Senate Bill 642: End competitive bidding on state engineering contracts: Passed 37 to 0 in the Senate
To no longer seek competitive bids for state architectural, engineering or land surveying service contracts, and instead let officials assess and rank vendors according to specified (and potentially subjective) criteria, and then try to negotiate a “fair and reasonable” contract with the “highest ranking” firm. The bill does not define “fair and reasonable,” and in the absence of competitive bidding it is not clear how a state department could know that amount. If officials don’t get the price they want they would repeat the process with the next firm on their list.
Senate Bill 706: Authorize “automated vehicle roadways” and user fees: Passed 33 to 4 in the Senate
To authorize “automated vehicle roadways" or lanes, use of which would be exclusively reserved for vehicles operating while communicating with an “automated vehicle roadway system.” The bill would permit the state to contract out construction and operation of such roads and permit charging tolls on them.
House Bill 5541: Authorize multistate “uniform bar examination”: Passed 101 to 0 in the House
To establish that a “uniform bar examination” created and administered by a national group would fill the current Michigan mandate that lawyers be members of the state bar association, but only if Michigan officials choose to administer this uniform test in this state. The bill would also increase bar examination fees and related charges.
House Bill 4188: Revise school pension calculations: Passed 96 to 5 in the House
To establish procedures and standards for selecting a vendor for the defined-contribution annuity option authorized for school retirees by the 2017 pension reform law that largely replaced a persistently underfunded “defined benefit” pension system with 401k account employer contributions, or an annuity to be created later, which this bill would do.
House Bill 4277: Ban hand-held phone or electronics use while driving: Passed 75 to 26 in the House
To prohibit the use of a "mobile electronic device" including a cell phone while driving, except for hands-free or voice-activated devices, with violations subject to fines or up to 16 hours of community service for texting-while-driving, and 24 hours for a second offense. This and House Bill 4788 would also increase fines and license penalty points and authorize license suspensions for three or more violations within three years, ban driving with headphones or ear-buds, ban recording, watching or sending a video while driving, ban interacting on social media while driving and more.
Senate Bill 145: Give tax breaks to some home buyers: Passed 86 to 16 in the House
To grant $5,000 state income tax exemptions, and $10,000 on joint returns, if the money is deposited in a specialty savings account the bill would authorize for individuals who have not bought or owned a Michigan home in the past three years (dubbed "first time home buyers"). The exemptions could be claimed for up to five years, meaning $50,000 could be exempted from state income tax liability over time by certain households. Fiscal agency analysts estimate the bill will transfer up to $19.8 million in benefits to these households, with an equivalent amount of revenue foregone by the state. A version of this proposal was vetoed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in 2018.
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