Fetus Tax Credit Bill Sparks Debate

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A new bill that would grant a tax break to expectant mothers is off the legislature's docket for next week.

GONGWER is reporting one of the representatives who sponsored the bill pulled it from the agenda because several members said they weren't ready to vote.

Bills 5684 and 5685 sparked quite the debate after Tuesday's House Tax Policy Committee Hearing.

"Tax relief for families who are growing, expanding, especially at a critical stage when that baby is developing? This is important," Research and Policy Director of Michigan Family Forum Dan Jarvis said. "We want those babies to be healthy. This is a great opportunity to help make sure those babies are off to a great start."

The bills would save pregnant women who can prove they're 12 weeks along about $170 a year, by defining the fetus as a dependent - an unprecedented move.

"It could help to pay for prenatal care or other health insurance costs or just help them prepare in way of supplies, cribs, diapers, formula, that type of thing," Jarvis said.

But it will also cost the state an estimated $5 million to $10 million in tax revenue annually. Critics point out that the state just eliminated a $600 deduction for families with children.

"What this says to parents across Michigan is that your children only count when in utero, but not when they're here," Progress Michigan Communications Director Jessica Tramontana said. "And it's really up to legislators to tell them, 'Listen, your children count, we are going to do whatever we can to help you.' I don't think financial aid should stop at birth, and that's essentially what this legislation does."

Opponents also say this bill is an attempt to define personhood and limit abortions, a move some feel Michigan shouldn't be making right now.

"In the wake of 'Vagina Gate,' I think Michigan was made a laughing stock across the country, and I really don't think we need to do that again," Tramontana said. "I think legislators should be focusing on creating jobs, not on something as silly as this."

Even though it's off the agenda next week, supporters have hope.

"At the very least, we'll be back next session, I'm sure," Jarvis said.

If it doesn't move forward this year, that's the only option. The bill has to be rewritten and resubmitted for the next session.

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