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2016 Lame-Duck Session Not So Lame in Michigan

Michigan lawmakers return to work the second week of January. (MittenStatePhototog/Flickr)
Michigan lawmakers return to work the second week of January. (MittenStatePhototog/Flickr)
December 19, 2016

LANSING, Mich. – At a time when political friction is high, Michigan state leaders are being applauded for coming together to help children and families.

The lame duck legislative session just wrapped up with passage of several measures, including a supplemental budget bill (SB 800) that will fix issues with the federal Heat and Eat program and provide food assistance for 338,000 families.

Rachel Richards, legislative coordinator for the Michigan League for Public Policy, says it's exciting to see bipartisan cooperation during a typically contentious legislative session.

"There's likely issues that maybe would not have seen action earlier in the year, simply because 'lame duck' tends to be this very different time,” she states. “And so, I think it's important to point out the wins, especially in the light of high-tension times."

The state Senate passed House Bill 4982, to correct problems with an automated fraud detection system that has been denying benefits for eligible workers in need of unemployment benefits.

Also noteworthy, says Richards, is the passage of a package of bills (HB 5618-5621; HB 5693-5695) aimed at making school expulsion and suspension policies sensible and uniform.

Richard explains some Michigan students faced severe punishments for minor incidents or oversights. The new legislation calls for these incidents to be evaluated on an individual basis with the intent of resolving the issues at school.

"Keeping a child in school instead of suspending or expelling them really benefits everybody, in that sometimes the parents don't need to find daycare, don't need to stay home in order to take care of the child,” she states. “And it also helps the child, because the child is still in school and learning."

State lawmakers return to work the second week of January, and Richards says her group and others are hoping to see the same bipartisan cooperation on other policies that can help struggling Michiganders.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI