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Bills dealing with criminal penalties surrounding HIV still in committee

Picture of the Lansing capitol building
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Replacing the Michigan Business Tax is high on the legislature's agenda

Lawmakers in Lansing are still deciding whether to change criminal penalties surrounding disclosing one’s HIV status.

The state House recently passed a group of bills aimed at modernizing the state’s policy on HIV.

But two bills that were originally part of the package are still in committee.  Those would lower criminal penalties for people who knowingly and intentionally spread HIV to another person. Right now, it’s a felony to do that.

Representative Hank Vaupel (R-Fowlerville) is chair of the committee that still has the legislation.  He says the bills are being worked on – but they weren’t ready for a vote last week.

“Hopefully we can come to a point where we will be able to pass them out and they will not endanger people, and yet will not put someone in jail if they didn’t know and didn’t disclose,” he says.

Supporters of the bill say the current penalties are a disincentive for people to get tested.

Representative Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) is a bill sponsor. He says some people don’t get tested because of this law. 

“As we expand testing opportunities and treatment opportunities, we should take the threat of felony imprisonment off the backs of folks who are keeping themselves healthy and their communities safe,” he says.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R