Southwest Michigan Today: Wednesday December 5, 2018

Dec 5, 2018

State Capitol - file photo
Credit Cheyna Roth / Michigan Public Radio Network

Changes to voter-initiated laws on minimum wage and sick time are on their way to Governor Snyder. Bills related to abortion, wetlands and allowing the Legislature to intervene in court action also advance. Kalamazoo “pauses” development of some natural protection areas.

(MPRN) The state Attorney General has given the thumbs up to lawmakers amending controversial measures. In September, lawmakers adopted two proposals. One would increase the state’s minimum wage and the other would require employers to offer paid, earned sick time. Lawmakers adopted the measures so they could later make changes with just a simple majority – and that’s what they’ve done during the lame duck session. Supporters of the original measures say those changes gutted the law, and have threatened to sue if the changes are adopted. In his opinion, Attorney General Bill Schuette said there is nothing in any part of the state constitution that prevents the Legislature from adopting and amending the measures. Those changes are now on their way to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature.

(WCMU) Over $1-million has gone to lawmakers from groups in favor of gutting sick time and minimum wage initiatives in the state legislature. The Michigan Campaign Finance Network tracked money spent this year by groups who have been vocally in favor of bills geared towards changing both minimum wage and sick time initiatives. Network director Craig Mauger says groups such as the Michigan Bankers Association and the Michigan Restaurant Association have made large campaign contributions and tried to get the voter-initiated laws changed. Mauger says among the groups opposed to the recent legislative action, his group has tracked 63-thousand dollars in campaign donations

(MPRN) The state House health policy committee passed controversial abortion legislation Tuesday. It would permanently prevent women from using telemedicine to obtain abortion medication. Opponents say the Legislation would restrict access to medication abortions. Right to Life of Michigan says the abortion medication can be dangerous and women should have a doctor present and readily available if they take it.

(MPRN) A state Senate panel has approved a bill which would create a framework for a citizen commission to oversee legislative redistricting. Under the bill the Secretary of State determines how to distribute applications and provide rules for who is eligible to be selected. It would also create criteria to determine affiliation with political parties. Residents who apply to be a member of the 13-person commission and who are not truthful about their political affiliation could be subject to a $500 fine. The President of Voters Not Politicians the anti-gerrymandering group behind Proposal Two on the November ballot says the bill is an attempt to shirk the will of Michigan voters who overwhelmingly supported the proposal at the polls.

(MPRN) A state House committee passed a bill that opponents say strips power from the office of the state Attorney General. The bill would let the House and Senate intervene in any court proceeding it deems necessary – without first getting permission from the judge. Supporters say the Legislature is an elected body and this will help them represent the people better.

(MPRN) The state Senate has passed a bill that would eliminate some protections for wetlands and inland lakes. It would get rid of some permit requirements for landowners looking to build on wetlands. Republican state Senator Tom Casperson, who proposed the legislation, says the current law is prohibitive to farmers… and gives too much discretion to state regulators. Wetlands protect shorelines from the impacts of floods absorb pollutants… and provide habitat for plants and animals. The bill now goes to the House.

(Kalamazoo Gazette) The City of Kalamazoo is hitting the "pause button" on development of some "natural protection areas." The Kalamazoo Gazette says city commissioners approved the six-month moratorium Monday night. They say that will give city officials time to come up with policies on the issue. Some environmental groups are worried about a planned development on Stadium Drive near the Asylum Lake Preserve. It's included in the moratorium along with two other projects. The move does not affect land handled by the city's brownfield authority or the state.

(Michigan Radio) Flint’s mayor says the city’s lead pipe replacement program is a year ahead of schedule. To date…the city has checked more than 18 thousand service lines connecting homes to city water mains. It has replaced nearly eight thousand non-copper pipes. Flint mayor Karen Weaver says another 10 to 12 thousand still need to be checked.