Lawmakers look to tackle big issues in the next two weeks

Dec 3, 2013

The state Legislature is back in session after a two week break. Republican leaders have a long list of issues they want to address before they wrap up their work in 2013.

One of those issues was also a top priority this time last year. Many lawmakers want to expand a state-run school district meant to turn around struggling schools. Right now, the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) oversees 15 schools in Detroit. Governor Rick Snyder wants to expand it statewide. But the legislation has been stalled in the state Senate for months.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) says he recently met with Governor Snyder about the issue.

“I wouldn’t call it an agreement in principle,” said Richardville, “but an agreement that, conceptually, we could get something done.”

According to a recent report, the EAA has lost almost a quarter of its students since last school year. Democrats say that should give Republicans a reason not to expand it.

“What does it mean to them that when students were given the choice of whether or not to continue the substandard educational experience in the EAA, almost a full quarter of them chose to cut their losses and walk away?” said Sen. Bert Johnson (D-Detroit). “What does it mean that parents chose to remove those children from those buildings?”

The Legislature could also consider a proposal that would put new restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions. That proposal, which was initiated by a Right to Life of Michigan petition, has been referred to a committee that Richardville chairs. But he has not yet said what he intends to do with the measure.

Richardville says there’s at least one issue that probably won’t be addressed in December. He says lawmakers likely won’t have time to overhaul Michigan’s controversial auto no-fault insurance system.

“At this point in time, I’ve got nothing on my desk that is some kind of a compromise or we think there’s a solution,” he said. “Nobody’s come forward with it yet, so I can’t see it happening in five legislative days.”

Lawmakers are expected to end their 2013 session on December 12.