Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday signed House Bill 4469 which appropriates $37.8 million in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants for 76 recreation projects and land purchases throughout Michigan.
“The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund supports quality outdoor recreation, giving Michiganders the ability to safely enjoy the outdoors and boosting local economies,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This funding is crucial to helping communities utilize their natural resources and make Michigan’s public spaces more accessible and attractive to residents and visitors. I am proud to sign this piece of bipartisan legislation into law and support Michigan’s recreational resources and economy.”
The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is a restricted fund established in 1976 to provide funding for public acquisition of lands for resource conservation and outdoor recreation.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Wednesday scrapping all COVID-19 restrictions throughout the state and an accompanying bill that limits localities’ ability to enforce emergency precautions.
“I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do,” DeSantis said during a press conference Tuesday announcing the executive order. “I think folks are saying they need to be policing people at this point, if you’re saying that, then you’re really saying you don’t believe in the vaccines.”
DeSantis signed SB 2006, which says that any emergency orders can last no longer than six weeks. It gives him the authority to overrule cities that adopt restrictions deemed too harsh or unnecessary, and gives city and county commissions the power to overrule mayors.
Rising Republican star U.S. Rep. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is sponsoring a new measure that would give unprecedented tax cuts to parents with children, and now he is saying his bill is on the front line of the nation’s “culture war.”
The plan in question would give a fully refundable tax credit of $12,000 for married parents and $6,000 for single parents who have children under the age of 13.
“Starting a family and raising children should not be a privilege only reserved for the wealthy,” Hawley said. “Millions of working people want to start a family and would like to care for their children at home, but current policies do not respect these preferences. American families should be supported, no matter how they choose to care for their kids.”
The governor of Kansas has vetoed a bill that would have banned biological males from participating in women’s sports.
Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed the “The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” Thursday, saying in a news release that the legislation “sends a devastating message that Kansas is not welcoming to all children and their families, including those who are transgender — who are already at a higher risk of bullying, discrimination, and suicide,” according to local outlet KMBC.
“As Kansans, we should be focused on how to include all students in extracurricular activities rather than how to exclude those who may be different than us,” Kelly said. “Kansas is an inclusive state and our laws should reflect our values. This law does not do that.”
Arkansas became the latest state to pass a series of voting reforms this week, sending multiple bills to Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk.
The bills, overwhelmingly passed by the state’s Republican legislature, focus on in-person and absentee voting, while a third transfers additional authority to county election commissioners instead of local clerks. Hutchinson has not publicly said whether he plans to sign them.
The Arkansas Senate passed HB 1715 Tuesday, which prohibits clerks from sending unsolicited absentee ballots to voters and requires them to report how many absentee ballot applications they receive each day. It also requires a voter’s signature to match their signature from when they first registered to vote, and forbids county clerks from providing a ballot if they do not match.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D–Flint, and state Rep. Julie M. Rogers, D–Kalamazoo, are sponsoring bills aimed to allow high schoolers earn their diploma without Algebra II.
Senate Bill 318 and House Bill 4595 were introduced Wednesday with bipartisan support.
Currently, Michigan students must complete Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and a math elective to graduate. Bill proponents argue these math requirements are often excessive for students who don’t plan to enter a field requiring advanced math and will instead need to understand interest, student loan payments, and how to complete taxes.
A health care reform package the House passed Wednesday is creating a rift between the state’s business groups and the GOP.
Michigan business leaders formed a new Michigan Affordable Healthcare Coalition that aims to reduce health care costs without raising costs on small businesses.
In a Thursday afternoon press conference, business leaders voiced opposition to House bills 4346 and 4354, claiming they would raise health insurance premiums that are already a heavy burden for many businesses.
The Michigan House unanimously passed a flurry of bipartisan bills seeking to reform the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by including the governor and legislature under the new Legislative Open Records Act (LORA).
The House passed the package during “Sunshine Week,” which celebrates government transparency, and after reporters used FOIA to expose Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration gifting $253,000 in secret, taxpayer-funded severance packages.
The bill package is virtually identical to bills introduced in the 2015-16, 2017-8, and the 2019-20 legislative session other than technical changes and effective dates.
Those packages all failed.
A bill that would require local governments to approve extensions of public health emergency orders after 15 days is ready for adoption by the Missouri House.
House Bill 75, sponsored by Rep. Jim Murphy, was perfected Wednesday in a floor debate and awaits only a floor vote to be transferred to the Senate, where a raft of similar bills are matriculating in committees.
HB 75, which has already passed through the House Special Committee on Small Business and Rules – Legislative Oversight committees, would allow local public health officials to order a closure for no more than 15 days.
Last summer, millions of dollars in taxpayer money were spent in response to protests that turned violent throughout Ohio. A bill proposed in the Ohio Senate looks to make sure those responsible will pay for it.
Senate Bill 41, currently being discussed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, calls for restitution from those who are convicted of property damage during riots, including vandalism. The restitution would pay the expenses of police and emergency crews who have to respond to riots. The bill also allows the government to take possession of any property left behind by those who end up convicted.
State Senator Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, is sponsoring the bill. Lou Tobin, the Executive Director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, offered his support before the committee recently.