In this issue of Lansing Update:
- 2009–10 Budget Bills Begin to Move
- House Committee Continues to Hear Testimony on Smoking Ban
- Utility Shut-Off Protection Bills Move on to Senate
The House of Representatives this week passed five budget bills and the Senate passed two of their own as the legislature maintained its pledge to pass departmental budgets prior to the two-week Easter break that begins April 6. State budgets for community colleges, K–12 schools, higher education and the departments of Corrections and Education now await Senate consideration, while the departmental budgets for History, Arts and Libraries and Energy, Labor and Economic Growth head to the House.
Following are a few brief details regarding the education-related House budgets:
- Department of Education: The $120.5 million budget passed with 74 votes and represents an increase from the current year as the department this year absorbed certain programs from the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. The legislation also includes requirements for the State Superintendent to report cases of per pupil foundation fraud, where districts include in their per-pupil funding counts students who do not remain in the district for the year.
- K–12: The House’s version of the 2009–10 public school budget is approximately $13.3 billion and passed with 107 votes. The budget does not include the Governor’s recommendation to cut per-pupil funding by nearly $60 per student, which is due to the pending arrival of federal stimulus funds. The budget solidifies the per-pupil foundation allowance at $8,489.
- Higher Education: The 2009–10 budget for the state’s 15 public universities totals approximately $1.8 billion and does not include the governor’s proposed three percent cut, as the shortfall will be made up from federal stimulus dollars. The budget passed with 89 votes and, as reported in the March 27 Lansing Update, funding for the Michigan Tuition Grant program has been secured.
Legislative budget activity will continue when the legislature returns from its Easter break the week of April 20.
The House Committee on Regulatory Reform [Link no longer available —Ed.] this week continued to take testimony on legislation that would ban workplace smoking in Michigan. The committee was expected to pass the bill on to the full House of Representatives, but held off as the committee chair wanted to take testimony from citizens that drove from a distance.
House Bill 4377 would specifically exempt casinos, tobacco specialty shops and home offices from a statewide smoking ban. An amendment was proposed to the bill that would allow businesses, under the ban, to construct and maintain a segregated “smoking room” that would include its own ventilation system and not allow any smoke from the room to enter the place of business.
HB 4377 is one of several pieces of legislation introduced this session that in one way or another addresses a smoking ban. House Bill 4752 was introduced this week that would enact a total smoking ban across the entire state, including at Indian casinos.
Michigan Catholic Conference is a member of the Campaign for Smokefree Air and continues to support legislation that would ban workplace smoking across the state.
Less than a week after passing out of committee, legislation granting utility shut-off protections to low-income individuals and senior citizens has passed the full House of Representatives.
One measure within the 19-bill package that would have banned utility shut-offs between December 31 and March 31 failed to pass the chamber as members felt certain such protections were already in place with the Michigan Public Service Commission.
The bills now await a hearing in the Senate Energy Policy and Public Utilities Committee. More information about the legislation can be found in the March 27 Lansing Update.