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Hike taxes, extend term limits, repeal "prevailing wage"
As required by the state Constitution, Michigan’s 98th Legislature opened on the second Wednesday in January, Jan. 14. It will be several weeks before any substantive non-procedural votes are taken, so this report describes some bills of interest introduced during the first week.
Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 4001, Repeal “prevailing wage” law
Introduced by Sen. Arlan Meekhof (R) and Rep. Amanda Price (R), respectively, to repeal the state “prevailing wage” law, which prohibits awarding government contracts to contractors who submit the lowest bid unless the contractor pays “prevailing wages,” which are based on union-submitted pay scales that tend to be above the market rate. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Bill 4006, Mandate emergency cell phone user location disclosures
Introduced by Rep. Kurt Heise (R), to require cell phone companies to disclose call location information when requested by law enforcement because the information is needed in an emergency situation that involves the risk of death or injury. The bill would grant legal immunity to cell phone companies for making the disclosures. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Bill 4012, Require local zoning let residents grow some farm products
Introduced by Rep. Tim Kelly (R), to establish that under local zoning ordinances property zoned as residential may be used by a resident to grow farm products and animals for personal use and some “de minimis” sales. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Bill 4014: Restrict schools collecting personal and “biometric” student data
Introduced by Rep. Tim Kelly (R), to prohibit public schools from collecting or using student “biometric” or other specified data, including data from a behavior-response measuring “biofeedback” or facial recognition device. The bill also bans schools from administering tests that ask students about their own or family members’ socioeconomic status; place of birth; political affiliations or beliefs; religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs; income; or any other data about the student’s relationships, health, behaviors, attitudes, or beliefs, unless approved in writing by a parent or legal guardian. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Bill 4021: Authorize 5-mill property tax for school buses
Introduced by Rep. Robert Kosowski (D), to allow school districts to use a “sinking fund” property tax to buy school buses. Under current law, schools may levy up to 5 mills for 20 years for a “sinking fund,” which is a permanent fund that may only be used only for land purchases and the construction or (major) repair of school buildings. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Bill 4023, Ban child care for more than 11 consecutive hours
Introduced by Rep. Robert Kosowski (D), to prohibit a parent or guardian from leaving a child in the care of a child care center, group child care home, or family child care home for longer than 11 consecutive hours, unless the parent works longer than that. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Joint Resolution A, Repeal constitutional prohibition on graduated state income tax
Introduced by Rep. Jeff Irwin (D), to place before voters in the next general election a constitutional amendment to repeal an existing prohibition on a graduated income tax (as opposed to Michigan’s current flat tax). The measure does not specify a rate structure, which would be left to future legislatures. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.
House Joint Resolution C, Lengthen term limits
Introduced by Rep. Jeff Farrington (R), to place before voters in the next general election a Constitutional amendment to extend the term limits of state representatives and senators, allowing the former up to six terms of two-years each, and the latter up to three terms of four years each. Currently, representatives may only have three two-year terms, and senators two four-year terms. Term limits on legislators and state officers were adopted by a 59-41 percent vote of the people in 1992. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.