The Michigan legislature is considering a number of controversial bills on topics as diverse as concealed weapons and vaccinations.
Our political roundup duo joined Stateside today, as they do most Fridays, to break down the bills. That duo includes Vicki Barnett, former mayor of Farmington Hills and former Democratic legislator, and Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and former Republican majority leader in the state Senate.
One bill would allow gun owners to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
This bill, Sikkema said, is about “the difference between open carry and concealed.”
“Because in Michigan, as in some other states, once you pass all the restrictions about purchasing a gun, you can actually strap it to your belt, to your waistband, and carry it, as long as people could see it,” he said. “But if you want to conceal it – put it in your pocket or put a coat on so you can’t see it – you need an extra permit. And the advocates for the bill are saying that doesn’t make any sense, and so we want to eliminate the penalty if you don’t have a concealed weapons permit and you get caught concealing it.”
That, he said, invites a public safety debate.
“Is it safer for people to see who has a handgun in public versus those who don’t have one, or you can’t see it in public?” he said. “That’s the public safety debate that I think they’re going to have if they have hearings on this bill.”
While Barnett understands where proponents of the bill are coming from, she said she’s “not necessarily in favor.”
She sees this as “a continuation of the erosion of rules and regulations regarding firearms.”
“And I am concerned about the ability for people to be required to take safety classes,” she said. “And the proponents have been saying, ‘Well, we’re not going to get rid of the concealed pistol licenses. You’ll still be able to get those, so that if you go to another state, you won’t have to worry that you’re not following their state law.’”
For more, listen above.
Another bill would stop schools or health officials from excluding children who are not vaccinated from attending classes.
Many doctors say this puts all children at risk for diseases.
“I think it’s terrible,” Barnett said. “I really believe that we need to protect all children and all adults by making sure that children are immunized."
"What this bill actually does is it eliminates the ability of the state Department of Public Health from issuing any rules and regulations that are required right now of people who want to get a waiver from immunizing their children," she said.
Exemptions for those with religious beliefs, those concerned about their children’s health and those with philosophical objections already exist in Michigan.
“And so your kids can still attend schools, but… you would have to be educated on the results of not immunizing your children, on the dangers of these diseases and sign a waiver form in which you express you’re acknowledging that you understand the dangers of foregoing the immunizations for your children,” she said.
This new bill would get rid of that process.
Proponents of the bill say government has no authority to tell people what kind of health care they must get, including vaccinations.
“That’s what this is all about,” Sikkema said. “You have Republicans who want less regulation and more individual freedom to make decisions without any kind of government requirements.”