The House and Senate are in the midst of a two-week break, so rather than votes, this report instead contains several newly introduced bills of interest.
Y = Yes, N = No, X = Not Voting
Senate Bill 943: Authorize extra punishment for threats to politicians and judges
Introduced by Sen. Darwin Booher (R), to authorize additional prison time for threats made to state elected officials and judges, over and above the penalties authorized for making a threat to non-politicians or judges. Specifically, the bill would authorize an enhanced sentence of up to an additional year in prison for threats made in relation to an elected official’s official duties. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
Senate Bill 975: Recognize health care payer and provider exercise of conscience
Introduced by Sen. John Moolenaar (R), to prohibit forcing an individual or employer who purchases health insurance or pays for health care in some other way, or a health care provider or facility, to pay for or provide any service that that violates the payer’s or provider’s conscience. The bill was introduced in response to an Obama administration ruling that Catholic and other religious social service agencies must include coverage for contraception, sterilization and “morning after” pills in any health care benefits they provide to employees. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
Senate Bill 985: Authorize $900 million state borrowing from insurance companies
Introduced by Sen. Mike Kowall (R), to grant a 10 percent tax break to insurance companies that “pre-pay” future years’ state business tax. In effect, the bill would authorize $900 million in state government borrowing from insurance companies, arranged in the form of a discounted corporate tax prepayment. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
Senate Bill 998: Recognize in statute that college isn’t for everyone
Introduced by Sen. Howard Walker (R), to add to the state school code: “It is the role of parents and legal guardians and pupils to determine the best postsecondary educational opportunity to fit ... the individual pupil. All postsecondary educational opportunities, including internships, apprenticeships, 2-year degrees, 4-year degrees, and advanced degrees should be considered depending on the career sought by the pupil.” In other words, to explicitly recognize in statute that college is not for everyone. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
Senate Bill 1015 and House Bill 5471: Give tuition subsidies to all high school grads
Introduced by Sen. Rebekah Warren (D) and Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D), respectively, to give all Michigan high school graduates up to five years of grants covering tuition in a state college or university. Funding would come from repealing $1.8 billion worth of current state tax deductions, exemptions and credits listed on a so-called “tax expenditures” report, which includes both targeted corporate welfare subsidies and tax breaks, and regular deductions and exemptions used by individuals and businesses. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
Senate Bill 1035 and House Bill 5503: Limit electric utility monopolies (expand competition)
Introduced by Sen. Arlan Meekhof (R) and Rep. Mike Shirkey (R), respectively, to partially roll-back a 2008 law that itself mostly undid an electric utility competition law enacted in 2000. Under the 2008 law, utility companies that until 2000 were regulated monopolies got back most of their regional monopolies, except that alternative producers could provide up to 10 percent of the demand in their region. The bill would gradually raise that cap to 28 percent over three years, plus up to 3 percent more per year thereafter. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
Senate Bill 909 and House Bill 5309: Create Detroit regional mass transit authority
Introduced by Sen. Tom Casperson (R) and Rep. Jim Townsend (D), respectively, to create a new Detroit area regional transportation authority (previously called DARTA) covering Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties, and potentially others. The authority could levy property taxes (special assessments) and higher local vehicle registration taxes with the approval of a majority of all votes cast in a regional election (meaning a particular community could not “opt out”). This is part of Gov. Rick Snyder’s road and transit tax proposal, which also includes a 9.3 cent fuel tax increase. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Bill 5318: Authorize school district FOIA scofflaw lawsuits
Introduced by Rep. Ken Goike (R), to allow a citizen or a prosecutor to sue the local school official responsible for responding to Freedom of Information Act requests if that official fails to respond in a timely manner. A court could order the official to produce the requested records, and the plaintiff would be entitled to recovery of court costs and actual attorney fees. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Bill 5325: Exempt residential repair trades from state licensure mandates
Introduced by Rep. Ray Franz (R), to exempt individuals and contractors who do home and commercial rehabbing, and those in certain building trades, from licensure mandates currently imposed by the state (or ones that have been proposed). Homebuilders would still be subject to licensure, but those who make a living doing specified repair work would not. Individuals who rehab and sell "fixer-uppers" for a profit also would be exempt. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Bill 5347: Exempt road commissions from employee health benefit copay requirements
Introduced by Rep. Peter Pettalia (R), to exempt county road commissions from the new law requiring government and school employees to contribute at least 20 percent toward the cost of their health insurance fringe benefits (with many exceptions). Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Bill 5402: Establish “animal abuse registry” background checks
Introduced by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D, to mandate that animal shelters run background checks on individuals wanting to adopt an animal, using the “animal abuse registry” proposed by a related bill. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Bill 5411: Require utilities provide customer “smart meter” opt-out
Introduced by Rep. Tom McMillin (R), to require electric utilities to allow customers to “opt out” of having “smart meters” installed capable of storing and reporting usage. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Bill 5416: Cap municipal pension board travel expenses and more
Introduced by Rep. John Walsh (R), to cap municipal pension board spending on board members travel and training expenses at $150,000 per year, and $30,000 per board member. The bill also proposes specific pension system transparency and conflict of interest provisions. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Bill 5454: Ban "photo-cop” traffic tickets
Introduced by Rep. Roy Schmidt (D), to prohibit the use of automated, unmanned traffic monitoring devices ("photo-cops") for issuing traffic citations for speeding, violating red lights or stop signs, etc. The devices would be allowed to police overweight trucks. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Bill 5476: Pay part of motorists’ gas expense
Introduced by Rep. George T. Darany (D), to give individuals with annual incomes below $50,000 a per-vehicle fuel subsidy of $100, payable in the form of a “refundable” state income tax credit, and lower subsidies for higher incomes. The bill does not specify which government spending would be cut or taxes raised to provide these subsidies. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Bill 5517: Repeal barber licensure mandate
Introduced by Rep. Tom McMillin (R), to repeal the law that prohibits an individual from earning a living as a barber unless he or she gets a state license that, among other things, requires completing a 2,000-hour course of study at a licensed barber college, paying fees, and meeting other requirements imposed by a board comprised of incumbent barbers who have received political appointments to this board. This and House Bill 5518 would also repeal licensure mandates on barber shops and barber colleges. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
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SOURCE: MichiganVotes.org, a free, nonpartisan website created by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, providing concise, nonpartisan, plain-English descriptions of every bill and vote in the Michigan House and Senate. Please visit http://www.MichiganVotes.org.