Last update 10/16/17.  Check for any more recent votes

Roll Call Number Date Bill Number Vote Type Vote Reason
1 – 3* 01/11/17 NA Election of House Leadership Yes I voted in favor of electing Tom Leonard the Speaker of the House, Lee Chatfield the Speaker Pro Tempore, and Gary Randall the Clerk of the House, each of whom was elected unanimously. They were unopposed when we had the vote, but I supported Tom and Lee for House leadership earlier because they both demonstrated a strong commitment to our conservative principles and had the voting record to prove it.
4 02/23/17 HB 4058 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House BIll 4058, which makes purely technical corrections to the Neighborhood Enterprise Zone Act, removing a requiring that a certain document be forwarded to the Zone Authority (the functions of the Zone Authority were transferred elsewhere decades ago) and repeal an outdated section that required the Zone Authority publish an annual report. It passed unanimously, 107 – 0.
5 02/23/17 HB 4001 Passage Yes After several amendments, House Bill 4001 was brought to a vote late last night, which in its final form would have reduced the state income tax from its present 4.25% rate to 4.05% over two years. That is a 4.7% reduction of the income tax rate, and because about 53% of state revenue comes from the income tax, that would have caused about a 2.5% reduction in state revenue. I voted in support of the bill in this final form. Our budget is capable of accommodating this reduction, and it is called for. In 2009, Michigan’s income tax rose from 3.9% to 4.25%. This was sold to the voters as a temporary measure to reduce the budget deficit the state had at the time. Since then, Michigan’s budget has increased by more than ten billion dollars, and our “rainy day fund” now has 500 million of our dollars put away. Yet the tax hike was never repealed, nor even rolled back. I can understand well-founded concerns that tax cuts require either spending cuts or replacement sources of revenue. Such a small cut, however, is easily managed within our budget, and would have made a great incentive to find and eliminate wasteful spending. The $195 million that would have remained with taxpayers in the next fiscal year is far less than the more than $1 billion spending increase in the budget proposed by the Governor for the upcoming year. At the same time, our state hands out hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate subsidies every year, and the Senate recently proposed giving tax abatements to a select few corporations. We can save taxpayers this money. School and road funding would not have been affected by the tax cut, and it is always my intent to support legislation that does not fiscally harm our children, communities, and families. I will always do my best to serve every citizen in the North Oakland County community I represent. I want everyone to be able to keep more of their own money and to spend that hard-earned money the best way they see fit. Lansing can afford to give a tax break to Michigan families. Regrettably, the bill failed passage, 52-55.
6 03/01/17 HB 4057 Passage Yes I voted yes on House Bills 4057, which renamed a portion of US-12 in the city of Jonesville the “James Bondsteel Memorial Highway” after a Medal of Honor recipient from that city.
7 03/01/17 HB 4186 Passage Yes I voted yes on House Bill 4186, which corrected a definition in a recent law. Essentially, a mandate on animal shelters imposed by the recent law to check a criminal records database before letting person adopt an animal was meant to apply to pets, not livestock or rodents.
8 03/02/17 HB 4136 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4136, which passed unanimously, for a minor technical correction to specify that delinquent tax revolving funds are to be kept in separate funds according to the year of delinquent taxes. The Tax Policy Committee heard testimony from a representative of the Wayne County Treasurer indicating that the bill was technical in nature and a necessary administrative correction.
9 03/02/17 SB 69 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 69, which prevents vendors from using the Freedom of Information Act to view competing bids on state projects during the bidding period, undermining the government’s ability to negotiate the best terms for taxpayers. Additionally, some firms have told the government that they will not submit bids because of the risk that confidential information (trade secrets, proprietary or financial information) would be disclosed. This would bring Michigan in line with 41 other states and the federal government offering this protection. It passed 106 to 2.
10* 03/08/17 SB 69 Concurrence Yes (To concur with the original version as passed by the Senate.)
11, 12, 13 03/08/17 SB 5, 6, & 7 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bills 5, 6, and 7, which amend various criminal justice laws to standardize the definitions of “recidivism,” “technical parole violation,” and “technical probation violation” and require that any data collected under these laws count technical parole violations and technical probation violations distinctively. This would improve data quality, helping everyone studying the criminal justice system in Michigan have a better understanding of recidivism, and it would help identify programs that are most effective at reducing recidivism rates. Particularly, it would help distinguish between those who return to incarceration due to new crimes versus those returned due to “technical” violations: violating terms of probation or parole but not actually committing a crime. These are the first of several bill we voted on today on a larger criminal justice reform package. They each passed 107-0.
14 03/08/17 SB 8 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 8, which will require the use of evidence-based practices for probation and parole supervision. This meaning practices that scientific research has shown to reduce recidivism (going back to prison) among those on parole, probation, or postrelease supervision. This is a very important step in re-orienting our corrections programs toward a goal of minimizing crime in the long term. It passed 107-0.
15 03/08/17 SB 9 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 9, which would allow representatives of nonprofit organizations to apply to be registered with the Department of Corrections to provide inmate reentry services. These services include counseling, providing information on housing and job placement, and money management assistance. Providers could be civic organizations, faith-based organizations, businesses, or community organizations. I support the work these organizations do to help rehabilitate criminals and make them productive citizens. The more, the better. Despite specifying that no inmate could be required to join a faith-based program, and despite prohibiting the department from endorsing any faith-based program or re-entry message, 34 of my colleagues voted in opposition. It still passed, 73-34.
16 03/08/17 SB 10 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 10, which would require the Department of Corrections to submit a quarterly report to the Legislature on the number of prisoners eligible for parole but who have not been granted parole. This is useful information to help us understand the parole board’s decisions and to help us make better decisions on DOC appropriations. It passed unanimously, 107-0.
17 03/08/17 SB 11 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 11, which would centralize statewide collection, maintenance, and analysis of data on criminal justice. The program would be controlled by the legislative branch, working with state actors including the State Court Administrative Office and Department of Corrections and participating counties. This helps us discover what is working and what is not. It helps us discover the most effective programs at the county and state level. The State Court Administrative Office complained that this bill will make work for them and cost money. Improvements usually do. In the long run, discovering and adopting best practices will save money. The bill passed 83-24.
18 03/08/17 SB 129 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 12, which allows the governor to request an expedited process for reprieve, commutation, or pardon based upon the medical condition of a prisoner. Prisons are not set up to accommodate the needs of the terminally ill, transportation and treatment to a hospital is very expensive due to the need for guards, and prisoners who are dying have no access to visits from family and friends. Michigan does have a medical clemency/commutation process in place, but it can take up to 420 days, and it can only be initiated by the state parole board or by the inmate. This bill preserves the current process, but shortens it by at least seven and a half months, to as few as 100 days. It passed 107-0.
19 & 20 03/08/17 SB 13 & 15 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bills 13 and 15, which would limit the number of days a probationer may be sentenced to jail for a technical violation (failing a drug test, missing an appointment, etc. but not actually committing a crime) to a maximum of 30, with certain exceptions, and allows the sentencing court to reduce the probation period for a felony probationer who has completed at least half of the period of probation. We should avoid locking people up for minor offenses, and allow judges to reduce probation for “good behavior.” We should seek to keep minor offenders out of jail as much as is practical, and spend corrections dollars in the most responsible way possible. They passed 99 to 8 and 100 to 7 respectively.
x 03/08/17 SB 14 Passage No I voted against Senate Bill 14, which would have created a grant for employers hiring individuals on probation or parole. I understand that it’s very hard to get a job as a felon, and I understand getting a job reduces recidivism, but there are other ways we might attack this problem–maybe looking at occupational licensing restrictions on felons–besides just giving your tax dollars to companies to hire felons. An amendment was offered to help reduce the effect of felons taking jobs that would otherwise go to law-abiding citizens, but the essence of the bill was the same. It didn’t have the votes to pass in this form, and the vote was withdrawn.
21 03/08/17 SB 16 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 16, the Parole Sanction Certainty Act to implement a voluntary program that would create a system of parole violation sanctions to the extent it’s possible, using the tools created by other bills in this criminal justice package to establish a system of matching the most effective sanctions to the various circumstances of various violations. It passed 103 to 4.
22 03/08/17 SB 17 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 17, which creates a Supervising Region Incentive Program for the Department of Corrections. Field Operations Administration regions would receive incentive funding for the quarters in which they achieve a measurable reduction in parole and probation revocations over the previous quarter. This would have no financial impact on local governments, and might save the state money by reducing the cost of incarcerating people. With the corrections budget accounting for over $2 billion each year, this is a better way to rein in costs than simply letting letting offenders out. This is part of a multi-pronged approach to increase rehabilitation rates and lower costs. This particular prong passed 63 to 44.
23 & 24 03/08/17 SB 18 & 19 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bills 18 and 19, to require the Department of Corrections to provide a list of parole absconders to the Department of Health and Human Services on a quarterly basis and prohibit DHHS from granting food assistance to anyone with an outstanding felony warrant and prohibit food and cash assistance to someone with a warrant for absconding. Seems reasonable to me not to give your tax dollars to criminals at large. These bills passed 103-4 and 101-6 respectively.
25 03/08/17 SB 20 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 20, to amend the Corrections Code to update an outdated term for a high school equivalency certificate. It replaces “general education development” (GED) with “high school equivalency.” This change is technical in essence. GED has always been understood to mean high school equivalency. It passed 104 to 3.
26 03/08/17 SB 21 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 21, to specifically include minor crime victims (victims who are minors, not victims of “minor” crimes) as among those who can receive compensation from the Crime Victim’s Rights Fund. It passed 107 to 0.
27 03/08/17 SB 22 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 22, to require that the Department of Corrections develop rehabilitation plans for prisoner 18-22 years old and provide programming for inmates of that age. The substitute bill passed by the House removed a requirement that called for prisoners aged 18-22 to be housed only with prisoners in that same range, focusing instead on insuring their is a program targeted toward those younger prisoners who may change their lives while they are still young and can do the most good. It passed 107 to 0.
28 & 29 03/08/17 SB 23 & 24 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bills 23 and 24, which creates the Swift and Sure Probation Supervision Fund, establishes eligibility criteria, prohibits judging from ignoring the list of sanctions and remedies imposed on probationers, shifts compliance responsibility from Swift and Sure programs to the judge overseeing the probationer, and allows a circuit court in any circuit to institute a swift and sure court. Swift and Sure is an intensive supervision program that targets high-risk felony offenders with a history of probation violations or failures. Participants are closely monitored and probation violations are quickly addressed with the imposition of graduated sanctions. This is shown to reduce serious probation violations. Although there is a cost, this may be offset in the long term by reduced incarceration rates. This bill (and all of the bills in this package, I think) were supported by the Michigan Sheriff’s Assocation and Attorney General Bill Schuette. Both bills passed 106 to 1.
30 03/08/17 SB 50 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 50, which would allow county jails to keep prisoners in jail instead of transferring them to state prisons, subject to various eligibility conditions. To whatever degree counties would participate, this lowers the cost of incarceration, which is much higher at prisons than at jails. It passed 65 to 42.
31 03/09/17 SB 39 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 39, which revises a detail about who is considered a “surviving spouse” for the purpose of making decisions about a funeral arrangement or final disposition. The bill would allow a “surviving spouse” to include for that purpose a spouse that was willfully absent or deserted the decedent spouse. Where that circumstance may be an important determinate in how a deceased person’s estate will be probated in regards to inheritance, it simply is beyond the ability of staff at a funeral home or cemetery to make such legal distinctions. It passed 108-0.
