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. Proposal to formally replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Status: Introduced in House and referred to Committee
State Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, introduced House Bill 5392 earlier this month in hopes of replacing the currently recognized Columbus Day with a state holiday of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Supporters and co-sponsors of the bill say it would act as recognition of marginalized groups after a longstanding history of abuse from the American government. It would also recognize their contributions to the state of Michigan.
“Columbus Day valorizes violent conquest and celebrates genocide with an official holiday,” Rabhi said in a press release. “Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a recognition that Native Americans and all indigenous people deserve justice and that they are valued members of our society.”
State Rep. Mary Cavanagh, D-Redford, wrote in the same press release that the change would honor the economic and cultural impact Indigenous tribes have on Michigan.
“Recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a small but symbolically important step for Michigan as we strive to engage equitably with our sovereign tribes and Native American Michiganders,” Cavanagh said.
If passed, H.B. 5392 would mark Michigan’s departure from the federal policy, joining 10 other states in officially recognizing Indigenous People’s Day. Some states, such as Alabama and Oklahoma, still recognize Columbus Day, as well.
In an Oct.8 press release, President Joe Biden acknowledged the contribution of immigrants and Indigenous communities, despite the federal government’s continued recognition of Columbus Day.
“Today, let this day be one of reflection — on America’s spirit of exploration, on the courage and contributions of Italian Americans throughout the generations, on the dignity and resilience of Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities, and on the work that remains ahead of us to fulfill the promise of our Nation for all,” Biden said.
The bill was referred to the Government Operations Committee.
2. Addiction prevention agencies and suicide hotlines to be labeled on prescription drugs
Status: Introduced in the House and referred to Committee
House Bill 5407 was introduced on Oct. 19 with six sponsors, and it was referred to the Committee on Health Policy. If passed, the bill would require that pharmacists provide customers with information about the pricing of prescribed medication and provide options for similar medications at a lower price prior to purchase, if requested.
Proposed by state Rep. Nate Shannon, D-Sterling Heights, the bill also recommends that telephone numbers for various support and helplines also be listed on prescription drugs, including for Alcoholics Anonymous and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
No federal requirements currently exist for the inclusion of these organizations on drug packaging. Under current Food and Drug Administration requirements, the medication’s name, facts, directions of use, ingredients and expiration date all must be listed. Other warning labels may also be required, depending on the specific medication.
3. Proposal for reduced nursing aide requirements
Status: Introduced in House and referred to Committee
State Reps. Ann Bollin, R-Brighton, and Ben Frederick, R-Owosso, proposed House Bill 5089, which would lessen the requirements needed to be a certified nursing aide in the state of Michigan.
In its most recent iteration, the bill proposes that for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic nurse aides must fulfill a variety of requirements, including the completion of certain amounts of coursework in different disciplines and passing a competency exam.
The bill also aims to help combat the health worker staffing shortages in Michigan hospitals, exacerbated by a surge in COVID-19 related hospitalizations resulting from the delta variant.
According to the Detroit Free Press, many doctors and hospital representatives say Michigan residents have delayed seeking medical care amid the pandemic, causing individuals coming into hospitals to be in poorer health than normal.
Originally proposed on June 23, the bill is now in its third reading, after having been referred to the Committee on Health Policy. The bill has not yet been passed in the House.
4. Conservation officers required to wear body cameras while on patrol
Status: Referred for a second reading in the House for more debate
State Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, is the primary sponsor for House Bill 4969, which proposes a requirement that Michigan law enforcement officers wear body cameras when they are on patrol. The bill concerns conservation officers, a group of state employees who enforce laws and regulations for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
In an interview with the Detroit News, LaFave said it would be beneficial for conservation officers to wear body cameras, saying that the cameras could “reduce force” towards citizens, especially in rural areas, and that he thinks “we need a clear record of what actually happened.”
The bill was first proposed on June 8 in the state House and referred to the Committee on Military, Veterans and Homeland Security. On Oct. 19, the Committee reviewed the bill and suggested that the bill, which grants conservation officers certain powers and privileges such as peace-officer immunities, should be passed without the amendment that requires body cameras.
Ed Golder, DNR public information officer, told the Detroit News he opposes the amendment due to its financial complications.
“There has been no discussion of any separate appropriation bill to provide funds to immediately purchase the camera equipment, pay for training, pay for digital storage space or for additional staff that would be needed to manage everything that lines up with body cameras,” Golder said. “We do not have available funds or current staff to dedicate to this proposal at this time.”
5. Grant program for minority or woman-owned marijuana businesses
Status: Referred to committee on regulatory reform
Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, is the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 0690 introduced on Oct. 19. The bill calls for the creation of a grant program for minority-owned and women-owned marijuana businesses, among other reforms.
Primarily, the bill would require the Marijuana Regulatory Agency to set up a grant program and an application process for the grant program. The bill’s purpose would be to support minority-owned and women-owned businesses to fulfill the responsibilities of licensure, which are set by the medical marihuana facilities licensing act and the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act.
According to ZenBusiness, a Limited Liability Company corporation that helps clients set up their business, minority-owned businesses “are much less likely to get loans than non-minority business owners, especially for ventures with less than $500,000 in gross receipts.”
The program proposed in this bill could benefit these businesses through access to government grants and contracts, increased business partnership opportunities, training workshops, management and technical guidance, networking opportunities and funding.
There are similar benefits for certified women-owned marijuana businesses, giving them similar opportunities to mitigate the impacts of various business-related challenges.
Daily News Contributors Rachel Mintz and Madison Kraft can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.