Whitmer vetoes cannabis, retirement bills she says were ‘rushed through lame duck’

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

By Allison R. Donahue, Michigan Advance

Before closing out the end of the year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last month vetoed 11 marijuana, retirement and tax-related bills and signed into law another six bills passed by the GOP-majority Legislature. 

This year, Democrats are in charge of both the House and the Senate. 

Whitmer said in her veto letter to the Legislature on Dec. 22 that the bills “were rushed through a lame duck session and need closer examination.”

The Democratic governor vetoed House Bills 4188, 4263-4266, 4733, 5839, 5871, 5965, 6261 and Senate Bill 195. 

Here’s what’s in the bills that didn’t make the cut:

Retirement, insurance bills, tax reform bills

One bill package, HB 42634266, would have required that retirement systems for public school employees, state employees, judges and state police to pay off debt over time in equal installments. The bills were introduced by Reps. Brad Paquette (R-Niles), Steven Johnson (R-Wayland), Ann Bollin (R-Brighton Twp.) and Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming), respectively. 

HB 4188, introduced by Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), would have amended the state’s Public School Employees Retirement Act to require that the retirement system offers access to one or more fixed annuity options and allows access to 1 or more variable annuity options. The bill required that the annuity provider allows individuals to purchase a fixed rate annuity and an annuity with a guaranteed lifetime income option. 

HB 4733, introduced by Rep. Terry Sabo (D-Muskegon), is similar to HB 4188, but instead deals with state employees, rather than public school employees. 

HB 6261 would have barred Michigan life or accident insurers from owning, managing, supervising, operating or maintaining a mortuary or undertaking funeral establishment.

SB 195 would have allowed Michigan’s business groups to calculate their business interest expense at the group or taxpayer level rather than at the individual level. The bill states that it would align Michigan’s administration of the business interest expense with federal practice.

Cannabis bills

Whitmer also vetoed a few Republican-sponsored bills that would have made some changes to the processing and distribution of medical marijuana in the state.

Rep. Roger Hauck (R-Union Twp.) introduced two of the vetoed bills. House Bill 5871 would have amended state law to make it easier for medical marijuana products to be transferred from one facility to another. House Bill 5965 would have adjusted some language and definitions in the state’s Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, including updating the title for the recently renamed Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA).

House Bill 5839, introduced by Rep. Pat Outman (R-Six Lakes), would have prevented the CRA from denying a person a license to sell marijuana based on their spouse’s job, including if their spouse works for the state or federal government.

“I look forward to working with the new Legislature in January on priorities that will continue our economic momentum, help lower costs, and expand education supports for Michigan students. It is time to be serious about solving problems and getting things done that will make working families’ lives better right now,” Whitmer wrote in her veto letter last month. 

What did Whitmer sign?

Some bills pushed through at the end of the year did get Whitmer’s signature and were signed into law. Here are those bills:

Senate Bills 1222 and 1223, introduced by Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), amends different acts related to convention facilities. Specifically, SB 1222 allows for additional bond issuances and capital expenditures associated with Huntington Place in downtown Detroit to expand the convention facility. Among other things, the bills allow a regional convention facility authority to enter a public private arrangement, make other changes related to the powers of such an authority and revise the distribution of money from the Convention Facility Development Fund. 

Senate Bill 1047, introduced by Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo), adds circuit court judgeships to Allegan and Kalamazoo counties by amending the Revised Judicature Act. The legislation allows the 9th and 48th Judicial Circuit Courts to have one additional judge effective Jan. 1, 2025. 

Senate Bill 1085, introduced by Sen. Kim LaSata (R-Bainbridge Twp.)  extends the deadline for a Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) to submit audited financial statements from a certified public accountant. This would extend this deadline from 90 days to 180 days after the end of each fiscal year.

Senate Bill 1059, introduced by Sen. Kevin Daley (R-Lum), boosts consumer protection at the gas pump and makes general amendments to the Weights and Measures Act. The legislation requires gas stations to adopt at least one more effective method of pump security in addition to pressure sensitive tape. Previously, gas stations could be compliant by only adding pressure sensitive tape over credit card boxes.

Senate Bill 450, introduced by Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), permits family and other patient representatives to have access to qualified health care facilities under certain circumstances during a declared health emergency.