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Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist signs first bill as acting governor

garlin gilchrist
Cheyna Roth
Michigan Radio

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist became the first African American Lieutenant Governor to sign a bill into law Thursday.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is in Israel on a trade mission.

Gilchrist is filling in as acting governor while she is gone this week. At the bill signing in the rotunda of the state Capitol, Gilchrist called the moment historic.

“I want people to understand. We talk about young people seeing this, and that’s important,” he said. “But I think everybody needs to understand that we can work together to achieve things that were once unthinkable.”

The new law will allow certain people with a felony on their record to sell insurance. The Department of Insurance and Financial Services would no longer be able to automatically deny a person a license to sell insurance simply because they were convicted of a felony more than 10 years ago.

Representative Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton) is a bill sponsor. She said the law is archaic and that the state is righting a wrong.

“One constituent could not even inherit his father’s company, his insurance company, because he had a couple of drunk drivings on his record,” she said.

Gilchrist echoed his support of the new law. But also said he hopes his signing the bill into law will open the door for more diversity in state government.

“I want to make sure that I am doing my best to enable other people to have their own historic experiences,” he said. “To do things that have never been done before.”

There are exceptions for people with violent or money related felonies. It also only applies to people who have not been convicted of a felony in the last 10 years.

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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
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