32 03/09/17 HB 4208 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4208, which would disallow legislators that have resigned or been expelled from the legislature from running in the special election to replace them for the remainder of the term. The only time a legislator would run for a seat he or she just resigned is if the resignation was offered to avoid expulsion–otherwise, they wouldn’t resign in the first place. So really, the issue is a lawmaker being forced to step down. This only ever happens in extraordinary circumstances when there is absolutely no doubt that a legislator is unfit to remain for office. In these extraordinary circumstances, the constituents of a disgraced ex-lawmaker deserve the peace of mind that they will not be tormented over a period of months by the same ex-lawmaker making a spectacle of himself or herself. The people deserve the peace of mind that there is no chance that voters of the opposing party might deliberately organize to nominate the disgraced ex-lawmaker in hopes of recapturing the seat. There is no constitutional issue with requiring a resignation or expulsion be valid for the balance of the two-year term. It passed 72-36.
33 03/14/17 HB 4080 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4080, which in essence allows public schools to avoid some taxes on energy optimization projects, and avoid putting them on paper as long-term liabilities. The scheme is more complicated, but that’s what it boils down to. You can read the details at this link. These projects are expected to pay for themselves in the long run through energy savings. I’m not crazy about giving out targeted tax cuts, but schools receive tax dollars, so taxing them on the other end is wasteful to begin with. Our schools will benefit from this legislation, and I see no sense in opposing it. It passed 106 to 2.
34 03/14/17 HB 4013 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4013, which allows a person to use an electronic copy of their vehicle registration instead of a paper copy to demonstrate to a police officer that their vehicle is registered. This is already allowed for providing proof of registration, and it’s common sense that these electronic forms should be accepted now that technology allows them. It passed 108 to 0.
35 – 44 03/16/17 HB 4149 – Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bills 4148 through 4157, a package of bills to create a new Legislative Open Records Act (LORA) to provide for public inspection of legislative records beginning in the next term. The bills largely mirror current provisions in the Freedom of Information Act, although several processes and exemptions are altered to satisfy institutional issues (for example, there is an exemption for caucus-specific materials) and constitutional concerns (for example, appeals of denials and fee determinations go to a non-partisan entity within the Legislature, the Legislative Council Administrator, rather than to a court as FOIA provides). As President James Madison said, “A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps, both.” All of the bills passed 108 to 0.
45 & 46 03/16/17 HB 4063 & 4064 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4063 and 4064, which would make it a felony to intentionally point laser beams at aircraft for recreation. Apparently, this is something kids are doing, and it’s very dangerous to pilots, passengers, and crew. They passed 107-1 and 106-2 respectively.
47 03/16/17 HB 4137 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4137, to expand the ability of parents of a child with special needs to have the child’s photo and fingerprints submitted to a statewide registration system, for the purpose of distribution if that child or youth becomes missing or a runaway. This was previously allowed for children up to the age of 17. However, many special needs children are still living with their parents or guardians past 17 years of age. To account for this, the bill would expand the age of fingerprinting and photographing individuals with special needs to 21 years of age. It passed unanimously, 108 to 0.
48 03/16/17 HB 4077 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4077, which prohibits a public body (like a city government) from suing someone for filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Last year, a local newspaper filed a FOIA request in two counties seeking the personnel records of certain public employees running for the position of county sheriff, parts of which were exempt from FOIA. A county sued the paper, and after a court spat it was held that the county should have denied that part of the request rather than suing the requester. Commentators like the Columbia Journalism Review have pointed to this lawsuit as the latest development in a growing trend to deal with FOIA requesters by preemptively commencing suit against them. They note that similar lawsuits have been brought by public bodies in at least five other states and are increasing in frequency. To prevent this from happening again in our state, we should prohibit public bodies from commencing a lawsuit against a record requester. It passed 108-0.
49 03/16/17 SB 34 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 34, to name a part of US-23 in Genesee county the “Sergeant Joe Johnson Memorial Highway.” Joe Johnson was a native of Flint, killed at age 24 in Afghanistan. It passed unanimously, 108-0.
50* 03/21/17 SB 69 Passage Yes I voted again for Senate Bill 69, this time to adopt a version that narrows the scope the bill by exempting from disclosure only contract bid documents in the period before the bids are opened, and a bidder’s actual trade secrets as defined by another state law. It passed 108-0.
51 & 52 03/21/17 HB 4203 & 4204 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4203 and 4204, which allow the police to obtain a driver’s license photo for the purpose of processing a Concealed Pistol License application, rather than requiring the applicant take a new photo. Both passed unanimously, 108-0.
53 03/22/17 HB 4219 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4219, which would expand the “safe harbor” for victims of human trafficking. It allows victims of human trafficking to be eligible for deferral and probation, instead of a guilty verdict and possible jail/prison, in a prosecution for certain crimes (e.g., solicitation of prostitution) even if the victim has been convicted of one of those crimes before. Human trafficking is barbaric and intolerable. It is a form of slavery. Its victims are not criminals at all; in being coerced to break the law, they are actually victims on a second count. It passed unanimously, 108-0.
54 03/22/17 SB 213 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 213, which allows for the prescription of drugs via “telehealth” programs in some circumstances. In order to prescribe controlled substances the health professional must provide the patient with a geographically accessible referral for additional health care services, if deemed medically necessary, and the health professional must make themselves available to the patient for follow up services.Telehealth provides patients with more options, lowering the cost of care and helping people who have mobility issues. The bill would also “corrects” a recent law that provides “title protection” for clinical nurse specialists without defining (or, actually, instructing the Michigan Board of Nursing to define) the profession. SB 213 would delay the protection for a year in order to give the Board time to promulgate those rules. It passed 104-4.
55 03/22/17 HB 4329 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4329, which passes $100 million in federal dollars to Flint, $3 million in restricted funding for the Macomb County Emergency, and $1 million from the General Fund for the Michigan State Capitol Commission for continued mechanical and engineering upgrades. The federal funds for Flint were appropriated by Congress; the state is simply a pass-through entity. The state was required to appropriate a 20% match, and did so in last year’s budget. The funds for Macomb county were a necessary response to an emergency, to assist with the construction of a long-term bypass pump to prevent the backup of sewage into the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair. And the money for the Capitol will be used for necessary plumbing and electrical repairs and upgrades. The Capitol’s infrastructure is deteriorating and severely outdated. It passed 101-7.
56 03/23/17 HB 4167 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4167, which would allow for truck/trailer combination vehicles up to 75 feet in length to travel our highways to transport agricultural drainage tubing. This length is already allowed by surrounding states and Canada, so this makes it easier for companies to transport such tubing in and through Michigan. Supporters of the bill have testified that the weight of the agricultural drainage tubing is about 40,000 pounds, which is within the weight limit under the Michigan Vehicle Code. It’s dubious that this length would pose a safety issue, and even if so, that issue is best taken up by insurers. The bill passed 97-11.
57 03/28/17 HB 4070 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4070, which would provide that courts award attorney fees and court costs of private property owners in the event of a wrongful constitutional taking of private property and a failure of the department to consult the guidelines on what is an allowable taking. Amendment V of the United States Constitution states, in part, “no person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Amendment XIV of the United States Constitution also states, in part, “nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Article I, Section 23 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963 says, “the enumeration in this constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Article X, Section 2 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963 reads, in part, “private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation therefore being first made or secured in a manner prescribed by law.” This bill strengthens citizens’ protection against wrongful property seizures. It passed 76-31.
58 03/28/17 HB 4259 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4259, to expand the authority of the state Auditor General to obtain electronic data and confidential records in its work, while prohibiting unauthorized releases. The auditor general is charged with conducting post audits of financial transactions and accounts of the state and of all branches, departments, offices, boards, commissions, agencies, authorities, and institutions of the state. In addition, the auditor general is required to perform performance post audits of these entities. The AG’s authority is a vital component of oversight. This bill ensures the AG will no longer experience undue delays in accessing records in performance of his duties. The bill passed unanimously, 107-0.
59 03/29/17 HB 4213 Passage Yes I voted Yes on House Bill 4213, which would require police obtain a court order before administering a “breathalyzer” alcohol test on non-consenting minors and adults under the age of 21. (This does not apply to those driving a car, for whom the “implied consent” doctrine applies.) This bill would bring Michigan law into compliance with the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of Michigan, and court cases that have held that search and seizure is unconstitutional unless provided by search warrant. Everyone deserves constitutional protections from unreasonable searches. The bill passed 102 to 6.
60 03/29/17 HB 4048 Passage No I voted against House Bill 4048, which would require veteran homes to give hiring preference to veterans. I have a deep and sincere respect for our veterans, and I believe we Americans owe our veterans a debt for their service. That debt, however, is federal in nature. I do not believe it is the proper role of our state government to be giving groups preferential treatment in hiring, which, of course, means disfavor to others. I appreciate my colleague Steve Johnson, a former Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force, joining me in opposing this bill. We were the only two; it passed 106 to 2.
61 03/29/17 HB 4131 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4131, to require the forfeiture of retirement benefits if a public employee is convicted of a felony arising out of his or her service as a public employee. It also allows a court to freeze or protect retirement benefits pending the outcome of a criminal case. This prevents the situation where an individual attempts to avoid forfeiture by pulling out a retirement benefit (e.g. 401k) after the commission of a crime. A public officer has a duty to maintain the public trust. Taxpayer-funded pensions are for individuals who have committed their lives to public service through years of hard work – not for those who have exploited their position and broken the public’s trust. It passed 108-0.
62* 03/30/17 HB 4329 Concurrence Yes I voted again for House Bill 4329, in the same form as when it passed the House on March 22. The Senate voted to modify the bill to provide a $5 million loan instead of a $3 million grant to fix a sinkhole in Macomb County; House leadership rejected this change and wants to send it back as originally passed. We weren’t voting between these two options; it was either vote for the original bill again, or vote against it altogether. It passed 101 – 7.
63* 03/30/17 HB 4288 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4288, which makes technical changes in state law to conform with federal law regarding collection for inter-state child support payments. Supposedly, hundreds of millions of federal dollars were at risk if we didn’t make this technical correction. It passed 108 – 0.
64 03/30/17 HB 4082 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4082, which would require the Department of Natural Resources notify local township supervisors and 911 operators before conducting controlled burns. They already do this, but in case there is a mistake, this makes clear that the DNR would be responsible for the financial costs associated with fire departments responding to calls for a fire when they should have been informed. It passed 108 – 0.
65 & 66 03/30/17 HB 4315 & 4316 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4315 and 4316, to amend state high school course requirements. Instead of being required to take two credits of foreign language and one credit of art or music, students could take three credits of any combination of foreign language, art/music, computer science, or career/tech education. Although the bills were tie-barred (only become law if both pass), the votes were different: 79 – 29 for 4315 and 69-39 for 4316.
67 03/30/17 HB 4317 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4317, which would allow a student to fulfill the health education graduation requirement by completing at least 30 hours of qualifying training provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This training would give those students interested in technical careers an advantage, and not every students needs a state-approved lecture on sex education. Fundamentally, giving students and parents more choices is a step in the right direction. It passed 61 to 47.
68 03/30/17 HB 4318 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4318, which would allow high school students to take Statistics instead of Algebra 2 to fulfill this math requirement. Knowledge of statistics is immensely useful in a variety of fields, and an equal challenge on the math track as Algebra 2. It passed 91 to 17.
69 04/19/17 SB 38 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 38, which would allow a parent or guardian of an individual with special health care needs to submit a written request to have the fingerprints and photograph of the individual with special health care needs added to the AFIS database and the statewide network of agency photos maintained by the Michigan State Police. This is a companion to House Bill 4137, which I explained my vote for here:
