Will this session NEVER end???
The Michigan legislature concluded its inflamed duck session yesterday by passing another flurry of highly partisan legislation before they lose some of their votes. Here’s are the
highlowlights of what they did yesterday:
Repeal of the Personal Property Tax by the House
This package of 12 bills, including 6022, 6024, 6025, 6026, S.B. 1065, S.B. 1066, S.B. 1067, S.B. 1068, S.B. 1069, S.B. 1070, and S.B. 1070, repeals a much-hated tax on business equipment and capital. The legislation was improved by replacing much of the funding to municipalities that were freaking out over losing millions of dollars from their budget but there is still plenty of lost revenues and lots of folks in various cities are left holding the financial bag in these tough times.
Citizenship requirement for voting
The Republicans threw a last-minute surprise in yesterday by passing a bill, S.B. 810, out of the House requiring people to check a box affirming their citizenship when voting or applying for an absentee ballot. This was their answer to Gov. Snyder’s veto of a similar bill last summer. The requirement is the same, it just looks different on the form.
Making it harder to recall elected officials
The Senate passed bills 6060 and 6063 which reduce the number of days for collecting recall petition signatures to 60, virtually assuring no recall will ever be successful again. From MIRS reporting:
The legislation stops recalls from being filed for those who serve four-year terms to only the two middle years of their term, which means recalls for the current batch of senators can only happen in 2013, not 2014.
It also creates a Wisconsin-like dynamic, where the opposing major party to the person up for recall must put up someone to run against the recall target. Also, the bill mandates that any statement on a recall petition not only be clear, but factual. If a recall is over a vote on a particular piece of policy, the description of that policy must be accurate.
House members and those with two-year terms can’t be recalled in their first and last six months in office, creating a one-year window under which they can be bounced.
This will make it much harder to recall Republican Senators who were formerly eligible for recall next year.
Passage of a new Emergency Manager Law
This new legislation, S.B. 865, replaces Public Act 4 that was repealed by voters just six weeks ago. There are some nods to giving local municipalities more choices but, at the end of the day, all choices must be approved by Governor and the ability to balance the books on the backs of union members by cancelling their contracts still exists. Democrats are describing it as giving local governments their choice of poison. One improvement is that the state will now pay for the cost of an Emergency Manager rather than the affected municipality.
The bill was, of course, given immediate effect and includes nearly $6,000,000 in appropriations to make it referendum proof.
Yay, particularly in light of the shooting at an elementary school today in Connecticut where 27 people were killed including 18 children.
This bill now goes to the Governor.
Sweeping restrictions on abortions
H.B. 5711 was passed and now goes to the Governor. This bill, as I wrote about this week, will likely put a significant number of abortion providers out of business. The new rules for facilities, which are already more restrictive than that of most hospitals, will make it nearly impossible for all but the most established facilities to continue to offer women abortions. It also outlaws telemedicine consultations for abortion services which, as I said yesterday, is a flagrant act of hypocrisy on the part of Republicans.
Rep. Lisa Brown said this about the legislation: “These bills enact what many are calling some of the toughest restrictions on a legal health care procedure in the nation. It is an absolute disgrace.”
Fortunately SB 975, the so-called moral exemption bill that would have allowed healthcare providers to refuse services based on moral grounds, died in the House yesterday.
A new Red Wings stadium paid for with school funds
The House approved 5463 to build a new hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings. According to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, “The bill would actually reduce state education tax and local property tax, including the education levy, by an untold amount of money. We need to go back and look at TIFAs and DDAs and see how it impacts our overall budget.” She also noted that Mike Ilitch’s company already owes the City of Detroit millions of dollars.
The bill did get bipartisan support.
Legislation which saw no movement and will be dealt with in the next legislative session includes:
- A bill to put the statewide Education Achievement Authority into law
- SB 620, the so-called “parent trigger” bills, which would give parents and teachers the power to turn their struggling school into a charter or go through some other reform.
- Funding the Obamacare health insurance exchange
The legislature is not expected to take any further actions or votes until next year.
[Photo credit: Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]