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Week in Review: A milestone in Flint and lame duck wraps up

Dec 17, 2016

The lame duck session wrapped up in Lansing this week. In this Week in Review, Michigan Radio Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about bills that made it through the Legislature and one that didn't. They also discuss an important anniversary in the Flint water crisis.

An anniversary in Flint

This week marked an important milestone in the Flint water crisis. It's been one year since Flint Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency. After news that the city will receive $100 million to fix its infrastructure, some city leaders and members of U.S. Congress are calling on the state to do more for Flint.

"I think there's a great fear that eventually people will get bored with Flint and forget about it, and I think there's apprehension that Trump's administration may not be as sympathetic," Lessenberry said. "We ought not to let people forget about Flint."

Energy policy overhaul survives lame duck

One of the bills heading to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk following this year's lame duck session is an overhaul of the state's energy policy. The main focus of the package is to encourage utilities to build new power plans to replace coal-fired plants. It also includes incentives to reduce energy use.

Lessenberry says the new policy is "remarkable."

"Any time you have an energy policy that is praised by the chambers of commerce, the utilities themselves and environmental groups, you want to look out the window to see if the Messiah has arrived," he said. 

Changes for Michigan's zero-tolerance laws

Bills that would scale back Michigan's zero-tolerance policies also won legislative approval. Right now, if a student gets caught with something that could even potentially be a weapon, they're automatically expelled. The new laws would let administrators take other factors into consideration, such as the student's age and intent.

Lessenberry said changing the current laws "makes a lot of sense."

"People want the right to carry AK-47s into libraries, schools and churches, but if some little eight-year-old finds his grandfather's World War II revolver and brings it in for show-and-tell, he's supposed to be expelled from school," Lessenberry said. " 

No-fault auto-insurance changes are a no-go

Earlier this week, it seemed pretty certain there were going to be some major changes to Michigan's no-fault auto insurance. Republican leaders were pushing legislation that would've scaled back medical benefits provided to those who suffer catastrophic injuries.

However, this one ended up on the cutting room floor.

"I think that people in the media started making noise about [this bill], people started noticing it, and [legislators] backed off in a hurry," Lessenberry said.