February 22, 2013, MichiganVotes.org Weekly Roll Call

Y = Yes, N = No, X = Not Voting

Senate Bill 97, Repeal child car seat penalty waiver provision: Passed 35 to 1 in the Senate
To repeal a provision of the law mandating car seats for children under age four that waives penalties for a violation if the driver subsequently obtains a car seat and brings it or the receipts to court.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

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Senate Bill 135, Increase age of consent for teacher-student sex: Passed 32 to 4 in the Senate
To revise a law that defines sex between a teacher or school employee and a student age 16 or 17 as third degree criminal sexual contact (sex with a younger student is a more serious offense). The bill would raise that upper limit to include students age 18, 19 and 20 in the prohibition.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 44, Add more crimes to sex offender registry: Passed 106 to 3 in the House
To place on the state’s public sexual offender registry individuals who commit certain crimes deemed insufficiently serious to warrant this consequence, except that the victim is a minor. This would include indecent exposure, knowingly possessing child sexually abusive material, surveillance of an undressed individual, and knowingly restraining another person. The additions would be retroactive, so that individuals convicted of these offenses in the past now would have to place themselves on the sex offender registry. An amendment to remove the retroactivity was defeated on a voice-vote.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 60, Clarify legality of certain pistol sales: Passed 75 to 34 in the House
To make a technical change to a statutory reference to federal firearms dealers. Reportedly this is necessary because under current state law, many licensed dealers could be considered in violation every time they sell a pistol.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 51, Expand forest property tax breaks: Passed 35 to 0 in the Senate
To expand the eligibility for certain forest property tax breaks, increase their value, double the number of acres eligible for the tax breaks from 1.2 million to 2.4 million statewide, authorize a new 2 mill property tax on property in this program that would go to a proposed "Private Forestland Enhancement Fund" to subsidize private forestland management activities, and revise many other details of this program.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 48, Ease bear cub "petting zoo" restriction: Passed 26 to 9 in the Senate
To exempt bear cubs up to 36 weeks old from restrictions on the possession and handling of large carnivores older than 20 weeks. This would allow "petting zoos" and similar operations to let members of the public have contact with bear cubs. Reportedly the bill was introduced after Oswald's Bear Ranch in Newberry was ordered to halt this activity.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Noteworthy Committee Hearings and Action

A House committee voted to advance Senate-passed bills to overhaul the regulatory structure governing Blue Cross Blue Shield, without adding a controversial provision banning the insurer from providing elective abortion coverage except by an optional rider. This provision caused Gov. Rick Snyder to veto almost-identical bills late last year. The legislation, Senate Bills 61 and 62, would reduce restrictions on the nonprofit insurer's ability to own for-profit subsidiaries, and it would no longer be subject to close oversight by the state Attorney General. Reportedly, BCBS controls as much as 70 percent of the statewide health insurance market.

Another committee advanced House Bill 4093, which would make permanent the 2003 increase in the drunk driving intoxication threshold (from .06 to .08 blood alcohol level) mandated then as a condition of federal road funding.

A Senate committee heard testimony but did not vote on Senate Bill 123, which would expand the number of local governments allowed to borrow and spend for convention facilities, and let current convention authorities borrow and spend more to build a second facility.

A number of House and Senate appropriations subcommittees took testimony on various elements of Gov. Rick Snyder's budget recommendation for next year.

Last week, House and Senate appropriations subcommittees held informational hearings on Gov. Snyder’s request that they appropriate $30.5 million in federal grant money for a so-called “partnership exchange” under the federal “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” a.k.a. Obamacare. This would be a federal health insurance subsidy and eligibility operation in which the state performs certain ancillary functions, as determined through negotiations with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, possibly including customer assistance. According to the Gongwer and MIRS news services, lawmakers had more questions than executive branch officials were able to answer 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.

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