Automatic Speed Enforcement Gets House Committee OK
Under HB 4132 and HB 4133 , the Department of State Police and the Department of Transportation could install and use automated speed enforcement systems in construction zones on highways or streets under state jurisdiction. The bills also would create a State Police unit to oversee automated enforcement Systems and the Work Zone Safety Fund.
Current law generally requires a law enforcement officer to witness a traffic violation to issue a citation.
But the bills reported by the House Regulatory Reform Committee would allow the state to use an electronic traffic sensor system that detects vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit and produces a recorded image of such vehicles that includes the plate, location and date and time.
A violation would occur if the motorist is clocked going 10 miles per hour or more. First violations and any violations more than three years after the offender’s most recent violation would result in a written warning from the State Police. A second violation within three years of the most recent violation would result in a civil infraction and fine up to $150 with funds going to MDOT. Third and subsequent violations within three years of the offender’s most recent violation would result in a civil infraction and fine up to $300 with funds going to MDOT.
Fine monies collected in excess of the cost of installing and operating the automated systems would go to the Work Zone Safety Fund. The fund could be used to increase police presence in work zones and pay for traffic control devices in work zones to protect workers.
The bills cleared the committee with no discussion, but the County Road Association and Michigan Municipal League submitted cards of support. Also backing the bill was the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, which noted 5,814 work zone crashes in Michigan in 2021 that resulted in 20 deaths and 1,451 injuries.
"We support this commonsense bipartisan legislation that would keep our construction workers safe while they’re hard at work fixing Michigan’s roads," said Rob Coppersmith, executive vice president of MITA, in a statement. "Construction sites are dangerous places, and when you mix that with distracted driving and high speeds, you’re left with families who lose their loved ones far too soon. This legislation would protect people on both sides of the orange barrel by placing speed cameras in work zones to better enforce speed limits."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan submitted a card indicating it opposes the bill.
The committee adopted a substitute prior to reporting the bill requiring signage alerting motorists one mile before work zones with automated speed enforcement systems. The substitute also exempts persons operating police, fire and other emergency vehicles.
Red Flag Bills Advance Out of House
The legislation would allow law enforcement to remove firearms from people who are considered a significant risk to themselves or others.
The vote came on the same day Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed gun legislation providing for universal background checks and safe storage into law (see separate story).
"Today’s legislation is proof that when we work together on meaningful, commonsense legislation that gives families and law enforcement the tools they need to act on early warning signs, we can create the safer Michigan that we all want and deserve, especially for our kids," said a statement from Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi), who sponsored one of the bills and chairs the House Judiciary Committee .
A floor substitute was adopted for HB 4145 that would more narrowly define the venue where an extreme risk protection order can be filed. With the substitute, people would only be able to file a protection order in the county where they live or work or the county where the person they are filing against lives or works.
The substitute also includes changes added by the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, which add provisions for guardians and allow health care providers to file extreme risk protection orders. The legislation also requires clear and convincing standards of evidence for hearings when both parties are not present. This is the highest standard. For regular hearings, there will be an opportunity for the respondent to be heard. The legislation also streamlines the process for law enforcement to take firearms from someone who may use a gun to do harm after police leave the scene. The substitute will also ensure the bill holds entities harmless for transporting firearms and keeping them under an extreme risk protect order, and establishes a process for guns to be collected after the order expires.
HB 4145 passed 56-51. It now moves to the Senate.
The House also voted on SB 83 that would create the Extreme Risk Order Protection Act. The bill is nearly identical to HB 4145. The difference between the House and Senate versions of the bills, as passed by the House, is that the House bill restricts the jurisdiction in which protection orders can be filed. The Democratic majority decided not to adopt a floor amendment for SB 83 to make it match HB 4145. Instead, the bill will be the same as the rules that govern personal protection orders, which do not restrict venue.
The floor substitute was adopted in error, but the floor leader felt it was best to advance both HB 4145 and SB 83 and allow the Senate to decide which bill to send to the governor, said Amber McCann, press secretary for House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit).
SB 83 passed in a vote of 56-51. It will be sent back to the Senate for a concurrence vote, and it’s likely that SB 83 will be signed into law, Ms. McCann said.
Several Republicans spoke in opposition to the bill package on the floor, raising concerns about due process and saying that red flag laws don’t address the underlying causes of gun violence, such as mental health.
"Red flag laws are a very flawed solution to the multi-faceted problem of violence in society. They do not address the root causes of gun violence such as mental illness poverty and social inequality. And for people who truly need intervention, these bills would be doing nothing to get them the mental health care that they need," said Rep. Mike Harris (R-Waterford Township). "Instead of relying on these laws, we should be focusing on finding comprehensive solutions that address the root causes of gun violence and respect our constitutional rights."
The House Freedom Caucus also issued a statement in opposition to the legislation following its passage.
