Politics & Government
2:03 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Not just right-to-work, lawmakers passed boatload of bills yesterday

Right-to-work may have been the star of the legislative circus that took place at the Capitol yesterday, but it was just one of many passed by the House and Senate.

Here is a recap of some other bills that you might have missed:

The Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act

The bill, passed by the state Senate yesterday, would allow health care providers, facilities, or insurers to deny care base on religious, moral, or ethical objections.

Senator Roger Kahn, a cardiologist from Saginaw, was the only Republican to vote against the bill, the Detroit Free Press reports:

"I don't know how this doesn't violate the oath I took when I promised to resuscitate someone with TB or treat someone with AIDS," he said.

Proponents of the bill, including Dr. Joseph DeCook, director of the national American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, say that patients denied care can seek out other doctors and that the bill would require care in the case of an emergency.

From the Freep:

DeCook said a doctor's oath does not run afoul of the legislation because all doctors fundamentally agree that their responsibility is to treat disease. But when it comes to abortion, "pregnancy is not a disease," he said.

The bill now moves to the State House.

Abortion related bills

The state Senate also passed a package of abortion-related bills.

One bill would ban insurance companies in Michigan from providing coverage for elective abortions.

Women who wanted the coverage would have to buy extra insurance, Michigan Radio’s Tracy Samilton reports.

Meghan Groen, director of government relations for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, says the ability to buy extra insurance is "a false promise," the Huffington Post reports:

"No insurance company currently offers a rider for abortion coverage, and no woman is going to purchase a separate rider for something she hasn't planned. You're talking about an unexpected pregnancy, or a fetal anomaly."

Another bill would require clinics to be licensed as outpatient surgical centers before performing an abortion.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Overhaul

The House approved revised versions of two Senate bills that would change the governance of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan from a charity to a nonprofit mutual insurer.

Earlier this year, Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry explained the basics of the move:

Blue Cross, by far the state’s biggest health insurer, would no longer be required to provide insurance to people who couldn’t get it anywhere else. The governor’s rationale is that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act will soon require all insurance companies to provide care to people with pre-existing conditions.

Blue Cross would no longer get the hundred million dollar tax exemption it now enjoys, but it would no longer be under the strict state scrutiny and oversight it now has. Currently, any rate increase the Blues request has to be scrutinized by the state attorney general.

And Michigan Radio’s Kate Wells reports today on why this has some Michigan seniors worried.

These bills now go back to the Senate for approval

Emergency Manager Law passes out of committee

The House Local, Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs Committee passed a replacement for Public Act 4, the controversial emergency manager law voted down in a referendum this November.

From MPRN’s Jake Neher:

The replacement would give local governments and school districts four options for getting out of financial trouble. They could ask the state for an emergency manager. They could reach a consent agreement with the state. They could agree to mediation. Or they could file for Chapter Nine municipal bankruptcy.

Critics of the legislation say it still does not give local governments enough options other than an emergency manager.

Metro Detroit Regional Transit Authority

Three bills from a five-bill package that would establish a regional transit authority for Metro Detroit are waiting to be approved by Governor Rick Snyder after passing the House yesterday.

The Detroit News has more:

The other two bills pending in the House would empower the regional transit authority to bypass zoning laws for construction of public transportation facilities and create dedicated lanes for rapid-transit buses along Metro Detroit's busiest corridors.

The bills that passed would establish an authority in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties to better coordinate the region's transportation systems by managing SMART and DDOT routes and establishing rapid transit bus routes along Metro Detroit's busiest roadways.

Democrats in the House are stalling the two bills in protest to right-to-work legislation.

- Jordan Wyant, Michigan Radio Newsroom