Oct 2009

State of Michigan Budget Update

On Friday, October 30, Governor Granholm signed the remaining departmental budgets that finalize spending for the fiscal year that began on October 1. Michigan had been operating on a one month continuation budget since the beginning of October as legislators and the administration attempted to work out differences between revenues and shortfalls.
The budgets signed by the governor protect programs advocated for by the Michigan Catholic Conference, including the Michigan Tuition Grant program, and the children’s clothing allowance and Family Independence Grant in the Department of Human Services.
The Michigan Legislature must now turn its focus to next year’s budget which, according to estimates, already has a $1.2 billion deficit.
Read more…

WCC Opposes Statutes of Limitations Waiver

Bishop William P. Callahan of Milwaukee and Bishop Jerome E. Listecki of La Crosse testified in opposition to Assembly Bill 453 before the Assembly Committee on Children and Families.  AB 453 would, if passed, temporarily remove the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases and permit civil suits, no matter how old, to be brought in court against both alleged perpetrators and their employers.  The bill would also permanently remove the statute of limitations for future civil actions.
 
As stated in Bishop Listecki's testimony, these bills could significantly affect churches, private and parochial schools, ministries, and other non-profit groups.  In his testimony, Bishop Callahan described the various actions taken by the Archdiocese thus far to compassionately serve the victims/survivors of child abuse and reiterated the Church's commitment to protecting children.
 
Several other opponents to the legislation noted the bill's inherent unfairness.  Although the bill would allow suits to be brought by any victim/survivor, the doctrine of "sovereign immunity" bars suits against government bodies for the negligent supervision of their employees, meaning public entities would not be held liable for the same decades old criminal activity of perpetrator employees as those employed by private entities.  Also, because there is a cap on damages against government agencies, different victims would not be provided with equal recourse.
 
Please contact Members of the Legislature and urge opposition to AB 453, and its companion, Senate Bill 319.  Please emphasize the inherent inequity of this legislation and its potential impact on parishioners and current Church employees who are not culpable for wrongdoing committed decades ago.  To find contact information for your Wisconsin State Representative or Senator, visit our E-Advocacy webpage and enter your zip code, or call the State Legislative Hotline, 1-800-362-9472.
 

Catholic Bishops of Pennsylvania issue statement on health care reform

HARRISBURG (October 13) - Health care reform was discussed at a meeting of Pennsylvania’s Catholic Bishops on October 6, 2009.  Together, they issue the following statement:
 
Our Catholic moral tradition teaches that every human being, from the moment of conception to natural death, has an innate dignity that entitles him or her to certain rights and protections. Included among these is the right to life and to have access to health care, which is essential to preserving human life and promoting human dignity. As the Catholic Bishops of Pennsylvania, we must frankly express our concerns that the health care reform proposals currently under review by the U.S. Congress do not yet guarantee these fundamental rights.
 
True health care reform must maintain longstanding public policies which restrict funding for abortion and respect the consciences of health care providers.   The cost structures of the resulting plan must not impose excessive financial burdens on low and moderate-income individuals and families.  Measures must be in place to safeguard the health of all of society, including the poor, the elderly, and immigrants.  Legal immigrants and their family members must be allowed timely access to comprehensive and affordable health care coverage and an adequate safety net must be maintained for those who remain uncovered.
 
The Catholic community of Pennsylvania can be a strong and reliable partner in advancing health care reform; but as faith leaders, we cannot and will not support or urge the Catholic faithful to support reform that violates the Church’s long held principles on life and dignity.  We will work tirelessly to improve the legislation to reflect these essential priorities.
 
Health care is not just another issue for the Church or for a healthy society. It is a fundamental issue. Health care is a critical component of the Catholic Church’s ministry.  Every year, Pennsylvania’s Catholic hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies provide quality health care to millions.  The Church itself is a major purchaser of health insurance for thousands of employees in our many agencies and institutions.  In some cases, the Church is self-insured.  The Catholic Church in Pennsylvania brings both strong convictions and everyday experience to the issue of health care reform.
 
This debate presents our country with a unique opportunity to improve the health care system for all, especially those who lack affordable coverage and decent care. We believe that health care reform legislation can be drafted to truly protect human life and dignity.
 
Catholics have been leading proponents of health care reform for many years in America.  If a final health care reform bill does not have respect for life at all stages of development, respect for consciences, affordability and inclusion of all of society, the Bishops will be forced to oppose it. Therefore, we pray that critical shortcomings in the current proposals will be remedied.
 
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) is the public affairs arm of the Catholic Bishops and their dioceses in Pennsylvania.  More information about the Bishops’ position on health care reform and other issues is available at www.pacatholic.org.

The current issue of Lansing Update

The current issue of Lansing Update has been posted to the Michigan Catholic Conference Web site at:

http://www.micatholicconference.org/public_policy/publications/lansing_update/

1.  Senate Passes EITC Legislation, Efforts to Finalize 2009 State Budget Continue

2.  MCC Statement on Appointment of Bishop-Elect Hebda to Diocese of Gaylord

Health Care Reform: A Catholic Ethical Perspective

091001 Health Care Reform