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Your guide to Michigan politics

Though it’s only the second week since Michigan’s legislature came back from summer vacation, the wheels are already turning on a number of Democrat-backed policy wants.

From abortion to firearm policy, prescription medication to teachers –let’s get into it.

Protesters march down Liberty Street after a community vigil organized by local abortion-rights activist organization WHOAA! on the University of Michigan Diag in Ann Arbor on Friday, June 24, 2022. Jacob Hamilton | The Ann Arbor News

As Ben Orner writes: Last year, the fight over abortion in Michigan was in the voting booth. On Thursday, it was in House committee room No. 519.

That’s due to a series of bills known as the Reproductive Health Act getting their day in committee Thursday – bringing with them not one but two rooms-worth of interested parties.

“This is just about removing laws that were intended strictly to reduce access solely to abortion care,” said Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, D-Livonia.

IN OTHER NEWS: Still paid, but not working: County asks Whitmer to oust sheriff who drove drunk

Laws to be repealed by House Bills 4949 through 4959 include Michigan’s 24-hour waiting period for an abortion, a ban on private insurance coverage of abortions, and abortion facility standards like procedure room size and hallway width.

Colleges would also be able to refer abortion services. And abortion patients would no longer be provided with state-mandated, printed information about alternatives like adoption. This info can include pictures of fetuses.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks during the ‘Stop of Power Outage Listening Tour’ at Full Blast Auditorium in Battle Creek, Michigan on Monday, October 25, 2021. (Joel Bissell |

Michigan may be the next in line to bolster supports for domestic violence survivors by way of a two-bill effort working its way through the Senate.

Under Senate Bill 471 and Senate Bill 472, a person convicted of domestic violence would be banned from owning or using a firearm until eight years after they’ve completed both their terms of imprisonment and stipulations of their parole or probation.

“TKTK,” said Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, who testified to the bills in the Senate’s civil rights and public safety committee Sept. 14. “TKTK.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Inside the fancy but frugal Michigan Capitol, proof is in the paint

A hearing on the bills comes just one day after Michigan’s Department of Attorney General launched its address confidentiality program, which allows domestic and sexual violence survivors to keep their addresses hidden from the public.

Though the confidentiality program is not part of witness protection efforts, it can allow approved applicants to use a designated substitute address when required by a public entity including employers, schools or governmental bodies.

“The Address Confidentiality Program is an important component of a survivor’s overall safety plan which can help victim of violent crimes, and individuals at risk of being threatened or physically harmed, keep their address confidential,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement Sept. 13.

More information on the program, including who can apply and how, can be found online.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed three bills aimed at lowering the costs of prescription drugs for Michiganders Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, at a Meijer in Lansing, Mich. (Image provided by Michigan Executive Office of the Governor)

It’s more possible than you think.

As Simon Schuster reports: Democrats in Michigan’s legislature have proposed establishing a board that could cap the price of costly prescription drugs, following through on a policy Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for in her “what’s next” address.

The board would have two components: a 21-member “prescription drug affordability stakeholder council” and a five-member prescription drug affordability board, which policymakers have referred to by the acronym PDAB.

After a “cost and affordability review” for a particularly costly drug, the board could vote to set an upper limits on what the cost can be, according to the bill as introduced.

LOOKING FOR MORE TO READ?: Threatening Michigan election worker could soon be felony

The only limitation is board members can’t have any financial entanglements with drugmakers.

“Nearly 3 in 10 Americans have skipped prescription medicine because of the cost while the biggest pharmaceutical company more than tripled its profit over the last two years. This cannot continue,” state Sen. Darrin Camilleri, D-Trenton, said. “It wreaks havoc on people’s health and their wallets. It forces people to make difficult decisions to feed their family or pay utility bills or buy their medication.”

Students work in their classroom at Unionville-Sebewaing Elementary School in Sebewaing on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. (Kaytie Boomer |

In Michigan, educators are banned from returning to Michigan schools for pay – in any capacity – for nine months following their retirement.

But given the current shortage of teachers in classrooms around the state, it’s no surprise some are eyeing this rule as a barrier to getting educators, coaches, counselors and more back before kids.

Enter House Bill 4752. The legislation would amend the state’s public school retirement act to allow retirees to work for schools while continuing to receive their pensions and other retirement benefits, such as health care.

In addition, it would enable retirees to earn up to $15,100 per school year – for a total of $30,200, as the cap restarts upon a new calendar year. After nine months, that cap would lift altogether.

“The idea is, we have a lot of retirees sitting on the sidelines that wouldn’t go back because they didn’t want to risk their pensions … but by enabling them to make an income in that interim, we can enable them to stay involved in our schools and thus is another way we can attack this (teacher) shortage,” said Rep. Matt Koleszar, D-Plymouth, sponsor of the effort.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Jury to begin deliberations in trial for remaining men accused in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot

And that’s it for the week in Michigan politics.

Still hungry for more news? Check out any number of our other stories from this week including how donations have soared 85 percent since 2017 at this Trump-supporting Michigan college, how 110 doctors and other medical workers have signed onto letter objecting to cuts to Ottawa County health budget, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reaction to allegations against Michigan State University’s Mel Tucker.

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