Every week, MichiganVotes.org sends local newspapers a report on interesting votes and bills in the Michigan Legislature, and how their legislators voted. To find out who your state senator is and how to contact him or her go here; for state representatives go here.

Senate Bill 449, Increase landfill garbage tax, passed 31-6 in the Senate
To increase from 7 cents to 12 cents the per-cubic yard state “tipping fee” tax imposed on dumping in landfills.

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Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 495, Increase various vehicle registration taxes and more, passed 24 to 14 in the Senate
To increase various vehicle registration taxes between Oct. 1, 2011 and 2015, and continue diverting around $114 million from various driver-license and vehicle registration fees and surtaxes away from road project funding. Instead, this money is being used to pay Secretary of State administrative expenses. The bill also increases fees and various regulations on commercial motor vehicles and commercial drivers licenses.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 8, Authorize local government consolidated service authorities, passed 26 to 12 in the Senate
To specify procedures for two or more local governments to enter partnerships to provide particular services, and give these authorities the power to levy up to 5 mills of property tax. Whether to enter a partnership would be a prohibited subject for collective bargaining with government employee unions, but they could still negotiate the prospective labor contract terms. The decision to enter such a partnership would not be subject to referendum.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 485, Limit future local government "minimum staffing requirements," passed 26 to 12 in the Senate
To prohibit local governments from adopting a charter, ordinance, or resolution that imposes any minimum staffing requirements, except for "a resolution involving a collective bargaining agreement" with a government employee union (an exception that was adopted in an unrecorded voice vote). The bill “grandfathers” existing minimum staffing requirements, and is one of a package that applies to cities, villages, counties and townships.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 400, Revise regulations on the MEA school union's insurance company, passed 26 to 12 in the Senate
To require school districts to be the actual insurance policyholder, or else to be given quick access by the actual policyholder to claims and cost information. This involves the device by which the MEA school employee’s union’s insurance subsidiary (MESSA) structures its coverage, making MESSA the actual policyholder, and Blue Cross Blue Shield the underwriter. Unlike the introduced version the bill does not dismantle this arrangement, which is one of the requirements schools must meet to get extra money under the 2011-2012 budget.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 248, Limit state government land ownership, passed 24 to 14 in the Senate
To cap the amount of state-owned Department of Natural Resources land at 4,650,000 acres, with some exceptions; require the DNR to post on its website how much land it owns; and require land the DNR received through the delinquent tax reversion process to be auctioned if it can't be sold within six months.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4533, Revise new young driver passenger restrictions, passed 38 to 0 in the Senate
To revise the recent ban on inexperienced young drivers transporting more than one non-family member under age 21 unless the driver’s parent or a "designated" adult is also present. The bill create exceptions to the 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. ban on these drivers, for driving "in the course of employment" (rather than just to or from work), for going to or from an "authorized activity" (meaning school events and some non-school or nonprofit events), or in emergencies.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4394, Amendment to extend unemployment benefits, failed 46 to 63 in the House
To repeal a recent law (House Bill 4408, now Public Act 14 of 2011) that reduced from 26 weeks to 20 weeks the maximum period a person is eligible for state unemployment benefits

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4496, Authorize certain community college bachelors degrees, passed 67 to 43 in the House
To allow community colleges to grant bachelor degrees in nursing, cement technology, maritime technology, energy production technology or culinary arts.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4749, Restrict pseudoephedrine sales, passed 105 to 5 in the House
To prohibit sales to a person of medications containing more than 3.6 grams of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine within a 24 hour period, or 9.0 grams in a month, and impose other restrictions and procedural requirements. The bill is linked to Senate Bill 333, which would require “instant check” on recent customer purchases.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4522, Require public safety arbitrators consider ability to pay, passed 107 to 1 in the House
To revise the criteria that must be considered by “PA 312” binding arbitration panels, which have the power to impose contract terms between municipalities and public safety unions in the event of a collective bargaining impasse. The bill reflects the terms of a House Republican majority compromise with government employee unions. It would expand the scope of this law to consolidated multi-government service authorities; place a 180 day deadline on the process; and require arbitrators to consider the financial ability of the community to pay, and the pay and benefits of comparable private sector employees, in addition to other government employees. Arbitrators would not be prohibited from considering the community's ability to impose additional taxes.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4700, Revise regulations on the MEA school union's insurance company, passed 80 to 30 in the House
To require school districts to be the actual insurance policyholder, or else to be given quick access by the actual policyholder to claims and cost information. This involves the device by which the MEA school employee’s union’s insurance subsidiary (MESSA) structures its coverage, making MESSA the actual policyholder, and Blue Cross Blue Shield the underwriter. Dismantling this arrangement is one of the requirements schools must meet to get extra money under the 2011-2012 budget.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4087, End retiree health coverage for legislators, passed 107 to 3 in the House
To end the post-retirement health care insurance coverage provided to legislators, but only for those who first took office on or after Jan. 1, 2007. (Reportedly, just eight current lawmakers would still be eligible.) Under current law, former legislators who have served six years get full health coverage beginning at age 55. Note: In the past decade 26 bills have been introduced to end or reduce this benefit, and different versions have passed the House and Senate five times, but never the same version.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4572, Cap government and school employee health benefit costs, passed 58 to 51 in the House
To prohibit the state, local governments, public schools, colleges and universities from providing employee health insurance benefits whose premiums cost more that $5,500 for a single person, $11,000 for a couple and $15,000 for a family plan, indexed to the medical price index, effective when existing government employee union contracts with costlier coverage expire. Government employers who break the cap would get less state money.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

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