70 04/25/17 SB 119 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 119, which would transfer 2.3 acres of state-owned land in Marquette county (unused land on the perimeter of a state prison) to Northern Michigan University for the exclusive purpose of studying forensic anthropology. I have no issue with the state divesting itself of its land where appropriate, and in this case, the purpose seems appropriate. It passed 108-1.
71 04/25/17 HB 4311 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4311, which would improve confidentiality protections for parents who surrender their child under the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law. The bill seeks to reassure parents who may have need of the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law, but fear exposure if their family, friends, or community find out that they have given birth to and relinquished a child. In too many cases, immature and frightened parents fear the social stigma, financial burden, and other consequences associated with parenthood, and abandon the child in dumpsters or public restrooms. Instead, the bill would ensure that the far preferable option of surrendering the child to an emergency service provider would still guarantee the parents’ anonymity. It passed 109-0.
72 04/25/17 SB 129 Passage No I voted no on Senate Bill 129, which would create a new regulatory regime for small native copper mining operations that generate less than 75,000 tons of waste rock per year. I appreciate that these smaller mines might benefit from a lesser regulatory regime, but found it infringes on the rights of local governments to set noise and time of day of operation ordinances. It passed 74-35.
73 05/26/17 HB 4286 Passage Yes I voted yes on House Bill 4286, which would make it easier for the department of agriculture and county drain boards to modify the boundaries of inter-county drainage districts. Many of our drainage districts were drawn decades ago and do not account for developmental changes. It is necessary for county drain commissioners and drainage boards to have the ability to revise these drainage districts. It passed 104 to 5.
74 05/26/17 SB 102 Passage Yes I voted Yes on Senate Bill 102, which would consolidate in one statute the authority and process for a municipality, school, or library to obtain, sell, or transfer certain gifts and property to a community foundation. It also would prohibit a foundation from attaching deed or other restrictions on a gift to a public school district that would prohibit the district from transferring the property to a charter school or private school, or restricting those entities from also using the property. It passed 77-32.
75 05/26/17 HB 4325 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4325, which would would allow insurance agents’ required continuing education (CE) course credits to carry over for a two-year period. If someone completes more than 24 hours of CE in an applicable two-year period, he could apply each hour more than 24 to the next two-year period, with a limit of 12 hours applied to the next period. This would not apply to repeated courses or ethics courses. It also would provide the Director of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services with specific authority in authorizing course instructors, and repeals the unnecessary Insurance Agent Education Advisory Council. It passed 106-2.
76 04/27/17 HB 4329 Concurrence Yes I voted (again) for House Bill 4329, which appropriates $100 million federal dollars for water treatment plant improvements for Flint, and $20 million in matching funds from the State. It also appropriates $1 million for Capitol building repairs. An earlier version also included $3 million to address the sinkhole in Fraser, but the Senate removed it. It passed 108-1.
77 04/27/17 HB 4166 Passage Yes I voted yes on House Bill 4166, which repeals a law that requires school special education programs to give preference in hiring to individuals who worked for an Intermediate School District’s special education program but were laid off because it was discontinued. It is unfortunate when special education teachers lose their jobs for reasons out of their control, but the state should not tell our local schools whom they can and cannot hire when it comes to their special education programs. It passed 62-47.
78 & 79 04/27/17 HB 4177 & 4178 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4177 and 4178, which would remove the requirement that ballots contain “vignettes”–the little pictures next to the names of the political parties, depicting Lincoln and Reagan for Republicans and Roosevelt and Kennedy for Democrats. Michigan ballots are among the largest in the nation, and the ink and paper adds up. The images don’t really help anybody: there are already accommodations for illiterate voters required at all precincts that are more helpful than depictions of deceased Presidents. They passed 63-46.
80 & 81 04/27/17 HB 4081, SB 35 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4081 and SB 35, to create a regulatory environment for charitable gaming events, previously regulated instead by the state gaming board, which regulates the casinos. I voted for these bills in committee; see my explanation here:
82 & 83 05/02/17 HB 4063 & 4064 Concurrence Yes I voted to concur with the Senate on House Bills 4063 and 4064, which I previously voted for, the make it a crime to intentionally shine a laser beam into the cockpit of an airplane. The Senate modified the bills to also include trains. They passed 105 to 7.
84 05/02/17 HB 4215 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4215, which I cosponsored, to repeal an administrative rule (with force of law) that made it a crime to warm up your car while you are not present inside the vehicle. A resident was recently ticketed for violating a local ordinance to the same effect. The regulation is a typical example of government overreach into micro-managing the behavior of citizens. People are responsible for the consequences of warming up their cars unattended in unsafe areas, and it’s absurd that people are forbidden by law to warm up their vehicles in their driveways. It passed 77 to 30.
85 05/02/17 SB 202 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 202, to establish that social media games that randomly offer free or extended plays are not considered “gambling.” It does not apply to fantasy sports. It’s common sense that a game offering the occasional free play is nothing like gambling. Sadly, the courts have held that this prohibition also applies to pinball games and arcade machines. It passed 103 to 4.
86 05/02/17 SB 118 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bill 118, which would permit DNR to become a National Trails System “sponsor” for purposes taking over unused railroad right-of-ways for rails to trails projects, or paths along operating rail lines. The DNR would assume full responsibility for liability, for which the railroad would have to pay fair compensation, as spelled out in a mutual agreement between them. It passed 106-1.
87 05/02/17 HB 4313 Passage No I voted against House Bill 4313, the education appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017-2018. There’s a lot in this bill ($16.3 billion), but one thing that was very concerning to me was that our per-pupil university funding, which already varies greatly across universities (a Wayne State student gets $4 for every $1 an OU student gets), would give students at the best-funded universities more new money than those at the least-funded universities (on a per-pupil basis). I offered an amendment to mitigate this, but it was not supported. I was open to negotiation, but evidently, no negotiation was necessary. It passed 60-47.
88 05/02/17 HB 4323 Passage No I voted against House Bill 4323, the omnibus budget appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017-2018 (everything other than education—see my previous vote.) This is the largest budget in our history, and I don’t think it’s right to compare the numbers by taking inflation into account. Saying it’s a smaller budget “after inflation” is basically saying that the state government passes its losses from the Federal Reserve’s thievery onto taxpayers, who of course also suffer from inflation separately. This may be a relatively small increase over the previous year compared to other years, and I may have been open to negotiation on this bill, but I was not ready to support a $39.5 billion budget bill on the first day of debate. It was just reported from committee two session days ago. Again, my support wasn’t needed. It passed 60 to 47.
89 & 90 05/03/17 HB 4209 & 4210 Passage Yes I voted yes on House Bills 4209 and 4210, to increase juror compensation to $45 a day after the first day of jury duty (instead of the current $40), and similar increases for first days and half days. Compensating jurors for their time is a legitimate role of government, and this was the first juror pay increase since 2003. They passed 106 to 0.
91 05/03/17 SB 46 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 46, which eliminates the mandate that the required flashlights on an emergency vehicle must be roof-mounted. Newer light systems can be mounted on other parts of the vehicle than just the roof. It passed 94-12.
92 05/04/17 HB 4421 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4421, which would allow for licensed professionals with expertise in their field (to the satisfaction of the school board) to work as a substitute teacher in a relevant class (eg a licensed engineer teaching a shop class). This is a modest measure to alleviate the substitute teacher shortage by giving school boards the leeway to hire qualified experts to teach the subject. It passed 64-42.
93 05/04/17 HB 4422 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4422, which would allow retired teachers to teach as substitutes and still collect retirement pay. There was some concern that this is “double dipping” because they are paid when also collecting retirement, but they were already entitled to retirement in the first place, and the school must pay someone to work in either case. Whether this bill would encourage teachers to retire earlier is doubtful, since teachers are paid more to work regularly. It passed 102-4.
94-98 05/04/17 SB 111-115 Passage No I voted against Senate Bills 111 – 115, which would create a new “tax abatement” scheme for selected “brownfield” (blighted) properties that require environmental restoration that makes them economically insensible to be re-developed. I expressed my concern about these bills in a letter to the Detroit News, and spoke against them on the House floor before the vote was taken. These bills amount to corporate welfare, and inevitably divert investment capital away from other projects that don’t need taxpayer subsidies. They passed 85-22, except two bills that passed 83-24.
99 05/16/17 HB 4424 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4424, which would increase the penalties for improperly bring certain parts of cervid (deer, elk, moose) carcasses into Michigan. Chronic Wasting Disease is a highly contagious neurological disorder that is plaguing the deer population in our region, and declining deer populations in the upper peninsula are hurting the hunting and tourism industry there. To help prevent the spread of the disease, increasing the penalty for illegally importing these carcasses will help raise awareness that this is illegal and dangerous. It passed 104-0. I’m grateful for Representative Kivela’s leadership on this issue, and many others.
100 05/17/17 HJR C Passage Yes I voted yes on House Joint Resolution C, an amendment to the state Constitution to require the government to obtain a search warrant in order to access a person’s electronic data or electronic communications. This is simply an update to citizens’ existing constitutional right to privacy from unreasonable search and seizure; the law needs to catch up with technology. To become a part of the Constitution of Michigan, it needs to pass both chambers of the Legislature by a 2/3 majority and then be approved by voters in the November 2018 general election. It passed the House 107 – 0.
101 05/17/17 SB 168 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 168, which would change the formula used to calculate the assessment in auto insurance for the Auto Theft Prevention Fund to make it easier to accurately calculate the assessment for insurers of commercial vehicles. It would be $1 per year for the portion of the year a vehicle is insured, rather than $1 per year per private passenger vehicle. It passed 103 to 4.
102 05/17/17 HB 4211 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4211,, to allow the testimony of expert witnesses regarding the behavior patterns of human trafficking victims if the expert testimony is otherwise admissible under the Rules of Evidence and state law. Expert testimony about the behavior of human trafficking victims allows the jury to more fully understand the thought process and responses of someone who is being held against his or her will, and jurors are sometimes easily confused by arguments raised by defense attorneys that the victim was not really a victim but a willing participant in the act. It passed 106 to 1.
103 05/17/17 HB 4065 Passage Yes I voted yes on House Bill 4065, to allow the Department of Corrections to hire a person who has been convicted of a felony if that person’s employment will not negatively impact public safety or the operation of the Department. The policy must require an extensive background check and written approval by the MDOC Director before the applicant is hired. MDOC already encourages businesses across the state to hire former inmates with job skills; if the crimes in question were non-violent and did not involve a reasonable threat to personal or public safety, our own department should not be unreasonable in preventing those who have paid their debt to society from becoming productive members again. It passed 104-3.
104 05/17/17 HB 4229 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4229, higher education appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year. I voted against the omnibus education budget because I believe we could have done more to distribute the funds more equitably to the various universities, but now that the budget is in negotiation with the Senate, I support the House version, which lets taxpayers keep more of their own money. This bill is a procedural bill for negotiations with the Senate. It passed 63-44.
105 05/17/17 HB 4231 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4231, appropriations for the Department of Environmental Quality for the upcoming fiscal year. This bill, the previous, and the next several are all $0 spending bills, a procedural measure used at the end of budget negotiations. When the process is nearing completion and the final budget decisions are negotiated, these bills will be used to finalize the budgets for various items they cover. After conferences between the House and Senate on each bill, these bills will be “rolled” together into one final budget bill. It passed 63-44.
106-120 05/16/17 HB 4233, 4234, 4235, 4236, 4237, 4238, SB 130, 136, 137, 139, 142, 144, 145, 146, 148 Passage Yes I’m voting yes on House Bills 4233, 4234, 4235, 4236, 4237, 4238, and Senate Bills 130, 136, 137, 139, 142, 144, 145, 146, 148. These are all zero-budget bills that are vehicles for budget negotiations (see my last two posts.) Looks like they’re all passing 63-44.
121 05/18/17 HB 4205 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4205, to prohibit the state’s executive branch from passing regulations with more strict standards than existing federal regulations, unless there was a clear and compelling need to do so. This would not prohibit the Legislature from passing any measure as a law. It passed 57-50.

