LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature used a marathon session to send dozens of bills to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk, capping a busy week that featured making Michigan the nation's 24th right-to-work state.
Lawmakers ended a session that spanned two days and ended early Friday morning.
Bills awaiting the Republican governor's signature include --
Bill expanding concealed-carry access enacted
The Michigan Legislature has enacted a bill allowing people who undergo extra training to carry concealed weapons in places such as schools and churches where they previously were off-limits. The Republican-controlled House approved the bill Friday after it cleared the Senate on Thursday. It now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature. Another provision would eliminate county concealed weapons licensing boards, with sheriffs taking over their duties. Under the bill, people who concealed carry in gun-free zones would have to get enhanced training beyond basic requirements and spend additional time at the gun range. "Open carry" in those areas would be prohibited. Decisions on licenses would have to be made within 45 days after an application is filed.
Michigan Senate OKs new emergency manager bill
The Republican-led Michigan Senate has approved a replacement for an emergency manager law struck down by voters in the November election. The Senate on Thursday passed the legislation passed the day before by the House, and it now heads to the GOP Gov. Rick Snyder for his expected signature. The measure met with fierce opposition from Democrats. The previous law empowered the governor to appoint managers with broad powers to overrule elected leaders of financially struggling cities and school districts and throw out contracts. The new version proposed by Snyder and legislative leaders gives four choices to communities in financial trouble: accept an emergency manager; undergo bankruptcy; engage in mediation; or enter into a consent agreement similar to one between the state and Detroit.
Mich. Senate passes changes to recall elections
The Michigan Senate has approved legislation restricting recall elections amid opposition from nearly all Democrats and a few Republicans. The GOP-led chamber passed the measures late Thursday. The legislation returns to the House to review changes. One bill would prohibit recalls during the first or last six months of an elected official's two-year term or the first and last year of an official's four-year term. Another proposed change calls for a challenger to compete for the office against the official up for recall. Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer accused Republicans of passing it to protect themselves from recall after approving an emergency manager replacement bill and right-to-work legislation limiting unions' power. Sen. John Gleason was the lone Democratic supporter. He says everybody "should vote to end recalls in this state."
Community colleges could grant some four-year degrees
The Michigan Senate has approved legislation that would allow community colleges to grant bachelor's degrees in several fields of study. The Senate passed the measure Thursday by a 20-17 vote, and it returns to the House to review changes before heading to the governor. The measure allows community college students to receive the four-year degrees in culinary arts and energy production, maritime and cement technology. The bill was revised to remove nursing from the list of bachelor's degrees the colleges would be able to grant.
Mich. Legislature OKs business property tax repeal
Legislation aiming to eliminate $600 million in taxes businesses annually pay on computers and equipment is on its way to the governor. The Michigan Legislature voted late Thursday and early Friday to repeal the industrial personal property tax. Supporters say the move would be good for business. Opponents counter the legislation doesn't replace all the money the tax generates for local governments. Repeal would be phased in over a decade. Supporters say that will give cities and counties time to adjust. The state would reimburse 80 percent of losses for services such as police and fire protection. Local governments could levy special assessments to recoup the rest. Voters could cancel the tax repeal during a 2014 referendum by rejecting a plan to divert revenue from another tax to local governments.
Legislature OKs new restrictions on abortions
New regulations on abortions have won approval of the state Legislature. The House approved the bill Friday on a 72-35 vote after it previously cleared the Senate. It now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder for his expected signature. Among the provisions is a requirement that private medical offices be licensed as freestanding surgical outpatient facilities and undergo annual state inspections if they perform at least 120 abortions a year. The measure also deals with disposal of fetal remains and requires that a doctor perform a physical examination before prescribing drugs that would cause an abortion. It prohibits the use of telemedicine, or a web-based camera for that exam. Numerous Democratic amendments were voted down, including a proposal that men have exams before receiving a vasectomy or erectile dysfunction medication.
Dems relent on vote to change medical pot law
Democrats in the Michigan Senate have decided to give Republicans enough votes to make changes sought to the voter-approved medical marijuana law. The Senate late Thursday and early Friday at first failed to pass bills by a necessary three-fourths vote requiring patients to show photo identification to get a medical marijuana card and clarify the type of doctor-patient relationship needed before marijuana use could be certified. But enough Democrats relented during the marathon session and switched their votes. The chamber also approved bills dealing with criminal guidelines for patients or caregivers selling marijuana to unauthorized users and transporting open medical marijuana in vehicles. Republican Sen. Rick Jones says he was glad Democrats "finally came around" after initially blocking the legislation passed in the House.
New bill requires voters to affirm US citizenship
A bill awaiting Gov. Rick Snyder's signature would require voters to declare their citizenship before getting a ballot. The measure was passed by the Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature during its final session that spanned two days and ended early Friday morning. Snyder, a Republican, vetoed similar legislation this summer. The new bill would require voters to sign a statement affirming their citizenship, address and birth date. Absentee ballot applications would include a warning that voters must be a U.S. citizen. The bill also requires photo ID for those registering to vote. Those without ID could sign an affidavit and register. Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson included a citizenship check-off box on ballot applications in the August primary. A federal judge barred her from using the box in the November election
New law strengthens anti-animal fighting penalties
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Bills that strengthen penalties for organized animal fighting have been signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder. The new law allows authorities to declare properties involved in animal fighting to be a nuisance. It also allows authorities to padlock the property and paves the way for the seizure and sale of its contents, including automobiles. Supporters included Michigan Humane Society and the Michigan State Bar. They say the goal is to stem the rise of animal fighting rings and dog fighting, particularly in the Detroit area. Snyder says in a statement the new law gives "law enforcement the tools they need to put a stop to animal fighting."
Gov. Snyder issued the following statement upon the Michigan Legislature’s completion of its 2012 session:
“I appreciate the hard work and partnership of House and Senate members this year. Many significant reforms were enacted that will provide for a safer, healthier and more prosperous future for all residents and will be instrumental in continuing Michigan’s comeback and creating more and better jobs.
“From establishing a long-overdue regional transit authority in southeast Michigan and a lighting authority in Detroit to providing tools and choices to address local financial emergencies and encouraging long-term, sustainable economic growth in rural areas by enacting a simple, fair and efficient severance tax for mining operations, we are demonstrating a meaningful commitment to the stability, vitality and safety of our cities and towns. A strong Michigan demands strong communities, and addressing these needs has been a primary focus.
“Lawmakers should also be commended for their work to eliminate a substantial barrier to job creation and economic growth by delivering much-needed personal property tax reform while protecting local governments and schools.
“It’s also gratifying to know that we are helping to improve the health and wellness of individual citizens. Our modernization of Michigan’s largest health care provider will improve access to quality health care and lead to healthier lifestyles.
“These actions this year will keep Michigan well-positioned as the nation’s comeback state. While we can all be proud of these accomplishments, much more work lies ahead. I look forward to joining with the 2013 Legislature on additional efforts to reinvent Michigan, getting it right and getting it done.”
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Michigan is governed as a republic, with three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall, and ratification.