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These 13 things lived through lame duck

December 21, 2016

Article courtesy of MIRS News Service

A few of the more high-profile items didn’t survive lame duck, but several pieces of legislation made it through Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.

Here’s a list of the top 13 previously unreported items that are going to the Governor, in no particular order:

1. The lone remnant of the OPEB (local government employee retiree health care reform) legislation that otherwise died in lame duck session moved through the Senate and was sent to the Governor. 

HB 6075, sponsored by Rep. Dan LAUWERS (R-Brockway), which would require municipalities that have retiree health care plans that are less than 60 percent funded to post online an action plan to fix the issue. 

2. Possibly the most significant policy-related bill stemming from the Flint water crisis moved out of committee, passed the Senate unanimously and moved to the Governor’s office today. 

HB 5120, a bill sponsored by Rep. Sheldon NEELEY (D-Flint), shortens from 30 days to three, the period in which the operator of a public water supply would be required to notify the public that lead levels are too high. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) supports the bill, which passed the House unanimously on Dec. 8.

3. Michigan retailers would be allowed to ship beer, wine and hard liquor by mail under legislation passed by the House today, 93-14, concurred by the Senate and sent to the Governor. 

SB 1088 is a variation of a bill passed under former Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM that was shot down by the courts because the legislation restricted direct sales to Michigan retailers only. Rep. Ray FRANZ (R-Onekama) offered an amendment that would reinsert House language that would allow any retailer, whether from Michigan or not, to ship their product. 

Franz was concerned that the legislation would tee up Michigan to be sued again. “It seems like we’re quite literally throwing millions of dollars away on a lawsuit we’re going to be facing down the road,” Franz said. 

4. Detroit and other cities will be able to better escape lawsuits from those who trip and fall on sidewalk cracks after the Senate passed, 22-15, HB 4686, which replaces cities’ responsibility for sidewalk cracks over two inches with the more subjective “open and obvious” danger criteria. The House sent the legislation on to the Governor. 

Sen. Steve BIEDA (D-Warren) fell one vote short in his attempt to make the definition of “open and obvious” more narrow. The Michigan Association of Justice (MAJ) and the Democratic caucus opposed the bill out of fear that the bill will make suing cities for not keeping up their sidewalks nearly impossible. 

The bill was passed to help Detroit out of paying between $6 and $10 million in sidewalk lawsuit claims.

5. A Right to Life-driven package that makes sale of fetal body parts a felony under SB 0565 and SB 0564 cleared the House today. While Planned Parenthood questioned whether the bills actually do anything, all but eight to 10 Democrats still voted against the package. 

The bills were put into play as a part of a series of videos released by a pro-life group last year that allegedly showed Planned Parenthood’s medical director describing how the organization sells fetal body parts.

Planned Parenthood officials have said the bills don’t impact their organization because they do not participate in fetal tissue donation and were more about symbolism and politics than about public policy.

6. People who had property seized by police wouldn’t need to post a 10 percent bond in order to reserve the right to get their property back, under legislation that cleared the Senate, 29-8. The House concurred in the Senate changes, 101-7, and it’s now being sent to the Governor. 

HB 4629, sponsored by Rep. Pete LUCIDO (R-Shelby Twp.), removes the requirement for property owners to post a 10 percent bond within 20 days in order to reserve the right to fight for the return of their property in court, regardless of their criminal standing.  

7. Superintendents would be required to offer their open special education slots to recently laid-off intermediate school district teachers under legislation that passed the Senate, 26-11, and was moved on to the Governor. 

HB 5796, sponsored by Rep. Phil POTVIN (R-Cadillac), is the product of local school officials who complained that they were legally obliged to hire teachers who were not prepared to teach their special education students. 

8. School districts couldn’t legally deny a bus ride to non-district pupils, under HB 5753, which passed the Senate, 28-9. Sen. Curtis HERTEL Jr. (D-East Lansing) joined all 27 Senate Republicans as the only Democrat to support HB 5753, House Education Committee Chairperson, Rep. Amanda PRICE (R- Holland) sponsored the bill, which was passed by the House with an 85-21 vote on Sept. 21.

9. Legislation allowing state-regulated nurses with advanced degrees — known as advance practice registered nurses (APRNs) — to prescribe drugs and controlled substances passed the Senate and moved to the Governor. 

HB 5400 would also let APRNs, who may be nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners or clinical nurse specialists, to dispense complimentary starter doses of drugs and would allow APRNs to make house calls or go on rounds, whose timing and frequency is unrestricted by a physician.

10. A reworked version of SB 1172, which would use the use tax on Medicaid managed care to collect the state’s Medicaid match whenever the Health Insurance Claims Assessment (HICA) expires, passed the House and Senate and is being sent to the Governor. 

The Governor vetoed a similar proposal because it immediately repealed HICA. This plan keeps HICA alive until 2020, at the latest.

11. Landlords and property owners would have the firm legal authority to ban medical marijuana smoking and growing on their premises under a bill that cleared the House today, 88-17. 

Since the state’s passage of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) in 2012, property managers and owners have been in legal limbo as to whether they are able to restrict medical marijuana use on their premises through a lease addendum. 

The bill, SB 0072, codified an opinion from Attorney General Bill SCHUETTE that it is within the rights of a property owner to prohibit or otherwise restrict use.

12. Legislation that will ensure students receive instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before graduating from high school — SB 0647 — was approved by the House, 98-8, and moved to the Governor’s office. 

13. The three-member Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC), the public body charged with overseeing unfair labor practices, would have their deliberations exempt from the Open Meeting Act (OMA) under legislation that cleared the House, 56-50, and was sent to the Governor. 

SB 0316 passed the Senate, 25-10, on the strength of testimony from MERC Commissioner Bob LaBRANT, who argued other three-member bodies, like the Public Service Commission, have the power to deliberate the merits of a case in private.

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