Bills you may have missed, from naming a state pet to prohibiting vaccine passports

By: - May 6, 2021 12:48 pm

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

Updated, 2:36 p.m., 5/6/21, to adjust the sponsor name for House Bill 4737


Michigan would designate a state pet and teachers would accrue years of service more quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic under bills introduced recently in the Michigan Legislature.

Those are just two of the bills members of the House and Senate introduced in late April and early May on topics ranging from the pandemic to schools to roads.

Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature. In the House, the GOP has a six-seat margin. In the Senate, it has a four-seat margin. Two additional Senate seats that were previously held by Republicans are currently vacant.

Here are some of the most noteworthy pieces of legislation.

Official state pets, dog shelter during cold weather

Michigan would name shelter pets as the official state pet under House Bill 4723, sponsored by Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy).

Senate Bill 395, sponsored by Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia), would require dogs to be brought into a heated enclosure during periods of cold weather.

If the outside temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, a dog could only be left outside for a maximum of 30 consecutive minutes. After that, they would have to be brought inside an enclosure heated to at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30 minutes.

The dog could be outside longer than 30 minutes when they are participating in a recreational activity with their owner, such as walking, running, hunting, or playing with the individual or another dog.

Similarly, if a dog is allowed in the residence of the dog’s owner, their space would be required to have “appropriate light, ventilation and temperature control” under HB 4784, sponsored by Rep. Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming).

Vaccine passports

Building off bills that were previously introduced to prohibit the government from creating a COVID-19 vaccine passport and employers from requiring their employees to be vaccinated, additional legislation would expand the scope of the hypothetical ban.

House Bill 4736, sponsored by Rep. Luke Meerman (R-Coopersville), would prohibit the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services from promulgating or enforcing any rule requiring an individual to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Proof of vaccination could not be required for access to state agency or local government properties or services under HB 4789, sponsored by Rep. John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs), and HB 4790, sponsored by Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit), respectively.

Places of public accommodation – such as businesses and entertainment venues – would similarly not be allowed to require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for entry under HB 4792, sponsored by Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain).

Employers would not be allowed to fire an employee or refuse to hire an applicant based on their vaccination status under HB 4791, sponsored by Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers).

Immunization data, which is allowed to be displayed on state ID cards under the current law, would be prohibited from inclusion under HB 4793, sponsored by Rep. Matt Maddock (R-Millford).

The bills would allow the state to comply with any federal laws, though the administration of President Joe Biden has indicated they have no plans to create a vaccine passport program.

Similar legislation has been introduced in other states, like Montana and Iowa.

African American history, teacher service accrual

Teachers who taught during the COVID-19 pandemic would get a boost in their accrued service years under SB 418, sponsored by Sen. Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing).

Under the bill, teachers would earn two years of service credit for each year they worked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools would be required to teach African and African American history under SB 414, sponsored by Sen. Betty Jean Alexander (D-Detroit).

If instruction on pre colonial European history is taught, the district would be required to provide a proportionate amount of African history.

Additionally, African American history would be required to be included within any instruction concerning the formation of the United States.

Roads, abortion and more 

Individuals with a concealed pistol license would be allowed to request a special designation be added to their driver’s license under HB 4763, sponsored by Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit).

Rep. Julie Calley (R-Portland) introduced HB 4737 to prohibit an abortion based on race, sex or a disability.

Local road agencies would receive over $261.3 million of funds from the state under SB 394, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City). The state’s funds would then be replaced by money from COVID-19 stimulus packages.

House Joint Resolution E, sponsored by Rep. Matt Hall (R-Marshall), would apply for a convention of the state under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

The convention would be used to propose constitutional amendments placing fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and implement term limits for federal officials and members of Congress.

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Andrew Roth
Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth is a regular contributor to the Michigan Advance. He has been covering Michigan policy and politics for three years across a number of publications and studies journalism at Michigan State University.