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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 September.

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. A bill decriminalizing psychedelics 

Senate Bill 631

Status: Introduced in the Michigan Senate

State Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, introduced a bill to the Michigan Senate this month aimed at decriminalizing two plants and fungi found in psychedelics: psilocybin and mescaline.

The bill would enable the possession, cultivation and delivery of these two substances while keeping their commercial production and sale prohibited. However, specialists could charge clients if the psychedelics are used in counseling, spiritual guidance or a related service. 

Irwin’s introduction of the bill comes a year after the Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution decriminalizing psychedelics. Ann Arbor has also declared September as Entheogenic Plants and Fungi Awareness Month. 

The bill was also introduced ahead of the first Entheofest, an event hosted on the Diag celebrating and calling for the decriminalization of plant medicines and fungi in Ann Arbor and the United States. 

The bill was referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. 

2. Legislation reforming school disciplinary processes

Senate Bills 634, 635 and 636

Status: Introduced in the Michigan Senate 

Irwin also introduced and co-sponsored legislation aiming to reform the school disciplinary process alongside state Sens. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, and Adam Hollier, D-Detroit, last week. 

The goal of the package is to mitigate the long-lasting effects of Michigan’s zero-tolerance policy on school discipline that was instituted in the 1990s and finally dropped in 2016. The policy had been found to disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities.

Senate Bill 634 would establish that students could appeal their expulsions and, while awaiting an appeal proceeding, still have the ability to stay up to date with classwork. 

Senate Bill 635 establishes due process for students who are facing disciplinary action. The law sets in place an independent decision-maker to decide whether a student should face disciplinary action and in what form. 

Senate Bill 636 makes additions to the seven factors that must be considered when a student is facing disciplinary action. The additions revolve around a student’s living situation and ensure this is taken into account when faced with disciplinary action. 

3. Bills establishing grants for crisis response and jail diversion programs

Senate Bills 637 and 638

Status: Introduced in the Michigan Senate

Senate Bills 637 and 638, introduced by state Sens. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, and Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, respectively, create grants for the establishment or expansion of community crisis and jail intervention programs in municipalities. 

Chang’s bill, SB 637, would enable community crisis responder clinicians or responder peers to help de-escalate emergency situations that include a mentally-ill person. 

SB 638 would disburse grants to localities for the creation of jail diversion programs for people with mental illness to participate in as an alternative to jail time. 

Mental illness impacts approximately 23% of Michigan’s prison population. It was found that $95,000 was spent per year per prisoner with mental illness compared to only $35,000 a year per prisoner without mental illness. 

4. Higher Education Budget 

House Bill 4400

Status: Passed by both chambers, enacted 

The Higher Education budget bill sets forth a budget, seperate from the bill outlining the overall state budget, specifically targeting higher education. 

The bill allocates about $2.2 billion of the state’s budget in total for higher education this upcoming school year, in addition to $17.1 billion in school aid that was a part of a budget deal signed into law in June.

Michigan colleges and universities will see a 4% funding increase in the FY 2022 budget in addition to a regular 1% funding increase. Community colleges are projected to receive most of the 1% boost.

Included in the budget is language for vaccine exemption and reporting requirements if a community or college mandates vaccines. 

5. Fiscal Year 2022

Senate Bill 82

Status: Passed by both chambers, enacted 

Senate Bill 82 includes a number of provisions that will help Michiganders achieve a post-high school credential, which has been a long-time goal for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

About $55 million will go to the Michigan Reconnect Program, $25 million for Futures for Frontliners, $40 million for Going Pro and $8 million for Michigan’s Pre-Apprenticeship Program, all of which will help Whitmer reach her goal of 60% of Michiganders having a post-high school credential or college degree by 2030. 

$500,000 is also included for a Washtenaw County reentry program to reduce barriers to employment and housing for residents leaving incarceration. 

Washtenaw County prosecutor Eli Savit tweeted about this addition Tuesday evening, expressing his appreciation to Irwin for lobbying to get it included in the budget. 

“This $500,000 will go a long way towards eliminating those barriers,” Savit wrote. “I’m grateful to @JeffMIrwin for bringing these resources to Washtenaw … Together, we’re going to continue building a more equitable & safer Washtenaw.” 

The bill also includes a 2% increase in state revenue sharing for cities, villages, townships and counties across the state of Michigan. 

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy will see a 158% increase in funding to $153 million, while the Department of Natural Resources will see a 4.1% cut in general funds and 1.1% cut in gross appropriations.  

Whitmer has until Sept. 30 to sign into law a budget deal to avert a government shutdown that could have happened Oct. 1, the first day of the next fiscal year. 
Daily Staff Reporter Julia Forrest can be reached at juforres@umich.edu.