The Michigan Legislature’s chaotic lame duck session has made national news this week.
Outlets including NPR and the New York Times have been watching and covering the session as controversy swirls around bills that critics call Republican power grabs.
They include GOP bills that would strip power from incoming Democrats in the highest elective offices in Michigan, as well as moves to gut petition-initiated laws to raise the minimum wage and guarantee paid sick leave to workers.
But as those and many other high-profile bills are grabbing all the attention, other important bills are also making their way through the Legislature during the lame duck session.
As part of the weekly series MichMash, hosts Jake Neher and Cheyna Roth talk about some of the significant bills that aren’t grabbing front page headlines.
Click on the audio player above to hear that conversation.
A bill to create a suicide prevention commission
House Bill 6252 cleared a state House committee this week and is awaiting action on the House floor.
“House Bill 6252 would create a Suicide Prevention Commission to work with state departments and nonprofit organizations on researching causes and underlying factors of suicide, and to prepare a report for the legislature with recommendations for reducing risk factors with yearly updates thereafter, and would sunset the Commission at the end of 2026.”
A bill to get rid of the sales tax on contact lenses
“Currently, the Acts exempt from the taxes the sale of a prosthetic device, durable medical equipment, or mobility enhancing equipment. The term “prosthetic device” is defined as a replacement, corrective, or supportive device, other than contact lenses and dental prosthesis, dispensed under a prescription, including repair or replacement parts for that device, worn on or in the body to do one or more of the following:
— Artificially replace a missing portion of the body.
— Prevent or correct a physical deformity or malfunction of the body.
— Support a weak or deformed portion of the body.”
The bills would remove the exception for contact lenses from the definition.”
Legislation regarding deer sterilization
House Bill 5321 cleared the state House this week and goes back to the Senate, which must approve changes made in the House before it can go to the governor.
“The bill would amend Part 401 (Wildlife Conservation) of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to prohibit the Department of Natural Resources, until April 1, 2022, from issuing a permit authorizing the sterilization of game.”
Legislation regarding specialty courts
House Bills 5806, 5807, and 5808 would establish juvenile mental health courts. They cleared the state House this week and now go to the state Senate.
Bills attempting to respond to school violence
“House Bill 5942 would amend Chapter 37 (Firearms) of the Michigan Penal Code to do the following:
— Prohibit and prescribe a misdemeanor penalty for intentionally threatening to commit with a firearm, explosive, or other dangerous weapon violent acts against school students or employees on school property.
— Prohibit and prescribe a felony penalty for threatening to commit a violent act against school students or employees on school property with an overt act toward completion or with specific intent to carry out the threat.”
House Bill 5943 would amend the sentencing guidelines in the Code of Criminal Procedure to include the proposed felony as a Class D offense against the public safety with a statutory maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment.”
Bills dealing with attorney fees in civil lawsuits
Senate Bill 1182 sets new requirements for paying the attorney fees of winning parties in lawsuits. It is currently in the state Senate Judiciary Committee.
Bill prohibiting state rules that are stricter than federal rules
House Bill 4205 has clear both the state House and Senate, but the House must still approve changes made in the other chamber.
Environmental groups are concerned it would make it difficult to set a drinking water standard for PFAS contamination. Governor Snyder has vetoed similar legislation in the past.