The following article explains five bills that have been introduced, passed or signed into law by the Michigan State Legislature or Gov. Gretchen Whitmer throughout the month of October.
On the second and fourth Fridays of each month, The Michigan Daily publishes a compilation of bills being floated around in the Michigan State Legislature for students at the University of Michigan to know about.
1. Reproductive Health Act
Status: Referred to Senate Committee on Health Policy and Human Services
Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, introduced Senate Bill 0732, a piece of legislation aiming to strengthen people’s ability to make varying decisions about abortion and reproductive health in Michigan.
If passed, the act would ensure any individual has the right to use or refuse contraception or sterilization and, if pregnant, has the right to carry the pregnancy to term and give birth or receive an abortion.
If passed, this act will repeal more restrictive legislation relating to abortion and reproductive health. This act will only take effect if six other senate bills are enacted into law.
This bill’s introduction comes as restrictive abortion laws are being reintroduced across the country and as the Supreme Court is hearing arguments related to a Mississippi abortion law that could result in the overturn of the landmark case Roe v. Wade. If this occurrs, the legality of abortion would be decided by each individual state. Twenty-six states, including Michigan, have restrictive abortion laws that would again take effect if Roe were overturned.
If passed, the Reproductive Health Act in Michigan would repeal these laws and prevent that from occurring.
Sen. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, is one of the sponsors of the bill and spoke to Detroit’s NPR station about why she is glad this bill was introduced.
“Chipping away at reproductive health care and rights and reproductive justice is something that can affect every single person, every single household, every single family,” Geiss said.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, also spoke to Detroit’s NPR station, this time in opposition to the bill.
“Michigan has terrific laws already in place,” Shirkey said. “They’ve been superseded by the former Supreme Court ruling. And if that is reversed then Michigan stands very well positioned.”
The bill has been referred to the state Senate Committee on Health Policy and Human Services.
2. Michigan Climate Resiliency Corps Act
Status: Referred to state House Committee on Government Operations
State Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, introduced House Bill 5581 on Nov. 30. The bill is tied to Senate Bill 0747, introduced by state Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit. This bill provides powers to state and local agencies and officials to create and secure funding for climate residency programs and program advisory boards that increase community awareness and develop projects that improve climate change adaptations.
The Michigan Climate Resilience Corps, a program that teaches sustainability practices to universities, local governments and other groups, would operate as a state regulatory department, with the goal of partnering with local governments, tribes, nonprofits, businesses and universities to include green infrastructure in their development plans. Some examples of this include tree planting, building rain gardens, bioswales and other stormwater runoff measures.
Rabhi spoke to MLive about what he hopes the bill could accomplish for areas like Ann Arbor.
“I wanted to look at ways that we could include natural, native plants and natural landscapes into our urban areas to alleviate things like flooding, heat island effects, that sort of thing,” Rabhi said. “Bringing ecosystem services to urban areas, and this is exactly what this bill does.”
This bill has been referred to the state House Committee on Government Operations.
3. Amendments to the Michigan Promise Zone Authority Act
Status: Passed in the Senate
Amendments were passed to section three of the 2008 Michigan Promise Zone Authority Act, which created “promise zones” in areas where large numbers of families with children under 18 are at or below the federal poverty line. These amendments were originally introduced on Feb. 3 by state Sen. Rosemary Bayer, D-Beverly Hills, and are co-sponsored by eight others, including state Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor.
In the promise zones created by the original act, eligible students are promised financial assistance for resources for private or public post-secondary education if they graduate from a public or non-public high school.
The funding comes from a share of the state’s property taxes through the promise zone development plan.
These expenses include tuition and fees for enrollment at any Michigan educational institution, including vocational programs. The new amendments would allow funding of expenses for fees, books, supplies and equipment required for courses, in addition to enrollment cost covered in the initial act. Financial assistance would also be expanded to fund on-campus room and board to eligible students.
The bill was passed in the state Senate.
4. Resolution to urge Congress to strengthen the Workforce Opportunity Tax Credit
Status: Referred to the state House Committee on Tax Policy
State Rep. Mark Tisdel, R-Rochester Hills, introduced a resolution that urges Congress to support a tax credit to help small businesses hire more employees.
The Workforce Opportunity Tax Credit was created in 1996 to help businesses hire employees of certain backgrounds, such as veterans facing hardships and those who are in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This resolution, if passed, would advise that the tax credit also include new employees who may have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tisdel said in a press release from Michigan House Republicans that the legislation will help those most in need of a job.
“Work is empowering; it gives us purpose and enables us to provide for physical needs,” Tisdel said during a press conference. “The federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit encourages businesses to hire people most in need of a job, but over the years, the program has not kept pace with increasing costs. Congress should empower working families by reevaluating and bolstering the tax credit.”
The bill was referred to the state House Committee on Tax Policy.
5. Increased funding approved for public safety
Status: Passed in Michigan state house
A $368 million spending package of unused COVID-19 federal and state funds was passed 97-3 in the House on Dec. 2. A last minute increase in funds for school resource officers was added following the recent shooting at Oxford High School. All Democratic state representatives and all but three house Republicans voted yes.
The legislation, House Bill 5522, was originally introduced by Rep. Mike Mueller, R-Linden, to expand financing for the public safety field. The bill also included funds to improve community outreach and upgrade public safety equipment.
The bill allocates $57 million to recruit and retain professionals in law enforcement, fire departments and emergency medical fields. $7.5 million was put aside to provide mental health resources for first responders.
Rep. Gary Howell, R-Deerfield, spoke on the House floor to argue for this increase in funding.
“This week has brought the value of school resource officers into stark reality,” Howell said. “They are (the) first line of defense against school shootings. The bravery and quick action of the school resource officer at Oxford High School saved lives.”
This bill will be sent to the state Senate.
Daily News Contributor Emma Moore can be contacted at email@example.com.