"There is a real risk that these laws could be used to target law-abiding citizens who hold unpopular views," said Rep. Angela Rigas (R-Caledonia) in a statement. "By allowing people to file for an ERPO in any county, the Democrats are encouraging the disgusting practice known as Court Shopping. We cannot allow Michigan to become a breeding ground of fear and mistrust."
Ms. Breen said that the legislation was not about violating people’s rights during a speech on the House floor.
"Guns are the quickest and most easy way to kill. … The issue we face is one of conscience and commonsense," she said. "It’s about protecting our children. It’s about protecting our families. Protecting our communities that we are sworn to protect. … It’s a tool for law enforcement to intervene before something terrible happens."
The House also passed HB 4146 , which prohibits people under an extreme risk protection order from purchasing firearms. The bill passed 56-51.
HB 4147 also passed the House in a vote of 56-51. This bill provides for service of process for extreme risk protection order actions and waives court fees.
HB 4148 was the final bill in the package passed Thursday. The bill outlines sentencing guidelines for extreme risk protection orders, making it a felony to violate the order and a misdemeanor to make a false statement in support of an extreme risk protection order. The bill passed 56-51.
"This issue is bigger than any one of us," Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton) said in a speech prior to the vote. "The harsh reality is that no one bill, or policy, is going to rid our society of this gun violence epidemic. The amount of gun violence that exists in our country is a symptom. It is a symptom of years of government inaction … and we have a chance to do something."
Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, organizations which have advocated fiercely for the passage of firearms legislation, applauded the House’s decision.
"After years of grief and tireless organizing, mobilizing, and educating – our lawmakers took action, proving the power of our grassroots movement. This is what advocacy looks like," said Jaclyn Sivers, a volunteer with the Michigan chapter of Moms Demand Action, in a statement. "Today, Michigan becomes a leader on gun violence prevention. We look forward to working with our lawmakers to ensure this bill makes it across the finish line, and we remain committed to creating a safer Michigan for all."
The House also voted to concur with the Senate on changes made to HB 4064 , which deals with sentencing guidelines for universal background checks and safe storage.
Democrats have said discussions on gun legislation will continue to be a priority for the caucus moving forward.
Marijuana Industry Employment Age Lowered to 19 Under Bill
Currently, the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act allows individuals 21 years of age or older to acquire, possess, transport or consume marijuana, including a marijuana grower, processor, transporter, retailer or microbusiness.
Robin Schneider, executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, said when the state Legislature passed the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act in 2016, the age for employment was set to 18.
However, when Michigan legalized marijuana, the ages for both consumption and employment were set at 21.
Schneider said that now, when a medical facility adds a recreational license, they’re essentially forced to fire any employees between the ages of 18 and 21.
HB 4322, introduced on March 22, lowers that threshold to allow a person 19 years of age or older to manufacture, purchase, distribute and sell marijuana accessories if the person is acting on behalf of a marijuana establishment.
The bill also allows 19-year-olds to volunteer at marijuana establishments, and changes references to the Marijuana Regulatory Agency to refer instead to the Cannabis Regulatory Agency.
Coleman said he introduced the bill to address the statewide worker shortage that the cannabis industry hasn’t escaped.
No matter your thoughts about cannabis, Coleman said, the industry employs approximately 32,000 people in Michigan.
He said allowing young people to get into the cannabis industry, learn about the industry firsthand and become entrepreneurs is a way to address the shortage and help them explore a career path.
This isn’t about young folks consuming cannabis or changing their behavior around it, Coleman said, but it is about allowing young people to work in a growing industry that is very lucrative.
Schneider said that a search on Indeed brings back an average starting salary between $17 and $20 for cannabis industry employees.
Micah Siegal, who testified as general counsel representing Pure Brands and the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, said Pure Brands employs nearly 600 Michiganders at six active locations, with an hourly wage over $20, health benefits and an employee 401(k).
With Michigan universities, including Northern Michigan University, Grand Valley and Lake Superior State University, creating new programs to teach cannabis cultivation, along with HB4232 passed last term allowing people as young as 17 to serve alcohol, Coleman said young people should also be given the opportunity to explore the cannabis industry through employment.
When asked by Rep. Graham Filler(R-St. Johns) why the age wasn’t lowered to 18 in the bill, Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit) responded, “You can tell them it was me.”
Coleman explained that their concern was that high school students could turn 18 and be able to enter a cannabis establishment while still in school, leading them to choose 19 as the set age.
The bill is not expected to have a fiscal impact on state or local governments, according to House Fiscal Analysis, and no one opposed the bill during testimony.
The bill was supported by the Michigan Chamber, and the Cannabis Regulatory Agency submitted a card with a neutral position.
The bill now awaits further consideration in the House Regulatory Reform Committee.
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