The Michigan House and Senate are still getting organized for the 2013-2014 legislative session, which among other things requires giving committee assignments to 110 state representatives and 38 state senators. Each legislator serves on three or four of the dozens of policy and appropriations committees, so regular committee meeting times must also be juggled to minimize conflicts.

Since there were no votes, this week’s report contains several newly introduced bills of interest.


House Bill 4001: Cap open records law charges and increase government scofflaw penalties
Introduced by Rep. Mike Shirkey (R) on January 9, 2013, to cap at 10-cents the per copy charge imposed by a government entity for documents provided under a state Freedom of Information Act request, and require that they permit and not charge a fee for a FOIA requestor’s making copies with his or her own equipment during an on-site records inspection authorized by this law. Also, to reduce the amount charged by a government entity for FOIA-related administrative and copying costs by 20 percent for each day its response exceeds the five-day statutory deadline (plus specified extensions), and increase the punitive awards to a person who successfully challenges an improper FOIA denial from $500 to $5,000, plus actual or compensatory damages. Referral to committee pending, no further action at this time.


House Bill 4004: Authorize new specialty plate; give profits to particular nonprofit
Introduced by Rep. Dian Slavens (D) on January 9, 2013, to authorize a new specialty license plate, with the profits delivered to a government-funded social services agency called “Early On.” Referral to committee pending, no further action at this time.


House Bill 4005: Authorize state child care subsidies and tax breaks
Introduced by Rep. Dian Slavens (D) on January 9, 2013, to authorize a “refundable” state income tax credit (essentially a cash subsidy in many cases) that would be a percentage of a federal income tax child care credit the individual can claim, with the percentage “means tested” on the basis of gross income (ranging from 110 percent for households with less than $25,000 income to 20 percent for those between $65,000 and $100,000). Referral to committee pending, no further action at this time.


House Bill 4007: Declare “tart cherry” to be the official state fruit
Introduced by Rep. Dian Slavens (D) on January 9, 2013, to establish that henceforth, as a matter of law and statute, the tart cherry (Prunus cerasus), and no other cherry, shall be the official Michigan state fruit. Referral to committee pending, no further action at this time.


Senate Bill 10: Require paid petition circulator disclosures
Introduced by Sen. Tory Rocca (R) on January 16, 2013, to require that if an initiative or referendum ballot issue petition campaign uses paid petition circulators, the name of the organization providing the compensation for the circulators must be disclosed on the face of the petitions. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.


Senate Bill 13: Replace diesel and gas tax with higher sales tax
Introduced by Sen. Howard Walker (R) on January 16, 2013, to repeal the state gas and diesel taxes, and replace them with a 1 percent sales tax increase that would be earmarked to roads. This would require a vote of the people. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.


Senate Bill 41: Ban Obamacare Medicaid expansion
Introduced by Sen. Bruce Caswell (R) on January 16, 2013, to prohibit Michigan from expanding Medicaid eligibility to include all residents up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, including single individuals without children. The federal “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” a.k.a. Obamacare, originally mandated the expansion, but a U.S. Supreme Court ruling made it optional. Medicaid is a medical welfare program funded by a mix of tax dollars raised by the federal and state governments, and originally targeted primarily at low income families with children. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.


Senate Bill 49: Make government firearms ownership databases non-public information
Introduced by Sen. Tom Casperson (R) on January 16, 2013, to establish that state databases containing information on licenses issued to individuals to purchase, carry, possess, or transport pistols are confidential and not subject to disclosure under the state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The bill was introduced after a New York newspaper published the names and addresses of gun owners it acquired from a state database (since then New York has also banned releasing this information). Referred to committee, no further action at this time.


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.