Weekly Michigan legislature wrap-up

Sunday, November 12, 2017 - 6:29pm

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 584-586: Last week, the state Senate Government Operations Committee approved three bills that will allow for the carrying of concealed weapons in gun-free areas, including schools, churches, bars and dorms. The bill was passed along party lines in the committee, with all Republicans voting in favor of the bill and all Democrats against.

State Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, put forth SB 584, saying that following the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, believing action must be taken to prevent similar events. 

“Some have said it’s insensitive to bring up these issues now, but I feel quite the opposite,” Meekhof told the Senate Government Operations Committee, according to the Detroit Free Press. “The recent events will allow us to look at how we can deter those who want to do harm. And responsible, well-trained, licensed concealed-pistol holders can be one of those deterrents.”

The bill has gained the support of the National Rifle Association and the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners. Steve Dulan, the spokesman for the Coalition, said gun-free zones should be called “mass murderer empowerment zones.”

The bill has received opposition from many groups, including the Michigan Education Association, the Michigan Open Carry organization and Moms Demand Action. Emily Durbin, Michigan chapter president of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said this is not the right way to address gun violence.

“Two days after the latest shooting, we’re here not having a conversation about keeping guns away from domestic abusers, increasing background checks or banning bump stocks,” Durlan told the Free Press. “Instead, we're urgently discussing what the gun lobby wants and that's a desire to have more guns in more places, no questions asked.”

SB 654: This bill amends the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to create an Environmental Science Advisory Board. State Sen. David Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, proposed the legislation.

The function of the board will be to “advise the governor on issues affecting the protection of the environment or the management of natural resources of this state,” according to the bill.

The board’s functions will depend on requests from the governor to provide advice, which will not be legally binding nor enforceable “against any individual, governmental entity, private entity, or other person.”

HB 5232: This bill would ban the use of derogatory terms for the mascots of Michigan schools. State Rep. Jewell Jones, D-Inkster, put forth the bill after native tribes approached Michigan Democrats to express how the term “redskins” is insensitive.

If passed the bill will penalize schools that don’t comply by forfeiting “funds due under this article in an amount equal to the amount that is necessary for the district or school to become compliant with this section.”

The criteria of what is derogatory will be determined by a list put together by the State Board after consulting with and gaining the approval of the Department of Civil Rights. Schools that don’t already comply must obtain a waiver to continue the use of the mascot or slogan deemed derogatory.