Lansing Update: New Law Improves Access to Food for the Poor
Posted July 14, 2023
In this update:
- Grassroots Send 900+ Messages to Governor Urging Veto on Bills Restricting Speech
- Bill Removing Hurdle to Food Access Signed into Law
- Juneteenth Now Official State Holiday
- Free Press, Detroit Catholic Publicize MCC’s Catholic Response to Gun Violence
Grassroots Send 900 Messages to Governor Urging Veto on Bills Restricting Speech
There’s still time to send the Governor a message urging her to veto bills that pose an unnecessary threat to faith-based professional counselors by restricting speech in counselor-patient settings.
Nearly 900 messages have been sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by members of the Catholic Advocacy Network (CAN) regarding House Bills 4616 and 4617, which have already passed the Legislature.
Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) has been raising concerns about the legislation because it could affect Catholic behavioral and mental health professionals, such as those who help vulnerable children at Catholic Charities agencies across the state.
As the bills read, it is likely that the state would prevent Catholic and other faith-based licensed therapists from certain speech, especially as it pertains to human sexuality and the differences between the two sexes.
MCC would be supportive of legislation that strictly prohibited inappropriate, coercive practices used in counseling sessions that would violate the dignity of the human person. However, these bills go much further than that by restricting speech in counselor-patient settings that could make it difficult for counselors to address the specific needs of their patients.
Thank you to those who have participated in this important free speech issue.
Bill Removing Hurdle to Food Access Signed into Law
A bill making it easier for the poor to obtain food assistance was signed into law this week by the Governor.
Senate Bill 35, supported by MCC, removes the requirement that a food assistance applicant must pass an asset test to qualify for receiving food stamps. This means that people could receive food assistance without having to drain their personal resources — like their savings accounts — to do so.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), passed the House on a party-line vote but received some bipartisan support in the Senate.
MCC offered support of the bill in accordance with the Catholic social principle of providing preference for the poor, particularly when it comes to making sure people have enough to eat.
Juneteenth Now Official State Holiday
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a law that makes Juneteenth an official state holiday, a measure MCC has been supporting the past two legislative sessions.
MCC has supported the push to make Juneteenth — June 19 — a state holiday due to its historical significance in American and African-American history, which marks the day in 1865 when African Americans in Galveston, Texas learned they had been freed from slavery two years earlier by the Emancipation Proclamation.
Senate Bill 50 was sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) and cleared the Legislature on overwhelmingly bipartisan votes.
Free Press, Detroit Catholic Publicize MCC’s Catholic Response to Gun Violence
MCC’s latest issue of Focus presenting a Catholic response to gun violence has been highlighted in both secular and religious media recently.
The Detroit Free Press ran a MCC-written op-ed that explained how the Church presents a “yes, and” approach to addressing gun violence that includes adopting life-saving policies to curb dangerous access to guns, while also acknowledging the deeper systemic issues that influence violence.
Detroit Catholic reprinted on their website the main article from Focus, along with an accompanying Word from Lansing column authored by MCC.
The full digital edition of Focus is available online here. Print copies can be ordered for free by contacting the MCC office.