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Rapid movement of bills through lame duck legislature continues Thursday

The state Capitol Building
Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
The state Capitol Building

The lame duck Legislature keeps moving forward.

Lawmakers continued to advance a high volume of bills through the House, Senate, and committees Thursday.

Here's a round-up of what happened in Lansing Thursday:

Bills to shift power away from secretary of state head to House

Legislation to strip Michigan’s incoming secretary of state of her campaign finance authority passed in the state Senate. The bills would create a new, so-called Fair Political Practices Commission. That commission would be made up of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats – a move critics say would create partisan deadlock and prevent the commission from getting anything done.

Senator Dave Robertson (R-Genessee County) is a bill sponsor.

"We are attempting to put together a board here that would have to act in a bipartisan fashion. We have heard a lot from the other side of the aisle over the last 8 years for the need for bipartisanship.”

The bill goes on to the state House.

State House set to create new education commission with sweeping powers

The Michigan House could vote as soon as Thursday evening to create a group separate from the State Board of Education to oversee public schools.

13 members could determine which schools are shut down, how much money they receive, and how many hours students would be instructed. The new commission would likely be appointed by Governor Rick Snyder.

Brian Gutman is Communications Director for Education Trust-Midwest, an education policy non-profit. He says the Legislature should not make major decisions on education during the lame duck period.

“The will of Michiganders is clear. They think these education boards and commissions should be filled by Governor Whitmer and legislative leadership once they take office next month.”

If passed in the House Thursday, the bills will go to the state Senate.

State Senate approves controversial Proposal 3 implementation bill

The state Senate has approved a bill to clarify and implement Proposal Three. That’s the ballot initiative that enshrines voting rights in the state’s constitution.

The timing of the bill is controversial.

Democrats have problems with the bill itself, including a provision they say could make same-day voter registration more difficult.

State Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich also says it’s suspect that Republicans are rushing it through during the Legislature’s frantic lame duck session.

“I just don’t know why they’re so afraid of the voters,” says Ananich.

Proposal Three – or “Promote the Vote” – changes the state constitution to guarantee no-reason absentee voting, straight party ticket voting, and automatic voter registration, among other things.

The bill now goes to the state House for consideration.

Fireworks regulations blast out of the House

Explosive legislation – pun intended – passed out of the state House Thursday.

A package of bills would put various regulations on fireworks. It would add requirements for the sale of some fireworks and limit the number of days fireworks can be set off in the state. The legislation would also increase the fine for fireworks violations.

The bills now head to the state Senate.

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
Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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