Each week, The Michigan Daily will be publishing a wrap-up of the most important bills proposed in Michigan Legislature over the past seven days:
HB 5116: This bill amends the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to create the Air Quality Enforcement and Mitigation Fund, which would send fines paid by companies affecting communities identified as “environmental protection community(s)” back to the communities they are affecting.
An “environmental protection community” is a community disproportionately affected by pollution. The fund will be used to mitigate air pollution through buffering, increased air monitoring and will also go towards nonprofits and community groups working to address air pollution.
State Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) introduced the bill, saying in a press release her constituents keep telling her the fines assessed to companies impacting the environment need to go back to the affected communities.
“It’s time that we put these fines to good use in the communities that suffer from the air pollution caused by industries surrounding our neighborhoods,” Chang said. “My bill will do just that and support air monitoring, buffering, retrofits and other beneficial programs that would improve people’s health and quality of life.”
HB 5119: This bill would amend the Michigan Vehicle Code to require the use of turn signals for both cyclists and cars when changing lanes. The existing law already requires cyclists and cars to signal when making turns.
State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn) proposed the bill, and State Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) is also sponsoring the bill. Hammoud said in a press release on his website this amendment will help create safer roads.
“This bill seeks to provide clarity, as well as to encourage safe driving in an effort to prevent traffic accidents,” Hammoud said. “The simple and proper use of turn signals can prevent a significant amount of traffic collisions. Revising current state law with these specifics would provide greater understanding of the proper use of turn signals.”
The Michigan Court of Appeals, the press release says, clarified that current law already requires signaling when changing lanes, although it is not specifically stated in the Michigan Vehicle Code. This bill would explicitly state in the code it is required.
State Rep. Pam Faris (D-Clio) proposed the amendment, which followed a Sanilac County judge granting custody to a twice-convicted rapist of a now 8-year-old boy he fathered with a 12-year-old girl in 2008.
The judge at the time of the case was not aware that the child was the product of a sexual assault and later rescinded the ruling.
"This particular case fell through a lot of holes in a lot of different systems and ended up being a nightmare for this young lady and her family," Faris told the Detroit Free Press. "We really don't want rapists who plead down to a lesser crime to have custody or visitation. This bill is for victims in the future. Everyone has seen the error of their ways in this case, but this woman has gone through three weeks of hell."
HB 5133: This bill creates a new act to place a 5 cent per-gallon tax on bottled water from producers that draw their water from Michigan. The bill designates revenues from the tax to only go towards infrastructure improvements in the state.
State Rep. Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Township) proposed the bill, saying in a press release the tax would help compensate the state for the loss of one its most valuable resources.
“It’s not fair that these out-of-state and out-of-country corporations can swoop in, take millions of gallons of our groundwater, and sell it for a profit. They’re basically poaching our water,” Lucido said. “Why are we giving away our resources for free? Our state and its citizens deserve some compensation when companies are making a financial killing off our water – a resource they’re getting for practically nothing.”
The press includes information from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which reported that Nestle draws about 1.1 million gallons of water a day from its four pumping locations in Michigan.
HB 5136: This bill would create a tax credit for the amount public school teachers spend on school supplies for classrooms.
State Rep. Steve Marino (R-Harrison Township) proposed the bill, saying in a press release that the bill is designed to help teachers who make sacrifices to build a better future for the state of Michigan.
“From pencils and paper to iPad headphones, more and more Michigan teachers are spending money out of their own pockets to supply their classrooms every year,” Marino said. “Their salaries aren’t covering these extra expenses. They deserve some help on their taxes to offset these work-related costs.”
Teachers in a survey conducted by Scholastic claimed to have spent about $500 of their own money each year on school supplies for their classroom.