I spoke to my colleagues on the floor in support of the bill. Here’s what I said:

Thank you, Mister Speaker.

I rise in support of House Bill 4205, which would prohibit executive agencies from creating stricter rules than federal standards without a clear and compelling need to do so.

As of 2015, the Code of Federal Regulations was a shocking one hundred seventy-eight thousand pages. The rules are so numerous, so detailed, that they are literally unknowable.

Nothing is too small, too trivial, for the heavy hand of the state. It regulates everything from acorns to zippers.

(There are 24 references to acorns, in four titles. 26 rules about zippers.)

The sheer mass of these rules and regulations is a testament to the federal government’s insatiable need to control every aspect of our lives.

They have thought of everything.

And of course, these regulations sit on top of the virtually endless list of statutes.

Imposing our own rules on top of these only makes all the more difficult for hard-working people with the best of intentions from being productive members of society without running afoul of some esoteric law.

And even if, somehow, we need to do more in our state to control the behavior of our citizens, we have that power to do so, right here in our own Legislature.

This bill simply says that one part of our state government shall not arbitrarily impose regulations upon our people any more stringent than the Powers That Be in Washington aren’t already imposing.

This is common sense legislation that takes an important step to preserve the liberty of the people of our great state.

I urge my colleagues to vote Yes on this bill.

122 05/18/17 SB 176 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 176, to remove a prohibition on posting highway signs directing traffic toward certain attractions if the attraction is visible from the highway. The Department of Transportation requested to bring Michigan in line with how other states regulate their sign programs. This bill gives equal opportunity for all tourist attractions to use the Tourist Oriented Directional Signs (TODS) program. It passed 107 – 0.
123 & 124 05/18/17 HB 4545 & 4546 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4545 and 4546, which would allow colleges, intermediate school districts, and the Michigan Works agency to access aggregate data from the state unemployment insurance agency. This data would reveal where there does or does not exist demand for certain jobs, improving these groups’ ability to evaluate, modify, and establish effective job training programs and curricula. They both passed 106-1.
125 05/18/17 HB 4305 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4305, which makes a technical change to our state Securities law to conform to recent changes in federal law that allow for “crowdfunding” (raising investment, typically from many small donors online for things like music and film projects.) This change was only technical in nature and passed 106 to 1.
126 05/18/17 HB 4160 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4160, which would allow charitable organizations to solicit contributions from motorists in a roadway intersection, subject to various conditions (daylight hours, insurance, safety clothes). Local governments are free to prohibit this, however. It passed 105 to 2.
127 05/23/17 HB 4131 Concurrence Yes I voted in favor of concurring with the Senate version of House Bill 4131, which I voted for when it first passed, that would provide for forfeiture of employer contributions to a retirement plan if an employee is convicted of a felony for violating the public trust in his or her capacity. The Senate version clarifies that mandatory forfeiture only applies to felony convictions on or after the law would go into effect. It also requires a court to determine the extent to which a forfeiture would affect the vested status of the felon. It passed 108 to 0.
128 05/23/17 HB 4611 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4611, which would allow the use of new technology in betting on horse races. It would also create a license for a third party facilitator, with the terms and conditions to protect the public to be established by the Racing Commission. This legislation allows people to use new technologies to place the same types of wagers currently allowed in person at tracks where live racing is held. I support freedom, including freedom to spend money on recreation. Horse racing is a $1 billion part of our economy and supports county fairs across the state. It passed 65-43.
129 05/23/17 HB 4427 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4427, which would exempt certain police body-worn camera (BWC) recordings from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), set minimum retention standards for storing BWC recordings and data, and require a written policy to ensure proper maintenance and disclosure of recordings. This legislation was the result of a tremendous amount of work with law-enforcement and civil liberties groups to create the right balance between citizens’ privacy and public accountability. It passed 108 to 0. You can view the details of the bill at this link:…/…/2017-HLA-4427-23E8A185.pdf
130 05/24/17 SB 359 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 359, which would give taxpayers an extra year to file a personal property tax exemption. There’s been a lot of confusion about a recent law that provides for the phase-out of the personal property tax, while will be completely phased out by 2022. This gives taxpayers more time to properly claim their savings. It passed 100 to 7.
131-139 05/24/17 HB 4229, 4231, 4233, 4234, 4235, 4236, 4237, 4238, 4313 Concurrence No We’re now taking a bunch of procedural votes, rejecting the Senate versions of our budget bills. This triggers the negotiating meetings to resolve our differences. They are all being defeated unanimously, 0 to 107 .
140 05/24/17 HB 4181 Passage No I voted no on House Bill 4181, which would impose some new education requirements on high school guidance counselors, mandating that at least 25 of their professional development hours be spent in career counseling and 25 on the college preparation and selection process. I don’t think it’s our job as legislators to be spelling out these details of state-imposed requirements to work. Schools should set their own standards for employees. It passed 100 to 7.
141 05/24/17 HB 4431 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4431, to extend the subpoena power of the Legislature to include the records of local governments. The Legislature has the duty to ensure that local governments protect the rights and liberties of its citizens, and local governments have no right to secrecy. This is particularly important at a time when many municipalities continue to make fiscally imprudent decisions in a manner that isn’t realized and fully appreciated at the state level until it’s too late (e.g., the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy). It passed 61 to 46.
142 05/24/17 HB 4432 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4432, which would clarify that each legislative chamber has the ability to grant any of its committees with subpoena power over non-governmental parties or records by resolution of that chamber alone, and clarifies the procedural rules for the issuance of legislative subpoenas. It guarantees witnesses the right to counsel and seven days’ notice of a subpoena. Like HB 4431, this helps the Legislature investigate potential problems arising from local governments. It passed 67 to 40.
143 & 144 05/25/17 HB 4350 & 4351 Passage Yes I voted yes on House Bills 4350 and 4351, which would exempt private plane owners from paying sales and use taxes on airplane parts. The states of Ohio, Wisconsin, and Indiana already exempt these parts from their state sales taxes, and as a result, owners are flying to these neighboring states to buy these parts. HB 4350 passed 71 to 37 and 4351 passed 70 to 38.
145 05/25/17 HB 4169 Passage Yes I voted yes on House Bill 4169, which would exempt alcohol licenses issued before March 1 of this year from a prohibition on operating a licensed alcohol establishment within 500 feet of a church or school. There are currently thousands of restaurants and bars operating within 500 feet of a church of school with valid liquor licenses, because the law is seldom enforced. Under the letter of the law, many of these locations are in violation of the 500 foot rule. The state, having neglected to enforce the law, should not now be able to go back and destroy these businesses for a law that was not enforced in the first place. It passed 103 – 4.
146 & 147 05/25/17 HB 4456 & 4557 Passage No I voted no on House Bills 4556 and 4557, which would specify felony penalties for illegally selling, delivering, or importing beer or wine into Michigan. Long prison sentences are called for against violent criminals, people who need to be kept out of society as a matter of safety. Judges should have discretion in sentencing those found guilty of what amounts to tax evasion.

They passed 99 – 8.

148 05/25/17 HB 4558 Passage Yes I voted yes on House Bill 4558, which moves an administrative rule into statute regarding temporary displays of alcohol products and increasing the allowable capacity from 15 cases to 25 cases. I think all rules should eventually moved into statute (see my bill, HB 4364), and raising an arbitrary restriction is good, too. It passed 108 – 0.
149 05/25/17 HB 4559 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4559, which would allow licensed beer and wine makers and wholesalers to sample their products to employees if the employee is 21, the sampling takes place on the wholesaler’s licensed premises, and the purpose is to educate the employee regarding the product. Seems pretty reasonable. It passed 108 – 0.
150 & 151 05/25/17 HB 4502 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4502, which would allow certain self-insurer groups under the Workers Disability Compensation Act agreements to be “exempt” from taxation. Self-insurer group members account for any taxable income on their individual income tax returns, so requiring the entity itself to pay these taxes as well amounts to double taxation of members. It passed 108 – 0. (There was a second roll call taken after someone missed the first one.)
152 05/25/17 SB 163 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 163, to create a “Choose Life” fundraising license plate. Funds raised from motorists purchasing these plates would be contributed to crisis pregnancy centers, homes for pregnant women, and other organizations that provide practical support to pregnant women, provide practical outreach to at-risk populations, and campaign to promote adoption and suicide prevention. It’s a voluntary program to support noble causes. It passed 65 to 43.
153 – 156 05/30/17 HB 4302 – 4304 Passage No I voted no on House Bills 4302 through 4304, which would increase penalties for the assault of court personnel. Criminal penalties should based on the crimes, not the occupation or status of the victims. These bills give citizens unequal protection under the law. They passed 93 to 14, 91 to 16, and 90 – 17. (There was a re-vote on HB 4303 because one representative’s vote had not been recorded the first time.)
157 05/30/17 SB 126 Passage Yes I voted yes on Senate Bill 126, which gives real estate agents and brokers slightly more flexibility in fulfilling state-mandated “continuing education” requirements. A very slight relief of an onerous burden. It passed 108 to 0.
158 05/30/17 HB 4532 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4532, which will eliminate an outdated law requiring men to include their marital statuses on deeds and other recording documents when transferring or financing real property. This no longer serves any purpose since Michigan no longer recognizes a woman’s dower interest in property. It passed 107 to 0.
159 05/31/17 HB 4580 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4580, which would allow the the state housing development authority to participate in mortgage refinancing. The authority would not use state tax dollars to finance loans or operating expenses and the state would not be obligated to pay for any shortfalls in the authority’s debt. This will enable the housing authority to help people pay their mortgages without any costs or liability for taxpayers. It passed 103 to 4.
160 05/31/17 SB 43 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 43, which would allow public employer pooled plans to have an alternative minimum cash reserve requirement if they are “mature” (the plan must have been in place for five years.) Mature plans should not be required to maintain cash reserves much higher than what is needed. It passed 107 to 0.
161 & 162 05/31/17 HB 4540 & 4541 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4540 and 4541, which would extend existing waste handling, wastewater, and drinking water permit fees. These fees (about $1.6 million a year) pay for training and testing for various waste handling permits, which would otherwise have to come from taxpayers in general. It’s better when revenue goes directly to a relevant purpose. They passed 107 to 0.
163 05/31/17 HB 4609 Passage No I voted against House Bill 4609, which would would increase the minimum amount of money in the Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund from $1,000,000 to $2,500,000. The state already has various ways to fund disaster response (for example, there’s $612 million in the Rainy Day Fund), so all this accomplishes is to take taxpayer money and leave it in a vault. It passed 102 to 5.
164 05/31/17 HB 4610 Passage No I voted against House Bill 4610, which would replace the flat cap for assistance grants from the Disaster & Emergency Contingency Fund with a variable cap based on the eligible municipality’s population. Natural disasters can strike anywhere and can cause any amount of damage, so this didn’t make sense to me. It passed 104 to 4.
165 05/31/17 HB 4184 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4184, which would require elected officials be physically present when voting under the Open Meetings Act. The public deserves the ability to speak with their public officials before and after meetings. Allowing public officials to vote from home by videoconference encourages unaccountability and disregard for the public they serve. It passed 96 to 12.
166 05/31/17 SB 158 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 158, which corrects a technical error in a recent law that accidentally imposed a duplicate reporting requirement on scrap tire haulers and end-users. They were already required to keep these transportation records. It passed 108 to 0.
167 & 168 05/31/17 HB 4612 & 4613 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4612 and 4613, which would create a trial court funding commission. In 2014, the state Supreme Court struck down the courts from imposing any court costs on defendants that weren’t expressly authorized by law, wiping out about 75-100 million dollars a year that paid for the courts. Following that 2014 decision, the legislature passed a temporary law authorizing courts to impose “any cost reasonably related to the actual costs incurred by the trial court without separately calculating those costs involved in the particular case, including, but not limited to” costs related to salaries and benefits for court personnel, goods and services necessary for court operations, and expenses necessary to the operation and maintenance of court facilities. That law was due to expire. These bills extend that temporary law by another 3 years, and create a commission to work out a long-term solution. They passed 85-23 and 103-5 respectively.
169 05/31/17 HB 4575 Passage Yes I voted no on House Bill 4575, which would adjust the fees newspapers can collect for publishing legal notices according to the cost of inflation. Inflation is the result of the Federal Reserve printing money, diminishing the value of existing dollars. Taxpayers already bear this burden, and it doesn’t seem right that governments and other entities adjust for inflation, thus shifting their losses on to the taxpayers for a second hit. It passed 98-10.
170 & 171 06/06/17 HB 4209 & 4210 Concurrence Yes I voted to concur with the Senate on House Bills 4209 and 4210, to increase pay for jurors. The Senate bill added an increase in mileage reimbursement from 10 cents to 20 cents per mile. This was the first jury pay increase since 2003; it increases jury pay by 20%. Concurrence passed 108 – 0.
172 06/06/17 HB 4191 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4191, to designate a portion of I-75 in Troy at the Rochester Road exit as the Officer Martin “Marty” Chivas Memorial Highway. Troy Police Officer Martin “Marty” Chivas was killed in the line of duty on April 22, 1974 while investigating a burglary in progress at a gas station on Rochester Road and I-75.1 During the incident, Officer Chivas was killed by the burglars, who were two prison escapees who were later re-captured and are now serving life sentences. Officer Chivas was only 24 years old. The Troy Honor Guard has agreed to cover the cost for the signs. It passed 108 to 0.
173 06/06/17 HB 4168 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4168, to designate a portion of highway M-71 between Owosso and Corunna the “Pfc Shane Cantu Memorial Highway”. In August of 2012, U.S. Army Pfc. Shane Cantu was just a few weeks into his first tour of duty in Afghanistan when he was killed when an explosive device went off in his compound. Cantu was a 2010 graduate of Corunna High School and was a member of the Army’s 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. The Michigan Memorial Highway Act requires that the cost of constructing, erecting, and maintaining the sign and other costs associated with the naming to be borne by the individuals requesting the designation, so there is no cost to taxpayers. It passed 108 to 0.
174-177 06/06/17 HB 4561-4564 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4561 – 4564, which are technical amendments to a recent law exempting grain bins from sales & use tax when used for agricultural purposes. Public Acts 431 & 432 of 2016 clarified the agricultural exemption for sales and use taxes after a long-term dispute between a citizen and the Department of Agriculture, but there were some additional changes needed in the sales and use tax acts that weren’t finished by the end of last term. These bills don’t change and only clarify existing law. They all passed 107 to 1.
178 06/06/17 HB 4557 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4457, which would allow community colleges to enter into “lease-purchase agreements” for energy conservation. Essentially, colleges could contract with vendors for energy efficiency projects, and pay for them with the money they save (or if the savings don’t appear, from regular funds). A similar law for county governments was passed last year. This bill passed 108 to 0.
179 & 180 06/07/17 HB 4335 & 4336 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4335 and 4336, which would prohibit a property owner from claiming a property tax exemption in Michigan if he or she could claim a substantially similar property tax exemption in another state, and allow local governments rescind property tax exemptions on the same grounds. Existing vagueness in law has been interpreted by tax tribunals to allow property owners to claim property tax exemptions in another state and only rescind his or her out-of-state exemption once the county has denied the property owner’s exemption, essentially allowing property owners in two states to double-dip. They passed 108 – 0.
181 06/07/17 HB 4306 Passage No I voted against House Bill 4306, which would increase motorcycle endorsement fees and use the money to fund a new Motorcycle Safety Awareness Program. Programs like these should be voluntary and privately funded. It shouldn’t be compulsory for people to fund these programs for an endorsement. The bill passed 94-14.
182 06/07/17 HB 4474 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4474, which would allow those legally permitted to carry a concealed pistol to do so while on Michigan National Guard property. This is already the policy permitted by the Adjutant General, but could be rescinded in the future by another. National Guard members should have the right to defend themselves while on National Guard property in order to properly defend themselves and the location. It passed 103 to 5.
183-186 06/07/17 HB 4416-4419 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4416 through 4419, which would allow law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed pistol without a permit. The right to self-defense is a natural right, enshrined in the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Michigan. The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that the Second Amendment protects “the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” This legislation says that those who already may lawfully carry a handgun out in the open may now also carry it in a concealed manner. This is a much safer way to carry a handgun as those who would commit crimes would not know that a potential victim is armed. They passed 59-49 for HB 4416 and 18, 60-48 for HB 4417, and 61-47 for HB 4419.
187-190 06/08/17 HB 4636-4639 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4636 through 4639, which make female genital mutilation (FGM) of minors, and knowingly transporting a minor from this state to another for FGM, 15-year felonies. FGM has no legitimate medical purpose and permanently harms these young women’s bodies. While someone who performs FGM could be charged for existing crimes, these bills clearly make these barbaric acts specific crimes. They passed 105 to 2.
191-194 06/08/17 HB 4641,4642, 4661, 4690 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4641, 4642, 4661, and 4690. These bills extend the statute of limitations for minor victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) for criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits, ensure that victims of FGM have a civil remedy, and require the Department of Health and Human Services to implement an educational and outreach program on FGM. They passed unanimously, 107 to 0.
195 06/08/17 HB 4320 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4320, a blank supplemental appropriations bill for the Judiciary and Department of Environmental Quality for the rest of the year. This is a “shell bill” for negotiation between the House and Senate, and will be voted on again once some numbers are agreed upon. It passed on party lines, as budget bills do, 63 to 44.
196 06/08/17 HB 4285 Passage Yes I voted for Rep. Lucido’s House Bill 4285, which establishes that people are not personally liable for an unpaid property tax or special assessment unless they own the property when the tax or assessment was due. Since last fall, the City of Detroit has filed about 600 lawsuits against property owners for unpaid taxes, regardless of whether the targets were actually responsible for the tax liability. Many defendants settled out of court rather than go through prolonged, expensive legal battles. Most states do not even allow local governments to bring lawsuits against property owners for unpaid property taxes; instead they use an “in rem” legal action involving a lien on the property or a foreclosure proceeding. The bill passed 106 to 1.
197 06/13/17 HB 4286 Concurrence Yes I voted to concur with Senate changes to House Bill 4286, which would provide county drain commissioners more flexibility in updating drainage district boundaries. (See my April 26 vote.) The Senate renamed the term “expanded drainage district” to “revised drainage district” and gave the bill immediate effect instead of waiting 90 days. It passed 101 to 6.
