MichiganVotes.org sends a weekly report to newspapers and TV stations around the state showing how state legislators in their service area voted on the most important or interesting bills of the past week. Because the legislature did not meet this week, rather than roll call vote results this report presents a sampling of recently proposed state laws.

House Bill 4498, Revise prison time off for good behavior
Introduced by Rep. George Cushingberry, D-Detroit, to allow prisoners to earn from 5 to 15 days per year of time off their sentence for good behavior. This would restore an older "good time" system which was eliminated for certain violent felons by Ballot Proposal B of 1978, and subsequently eliminated for all felons in 1987. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, and while there has been no official action, it is the subject of an ongoing policy debate between the Granholm administration, which sees the measure as a way to help close a budget gap by reducing prison populations, and members of the Senate Republican majority who voice public safety concerns.

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Senate Bill 552, Give "rewards" to gas stations that increase ethanol sales
Introduced by state Sen. Cameron Brown, R-Fawn River Twp., to give a subsidy to gas stations that increase ethanol sales above certain thresholds specified in the bill. The subsidy would be a "carry-forwardable" income tax credit (can be used to offset the owner's tax liability over several years), and the value would be between 2 cents and 6 cents per gallon of ethanol sold above the threshold. Referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senate Bill 775, Impose carbon dioxide sequestration fees and provide liability waivers
Introduced by state Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, to establish regulations and impose fees of $1 per ton on operators of underground carbon dioxide sequestration facilities, and provide immunity from civil or criminal prosecution after 10 years if the operator has followed all the rules and the facility maintains its integrity. Ownership of the underground reservoir (and subsequent liability) would then transfer to the state. The bill would also empower local governments to use eminent domain to take privately owned land to create such a facility. Sequestration is the injection of CO2 into wells deep in the ground, and is a technique being investigated to use mainly in conjunction with coal-burning power plants to mitigate the possibility of global warming caused by the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. Referred to the Senate Energy Policy & Public Utilities Committee.

Senate Bill 552, Increase pensions for Adrian Training School employees
Introduced by state Sen. Cameron Brown, R-Fawn River Twp., to give senior employees at the Adrian Training School juvenile justice facility an enhanced pension benefit. The facility is to be closed under a December 2008 executive order budget cut. Under the bill, rather than getting laid off, employees whose age and years of employment equals 70 (such as a 50 year old with just 20 years on the job) could begin receiving a full pension immediately, and those whose age and years on the job equals 75 would get a 16.7 percent increase in the cash portion of their post-retirement benefits. Referred to the Senate Energy Policy & Public Utilities Committee.

House Bill 4853, Increase wage sex discrimination penalty
Introduced by state Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, to authorize penalties of between $5,000 and $25,000 depending on the number of employees for an employer who pays different wages to men and women who are "similarly employed." The bill also removes from the law a provision stating that, "No female shall be assigned any task disproportionate to her strength, nor shall she be employed in any place detrimental to her morals, her health or her potential capacity for motherhood." Referred to the House Labor Committee.

Senate Bill 136, Give government subsidies to "artificial intelligence" businesses
Introduced by state Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Howell, to authorize $18 million worth of government "21st Century Jobs Fund" subsidies for "creative artificial intelligence excellence sectors," defined as private businesses or other entities engaged in developing "advanced artificial neural network technology that is capable of autonomously generating new and potentially valuable concepts or strategies." Referred to the Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee.

House Bill 4058, Require state to pay off Detroit schools deficit
Introduced by state Rep. LaMar Lemmons Jr., D-Detroit, to require the state to assume the deficit incurred by the Detroit School District during the period prior to 2006 when it was under the control of a state-imposed reform school board. In 2004 the district had a $122 million deficit. Referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

House Bill 4110, Establish official state "Scottish Tartan"
Introduced by state Rep. Richard LeBlanc, D-Westland, to establish that henceforth the official Scottish tartan of the State of Michigan shall be the one described by the Scottish hand weavers and textile designers "thread count" denoted by the phrase "BG18* W2 BG8 W2 T8 DG2 T4 DG24 DR4 DG4*," where the symbol "*" denotes 1/2 the total threads at the turning points. Reported by the Government Operations Committee and advanced to “second reading” in the House.

SOURCE: MichiganVotes.org, a free, non-partisan website created by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, providing concise, non-partisan, plain-English descriptions of every bill and vote in the Michigan House and Senate. Please visit http://www.MichiganVotes.org.

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