In a marathon final lame duck session that went into the wee hours of the morning, Michigan Republicans decided to protect themselves from the potential backlash they may get from voters after ramming through controversial right-to-work legislation.
Another piece of legislation passed will allow gun owners with concealed weapons permits to carry guns in previously "gun-free zones" like schools, churches, and hospitals with additional gun training.
Following the controversial right-to-work law, the House decided to make it harder to recall lawmakers and the governor. As MLive.com explained:
One significant change would shorten the time to collect recall signatures from 90 to 60 days. Officials subject to recalls would have opponents instead of the existing system under which recall elections are an up-or-down vote.The opponent would be selected in a primary election before the recall election—which Democrats said would delay the process. Recall petitions could not be filed against officials with two-year terms in the first six months or last six months of the term.Those serving a longer term—such as state senators, who serve four years—could not face petitions in the first or last year of the term.
Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer accused her colleagues of trying to "inoculate" themselves from a recall.
The recall changes were just one of many bills passed in the 20-hour session that went until 4:30 a.m. Friday, but one abortion restriction that was expected to pass didn't. That was a bill to allow employers and health care providers to refuse medical treatment on religious or moral grounds. Lawmakers did, however, pass a new set of TRAP laws, regulations that will make it harder for abortion clinics to stay in service.
And even though Michigan voters rejected an emergency manager law that was up for referendum last month, GOP lawmakers decided to pass a new such law anyway, giving the state more power to take control of financially strapped cities and school districts.
The lawmakers also surprised many by passing a citizenship check requirement for voters as they cast a ballot. A similar version of the bill was rejected by Governor Rick Snyder. Opponents say the citizenship check that occurs during the registration process is sufficient, and the second check could intimidate some voters. The new version of the bill also asks would-be voters to show photo ID as they register to vote, but gives them the option to sign an affidavit if they prefer.
UPDATE: Reuters reported late Friday in the wake of the Newtown, Ct., school shooting that Governor Rick Snyder had not made a decision on whether or not he would sign the law that would allow gun owners greater ability to bring firearms into "gun-free zones" like schools. He told reporters he planned to carefully analyze the law.
"[Snyder] also said these situations always must and should give pause as they're so tragic,'' said Snyder's press secretary. "But that we can't jump to conclusions either."