198 06/13/17 HB 4508 Passage No I voted against House Bill 4508, which would create a state “cyber civilian corps” to organize civilian volunteers to provide assistance to government and private entities against cyber-attacks, subject to various terms and conditions. I don’t see this as an appropriate role of government; in the private sector cyber-security is one aspect of running a business, and there are professional companies to provide such services; likewise, the government is capable of contracting or providing its own security needs. The bill passed 104 to 3.
199 06/13/17 SB 159 Passage No I voted against Senate Bill 159, which provides a 2000-pound weight limit increase for trucks fueled by natural gas. Reportedly this is to make up for the fact that natural gas fuel systems are heavier than ordinary systems. Weight limits exist because heavier vehicles damage roads, and the road doesn’t care what kind of gas is in the vehicle. It passed 96 – 11.
200 06/13/17 SB 239 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 239, which clarifies the ownership of a portion of highway in the Upper Peninsula. Reportedly the state Department of Transportation believes it will holds title to the right-of-way, and this has created questions about the ownership of the road. It passed 107 – 0.
201 06/13/17 HB 4403 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4403, which would allow acute treatment and clinical stabilization services for opiate addiction when medically necessary in state welfare medical coverage. Opiate drug abuse has become a rampant epidemic, and if the state covers any medical treatment, drug overdoses should be among the most important. It passed 105 to 2.
202 06/13/17 HB 4405 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4405, which would provide a pharmacist immunity from damages if someone sues them for an injury or loss “caused by” their refusal to fill an opiate prescription. People cannot be sued for not doing something they have no obligation to do, and I believe economic transactions, including buying drugs, are voluntary on the part of either party. It passed 91 – 16.
203 & 204 06/13/17 HB 4406 & 4407 Passage No I voted against House Bills 4406 and 4407, which would create and implement classroom instructions on the dangers of prescription drug and opiate abuse. Government programs to tell children drugs are bad have not worked in the past, and I see no reason to expect anything different this time. They passed 102 to 5.
205 06/13/17 HB 4408 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4408, which would require parental consent and discussion of risks when doctors prescribe opiates to minors, except in emergencies. Opiates are dangerous, highly addictive drugs and establishing that parents know and authorize a prescription is an important legal protection for all parties. It passed 81 to 26.
206 06/15/17 HB 4054 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4054, which would allow for enhanced rear lighting on the backs of school buses. The original bill would have mandated their usage, but the bill was amended to remove the mandate. I’m not clear why a new law is necessary to allow for this. Maybe to overrule the administrative code? At any rate, it passed 101 to 6.
207 06/15/17 HB 4323 Concurrence No I voted no on concurring with Senate amendments to House Bill 4323, the omnibus budget appropriation for the year. This is a procedural vote to trigger a conference committee for the House and Senate to resolve their differences. It was intentionally defeated 0 – 107.
208 06/15/17 SB 76 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 76, making $47.6 million in appropriations for Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) projects. State oil and gas well royalty money is earmarked for this fund. Our version removed the 43 additional projects added by the Legislature and only approves those 114 projects that were recommended by the Natural Resources Trust Fund Board. It passed 104 to 3.
209 & 210 06/15/17 HB 4654 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4654 and 4655, which would prohibit local governments from requiring businesses obtain a permit to install surveillance security systems. This would not affect fire alarms and emergency systems. Home security systems already have this guaranteed freedom from permit requirements, and surveillance systems are not complicated or dangerous to install. They passed 98 – 9 and 97 – 10, respectively.
211 06/15/17 HB 4647 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4647, to strengthen the existing Defined Contribution plan for existing and new employees to mirror the more robust plan offered to all other state employees. The reform also replaces the current hybrid plan with a heavily modified hybrid that substantially reduces the State’s financial risks, including by automatically triggering closure of that plan should the plan ever become financially unsustainable. This was a very complex and controversial bill and it was significantly altered in recent days, so I will prepare a detailed explanation and analysis of how the bill works, but in the meantime, you can read my op-ed on the bill that appeared in the Detroit News earlier this week at the link below. It passed 55 to 52.…/opinion/2017/06/13/…/102797218/
212 – 215 06/15/17 SB 337, 338, 368, & 369 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 337, 338, 368, and 369, a bill package similar to House Bills passed last week to prohibit and provide penalties for female genital mutilation. They passed 105 to 2, 103 to 4, 105 to 2, and 103 to 4 respectively. There are minor differences, such as a Senate bill that does not contain a criminal fine, but the essence is the same.
216 06/20/17 SB 401 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 401, which was the identical Senate Bill for House Bill 4767, teacher pension reform, which we voted on last week, for the same reason. It passed 55 to 51.
217 & 218 06/20/17 HB 4323 & 4313 Concurrence Yes I voted to concur with the conference committee on House Bills 4323 and 4313, the omnibus and school aid budgets, respectively. These were the votes to pass the budget for the upcoming year. I voted against the House budget previously, believing more time for scrutiny would have been worthwhile, but the House having passed it, and negotiation with the Senate and Governor now complete, the process had concluded. They passed 64-43 and 72-35 respectively.
219 – 222 06/20/17 HB 4325, 4636, 4637, & 4639 Concurrence Yes I voted to concur with the Senate on House Bills 4325, 4636, 4637, and 4639, bills relating to banning female genital mutilation we voted on recently. The Senate versions removed a fine for the various felonies it created. They passed 105 to 1, 105 to 2, 105 to 2, and 104 to 2.
223 – 225 06/20/17 HB 4641, 4661, & 4690 Concurrence Yes I voted to concur with Senate amendments to House Bills 4641, 4661, and 4690, which provide civil penalties for female genital mutilation and extend the deadline for victims to file charges. The Senate amendments were trivial adjustments. They all passed 107 to 0.
226 06/20/17 HB 4412 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4412, which makes several changes to the Tax Tribunal, an administrative court that hears tax appeals, mostly property tax cases. It would allow members to be appointed by the governor as full-time or part-time members, and allow the governor to remove members for good cause. It also imposes limits on members having outside employment and business activities. It also extends the deadline for people to file appeals from 35 days to 90, and tribunal members could be removed for not issuing timely decisions. These changes all seem reasonable. It passed 82 to 25.
227 06/20/17 HB 4613 Concurrence Yes I voted to concur with the Senate-passed version of House Bill 4613, to create a temporary Trial Court Funding Commission. The Senate version was virtually identical to the House version–they just inserted a case citation in the language. See my previous vote explanation for the bill in general. Concurrence passed 103 to 4.
228 06/20/17 HB 4396 Passage No I voted no on House Bill 4396, which would expand certain income tax pension exemptions for a very specific group of people born after 1952 but retired before 2013 who receive retirement benefits from an agency not covered by Social Security. This would create bizarre tax inequity where similar taxpayers pay different amounts simply because they retired three months apart. In some cases a younger individual could receive a larger deduction than an older individual, or an employee who has fewer years of service could receive a larger deduction than an individual who retired with more service. It passed 94 to 12.
229 06/20/17 HB 4608 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4608, to end the requirement that residential painters and decorators be licensed by the state, a bill I proudly cosponsored. These licensing rules exist to make it more difficult for people to get these jobs (to keep competition out) and do nothing to protect public safety. People should be free to work. When appropriate, certification should be provided by private entities. Thank you for your leadership Pastor Jeff Noble! It passed 62 to 45.
230 06/20/17 SB 249 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 249, which would prohibit school districts and local governments from refusing to sell property to a charter or private school or imposing deed or zoning restrictions to block these schools from opening. Children deserve every opportunity for a great education and the more schools we have, the more competition and choice, the better. It passed 60 to 47.
231 06/20/17 HB 4584 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4584, to require doctors provide parents with up-to-date, evidence-based information on spina bifida that has been reviewed by medical experts and spina bifida organizations, including information on physical developmental, educational, and psychological outcomes, life expectancy, clinical course, intellectual and functional development, and treatment options. The Health Policy Committee heard testimony from parents that had been given misleading information about spina bifida, apparently encouraging those with prenatal disagnoses to consider abortion. Parents should be given accurate information when making these difficult decisions. It passed 64 to 43.
232 & 233 06/20/17 HB 4505 & 4506 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4505 and 4506, which would increase various maximum payments that the Crime Victim Services Commission can pay to health care providers for forensic examination of victims of sexual assault and allow for the subcontracting of certain services. They passed 107 to 0.
234 06/20/17 SB 160 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 160, which would allow that “autocycles” (3-wheeled vehicles with two in the front and one in the back) be licensed as motorcycles. Under current law, these vehicles are required to have certain features of cars, e.g. windshields and wipers. I would have preferred these rules be modified in a different manner, because these vehicles clearly have more in common with cars and ATVs than they do with motorcycles, but this legislation would allow them to be sold and driven (“driven” –not ridden) as they are. It passed 68 to 39.
235 06/20/17 SB 248 Passage Yes I voted no on Senate Bill 248, to create a 14-member World War I Centennial Commission within the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and require the Department pay for their travel expenses in organizing World War I centennial events. The Department should be focused 100% on caring for our veterans; memorial events should be organized by local and private organizations, if not by the U.S. military. I don’t see a valid state government role in this. It passed 105 to 2.
236 06/20/17 SB 219 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 219, which revises various details in Michigan’s Concealed Pistol License law. Most are trivial tweaks (e.g. specifying that an emergency license expires if the holder does not complete a training course within 10 business days); one of the bigger changes is that peace officers with CPLs are exempt from no-carry zones. It passed 104 to 3.
237 06/20/17 SB 380 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 380, which extends various deadlines for personal property tax filings. The PPT is being phased out, and this has made some calculations more confusing; this bill simply gives taxpayers a little more time to properly file these tax forms. It passed 105 to 2.
238 06/20/17 SB 245 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 245, to end the ban on “switchblade” knives where the blade is drawn by pressing a button. This is an arbitrary ban on one particular type of knife that is no dangerous than any other. It passed 106 to 1.
239 06/20/17 SB 333 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 333, which clarifies the scope of specialty “business courts.” These courts were intended for resolving business disputes, but many other types of cases were wrongly filed with them (e.g. landlord-tenant claims, cases against credit union members). This bill would clarify the scope of these courts. It passed 107 to 0.
240 06/20/17 HB 4355 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4355, which would repeal an exemption that allows for police officers to have sex with prostitutes as part of an investigation. While this is not a known problem in itself, according to advocates who provide assistance to victims of human trafficking, it is not uncommon for men to pose as law enforcement officers and use this provision to intimidate women and men trapped in the commercial sex trade to engage in various sex acts with them. This would remove the legal basis for this form of fraud. It passed 93 to 14.
241 06/20/17 HB 4127 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4127, to allow police to used Segways on sidewalks, including the 3-wheeled and 1-headlight models. Seems pretty straightforward. Passed 107 to 0.
242 06/20/17 HB 4628 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4628, to designate the portion of M-66 between M-55 in Lake City and M-72 in Kalkaska as the “Veterans Highway”. Funds for naming highways must come from private sources, so there is no taxpayer cost to doing so. It passed 107 to 0.
243 06/20/17 HB 4438 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4438, which would exempt portable toilets for farms from the law governing septic systems, and instead have state agencies develop rules for field sanitation. Apparently farms have different challenges with keeping portable toilets on site. It passed 82 to 25.
