Michigan would join 41 other states in the country that no longer automatically prosecute 17-year-olds as adults for a crime committed, according to legislation before the House Criminal Justice Committee supported by Michigan Catholic Conference. The multi-bill package, which would also prohibit juveniles from being housed with adult prisoners, is supported by both Republicans and Democrats and pursues a “smart on crime” approach to criminal justice. This legislation takes into account U.S. Supreme Court decisions such as Roper v. Simmons, Graham v. Florida, and Miller v. Alabama, which recognize academic and scientific research showing the differences in cognitive development between juveniles and adults. The legislation also seeks to provide greater rehabilitation services to youth who have committed crimes. “Where possible, efforts should be made to rehabilitate juvenile offenders and present an opportunity for youth to positively contribute to their communities upon release,” said Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy Tom Hickson.
This past weekend following the terrorist attacks overseas Governor Rick Snyder issued a directive suspending Michigan’s effort to accept new refugees to the state. Gov. Snyder highlighted his priority to “protect the safety of our residents” and that state leaders will be in dialogue with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding security and future resettlement efforts. Michigan Catholic Conference President and CEO Paul A. Long responded today to the Governor’s direction by articulating the Church's readiness to continue assisting refugees and the most vulnerable once resettlement continues.
This afternoon the United States Supreme Court announced it has agreed to hear arguments from non-profit religious organizations opposed to the mandated requirements of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to include morally objectionable services — including abortifacients and contraceptives — in their employee health benefit plan. As a separate litigant against the federal government on this matter, Michigan Catholic Conference offered the following response to today’s news from the Supreme Court: “We are very pleased that the nation’s highest court will hear from non-profit organizations as to how their First Amendment rights are being violated by this burdensome mandate. Michigan Catholic Conference looks forward to the day this matter is resolved in a manner that fully protects the rights of faith-based institutions to operate according to their conscience.”
Prior to the commencement of its 2015 Education Conference at Cobo Center in Detroit this week, the Michigan Association of Non-Public Schools (MANS) presented Michigan Catholic Conference President and CEO Paul A. Long with the 2015 Ivan E. Zylstra Award. The Award recognizes an individual who is committed to non-public education, has contributed significantly to the work of MANS, and has demonstrated a willingness to promote the rights of non-public school students. “It is a great honor and a privilege but also extremely humbling to be given an award that was named after and has been given to so many giants in the faith based education community,” said Long.
Legislation voted out of the House Tax Policy Committee this morning to increase the Homestead Property Tax Credit would provide simple tax relief for both low-income residents and senior citizens, Michigan Catholic Conference stated today in support of House Bill 4871. The bill, sponsored by Representative Martin Howrylak (R-Troy) would amend the Income Tax Act so that the Homestead Property Tax Credit would be adjusted annually based on the rate of inflation. “This is good tax policy that addresses the economic reality for Michigan’s low-income families and senior citizens,” said Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy Tom Hickson.
"Today’s decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to redefine marriage represents a profound legal turning point in the contemporary and cultural understanding of spouses and family. We continue to teach that every human person deserves respect and compassion. The experience of same-sex attraction is a reality that calls for attention, sensitivity and pastoral care. While every person is called to love and deserves to be loved, today’s momentous decision will not change the truth of the Church’s teaching on marriage."
Today Governor Rick Snyder signed House Bills 4188–4190 into law to uphold religious liberty rights for faith-based adoption and foster care agencies in Michigan. Michigan Catholic Conference applauds Governor Snyder and the Legislature for their support of these bills, which will maintain the State’s long-standing partnership with faith-based child placement agencies that has been successful in serving Michigan’s vulnerable children. “House Bills 4188–4190 will not only promote a diverse range of child placement providers, they will ensure the state does not discriminate against social service agencies that serve the poor and vulnerable while providing foster care and adoption services to the general public,” said President and CEO Paul Long.
The Michigan House of Representatives today voted to eliminate the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in an effort to divert some $117 million toward road repair and improvement across the state. The EITC, which qualified recipients can claim on their state return in the amount of six percent of the federal EITC, is an important anti-poverty tool that recognizes the tax burden on low-income workers. “While almost every Michigander recognizes the need to finance road repairs, we are disappointed to see these funds shifted away from the working poor,” said MCC Vice President for Public Policy Tom Hickson.
Michigan Catholic Conference is praising the State Senate today for passing legislation that will protect a diverse range of child placement agencies in the state by upholding religious liberty rights for faith-based agencies. House Bills 4188-4190 will solidify these agencies’ long-standing relationship with the State of Michigan for years into the future, Michigan Catholic Conference said. “The State of Michigan has sought the participation and support of faith-based child placement agencies for decades, so we welcome this legislation that will solidify the relationship for the sake of vulnerable children,” said Tom Hickson, MCC Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy.