April 4, 2014, MichiganVotes Weekly Vote Report

Bills on militarized police, tax assessors, topless bars

The House and Senate are on a two-week spring break. Therefore, this report contains several recently introduced bills of interest.

Senate Bill 682: Impose additional charter school restrictions, mandates and taxes
Introduced by Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, to impose property taxes on charter schools; prohibit for-profit firms from managing charter schools; prohibit charter school authorizing bodies from authorizing any new schools unless students in the ones they have already chartered outperform conventional schools in the same school district by at least 20 percent; and more. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 689: Authorize "patient centered" Medicaid alternative
Introduced by Sen. Bruce Caswell, R-Hillsdale, to create a "patient centered" alternative to the Medicaid medical welfare program that would include low-cost "direct primary care" contracts between individuals and a physician for routine and preventative health care services, high-deductible type insurance plans, health savings accounts and more. Also, to ask federal permission to allow employers subject to the federal health care law (Obamacare) employer mandate to provide high-deductible insurance policies to workers as an alternative to paying the mandate's penalties. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 706: Restore ban on nude entertainment in liquor license law
Introduced by Sen. Rick Jones, R-Monroe, to ban fully nude performers at topless bars, or the display of explicit pornography at bars. This relates to a 2007 federal appeals court ruling that struck down Michigan's previous law banning fully nude performers in bars, holding that it was a violation of the First Amendment. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 727: Give new school employees 401(k), not pensions
Introduced by Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township, to close the current defined benefit pension system to new school employees, and instead provide 401(k) benefits. Employees could contribute up to 5 percent of salary to their account, and the local school district would have to contribute an amount equal to 80 percent of this. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 732: Ban employers asking about employee contraceptive use
Introduced by Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, to prohibit employers from asking employees or job applicants about their use or nonuse of contraceptives. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 743: Repeal mandate that lawyers belong to certain private organization
Introduced by Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, to repeal the law that an individual who has attained a Michigan attorney license must also belong to and pay annual dues to the Michigan Bar Association, a private organization for lawyers, as a condition of being able to practice law in Michigan. The bill has been dubbed "right to work" for lawyers. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 789: Transfer concealed pistol license board duties to county clerks
Introduced by Sen. Michael Green, R-Mayville, to eliminate county concealed weapon licensing boards, and transfer the responsibility for issuing concealed pistol licenses to county clerks, with the State Police performing the background checks required by the law. The bill revises a number of other details in the CPL law. Reported from committee, pending before full Senate.

Senate Bill 843: Authorize establishment of welfare agency police force
Introduced by Sen. Rick Jones, R-Monroe, to give the Department of Human Services (the state welfare department) the authority to appoint agents with the same powers as peace (police) officers and warrantless arrest powers. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 4914: Require militarized police agency disclosures
Introduced by Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, to require law enforcement agencies with SWAT teams to file reports every six months disclosing the number of times these were deployed, where, the reason, the legal authority for the raid, the result, the number of arrests made if any, the type of evidence and property seized, whether a forcible entry was made, whether a weapon was discharged by a SWAT team member, and whether a person or pet was injured or killed by a SWAT team member. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 4965: Impose tax on horse-drawn vehicles
Introduced by Rep. Joel Johnson, R-Clare, to empower counties to impose a registration fee (tax) of up to $50 on horse-drawn vehicles. A vote of the people would be required. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 5079: Let more cities impose additional public safety property tax
Introduced by Rep. Marilyn Lane, D-Fraser, to allow cities with more than 15,000 residents impose special assessment property taxes to pay for police and fire services. These taxes would be imposed over and above regular property taxes, and would require a vote of the community. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 5097 and Senate Bill 850: Exempt public safety from no-contract "step pay hike" ban
Introduced by Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia, and Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton Township, respectively, to exempt law enforcement and fire department employees from a 2011 law that banned automatic seniority-based automatic pay increases for individual government employees (step increases) while the previous union contract has expired and no replacement has been negotiated. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 5133: Require agencies disclose federal aid requests to legislature
Introduced by Rep. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, to require state agencies that apply for any form of federal or other financial assistance to notify legislative leaders, relevant committees and the legislature’s fiscal agencies within 10 days, with the notice including any conditions or stipulations associated with receiving the assistance. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 5143: Reduce allowable truck weights
Introduced by Rep. Marilyn Lane, D-Fraser, to reduce the maximum weight of trucks allowed on Michigan roads from 164,000 to 80,000 pounds. This would not reduce the maximum weight per axle. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 5172: Ban assessors entering property without written permission
Introduced by Rep. Robert Genetski, R-Saugatuck, to prohibit government property tax assessors from entering a private dwelling or structure without the written permission of the owner, and prohibit assessors from increasing assessments based on an assumption that unobserved improvements may exist. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

To read more about these bills, and others in the Michigan Legislature, go to michiganvotes.org.