Bills you may have missed, from retail worker schedules to banning nooses as an intimidation tactic

By Andrew Roth, Michigan Advance

Using nooses as an intimidation tactic would be banned and third-party sales of appointments at Secretary of State offices would be banned under bills recently introduced in the Michigan Legislature.

Those are just two of the bills members of the House and Senate introduced before going on summer vacation on topics ranging from workers’ rights to college costs to Juneteenth.

Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature. In the House, the GOP has a six-seat margin. In the Senate, it has a four-seat margin. Two additional Senate seats that were previously held by Republicans are currently vacant.

Here are some of the most noteworthy pieces of legislation.

Workers’ rights

Employees in the retail, hospitality and food service industries would have more clarity about their schedules under House Bill 5136, sponsored by Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt). Workers and unions have said that managers scheduling employees for different days and hours, often with little advance notice, makes it difficult for them to secure transportation and attend to family responsibilities.

Under the bill, employers would be required to provide a written work schedule at least 14 days before the first day of the work schedule. Changes to the schedule could not be made “unless the employer has provided the employee with timely notice of the change,” and employees would be allowed to decline to work any shifts not included in the written schedule.

Additionally, employers would be prohibited from scheduling an employee to work within 10 hours of the end of their previous work shift.

If an employer reduced the length of an employee’s shift, they would be required to pay the employee the greater of either the minimum wage or 50% of their regular rate of pay per hour for each hour their shift was shortened.

Employers would also be allowed to keep a voluntary standby list of employees who they can request to work additional hours if needed to address unanticipated customer needs or employee absences. An employee would be allowed to decline to be added to the list, and if they chose to join could still decline an offer of additional hours.

The employer would be required to provide new hires with a “good-faith estimate” of the employee’s work schedule upon being hired, including the media number of hours the employee can expect to work in a typical one month period.

House Bill 5138, sponsored by Rep. Terry Sabo (D-Muskegon), would require employers to provide at least a 30 minute lunch break to each employee whose shift exceeds 5 consecutive hours. The lunch break could be paid or unpaid.

Secretary of State offices

Selling appointments for secretary of state branch offices online would be prohibited under HB 5162, sponsored by Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton Twp.).

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office supports the legislation and says they already monitor and attempt to prevent the resale of branch office appointments through online marketplaces, like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.

House Bill 5164, sponsored by Rep. Steven Johnson (R-Wayland), would incentivize Michigan residents to conduct Secretary of State business online, through the mail, at a kiosk or during a scheduled appointment by reducing the fee for services by 10% when conducted by one of those methods.

College costs

Senate Bill 566, sponsored by Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), would allow college students to claim a tax credit equal to the amount of the sales tax they paid on any textbooks required for their courses.

Bills introduced in both chambers would signal that it is the intent of the Legislature for noncitizen students to be charged the in-state tuition rate at public universities as long as they are either not an alien or have deferred status, attended high school in the state for three years or longer, graduated from high school in Michigan, and has filed an affidavit with the university stating that they have filed an application for lawful permanent residence or will do so as soon as they are eligible.

The bill is mirrored in the Senate as SB 558, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), and in the House as HB 5087, sponsored by Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor).

Juneteenth

Fireworks would be allowed on June 18 and June 19 under HB 5063, sponsored by Rep. Helena Scott (D-Detroit).

After the federal government voted to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, HB 5064, sponsored by Rep. Tenisha Yancey (D-Harper Woods), would do the same in Michigan.

The bill would “encourage each individual in this state to pause on Juneteenth and reflect upon the strong survival instinct of the African-American slaves and the excitement and great joy with which African-Americans first celebrated the abolition of slavery.”

Election audit board

House Bill 5091, sponsored by Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers), would create a state election audit board that would be required to conduct an audit of the 2020 general election, following GOP efforts in Arizona.

The board would consist of seven members, including: one member appointed by each the Senate majority and minority leaders, one member appointed by each the House speaker and House minority leader, the auditor general, and one member who was a poll challenger in the 2020 election on behalf of both major parties.

The audit of the 2020 election would be required to inspect things like proper ink marking and depressions on each ballot to “confirm that the ballot was completed by an individual and not by a machine” and folded crease marks on absentee ballots.

They would also be required to determine the 2,000 youngest voters who voted absentee in 2020 and investigate whether the individuals “actually voted at the election,” whether they voted absentee, and how they applied for their ballot.

The same would be done for the 2,000 oldest voters under the age of 80 who voted for the first time in the 2020 general election.

$2.5 million would be allocated to the board to complete the audit.

Carra announced earlier this year that he will challenge U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump a second time after the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, in the Republican congressional primary.

Previous investigations and audits have returned no evidence of fraud.

House Bill 5114, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Yaroch (R-Richmond), would spin the state’s budget office off from the Department of Technology and Management, creating a new, separate Department of Budget.

Constitutional amendments

Several amendments to the state constitution have been proposed. Each amendment would require a two-thirds vote in each chamber to pass, and would then have to face voters.

House Joint Resolution H, sponsored by Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit), would allow universities to admit students using affirmative action guidelines.

Marriage statutes would be updated to use gender neutral pronouns under HJR J, sponsored by Rabhi, bringing the state constitution in line with federal law allowing gay marriage.

House Joint Resolution I, sponsored by Rep. Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth), would allow 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if they will be 18 years old by the November general election.

Ban lynchings, allow pharmaceuticals from Canada

Lynchings would be banned under HB 5085, sponsored by Rep. Kyra Bolden (D-Southfield). They would be a felony punishable by imprisonment for life without the possibility for parole.

Aiding or abetting or being an accessory to a lynching would also be a felony punishably by imprisonment for life without the possibility for parole.

Hanging a noose on private property for the purpose of terrorizing the owner or occupant of the private property, or hanging a noose on the property of a school, college campus, public park or place of employment for the purpose of terrorizing any person who attends those places, would be a misdemeanor.

A first offense would be punishable by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.

Second or subsequent convictions would be punishable by imprisonment for not more than one year, or a fine of not more than $15,000, or both.

There has previously been a noose outside the Michigan Capitol as armed militia members descended upon the building in April 2020 to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pharmaceuticals could be imported from Canada if importing them would lead to a major reduction in the cost of the drugs under SB 583, sponsored by Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Holly).  THE MORNING NEWSLETTER Subscribe now.

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