It’s hard to believe my first year as Lansing and Lansing Township’s State Representative is coming to a close. I’m excited to have had a great year! It was full of successes and frustrations but I worked hard to do all I could for my constituents and for the rest of Michigan’s citizens.
I wanted to touch base briefly to discuss some of the issues the Legislature took up before the end of the year.
Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act
Right to Life’s “No Taxes for Abortion Insurance” petition, an initiated law, creates a new act to prohibit health plans from providing coverage for an elective abortion. Instead, citizens will be required to pay for coverage for elective abortions as a separate rider when they purchase insurance. I’m sorry to report that the House took up and passed this petition.
Under Article II, Section 9 of Michigan’s Constitution, the Legislature had 40 session days from the time it received this petition to enact or reject the proposed law (which it was unable to offer amendments to). Because both chambers approved this initiative by a simple majority vote, it became law without the Governor's signature. The Legislature was also able to give the measure immediate effect with a two-thirds vote in each chamber prohibiting the Governor from vetoing the law. The law can now only be amended or repealed by a subsequent vote of the electors or by a three-fourths vote of the members elected to and serving in each house of the Legislature.
I was adamantly opposed to this petition. Unexpected and medically risky pregnancies are stressful to all parents; the choice of whether or not to have an abortion is a very difficult one and is not something that can be predicted once a year during an open enrollment period for insurance. It is ludicrous to force someone to purchase a rider once a year, then live with that decision throughout the year regardless of unexpected life events that may occur.
This significant issue was initiated by one interest group and a very small number of voters. As such, I did not believe that the Legislature should have taken up the issue (or that Michigan’s voters should have to confront it on a ballot). Decisions about pregnancy are personal, and I don't believe that Michigan's voters want to see legislators or voters replace the judgment of women, their families, their faith, and their doctor. I oppose attempts to restrict a woman's right to choose through legislation, regulation, and/or constitutional amendments at the local, state, and federal levels and was actively advocating against this initiative and its corresponding legislation. The no-vote explanation I submitted is available online here.
Amendment to the Michigan Campaign Finance Act (SB 661)
I’m sorry to report that SB 661 was passed by the House and Senate and has been sent to Governor Snyder for his signature. This legislation amends the Michigan Campaign Finance Act to:
• Double the maximum contributions to a candidate or political party caucus
committee allowed during an election cycle, and require the Secretary of State
(SOS) to adjust the contribution limits for inflation every four years;
• Eliminate the prohibition on the House and Senate political party caucus
committees expending money on a candidate in primary contests;
• Eliminate some disclosure requirements on campaign statements;
• Require a committee to file campaign statements in July and October of a year in
which there was no election for the candidate the committee was supporting or
• Prohibit issue advertisement disclosure, unless the issue advertisement
specifically uses express words of advocacy such as “vote for’, ‘elect”, etc., by
excluding issue advertisements from the definition of expenditure.
I offered several amendments to SB 661 in committee and again on the House floor that were defeated by our Republican majority. I also spoke out against the bill; my comments are available online here.
As I noted in my speech, I’m hopeful that Governor Snyder stands by previous comments he’s made on this issue and vetoes SB 661 when it comes across his desk to sign.
As many have heard, legislation regulating medical marijuana dispensaries, allowing the use of edible and topical products, and classifying marijuana, with federal authority, as a schedule 2 controlled substance recently passed the house. The bills—HB 4271, HB 5104, and SB 660—passed on votes of 95-14, 100-9, and 87-22, respectively. I supported all three bills when they came before me for a vote on the House floor.
HB 4271 allows municipalities to authorize or prohibit medical marihuana provisioning centers (dispensaries) and safety compliance facilities (marihuana testing facilities). The bill provides protections for dispensaries and testing facilities that comply with the bill and with local ordinances. The bill also provides protections for patients and caregivers who comply with the bill. HB 5104 amends the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act to allow for the use of marihuana infused products. Finally, SB 660 amends the Public Health Code (Code) to classify marihuana, with federal authority, as a schedule 2 controlled substance and provide for the licensure of facilities that manufacture, cultivate, and test pharmaceutical-grade cannabis (PGC) and allow facilities to sell PGC to pharmacist and pharmacies, provide prescriptions and provide for the issuance of enhanced PGC registration cards to patients.
I understand the importance of further clarifying Michigan's Medical Marihuana Act and was glad to see that we were able to find a way to provide patients with the safe access to medical marihuana that voters overwhelmingly supported at the polls five years ago.
Schor Introduced Legislation
HB 5164, Issue-Based Ads Disclosure
HB 5164 requires a person who pays for a publication or broadcast of a communication that references a candidate or ballot question to file an electronic report with the Secretary of State that includes the following information:
(1) The name and address of the person who paid for the communication;
(2) The cost of publishing or broadcasting the communication;
(3) The full name and street address of each person from whom the person who paid for the publication or broadcast received money that was intended to be used for the publication, as well as the amount of money received.
My bill requires the Secretary of State to publish that information online within 24 hours of receiving it and lays out late filing fees for individuals who fail to file their report within the time slot specified in the bill. Disclosure requirements would apply for ads appearing in the 60 days leading up to an election where referenced candidates or ballot questions appear on the ballot.
Like others (including our Secretary of State) I believe that Michigan’s citizens deserve to know who is funding ads so that they’re able to make well-informed decisions at the polls. With political spending on the rise, HB 5164 promotes much-needed transparency in campaigning.
HB 5186, Charitable Gaming Changes
The Michigan Gaming Control Board recently proposed a set of rules to strictly regulate charity gaming. While the proposed body of rules are meant to crack down on possible fraud and corruption within charitable gaming, they’re actually quite punitive and threaten to shut down most charitable gaming operations within our state—a problem for the variety of charities that are legitimately raising money for good causes all over Michigan.
Colleagues and I assembled HB 5186 to address some of the issues being raised by the Gaming Control Board and by the number of charities that rely on charitable gaming operations to fund their work. Assembled from input received from a number of stakeholders (including several charities), the latest version of HB 5186 amends the Traxler-McCauley-Law-Bowman Bingo Act to do the following:
(1) Eliminate the use of the term ‘millionaire party,’ in the act and replace it with ‘charitable gaming;’
(2) Establish that with respect to the issuance of licenses under the act, a ‘day’ is the time period from 8:00 a.m. of one day to 2:00 a.m. of the following day;
(3) Establish that when a person other than a licensee participates in the operation of a charitable game, they may not receive compensation that exceeds 50% of the gross proceeds from the event. A person other than a licensee participating in the operation of a charitable gaming must use their compensation to cover all expenses of the charitable gaming event (other than the license fee);
(4) Prohibit a licensee from allowing a wager to be placed on a game (other than a poker game) in which the licensee cannot sustain a financial loss;
(5) Allow a licensee to receive an unlimited amount of money in exchange for imitation money or chips in one day of a charitable gaming event;
(6) Require at least two bona fide members of a charity to serve as workers at a charitable gaming event. The bill prohibits the Director of the Gaming Control Board from requiring a licensee to have more than two members of their organization present or working at a charity event;
(7) Allow a qualified organization to host not more than two events per day for 360 days in one calendar year for one location;
(8) Prohibit the Director from limiting the number of times a qualified organization can contract with someone or use a premises or services for charitable gaming purposes;
(9) Allow a charitable gaming license to be issued for an unlimited number of consecutive days in one calendar year (and prohibit the Director from limiting the number of days that a charitable gaming event may be conducted at a location in a calendar year);
(10) Allow the Director to require that only two charitable gaming licensees conduct events at a location at the same time;
(11) Allow the Director to require a licensee to provide security, including surveillance, inside and outside of an event location; and
(12) Prohibit the Director from restricting a licensee from contracting with a person to operate charitable gaming for the licensee.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged that the United States is experience an alarming resurgence in the population of bedbugs—an issue many of our constituents here in Michigan have had to cope with. It’s a problem that the Michigan Department of Community Health (DCH) has acknowledged isn’t going away any time soon. On the contrary, reports of infestations are on the rise as more and more residents grapple with a pest that is very difficult (and expensive) to eradicate.
Representatives Callton, Darany, and I have been working with DCH for some months on a package of bedbug bills that we’re introducing this week. Our three bills do the following:
HB 5199: Tenant/Landlord Responsibilities (Schor)
This bill outlines the responsibilities of landlords and tenants for the control of certain pests (including bedbugs) in rental units. Under this bill, landlord responsibilities require that:
(1) Within 5 days of receiving written or oral notice from a tenant that a rental unit may have a bedbug infestation, a landlord must conduct an inspection of the rental unit for bedbugs;
(2) When an inspection reveals that a unit is infested with bedbugs, the landlord has 7 days to contact a pest management professional to arrange for the prompt inspection of adjoining rental units for bedbugs. The landlord must provide reasonable assistance with inspection and control measures as directed by the pest management professional;
(3) A landlord may not offer for rent a unit that is known (or suspected) to be infested;
(4) Before renting a unit, a landlord must disclose to a prospective tenant whether or not the rental unit (or any adjoining rental units) has been treated for bedbugs in the past 180 days;
(5) Upon request from a tenant or prospective tenant, a landlord must disclose the last date that the rental unit and any adjoining units were inspected for an infestation and whether the rental unit or units were found to be free of infestation;
(6) A landlord must offer reasonable assistance to a tenant who is unable to perform preparation measures for infestation treatment. If the landlord proposes to charge for the reasonable assistance, the landlord shall disclose to the tenant an estimate of the amount the landlord will charge and obtain and disclose at least 1 estimate for the same assistance from an unaffiliated third party. After making the disclosure, the landlord may provide financial or other assistance requested by the tenant for preparation measures.
Tenant Responsibilities require that:
(1) A tenant must promptly notify a landlord when they know of or suspect an infestation of bedbugs in their rental unit;
(2) A tenant must grant their landlord access to the rental unit for the purposes of an inspection or control measures;
(3) Upon receiving notice, a tenant must perform reasonable preparation measures as set forth by the landlord and pest management professional treating a unit for bedbug infestation.
The bill also lays out various fines for tenants and landlords who violate the above set of guidelines.
HB 5200: Health Department Powers (Callton)
This bill allows local health departments and the Department of Community Health to take appropriate action to control and eradicate infestations (including bedbug infestations) that are determined by the director to be a menace to public health. This legislation grants a director the power to promulgate appropriate emergency rules to address bedbug infestation situations.
HB 5201: Model Bed Bug Policy Development (Darany)
This bill requires the Michigan Department of Community Health to develop a model policy related to bedbug prevention, management, and control for use by local units of government and local health departments. A local unit of government or a local health department may then adopt and implement for its own use the model policy developed by DCH as it sees fit (though it is not required to do so).
I continue to work with a variety of stakeholders on drafting legislation to address issues facing our community and state. I invite you to stay up to speed on all of my legislative action on my website (www.schor.housedems.com). For an up-to-date list of all legislative I've sponsored and co-sponsored to date, click on the below links:
Other House Bills
A number of other bills have been passed by the House that directly impact Michigan's residents. I've included information about a notable few below.
HBs 5012, 5026 (passed the House on 12.4) – Legal presumption of Human Trafficking for Minors Facing Prosecution
HB 5012 would presume that minors are victims of human trafficking when they are prosecuted for certain prostitution related offenses. The bill would require law enforcement to make a mandatory referral to the Department of Human Services any time he or she suspects that a minor is engaging in commercial sex.
SBs 434 and 556 (passed the House on 12.5) – Denying Access to Cash Benefits from Michigan Bridge Cards at Certain Establishments
SB 434 amends the Credit Union Act to require domestic credit unions to work with the Department of Human Services (DHS) to ensure that automated teller machines (ATM) do not allow individuals access to cash benefits from Michigan Bridge Cards at certain establishments. SB 556 amends the Social Welfare Act to require DHS to work with certain businesses who provide point of sale devices or ATM services to create and implement a plan to block access to cash assistance from Bridge Cards at certain establishments, including casinos, liquor stores, and adult entertainment establishments.
HB 4729, Creation of the Intrastate Emergency Management Assistance Agreement (passed the House on 12.5)
HB 4729 creates the Intrastate Emergency Management Assistance Agreement to establish a system of mutual aid between local units of government in the state.
HBs 4571 and 4572, Changing Taxes on Aviation Fuel (passed the House on 12.5)
HB 4571 and HB 4572 are a tie-barred package changing the taxation of aviation fuel and eliminating the sales tax on aviation fuel. HB 4571 changes the fuel tax from 3 cents per gallon to 4 percent of the average wholesale price of aviation fuel, as determined by the Department of Treasury. HB 4572 exempts the sale of aviation fuel from the collection of the state sales tax.
SB 174, Creation of the “Security Freeze Act” (passed the House on 12.10)
SB 174 would create the “Security Freeze Act” to allow consumers and authorized representatives of protected consumers to request that a consumer reporting agency (CRA) place a freeze on their credit reports, if the request meets certain conditions. The bill also provides the procedures to temporarily lift or remove the freeze.
SBs 665, 666, Establishment of the Michigan State Capitol Historic Site (passed the House on 12.11)
Senate Bills 665 and 666 are part of a tie-barred, bicameral bill package to establish the Michigan State Capitol Historic Site and the Michigan State Capitol Commission to manage the site.
SB 90, Exclusion of Use Tax on the Value of a Trade-In on a New or Used Vehicle (passed the House on 12.11)
SB 90 would exclude from use tax the value of a trade-in on a new or used motor vehicle, titled watercraft, or recreational vehicle, with the maximum trade-in value for a vehicle or watercraft phased in over several years.
HB 4808, Prohibition of Mandatory Life in Prison without Parole for Juveniles (passed the House on 12.11)
HB 4808 amends several sections of the Michigan Penal Code to prohibit mandatory life in prison without parole (LWOP) sentences for juvenile offenders.
SB 374, Establishment of the Student Safety Act (passed the House on 12.11)
SB 374 establishes the Student Safety Act, which create a new “hotline” through which people can anonymously text, call, or report online the threat of potential self-harm and potential harm or criminal acts at schools. The program would be overseen by the Department of Attorney General (DAG) in consultation with the Departments of State Police (MSP), Community Health (DCH), and Education (MDE).
SBs 541-545, Amendment to the Publically Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act (passed the House on 12.11)
This package of bills amends the Publically Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act by modifying the requirements for public employer funded health care benefits. The Act limits the amount State and local employers may contribute toward employees’ medical benefit plans.
HB 4865, Requirements for Mobile Dentistry (passed the House on 12.11)
HB 4865 would add a new section to the Public Health Code to regulate and develop permit requirements for mobile dentistry in the state of Michigan.
HBs 4694, 4695, and 4696, Establishment of Mental health Courts (passed the House on 12.12)
HBs 4694 through 4696 statutorily establish mental health courts. The bills are all tie-barred to each other.
HB 4576, Regulation and Licensing of ACA Navigators (passed the House on 12.12)
HB 4576 would amend the Michigan Insurance Code of 1956 to provide for the regulation and licensing of Navigators required for the Health Benefit Exchange established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
HB 4810, Allowing Individuals to Maintain a Principal Residence Exemption (passed the House on 12.12)
HB 4810 allows a person residing in a nursing home or assisted living facility and intending to return to his or her principal residence to maintain a principal residence exemption even if the property is for sale.
HB 4993, Surcharge on Base Hunting and Fishing Licenses (passed the House on 12.12)
HB 4993 would earmark a $1 surcharge on base hunting licenses and all-species fishing licenses. The bill would also create a Michigan Wildlife Management Public Education Fund to finance a new wildlife council through the new $1 dollar surcharge on base hunting and all-species fishing license. Changes from the Senate included granting the Governor the ability to make appointments to the council, not the DNR director, and specification that the fund would be a sub account of Game & Fish Protection Fund.
HB 5140, Allowing the Transfer of Special Distributor Licenses within Local Units of Government (passed the House on 12.12)
HB 5140 allows a specially designated distributor license to be transferred to any applicant within any local governmental unit in a county where the license is located, and if the local unit of government where the license is located spans more than one county, it may be transferred within the local governmental unit in either county.
HB 4352, Allowing Pharmacists to Prescribe Epinephrine Auto-Injectors Directly to School Districts (passed the House on 12.12)
HB 4352 amends the Public Health Code to allow a prescriber to issue a prescription and a dispensing prescriber or pharmacist to issue epinephrine auto-injectors directly to school districts/school boards.
Coffee and Tea with Andy
My ‘Coffee and Tea with Andy’ schedule for the first half of 2014 is as follows (note that all gatherings will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.):
Monday, January 13
Foster Community Center
200 N. Foster Avenue
Saturday, February 8
Potter Park Zoo
1301 South Pennsylvania Avenue
Monday, March 10
Gier Community Center
2400 Hall Street
Saturday, April 26
Flap Jack Waverly
1601 S. Waverly Road
Monday, May 19
Alfreda Schmidt Southside Community Center
5825 Wise Road
These gatherings are a great opportunity for me to share news about what's going on at the Capitol and gather your thoughts and concerns about our community. Hearing from you helps me better represent the interests of Lansing and Lansing Township in the Michigan House, so I hope you’ll consider joining in what promises to be another series of productive discussions.
For a full list of events happening in and around our community in the coming weeks, click here.
Thank you very much for your interest in my legislative activity. I look forward to keeping you updated on what's happening in the House and invite you to stay in touch with my office via phone (517-373-0826), e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), or by stopping in to visit (we're located in office 1087 of the Anderson House Office Building, located at 124 North Capitol Avenue in Lansing) to share your thoughts or if we can be of any assistance to you.
State Representative, 68th District