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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of October 1, 2016

By Judy Augenstein

The Legislature will return mid month to caucus, assess campaign polling and prepare for the "Lame Duck" session.  Issues most likely to be addressed during  "Lame Duck" which formally starts following the election include:

Energy Reform  --   The Senate Energy and Technology Committee chair stated  that some problem issues were clarified and the package is ready to be addressed.

No Fault Reform --  The perennial issue of making changes to the state's unlimited medical benefits for catastrophically injured motorists has seen little progress this year, but leadership plans to push the issue forward.

Uber Bills  --  Ride sharing companies are still operating illegally and legislators are hearing from constituents about being ticketed for operating an unlicensed taxi. 

3rd Grade Reading   --  Legislation that could result in a 3rd grader who can't read at grade level being held back remains in conference committee, but could see final action during lame duck.

Civil Service Bills  -- A constitutional amendment pushed by Speaker Cotter to ask voters to make it easier for the state to fire poorly performing state workers.

Unemployment Insurance System Reform  --  Legislation to reform UIA fraud.

Bathroom Bills  --  Legislation to require students to use the public restroom of their assigned sex at birth.

Freedom of Information Act Reform  --  Provides a Legislative Open Records Act to allow access to internal records of the legislature.

Indigent Defense Standards  --  A set of standards to address major issues in the state's indigent defense system.  

Mobility and Autonomous Cars  --  Allows driver-less cars.

Criminal Justice Reform  -- Attempts to address how to address criminal activity by means other than locking people up.

PA 51 Road Funding Rewrite  --  The objective is to modernize transportation funding, the source, the distribution and the use of road and bridge funds.

Veteran's Home Reform  --  A comprehensive approach to improving medical care for veteran's.

Legislation to refine the "Land Cap" law continues to receive heated debate by the Legislature.  The bill would reinstate the cap on state land ownership if all PILT are not received in full and on time.  Sponsor Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba is intent on getting this bill passed during the "Lame Duck" session.

Legislation to tweak the Qualified Forest Act and the Commercial Forest Act "may" see action during "Lame Duck".

SB 706, 707 & 708, legislation to prohibit local government from requiring a special permit for a logger to haul wood out of a state/federal forest is more likely to receive "Lame Duck" action.

With half of the House of Representatives being termed limited, anything and everything can happen during a lame duck session.  Back burner legislation can suddenly become active as legislation assumed to be a "done deal" can fall out of favor and die during lame duck.  House members are allowed 3, two year terms as Senate members are allowed 2, four year terms.  The House of Representatives is up for re-election in November, the Senate is not.

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