244 – 247 06/20/17 HB 4170, 4171, 4173, 4174 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4170, 4171, 4173, and 4174, which provide for a “physicians orders scope of treatment” (POST) form, an advance care planning tool that would include a patient’s medical condition, the signatures of the patient or patient representative and attending health professional, and a list the treatments which may be administered outside of a hospital. A POST form is a companion document to the better-known advance directive, which delegates power of attorney for health care authority and scenario-based treatment directives. These forms are largely available in Michigan already, but this makes them available statewide, ensuring that all patients have the final say in their own health care. They passed 106 to 1 (4170) and 105 to 2 (the others).
248 & 249 06/20/17 SB 94 & 95 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bills 94 and 95, which would accelerate the phase-in of a recent law to exempt trade-in values of vehicles from sales tax. Providing this tax relief sooner will encourage more people to buy newer and better vehicles, boosting the economy and improving safety. They passed 88 to 19.
250 06/20/17 HB 4583 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4583, to use some of the money collected from a gas tax levied to clean up underground fuel tanks to actually do that. The 7/8-cent-per-gallon tax was raided in 2004 and redirected to general environmental enforcement and regulatory actions. This bill directs that tax money to its original purpose. It passed 61 to 46.
251 06/20/17 SB 267 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 267, to extend the termination date on a 2013 law that establishes a 24/7/365 “student safety hotline” to collect anonymous reports regarding concerns of potential harm, self-harm, or criminal acts against students, school employees, or school property. It was extended another four years. It passed 107 to 0.
252 06/20/17 SB 260 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 260, to extend for six years a provision that allows for inter-state higher education. Colleges and universities within the state of Michigan may provide distance education in other states that participate in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, which establishes comparable standards for distance education courses and programs. The bill passed 107 to 0.
253 06/20/17 SB 394 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 394, which would The bill would increase the administrative rate for providers of general foster care services by $1.20 and extend various expiration dates on rules requiring the state pay for various expenses of foster care for another year. It passed 107 to 0.
254 06/20/17 SB 433 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 433, which would establish rules for fingerprinting licensees for background checks associated with cannabis growing/transporting/selling. Given the legal gray area the cannabis industry is in, ensuring those involved in the industry do not have prior criminal history is a smart step. It passed 104 to 3.
255 06/20/17 SB 410 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 410, to authorize the suspension or revocation of occupational licenses for those found guilty of performing female genital mutilation of a minor. It passed 105 to 2.
256 06/20/17 HB 4759 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4759, to authorize the selling of state-owned land in Lansing: the former Senate office building. Happy to return this land to the private sector. It passed 107 to 0.
257 06/20/17 SB 383 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 383, which would amend the Child Identification and Protection Act to provide that certain conditions that govern fingerprinting a child would not apply to the fingerprinting of a child or youth with special health care needs. This was a minor technical correction. It passed 107 to 0.
258 – 259 07/12/17 HB 4160 Concurrence Yes I voted in favor of concurring with the Senate version of House Bill 4160, to allow charitable organizations to solicit funds on or near Michigan roadways, which I voted for previously. The Senate version modified the bill to allow local governments to restrict these solicitations, but not prohibit them entirely. This is reasonable, as roads are public places where people have the right to assemble (subject, of course, to safety protections and prohibition from disrupting traffic.) It passed 98 to 8, followed by a re-vote that passed 97 to 9.
260 – 262 07/12/17 SB 242, 243, 244 Passage No I voted against Senate Bills 242, 243, and 244, creating a corporate welfare program to authorize giving up to 250 million tax dollars to developers and business owners chosen by political appointees at the Michigan Strategic Fund. Reportedly the bills are an effort to lure a Taiwan company to Michigan. Owners of the chosen companies would get cash from the income taxes paid by their employees–i.e. construction workers will pay taxes to their bosses. These corporate welfare schemes don’t work, have cost the state billions of dollars in recent years, and are immoral to all of the Michigan companies working hard to stay in business that don’t get these lucrative tax deals. They passed 71 to 35. I applaud my 13 Democrat and 21 Republican colleagues that joined me in voting No.
263 07/12/17 HB 4644 Passage Yes I voted yes on House Bill 4644, which would allow carriers that routinely carry oversized equipment on roads to obtain an annual permit instead of having to get a separate permit for every piece of equipment carried on the vehicle, and allows for electronic permits that can be displayed on their cell phones. This is one step simplifying a tedious bureaucratic process for these carriers. It passed 100 to 6.
264 07/12/17 SB 332 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 332, which corrects an error in a recent law that inadvertently removed minimum qualifications for government employees operating commercially-owned vehicles. It also waives physical qualification requirements for firefighters in emergencies. This re-standardizes minimum safety rules for drivers of these vehicles. It passed 106 to 0.
265 07/12/17 SB 474 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 474, which resolves a minor conflict between regarding a certain parcel of land in Kalamazoo that had three different recorded land usage agreements dating back to the mid-1800’s. The bill clarifies that the most recent “plat” (land usage chart) is the one to use, should this issue come up again somewhere else. It passed 106 to 0.
266 09/6/17 HB 4892 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4892, which allows that for this year only, in four small cities where the city clerks posted the wrong filing deadlines for city offices, the filing deadlines could be pushed back, provided the city pay a fine and the clerk submit his or her office to administrative audit, take annual classes, and submit elections correspondence to the Secretary of State for approval in the future. Political candidates rely on public information posted by election officials and it isn’t fair to punish them for having been giving bad information by their election administrator, so I support allowing them to run for office provided we take steps to ensure the clerks don’t make the same mistake again. The bill passed 92 to 13.
267 – 268 09/12/17 HB 4547, 4548 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4547 and 4548, which extend for an additional five years, into 2023, the 0.08% blood alcohol content threshold for operating-while-impaired offenses. Due to flawed Supreme Court rulings on the constitutionality of doing so, the federal government is able to extort policy demands from States in exchange for federal funding. One such demand was the lowering of state blood alcohol content thresholds from 0.1% to 0.08%: The feds would punish Michigan by more than $50 million per year in highway funding if we reverted to the 0.1% threshold. I strongly believe the State Legislature needs to push back against the federal government’s dictates, but if we go to battle for our sovereignty, let’s do so on something more compelling than loosening drunk driving laws. (Education freedom comes to mind.) They passed 106 – 1.
269 09/13/17 HB 4665 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4665, which allows for students who no longer meet the requirements for enrollment in a strict discipline academy to remain enrolled at the option of their parents or guardians. Strict discipline academies provide rigorous and controlled environments where at-risk students receive necessary support. Strict discipline academies are often in the best interest of the family, and parents should have the choice to keep their child in this type of learning environment. The bill passed 104 to 3.
270 09/14/17 HB 4716 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4716, which would provide for termination of parental rights should the parent be convicted of female genital mutilation crimes against their children. Such acts constitute sexual abuse as well as battery; no child should be subjected to these terrible crimes. It passed 89 to 16.
271 & 272 09/19/17 SB 335 – 336 Passage Yes I voted in favor of Senate Bills 335 and 336, which would codify the ruling of the Citizens United v. FEC, which found parts of Michigan’s election law unconstitutional. The bills themselves do not make any practical changes to the law, since they simply implement the Supreme Court ruling. However, I find this is an appropriate moment to comment on the substance of the Court’s decision. Citizens United was a landmark case that upheld the free speech rights of citizens to support or criticize politicians and to organize as groups in doing so. The Citizens United case concerned the censorship of a political group by the same name. Citizens United sought to inform the public of numerous unpleasant facts about Hillary Clinton. The group had produced a documentary and sought to air advertisements promoting the film during the period when Clinton was competing for the Democrat Party nomination in 2008. The district court for Washington, DC held (wrongly, in my opinion) that the advertisements had no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote against Senator Clinton, and that it was therefore electioneering and subject to all the rules of electioneering communications. (Of course, if the mere statements of facts and opinions were held as appeals to vote for or against a candidate, the major media in this country would clearly be electioneering every day.) At any rate, this issue was never actually addressed in the appeals of the Citizens United Case. What was addressed instead was: *Given* that a political organization is electioneering against Clinton, but was doing so entirely independently of any campaign, could they be restricted from doing so?
The Court wisely held—though only by 5-4—that no, they could not. As Justice Kennedy wrote, “If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.” We as Americans have the right to go to our neighbors and say, “Don’t vote for Hillary Clinton, and here’s why.” That’s political freedom. The freedom to organize as citizens, to pool resource to produce documentaries or advertisements, to share them with the public, is an inherent part of that freedom.
In fact, the right to participate in elections as groups of citizens, and indeed to do so anonymously, was a landmark victory in the Civil Rights era. In NAACP v. Alabama, the Supreme Court noted that due to the prevalence of threats against black Americans, many of them were unable to participate in our democracy openly. The right to anonymity was critical in their ability to exercise their first Amendment rights. And it stands to logic and reason that groups of citizens pooling resources to, say, produce a documentary film is an essential part of our rights to free speech and to assembly.To restrict ordinary citizens from assembling to engage in political speech collectively is essentially to reserve that ability for the super-rich. That’s what overturning Citizens United is really all about: propping up a political oligarchy of super-wealthy individuals to manipulate the citizenry into voting against its own interests. Today I heard many speeches on the House floor from colleagues accusing this bill of allowing corporations to be involved in politics. Putting aside the question of whether or not this is their right, I also reject the assumption that businesses participating in politics is harmful to the public interest. Public policy affects people as individuals and as groups. If the legislature proposes, say, giving certain businesses a monopoly, competitors have a right to organize in opposition. Finally, let me also note that there’s something inherently insulting to voters to claim that money controls politics. It’s as if to say that the public votes for whatever side they see more advertisements for; that they lack the judgement to hear both sides and make their own decisions.The Citizens United case upheld the First Amendment rights of citizens. I’m privileged to cast my votes to implement it. They passed 62 to 45.
273 – 274 09/20/17 HCR 13 Adoption Yes I voted for House Concurrent Resolution 13, which would allow county law enforcement to continue to patrol roads in cities or villages located within their jurisdiction, thereby allowing the county to avoid potential patrol funding ramifications. We take this vote every year because the law says that a city or village that cuts its number of police officers may not request county police services unless the legislature passes a concurrent resolution like this one to allow it. This is reportedly an issue in Wayne, Branch, Iosco, and Otsego counties. It passed 107 to 0.
275 09/20/17 SB 356 Passage No I voted no on Senate Bill 356, as I did when it was up in the Regulatory Reform committee, which creates a new occupational license mandate for retail beer and liquor salespeople. Supposedly this bill actually overrules an existing and wider license mandate in the state administrative code, but this bill, instead of modifying the presently-vague administrative code to narrow its scope, simply adds new language in statute adding a new license requirement, subject to unspecified terms to be decided by “the industry.” It’s not clear how precisely this modifies existing licensing rules, nor am I convinced that adding a license requirement in statute repeals another in the administrative code. It passed 106 to 1.
276 09/20/17 SB 357 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 357, codifying an existing rule in the administrative code that allows stores to return alcohol products to the manufacturers when they are about to expire. Seemed reasonable to me. It passed 107 to 0.
277 09/20/17 SB 358 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 358, which puts into law a 2004 Attorney General opinion that retailers are permitted to use illuminated signs to promote brands of alcohol at their location. People should be able to put signs on their property as they choose. It passed 106 to 1.
