It has been a slow first quarter for the Michigan Legislature, which has gotten only 22 bills signed into law so far this year.
And 18 of the bills signed by Gov. Rick Snyder are aimed at reforming the state's parole and probation guidelines with a goal of reducing recidivism, which could result in reductions in the state Department of Corrections budget.
About 42,000 people are incarcerated in Michigan prisons, and an additional 64,000 are on parole or probation. The Michigan Department of Corrections budget is the largest single expenditure in the state’s general fund budget, at nearly $2 billion. The annual cost to house an inmate in the state's prison system is $34,000.
State Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, was the primary sponsor of the package and projected that the programs could result in the closure of one or two more prisons in this budget cycle. Each prison costs the state roughly $20 million a year to run.
While not many bills have been signed into law, lawmakers have introduced 770 bills since session began in mid-January. The Senate will return to the Capitol on Tuesday, and the House of Representatives is back on Wednesday after a two-week spring break. They are expected to finish up work on the budget by early June.
These are the bills that have been signed:
PA 1-18 (SB 5-10, 12-13, 15-24): A package of bills that revise the parole and probation regulations in the state in an attempt to reduce recidivism rates and lower costs at the Michigan Department of Corrections. Sponsors: Proos; Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton; Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy; Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford; Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage; David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights; Jack Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township; Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake; Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth; Dale Zorn, R-Ida; Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc; Rebekah Warren, R-Ann Arbor, and Bert Johnson, R-Highland Park.
PA 19 (SB 34) Rename a portion of US-23 as the Sergeant Joe Johnson Memorial Highway. Sponsor: Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint.
PA 20 (SB 39): Revise the exception to the definition of a "surviving spouse" when it comes to who is allowed to make funeral arrangements. If there is a dispute, it moves to probate court, rather than having a funeral director sort out the dispute. Sponsor: Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.
PA 21 (SB 69): Make records related to bids, contracting and purchasing contracts exempt from the Freedom of Information Act until after the contract is awarded. Sponsor: Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.
PA 22 (SB 213): Allow the Michigan Board of Nursing to come up with rules for clinical nurse specialists' ability to prescribe drugs via Telehealth. Sponsor: Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford.
For more information on proposed and passed bills, go to www.legislature.mi.gov.
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Contact Kathleen Gray: 313-223-4430, email@example.com or on Twitter @michpoligal