Governor, Legislature clear decks in houses

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette School board discussions about preventative security, like the remote access to the Houghton Elementary School doors seen here, can now take place in closed session.

The following are brief descriptions of bills passed by the Michigan Legislature and signed by former Gov. Rick Snyder in December:

•Senate Bills 882, 982, 983, 990 and 991 easily passed both houses. It allows school board discussions about preventative school security to take place in closed session away from the public, creates the Office of School Safety in the Department of State Police to seek funding, develop model practices and offer training related to school safety and requires each school building to have an emergency operations plan by 2020.

•House Bill 5609 allows property-casualty insurers to give gifts to customers and applicants with value up to $50. The previous limit of $10 was set in 2005. Supporters of the bill said the new amount is more comparable to limits in other states.

•House Bill 5749 modifies a bill from 2016 that authorized the testing of driverless vehicles on Michigan roads. The new bill allows for testing of “platoons” of electronically coordinated vehicles that would drive closer than would be safe for human drivers.

Trucks with drivers are required by law to leave room between them and the next vehicle for a passing vehicle to enter safely.

•Senate Bill 981 requires the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to hire carnival ride inspectors and a supervisor that LARA believes to be qualified. Previously, LARA was allowed but not required to hire inspectors.

•House Bill 5719 adjusts the way liquor license quotas are calculated, allowing more than one license to be issued in a community with less than 1,000 people under certain conditions.

•House Bill 5988 and 5836 allow boaters to show an electronic copy of their boater safety certificate to authorities when it is requested, as well as provide for the waiving of any fine or citation for lack of certification if an electronic copy is received before the court date.

•Senate Bill 962 would allow an adult foster care facility to be subsequently licensed as a substance abuse disorder treatment facility.

•Senate Bill 1051 requires the governor submit a five-year strategic plan each year alongside the executive budget recommendation. The plan has to include input from each state department.

•Proposed by U.P. Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, Senate Bill 929 allows for a reduced level of licensure for ambulance operations in areas with less than 10,000 residents and low population density. This allowance helps them qualify for state funding and was previously allowed under a law that sunset at the beginning of 2018.