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.

Senate Bill 348, Amendment to spend more on targeted government health programs: Failed 17 to 21 in the Senate
To appropriate $5.9 million from a revised Medicaid health care tax to a "Healthy Michigan Fund" that was defunded in the 2012 budget. This tax is levied to "game" more federal Medicaid money for the state, and the revisions are promised to be "revenue neutral." Republicans Hansen, Hildenbrand, Nofs, Rocca and Schuitmaker joined all Democrats in supporting the extra spending.

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Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4625, Make it easier to fire ineffective teachers: Passed 25 to 13 in the Senate
To revise the standards for granting a public school teacher “tenure,” and streamline the procedures for taking it away. Among other things the bill would extend from four years to five years the "probationary" period before a new teacher is granted this privilege; allow but not require the dismissal of a probationary teacher at any time (the House version required dismissal for serial "ineffective" ratings); and make various procedural changes. See also House Bills 4626 to 4628.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4626, Rocca amendment making it harder to fire ineffective teachers: Failed 17 to 19 in the Senate
To strip from a teacher tenure reform bill a provision allowing a teacher to be fired “for a reason that is not arbitrary and capricious," rather than requiring the employer to demonstrate the firing is for a "reasonable and just cause." Republicans Brandenburg, Caswell, Marleau, Nofs and Rocca joined all Democrats in voting "Yes."

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4627, Ban laying off less-senior teachers over "ineffective" ones (“LIFO”): Passed 20 to 17 in the Senate
To prohibit public schools from using seniority as the primary or determining factor when making layoff or recall decisions (“last in first out,” or LIFO), and prohibit giving preference to a teacher rated "ineffective" over ones rated "minimally effective" or above, according to a detailed and complex rating system. Unlike the House version, principals could not refuse to accept an "ineffective" teacher assigned to the school. Republicans Casperson, Caswell, Green, Hansen, Jones and Kahn joined all (present) Democrats in voting "No."

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 166, Repeal some but not all “bad driver tax” penalties: Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate
To repeal some but not all of the “driver responsibility fees” (a.k.a. “bad driver tax”) imposed for various violations. Repealed are penalties for accumulating 7 or more driving record "points," driving without a license, and failing to have insurance or proof of insurance. A $1,000 surtax for driving with a suspended or revoked license was NOT repealed. These costly surcharges were adopted in 2003 to avoid spending cuts in that year’s and subsequent state budgets.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4792, Allow spending-down underfunded retired legislator health benefits fund: Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate, Passed 99 to 11 in the House
To repeal a provision that prohibits spending money in a retired legislator health benefit prefunding account (now around $15 million) until its unfunded liabilities are covered, and instead start using the money now to pay current costs. According to the Senate Fiscal Agency, many new legislator retirees (they can collect starting at age 55) and a 30 percent cost increase means that $4.2 million appropriated for the benefits this year won't cover it. Reportedly, a less costly insurance policy is coming, but this won't necessarily cover the unfunded liabilities either.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No" in the Senate

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No in the House

House Bill 4349, Expand law enforcement funding through drug forfeiture money: Passed 81 to 26 in the House
To repeal a prohibition on police departments using proceeds from drug-related civil asset forfeitures to pay for any law enforcement purpose, rather than using them only for law enforcement related to controlled substances violations.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4503, Authorize “sporting swine” shooting ranches: Passed 61 to 47 in the House
To authorize, establish regulations, impose license fees, and grant favored “agricultural” property tax status for commercial “sporting swine” livestock and shooting ranches.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 485, Limit future local government "minimum staffing" requirements: Passed 62 to 46 in the House
To prohibit local governments from adopting a charter or ordinance that imposes any minimum staffing requirements. The House removed a Senate-added provision allowing locals to continue imposing these mandates on themselves through government employee union contracts. The bill is one of a package that applies to cities, villages, counties and townships.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 7, Cap government employee health benefits: Passed 56 to 52 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"), or alternatively, require employees to contribute at least 20 percent toward the cost. Most local governments but not schools could waive the requirements with a two-thirds vote of their governing body.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

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

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