MichiganVotes.org Feb. 11 Weekly Roll Call Report

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

House Bill 4160, Spend more on state tourism industry subsidies, passed 95 to 13 in the House
To authorize spending a total of $20 million from the “21st Century Jobs Fund” business subsidy program to pay for promotional subsidies for the tourism industry (“Pure Michigan” ads) this year, in addition to $5.4 million from another source. In effect, the bill adds another $10 million to what's already been committed.

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Senate Bill 53, Expression of sympathy not a liability admission, passed 35 to 0 in the Senate
To prohibit considering an expression of an expression of sympathy, compassion, commiseration, or a general sense of benevolence with regard to the pain, suffering, or death of an individual as evidence of liability in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Senate Bill 19, Authorize jail for willfully disrupting a religious service, passed 34 to 2 in the Senate
To authorize up to 93 days in jail, a $5,000 penalty and 100 hours of community service for willfully disrupting a religious service or obstructing a person's entry. The bill was introduced after homosexual activists disrupted services in a Lansing area Christian service in 2008.

Senate Bill 20, Ban imposing new business ergonomic regulations, passed 25 to 12 in the Senate
To prohibit the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) or other state agencies from imposing rules and regulations regarding workplace “ergonomics.” During the Granholm administration, a “workgroup” met over several years to draft such rules.

Some newly-introduced bills of interest:

House Bill 4214 (Increase power of school and local emergency financial managers)
Introduced by Rep. Al Pscholka (R), to add to the conditions that can trigger the appointment of an “emergency financial manager” (EFM) for a fiscally failing local government or school district. The EFM would have many more powers than under current law, including the power to cancel existing government or school union collective bargaining agreements and other contracts. School EFMs would also have authority over academic matters. The EFM could also order new borrowing, or put a property tax millage increase on the ballot. Referred to committee, hearings underway.

Senate Bill 113 and House Bill 4176 (Limit power of school emergency financial managers)
Introduced by Sen. Tupac Hunter (D) and Rep. David Nathan (D), to require the emergency financial managers appointed to failing school districts like Detroit’s to include in a required financial plan a “district improvement plan” developed by the school board with the school employee union (Detroit Federation of Teachers or Michigan Education Association). The emergency financial manager would have to file quarterly reports on this and the financial plan with the state oversight board proposed by Senate Bill 112 and House Bill 4177. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 135 (Revise abortion parental authority waiver)
Introduced by Sen. David Robertson (R), to revise the requirements for a court considering a petition from a minor for authority to get an abortion over the objection of her parents. The bill would require a court to consider the rebuttable presumption that a minor is not capable of providing informed consent for medical treatment. A waiver of parental denial could only be granted if the girl demonstrates a level of maturity based on various factors specified in the bill, or if her parents are neglectful or abusive. A girl whose petition was denied could not seek a waiver in another court division, but could appeal to a higher court. A very similar bill was vetoed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2004. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 4241 (Repeal “teacher tenure” law)
Introduced by Rep. Bill Rogers (R), to repeal the “teacher tenure” law that makes it extremely difficult for a school district to fire a teacher who has been granted tenure after an initial four year probationary period. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 130 (Ban drivers license renewal if three unpaid parking tickets)
Introduced by Sen. Dave Hildenbrand (R), to reduce from six to three the number of unpaid parking tickets a person can have before the Secretary of State will not renew a driver license. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.