Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 4294 to address the substitute teacher shortage, helping keep schools open and students learning in person. House Bill 4294 would temporarily allow trusted staff members such as secretaries, paraprofessionals, and others to work as substitute teachers until the end of the current school year.
“Making sure every child in Michigan has access to a high-quality public education is my top priority, which is why this year we made the largest investment in K-12 public schools in Michigan history without raising taxes,” said Governor Whitmer. “The pandemic has been challenging for our children, teachers, and parents, and our educators have gone above and beyond to ensure Michigan’s children have a bright future. Allowing schools to employ school staff that students know as substitute teachers will help keep school doors open and students learning in the classroom the rest of the school year. I am committed to working with the legislature to develop high-quality solutions to address these staff shortages long-term so that we can ensure that every child is able to access a quality education.”
“Michigan already faced a severe educator shortage prior to the coronavirus pandemic”, said Paul Liabenow, Executive Director of the Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA). “The pandemic has only exacerbated that shortage by further hindering school districts’ abilities to fill vacant positions and keep buildings open, placing undue stress on educators already working tirelessly every day to ensure all students in Michigan receive quality, in-person instruction. House Bill 4294 will provide districts with additional flexibility to fill substitute teaching vacancies so students can continue to learn in a safe, supportive environment. On behalf of educational leaders throughout Michigan, we want to thank Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Representative Brad Paquette for their continued advocacy on behalf of educators and students throughout Michigan.”
House Bill 4294 will temporarily allow schools to employ an individual without certification who already works at the school to substitute teach through the end of the 2021-2022 school year. House Bill 4294 will keep schools open and students learning in person.
Addressing the Truck Driver, Health Professionals Shortage
House Bill 4787 waives the knowledge test required for a commercial driver license for an individual with military motor vehicle experience, honoring the skills developed during military service and helping to address the truck driver shortage.
“This bill will help UP and Michigan veterans transition to civilian life by shortening the process to obtain a CDL,” said Rep. Gregory Markkanen, R-Hancock. “I am proud to see it become law.”
Senate Bill 759 amends the Public Health Code to allow qualified individuals authorized to practice a health profession in another state to practice in Michigan during an epidemic under certain circumstances, bolstering Michigan’s access to mobile medical professionals to help weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bottle Bill Enforcement Fund
House Bill 4780, 4781, 4782 and 4783 amends the beverage container deposit law to create the Bottle Bill Enforcement Fund by taking the first $1 million from unclaimed bottle refunds to allow MSP to run a grant program for local law enforcement to prevent, investigate, and prosecute bottle fraud.
Voting Equipment Maintenance
House Bill 4282, 4283, 4284, and 4295 amends the Michigan Election Law to make the $100 candidate filing fees nonrefundable for primary elections and directs that money to local governments to be used only for the purchase and maintenance of voting equipment.
“Most candidates didn’t even realize that their $100 filing fee could possibly be returned to them,” said Rep. Terry Sabo, D – Muskegon. “These bills remove that refund and make the jobs of our local clerks easier, while still allowing candidates the choice of gathering the signatures required or paying a now non-refundable filing fee.”
Senate Bill 728 amends the Open Meetings Act to clarify that the act does not permit the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) to meet in a closed session for any purpose.
Jail Diversion Fund
Senate Bill 637 creates the community crisis response grant program, in accordance with the recommendations of Governor Whitmer’s Mental Health Diversion Council. Under the new law, DHHS will distribute grants to local units to establish or expand community-based mobile crisis intervention services, giving priority to applications that demonstrate a commitment to best practices as identified by DHHS in coordination with the council.
“We must change how we respond to behavioral health emergencies — so that we get people the help they need in times of crisis,” said Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit. “Having more behavioral health professionals respond on scene with law enforcement will make a big difference for many. I am so grateful to have partnered with Senator Outman and many groups over the past year and a half on these bills which will help direct people to services they need, improve public safety, and keep people out of jail that really need our support.”
Senate Bill 638 creates the Jail Diversion Fund. DHHS will distribute grants to local units to establish or expand behavioral health jail diversion programs in coordination between community agencies and law enforcement agencies.
Together, House Bills 5502, 5503, 5504, and 5505 streamline the process for qualified manufacturers to file for these exemptions and for the state to review them.
House Bill 5351 would amend the General Property Tax Act to increase the value of the eligible manufacturing personal property exemption to $180,000, from $80,000. HB 5506 prohibits the issuance of a new industrial facilities exemption certificate for any property that qualifies as eligible manufacturing personal property.
Part of the economic development and small business assistance package signed last week, House Bill 4082 would limit the power of the State Administrative Board to use its power to transfer funds between line items to move money out of the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund created by 2021 PA 137, the Critical Industry Program created by 2021 PA 136, or the Michigan Strategic Site Readiness Program created by 2021 PA 134.
Senate Bill 723 would amend the Neighborhood Enterprise Zone Act to allow an application for a neighborhood enterprise zone (NEZ) certificate to be filed after a building permit has been issued for the project, under specified circumstances.
Senate Bill 764 would amend the Income Tax Act to allow a taxpayer, for tax years beginning 2021, to deduct wagering losses claimed by the taxpayer on their Federal income tax return for that tax year.
Senate Bill 671 would amend the Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act to expand the transformational brownfield program to allow combination with other community development incentives, simplify reporting requirements, extend the sunset to 2027. The transformational brownfield program was at the heart of Bedrock’s redevelopment of Detroit’s historic downtown Hudson’s site and surrounding area, as well as the redevelopment of the Vicksburg Paper Mill.
Senate Bill 212 would amend the requirements for affidavits of identity in the Michigan Election Law. Currently under the act, candidates must file an affidavit of identity when filing a nominating petition, qualifying petition, filing fee, or affidavit of candidacy. The bill would add that a candidate must also include information about the jurisdiction, term, party affiliation, and other details.
Senate Bill 213 would amend the Older Michiganians Act to clarify and expand access to long-term care facilities for the long-term care ombudsman.
Senate Bill 461 and Senate Bill 462 together would amend the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act to require as a condition for licensure that an applicant have a liability insurance policy meeting certain requirements and refer license applicants to the Marijuana Regulatory Agency instead of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board.
Senate Bill 461 was sponsored by Sen. Curt VanderWall, R – Ludington, Senate Bill 462 was sponsored by Sen. Paul Wojno, D – Warren, and copies can be found here and here.
Senate Bill 698 would extend to 2022 a provision in the General Property Tax Act that taxable property located on tax day in an alternate location because of the COVID-19 pandemic may not be assessed in that alternate location, but instead must be assessed in its ordinary location.