Michigan Legislative Update
Week of September 8, 2016
By Judy Augenstein
The Legislature returned to Lansing this week primarily to re-group, caucus and assess results of the August election. Issues most likely to be addressed during September and the lame duck session which formally starts on November 9 include:
Energy Reform -- The first major energy reform package since 2008 flickered out in June, but Senate Energy and Technology Committee chair stated this week that some problem issues were clarified over the summer.
Medical Marijuana Reform -- A key issue the Legislature has struggled with politically is setting up a proper regulatory structure for the 2008 voter approved Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. Since the bill amends the citizen's initiative, it requires 28 Senate votes for passage. Democrats are supportive, many Republicans oppose.
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 some of the 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 simply 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 work group is working on a comprehensive approach to improving medical care for veteran's.
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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