preserving their religious liberties at the federal level.”
This week, Michigan Catholic Conference posted the first of its regular columns titled The Word from Lansing on its website, which is a column written by MCC staff for Catholic news outlets. These pieces highlight current advocacy issues of importance to the MCC and reflect the Catholic position on public policy matters. The first column discusses Medicaid reform legislation, which passed earlier this month, and gives a look into further action needed on behalf of conscience rights and the abortion-opt out petition.
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