Second leg of Lame Duck: A week in review

Categories: Blog Features,In Case You Missed It

Let’s take a look at a few more items House Republicans
checked off their Awesome Duck to-do list last week

FULL HOUSE APPROVAL

Students first, athletes second

Representatives approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, ensuring student athletes remain classified as students, not employees. This ensures that college athletes will still be enrolled in school for the main purpose: education.

After they’ve hung up their alma mater’s uniform, former college athletes with well-deserved degrees will become important contributors to Michigan’s communities.

Parolee employability package heads to the governor

A package of bills looking to give parolees better opportunities to find jobs after serving prison sentences is now headed to the governor after the House gave it a final concurrence vote. The bills—HBs 5216, 5217 and 5218—give parolees the opportunity to earn an “employability certificate” while serving their time. This gives employers more peace of mind to take a chance on hiring these individuals who have served their time and give them an opportunity to have a brighter future.

House puts low-income heating needs first

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, allocates federal dollars—upfront—for weatherization so agencies can better protect the state’s low-income families from Michigan’s unpredictable elements, especially through the winter months.

The bill requires the timely allocation of federal funding to the state’s energy assistance programs so agencies aren’t scrambling to provide services due to unpredictable fluctuations in need and funding throughout the year. Upfront and consistent funding will help low-income residents lower their bills and make it easier for agencies to help Michigan families.

Bill bars bidders from property auctions

A measure sponsored by Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia, was approved by the House this week requiring proof of sound property tax standing for sale of foreclosed homes. Sales can be canceled if buyers are not in good standing with the county’s blight code, too.

The legislation encourages bids from well-intentioned buyers and protects county administrations from those trying to game the system. At the end of the day, the bill improves communities by reducing annual foreclosure rates and eliminating blight.

Spirited ‘pedal pub’ bills power through House

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, was approved permitting ‘pedal pubs’ in Michigan. With the proven ability to promote tourism and drive local businesses, ‘pedal pubs’ are multi-traveler, pedal-powered vehicles on which passengers—not drivers—are allowed to consume alcohol.

Originating in the Netherlands, the vehicles are becoming popular in Traverse City, Marquette, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids as a means of transportation to and from alcohol-related events. Entrepreneurs offer sightseeing tours and pub crawls via ‘pedal pubs,’ which could prove beneficial to Michigan’s nationally renowned craft beer industry among other tourist attractions.

COMMITTEE PASSAGE

Distressed schools package

This week the Michigan House Committee on Financial Liability Reform passed a package of Senate bills establishing an “early warning” system for financially troubled schools. The package also gives schools that have to use this program the option to use an enhanced deficit elimination plan with the Department of Treasury.