278 09/20/17 HB 4888 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4888, modifying a law we passed earlier this year that permitted charities to solicit contributions at the side of the road in certain circumstances. This bill expands the definition of charity to include fraternal organizations (eg Elks lodges) with 501(c)8 tax status. These organizations perform charity work and should have been included. It passed 102 to 5.
279 09/20/17 HB 4939 Passage Yes I voted in favor of House Bill 4939, which would modify a law we passed earlier this year relating to minors in possession of alcohol. It delays the date that law would go into effect from next month to January 1 of next year, the same day another law passed last year on the same topic goes into effect. This will lessen any confusion about the two laws going into effect, that they occur on the same day. It passed 101 to 6.
280 09/26/17 HB 4463 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4463, which would allow members of a limited liability company (LLC), if the LLC consists of only one or two people, to represent their company in an eviction proceeding, if that person has direct and personal knowledge of the facts of the case. While people would be wise to hire an attorney to represent their company in court, I support the freedom for people to represent themselves at their own risk. It passed 64-43.
281 09/27/17 HB 4616 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4616, which would allow an individual to sue a local government for enacting or enforcing a firearms ordinance that is in violation of state law. It also prescribes penalties to local officials who knowingly enforce an anti-gun ordinance in violation of our rights as defined in state law. It’s sad that we are in an age where public officials would openly flout state law to abridge the right of citizens to their self-defense, but regrettably, condoning illegality is becoming increasingly common among elected officials, and citizens need a legal remedy in these cases. It passed 69-39. Thank you Gary Howell for your leadership in this matter.
282 09/27/17 HB 4458 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4458, which reduces from a felony to a $330 civil infraction, carrying a concealed weapon with an expired license, if the license is expired less than 6 months and the person is able to renew their license. People should not have their lives destroyed by a felony conviction simply because they forgot to renew their licenses. It passed 82-26. Thank you Representative Shane Hernandez for your leadership in this matter.
283 – 285 09/28/17 HB 4781 – 4783 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4781 through 4783, which clarify the use of electric bicycles, that they are not mopeds, do not require auto insurance, are not prohibited where motor vehicles are prohibited, and so on. E-bikes ride very much like ordinary bicycles, simply assisting the rider by supplying additional power. These bills simply clarified where there was a legal gray area. They passed 107-0 except HB 4783, which exempted the bicycles from no-fault insurance requirements, which passed 101 to 6.matter.
286 10/3/17 SB 356 Concurrence Yes I voted to concur with Senate amendments to Senate Bill 356, to define in statute what rules apply for the licensure of retail alcohol salespeople, replacing rules in the Administrative Code that require people who don’t really sell alcohol (e.g. delivery drivers) be licensed. I opposed this bill when it was first brought to the Floor for a vote because it was not clear that it superseded the existing licensing rules in the Administrative Code. The newer Senate version corrected this and expressly stated that it was replacing the existing licensing rules in the Administrative Code. It passed 107 to 0.
287 10/3/17 SB 223 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 223, which would require law enforcement agencies maintain records of the conditions in which officers ended their employment with them. While the overwhelming majority of police officers have exemplary career records, there have been cases in Michigan where a law enforcement officer resigned from one agency due to bad behavior, but was hired by another agency with no knowledge of the officer’s prior transgressions. This legislation would allow officers to review their records and request corrections, and make agencies immune from liability for reporting the records to other law enforcement agencies. This is a sensible oversight measure to ensure that bad actors are held accountable for their misconduct. It passed 105 to 2.
288 & 289 10/5/17 HB 4821-4822 Passage Yes I voted for House Bills 4821 and 4822, which would require a formal proceeding for the appointment of a county public administrator and roughly double the time frame for appointing them to represent an estate. The administrator must give notice of hearing to the decedent’s heirs, and post notice on the decedent’s property, and make it a misdemeanor for knowingly fail to do so. Reportedly some county administrators were participating in fraud schemes to take over property that rightfully belonged to heirs, although the extent of the fraud is unknown. This legislation was developed with local officials to create proper procedures and prevent fraud. They passed 108 to 0.
290 10/5/17 SB 49 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 49, which would clarify that the restriction on a court-appointed professional or conservator receiving any benefit beyond his or her authorized compensation does not prevent compensation or other benefits from a source other than the estate of the ward, developmentally disabled individual, incapacitated individual, or protected individual. Current law prohibits a “professional” guardian conservator from receiving a benefit beyond compensation specifically authorized. It was unintentional, and needed correction, to allow professional guardians and conservators to receive compensation from sources other than the estate of the protected individual. It passed 107 to 1.
291 10/5/17 SB 352 Passage No I voted against Senate Bill 352, which would require those in youth athletics take a concussion awareness training program every three years. These sort of requirements should be conditions for obtaining insurance, not mandated by law. It passed 104 to 4.
292 & 293 10/5/17 HB 4811 – 4812 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4811 and 4812, which would adopt the recently enacted federal food safety rules (FSMA) in state statute to remove the regulatory burden created by a patchwork of food safety requirements for Michigan’s food processors, maintain market access for processed products from Michigan, and maintain market access for Michigan’s fruit and vegetable farmers. Adoption of the new rules will allow MDARD to better assist industry in meeting those standards and prevent duplication of effort between federal and state regulators. They passed 108 – 0.
294 10/5/17 HB 4999 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4999, which would prohibit local governments from imposing taxes on food. The Michigan Constitution expressly prohibits the State from levying sales and use taxes on foods, and we should ensure that local units of government are held to the same standard. No taxing soda pop like New York did. It passed 101 to 7.
295 & 296 10/5/17 HB 4066 – 4067 Passage No I voted no on House Bills 4066 and 4067, which would legally enter Michigan into the “Interstate Medical Licensure Compact” and allows two (only two) types of doctors–allopathic and osteopathic physicians–to be licensed through the Compact and practice in Michigan. The Compact would have the ability to levy assessments, forcing Michigan to spend money to be a member. This seems to create inconsistency among medical licensing, and I am concerned that we are delegating to an out-of-state body the ability to decide whether Michiganders can practice medicine. They passed 100 to 6.
297 10/10/17 SB 133 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 133, which would supplement the school budget by about $5 million for various programs, particularly in career/technical education, and made a few minor changes to various rules in the School Aid Budget. Particularly of interest to me is the ending of a mandate that homeschooled students taking courses in a public school (virtual or otherwise) submit “educational development plans” to the school district. It passed 105 to 1.
298 10/10/17 SB 253 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 253, which restored funding for various budget items that the governor vetoed, which are mostly funded by federal dollars that would be foregone if we did not pass these appropriations. $17 million general fund dollars for $45 million federal dollars, including a $16 million federal grant to fight opiate abuse that cost Michigan $0. It passed 104 to 2.
299 10/10/17 HB 4424 Concurrence Yes I voted to concur with the Senate on House Bill 4424, which I voted for previously, establishing penalties for bringing deer and elk carcasses into Michigan from another State. The Senate simply renamed the bill “The John Kivela Amendatory Act.” Concurrence passed 108-0.
300 10/11/17 HB 4549 Passage Yes I voted for House Bill 4549, which would allow someone who has obtained a master’s degree in psychology before June 30, 2010 to obtain a limited license without having to pass an exam. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs created a new rule that any applicant after that date had to take and exam for a Limited License Psychologist. This new rule applied to any application that was received by the department on or after June 30, 2010. Many psychology students that graduated in 2009 and 2010 were misinformed by their school officials that because they were already seeking the license, they would be exempt from the exam. Students shouldn’t have been caught in by this rule change, and it was good enough for those who applied before mid-2010 not to take the exam. It passed 76-32.
301 10/11/17 SB 450 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 450, which essentially allowed for a municipal health facility in Branch County to be sold to a nonprofit corporation and continue to be in operation without new licenses, certifications, contracts, accreditations, and even a certificate of need filing. Seemed helpful to cut this red tape, if only for one entity. It passed 105 to 3.
302 & 303 10/11/17 SB 264 – 265 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 264 and 265, as I did in committee, which makes various updates to details for fire fighter training, such as adding two members to the Firefighters Training Council to cover more specializations, and makes sure that money collected through fireworks safety fees goes to pay for firefighter training and examinations. This should cover examination fees in the vast majority of cases, unless a person is seeking to pass the exams before finding a job. They passed 107 – 1.
304 10/11/17 SB 370- 265 Passage Yes I voted for Senate Bill 370, which deletes the definition of “weight class” for martial arts sports in the law and requires the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to establish weight classes for contestants by administrative rule instead. This allows LARA to align the weight classes with national standards and change them in the future, if needed, without the need to revise state law. Reportedly the classes were out of sync with national standards. I don’t think any of this should really be in the law, but if it must, at least give a department the ability to make changes on a timely basis. It passed 107 to 1.
305 10/11/17 HB 4849 Passage Yes I voted for HB 4849, which frees up money that is held by a county treasurer for the care and preservation of cemetery lots if the lots are abandoned. HB 4849 allows the country treasurer to invest the funds and return the earnings to the owner of the cemetery. It is better for the funds to be wisely used, rather than preserving an unknown and/or abandoned lot. It passed 107-1.
306 10/11/17 HB 4756 Passage Yes I voted for HB 4756, which requires a clerk to forward a first offense minor in possession (MIP) to the Secretary of State. The MIP statute was amended in 2016 to make the first MIP offense a civil infraction, rather than a misdemeanor. Currently, clerks must only forward the offense if it is “upon a person’s conviction,” which a civil infraction does not fall under. Forwarding a civil infraction to the SOS will allow for police and prosecutors to have more information to determine whether a civil infraction or a misdemeanor charge should be filed. It passed 108-0.
307 10/11/17 HB 4573 Passage Yes I voted for HB 4573, which allows townships to impose special assessment property taxes for mosquito abatement. Currently only cities and counties have the power to establish assessments to control and combat mosquitoes. Townships should have this same privilege as our cities and counties. It passed 100-8.
308 10/11/17 SB 402 Passage Yes I voted for SB 402, which allows for more flexibility when awarding grants to cities for municipal sewer projects. SB 402 does not increase the total amount of funding available, however, it frees up the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to award funds to communities with the greatest need. It is wise to allow for funds to go to areas with the greatest health and infrastructure risks that arise from raw sewage. It passed 107-1.
309 10/11/17 HB 4976 Passage No I voted against HB 4976, which allows for written settlement offers in conferences between a taxpayer and the Department of Treasury that seek to compromise on tax liabilities. Although the bill has good intentions, unchecked settlement offers should not be left up to the Treasury Department. Parts of the process will be exempt from FOIA and the bill may have unintended consequences. It passed 102-6.
310 10/11/17 HB 4802 Passage No I voted for HB 4802, introduced by State Representative Triston Cole which allows for private marriages between minors to be made public after both parties are no longer minors. These couples deserve the ability to make their marriages public. It also will allow for families to more easily trace their heritage and track down lost genealogical records .It passed 108-0.
311 10/12/17 HB 4574 Passage Yes I voted for HB 4574, sponsored by Representative Daire Rendon which streamlines the process for a disability windshield placard. Currently a windshield placard issued to a disabled person must have the first letter and last 3 digits of their driver’s license number (or chauffeur’s license number) or the first letter and last 4 digits of the number of their state personal identification card. HB 4574 would allow for the placard requirement for a personal identification card to mirror that of a placard for someone with a driver’s license, to include the first letter and the last 3 digits of the number, instead of 4. It is a minor fix, but it is always my intent to streamline government and to make government processes more efficient. It passed>