Weekly Michigan legislature wrap-up

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017 - 10:14pm

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:

SB 620: This bill would amend a 1976 law on sexual education to require the teaching of consent in sexual education programs in school, to address sexual assault, bystander intervention and dating violence.

State Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing, proposed the amendment to the bill, calling it “Yes Means Yes” legislation in the press release on his website.

“College-aged women are four times more likely than any other age group to face sexual assault. When we send our kids off to college, we should worry about their grades and how they are going to pay for their books, not if they will be sexually assaulted,” Hertel said in the press release.

The bill aims to clarify the definition of consent, including what it looks like in a committed relationship.

SB 629: This bill seeks to modify the sexual education curriculum in schools to ensure instruction includes medically accurate sexuality education that is age appropriate.

State Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, proposed the bill. The proposed curriculum seeks to better prepare adolescents to become sexually healthy adults.

“Research continues to show that comprehensive sex education, which teaches both abstinence and contraception, is most effective for young people. Youth who receive this kind of education are more likely to initiate sexual activity later in life and use protection correctly and consistently when they do become sexually active,” Hopgood said in a press release.

Currently, state law encourages an abstinence-only approach to sex education, which, the press release said, has not proved to be effective in increasing rates of abstinence despite $1.5 billion spent during the past decade on abstinence-only programs.

HB 5074: This bill seeks to amend the Income Tax Act of 1967 to allow for student loan tax deductions, which reduces the amount of taxable income. The bill would permit taxpayers to deduct up to $5,000 for single filers and $10,000 for joint filers.

State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, D-Dearborn, proposed the amendment, stating in a press release this bill will give some relief to students repaying loans.

“The cost of a college education has increased exponentially throughout the years. In addition to providing much-needed tax relief, this bill would provide the state a tool to help retain our talent in a competitive market. In today’s economy, talent is the number one determinant for a major corporation selecting Michigan as a place to do business,” said Hammoud.

The bill only applies to those who attend college, both public and private, in the state of Michigan.

HB 5082: This bill sets the goal of a 25-percent improvement in water quality by 2025 by amending the 1994 Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, which regulates the use of natural resources, permits people to hunt and fish and controls what is discharged into the environment, among other things.

State Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland, proposed the amendment, which requires several government departments work together to reach this goal.

“The department, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Department of Health and Human Services, the State Transportation Department, and the Office of the Great Lakes shall jointly conduct a broad public and stakeholder engagement process across this state seeking input on how to achieve the goal established under subsection (1),” the bill reads.

The bill makes no specific mention of the water quality in Flint and improving the city's water.

HB 5085: This bill earmarks liquor tax to go to local community mental health clinics to combat substance abuse. Earmarking money designates it for a specific use.

State Rep. Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township, proposed the bill, saying in a press release the taxes would address serious issues in substance abuse in the state.

“Substance abuse is a major problem in Michigan. Our local community mental health agencies are in the best position to identify and develop programs to fight the abuse of alcohol, opioids and other drugs. This bill will deliver more resources to agencies on the front lines of this fight,” Marino said in the press release.

The bill could provide more than $17 million each year to combat alcohol and opioid addictions.