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Fri December 13, 2013
A quick rundown of the bills passed by Michigan lawmakers in the last two days
The Legislature wasn't as busy as it was last year passing last-minute legislation, but they were busy.
Here's a rundown of the activity seen in Lansing over the last two days.
New law in Michigan
- Putting limits on abortion coverage
Representatives in the House and Senate passed a voter-initiated law that bans abortion coverage in standard insurance plans. The petition drive for the voter-initiated law was organized by Right to Life of Michigan.
Starting in March, Michiganders will have to buy an additional rider should they want abortion coverage from their insurance provider. Governor Snyder vetoed similar legislation last year, but voter-initiated laws cannot be vetoed.
On the way to the governor's desk
- More money for campaigns in Michigan
Both chambers passed a campaign finance bill that doubles contribution limits and allows issue ad donors to remain anonymous. The legislation is a response to Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson's proposal to require issue ads to disclose their donors.
- Requiring EpiPens in all schools
Schools will have to stock injectable epinephrine to help kids who have severe allergic reactions. The bills passed with bi-partisan support, but some opposed the measure saying it doesn't provide schools with extra funding to stock the medicine.
- Giving more clarity to mental health courts in Michigan
A series of bills were passed that authorize the creation of mental health courts. The bills also define and regulate mental health courts currently operating in the state. There are around 16 such courts. The goal is to manage the significant number of defendants entering the court system with mental health problems and who are deemed to be non-violent.
- Defining how autonomous driving would be allowed on Michigan roads
The bills define how autonomous driving will be allowed in Michigan. Among other things, the legislation allows autonomous driving on Michigan roads only when a human with a valid driver's license is present in the vehicle and can monitor how the vehicle is performing.
- Allowing medical marijuana to be sold in pharmacies should the federal government act
This bill would prepare Michigan should the federal government act to reclassify marijuana as a schedule II substance. The legislation, among other things, would allow authorized facilities to sell pharmaceutical-grade cannabis to licensed pharmacies for dispensing to eligible patients and allow for prescriptions to be written.
Close, but more action required
- Clarification on how patients can obtain medical marijuana
Bills (HB 4271, and HB 5104) passed the state House that would allow edible and topical forms of marijuana, and would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate once again in Michigan. The bills now go on to the state Senate.
- Expanding the Education Achievement Authority
That's the state-run authority authorized to take over failing school systems in the state. Presently, the system only operates in Detroit. New legislation is aimed at expanding how many schools the EAA can operate in Michigan.
- Suspicion-based drug testing for welfare recipients
It passed the state Senate and now awaits action in the House. The legislation would establish a pilot program that would allow drug tests of welfare recipients if their case worker suspects drug use.
- Laws aimed at aiding victims of human trafficking
Several bills were passed in the Senate that would clear some hurdles for victims of human trafficking. One would allow victims to present evidence of being trafficked before being prosecuted for prostitution. Another would allow victims to have their records cleared, and another would eliminate the statue of limitations on for any human trafficking offenses.