Lansing Update: December 2, 2016

In This Update:

ACTION NEEDED! Tell Congress to Pass Human Trafficking Funding

The U.S. Congress is considering must-pass legislation to keep the government funded through the end of the year. It is important this legislation includes funding for the Department of Labor's International Labor Bureau to support programs that combat human trafficking. Catholic Relief Services is calling for individuals across the country to email their federal legislators by December 9. Take a few minutes to email your elected officials now.

Registration Open for MCC's February 11th Human Trafficking Conference

On Friday, December 2, Pope Francis tweeted: "I call on all people of goodwill to take action against human traffic king and new forms of slavery." Here is an opportunity for people of goodwill to get involved- attend Michigan Catholic Conference's human trafficking conference! The day-long event, From Darkness to Light: Human Trafficking and Our Response, will be held at Lansing Catholic High School on Saturday, February 11, 2017. The conference will provide participants the opportunity to learn about human trafficking, as well as about individuals and organizations that work to combat the crime. Participants will also hear ways they can get involved in anti-trafficking efforts. Learn more about the conference and register online now at

Senate Committee Passes School Transportation Bill; HB 5753 Continues to Full Senate

Under the Michigan School Code, public school districts that provide transportation services to their students must also provide transportation to thos e who attend a nonpublic school located in the district. As a result, public school districts are eligible to receive state aid for transportation. Since 1994, however, the School Aid budget has not included money specifically to reimburse public schools for student transportation, which has created confusion about whether nonpublic school students can receive equal transportation services. This week, the Senate Education Committee considered House Bill 5753, a measure to clarify existing law about transportation services for nonpublic schools. Michigan Catholic Conference supports the bill, which was introduced by Representative Amanda Price (R-Holland), and will continue to advocate for its final passage.

Human Trafficking Expungement Bills Pass Senate Unanimously

In 2014, Michigan passed measures allowing human trafficking victims to have certain convictions set aside under the state penal code, such as prostitution convictions. During this legislative session, House Bills 5542-5544 were introduced to permit victims to also potentially expunge criminal convictions for local ordinance-related prostitution offenses, which was recommended by the state's Human Trafficking Commission. Michigan Catholic Conference supports the bills. Representatives Laura Cox (R-Livonia), Gary Howell (R-Lapeer County), and Nancy Jenkins (R-Clayton) sponsored the three measures, which received unanimous support in the Michigan Senate this week. House Bills 5542-5544 will now continue to Governor Snyder for his consideration.

The Word from Lansing Column: Seek Compassionate Care, Not Assisted Suicide

In early November, Colorado voters approved a ballot measure legalizing assisted suicide. With that vote, Colorado joins a handful of states that have legalized the practice, i ncluding Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and California. Michigan Catholic Conference's latest column for The Word from Lansing discusses the Catholic teaching on assisted suicide, which devalues the human person, undermines the medical profession, and leaves all individuals, including the terminally ill and disabled, vulnerable. Two bills have been introduced this legislative session to allow for assisted suicide in Michigan, but no action is likely before the end of the year. Michigan residents overwhelming defeated assisted suicide by a 71-29 percent margin in 1998, enacting a ban against its legalization in the state.

Most Reverend David Walkowiak, Bishop of Grand Rapids, Opens Senate Session With Prayer

On Tuesday, November 29, Bishop David Walkowiak of Grand Rapids gave the opening prayer for Senate session. He was a guest of Senator Dave Hildenbrand (R-Lowell) and was also joined by Lt Governor Brian Calley, president of the Senate. Here is the text of his prayer:

Loving God, we give You thanks for the gift of a new day of life. Help us to use it to draw closer to You so that with Your Spirit and aware of Your presence among us, we may all face the tasks of this day with confidence and strength. We ask for Your blessing and guidance of the members of this Senate. Help them to think clearly, speak confidently, and act courageously in the belief that all authentic service on behalf of the common good and the dignity of all is based upon justice, truth, and love. Give them wisdom and insight so that the work they do will result in the betterment of the residents of this state at a time of struggle for so many people. Enable them to act on what they believe to be right and true and just. Endow them, and all our government leaders, with good judgement to provide the policies and laws needed to ensure progress and peace in our state. May all that we do be done for Your honor and glory. Amen.

(Photo by Michigan Senate Communications)