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.

House Bill 4701, Transition state employees to defined contribution retirement health benefit: Passed 23 to 13 in the Senate
To eliminate the current “defined benefit” post-retirement health insurance system for new state employees, and instead offer a “defined contribution” Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), with the state matching an employee’s deposits up to 2 percent of salary, plus an annual lump sum contribution. Employees hired since 1997 could choose to switch to this system and get a lump-sum contribution of the value of benefits they had already earned. Also, to require state employees hired before 1997 to contribute 4 percent toward their traditional “defined benefit” pensions (replacing a 3 percent contribution required under a 2010 law), or else have their benefit levels “frozen” at the current level, with the state instead making contributions going forward into an employee’s 401(k) account. The Senate stripped out a House-passed provision excluding overtime pay from the basis on which the older employees' conventional pension benefits are calculated (potentially enabling some degree of "pension spiking").

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Who Voted "Yes and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 5002, Revise workers comp benefits: Passed 20 to 16 in the Senate
To modify requirements and benefits in the law that mandates employers obtain insurance covering injured workers compensation benefits. Among other things the bill would revise the formula by which compensation levels are set, require workers still able to work to make a "good faith effort" to find work, and more. The most controversial provision bases an injured worker's compensation on pay levels for jobs that are "reasonably available," rather than the person's previous pay, even if the person can't find one of those "reasonably available" jobs. Some of the proposed changes reflect what courts have already ruled. The bill would not apply to police and firefighters.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 855, Give particular firm $50 million state electric car subsidy: Passed 30 to 5 in the Senate
To authorize giving $50 million in state tax breaks and cash subsidies to a firm called “Townsend Ventures,” which says it wants to use the former Ford Motors Wixom plant to make systems related to electric car batteries. If enacted, this would be the second time the legislature has authorized a large cash subsidy for an outfit wanting to use this closed plant; the first deal fell through (see 2009 Senate Bill 777).

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 864, Impose utility surcharge for low income subsidies: Passed 34 to 2 in the Senate
To create a state fund to collect money from a proposed mandate that would require utilities to impose an extra surcharge on customer bills to subsidize paying the delinquent bills of low income households. Reportedly this will impose around $60 million in extra charges on consumer gas and electric bills. The House has passed a rival bill (HB 5189) to use federal welfare money to provide these subsidies this year.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4770, Ban government benefits for “domestic partners”: Passed 27 to 9 in the Senate
To prohibit the state, public schools, and local governments from providing medical benefits or other fringe benefits to an employee’s “domestic partner,” defined as someone who is not married to the employee and not a dependent or survivor. The Senate exempted state universities and community colleges from the bill.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 5086, Ban government sending payroll PAC money to union: Passed 62 to 46 in the House
To prohibit the state, school districts and local governments from deducting money from an employee’s paycheck and contributing it to a union Political Action Committee (PAC). The bill would grant residents the right to sue for violations.

House Bill 5187, Revise Oakland County board reapportionment: Passed 58 to 50 in the House
To give the Oakland County commission the authority to reapportion county commissioner districts, and to change the number of commissioners. Reportedly this is part of a plan to reduce the number of commissioners from 25 to 21. Under current law, the county's reapportionment is done by a five-member board.  

House Bill 5030, Ban state workplace regulations more stringent than federal: Passed 62 to 46 in the House
To prohibit the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) promulgating rules more stringent than required by federal standards, unless specifically authorized by state  

House Bill 5190, Prohibit utility surcharge for low income subsidies: Passed 62 to 46 in the House
To prohibit utilities from charging customers extra to pay the delinquent bills of low income households, which had been authorized in a provision of an earlier statute that was later repealed. Money the utilities have already collected for this would be returned to customers. House Bill 5189 appropriates $62 million in federal welfare money for the same purpose;  

Interested in all the Roll Calls from this year? Cumulative List of All Weekly Roll Call Report Votes for 2011

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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