Friday, December 19, 2008

While You Were Sleeping

Because some the best laws written in this state always come from sleep-deprived legislators and their staff (like the MBT surcharge!) - the 94th version of the Michigan Legislature pulled yet another all-nighter last night, and apparently is still working as I write this. Quite the way to run the railroad, eh Senator Bishop? Refuse to work all year, and then do everything in a last-minute rush - and people wonder why we end up with some of the screwiest laws in the nation.

A short recap of the good, the bad, and the undone:

  • Fresh off the wires - Cobo expansion has passed the House. Someone wake up Brooks. It's off to the Senate as we speak. (Update 11:04 am - we have a deal.)
  • The smoking ban will be left undone, as will the Blue Cross bills, and funding for the roads. "It's too hard!" proclaimed the Senate Republicans, as millions in federal matching funds were on the line. That can probably be rectified when the adults (?) take over in Washington.
  • Tax credits for advanced battery technology. Very good thing, passed 94-0 in the House and 31-3 in the Senate. This should make Michigan the epicenter of development for electric/hybrid vehicles. That is the hope, anyway.
  • Crackdown on out-of-state can redemptions. Big problem in the border counties that is costing us money. Good first step, until the smugglers find a way around it.

    Some other highlights from the AP:

    WINE SALES: The Legislature gave final approval to a bill designed to bar in-state wine drinkers from getting shipments straight from stores. A federal judge in September ruled unconstitutional a state law allowing Michigan retailers to deliver wine to residents, but prohibiting out-of-state retailers from doing likewise.

    CHILD SAFETY: Bills that would more clearly define and provide penalties for leaving a child unattended in a vehicle for potentially unsafe periods were sent to Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

    DRUNKEN DRIVING: Some motorists convicted of drunken driving would have to use an ignition interlock device aimed at cutting down on repeat offenses under legislation headed to Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

    DETROIT LIGHT RAIL: Legislation aimed at helping create a light-rail system in Detroit was headed to Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

    CEMETERIES: Bills that would strengthen the requirements and monitoring of cemetery trust funds were sent to Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

    We will have to wait and sort out the carnage later, as they are still working at this hour. Maybe sometime we should have a serious discussion about the hazards behind writing law in the dead-of-night by a bunch of people who only want to get away to their vacation and/or retirement.

    Wonderful UPDATE 11:32: It's a miracle - they approved the Promise Zone legislation that will allow communities to set up college tuition programs with private donations -

    The legislation passed Friday is modeled somewhat after the Kalamazoo Promise, which guarantees free college tuition to graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools. Similar versions passed both the House and Senate, and the differences are expected to be resolved.