Pubdate: Wed, 11 Dec 2013
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2013 Detroit Free Press
Authors: Kathleen Gray, and Paul Egan
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Michigan)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - U.S.)


As state lawmakers finish the 2013 legislative session, they are 
beginning to tackle controversial issues such as medical marijuana, 
campaign finance and phone service with an eye toward leaving for a 
three-week holiday break on Thursday.

All three issues could see votes, even final passage, this week.

Still up in the air is a vote on a controversial legislative petition 
initiative that would require women to purchase an additional rider 
to insurance if they want abortion coverage in their health plan. 
Neither Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, nor 
Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, would promise that a 
vote would be taken before year's end. A delay until next year would 
mean the initiative may not go into effect until 2015 if passed.

Other issues are expected to be taken up in the final two days in session.

Medical Marijuana

A pair of bills that would allow for the use of medical 
marijuana-infused products and legalize cannabis dispensaries passed 
the House Judiciary committee Tuesday morning on unanimous votes.

A third bill, which would allow pharmacies to produce and sell 
medical marijuana, also passed, but on an 8-1 vote with two 
additional Democratic members passing on the bills.

The bills now move to the full House of Representatives for 
consideration. Since the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on 
Thursday, it is unlikely that the first two bills would receive a 
final vote this year. But the third bill, which is contingent upon 
the federal government reclassifying marijuana from an illegal 
substance to one that can be prescribed, has passed the Senate and 
could go to final passage before the holidays.

Campaign Finance

A House committee gave approval Tuesday to a bill that doubles 
campaign finance limits while protecting the anonymity of donors who 
pay for controversial issue ads that have become increasingly 
influential in Michigan political campaigns.

Senate Bill 661 now moves to the full House, where it could be taken 
up as early as today. It has already passed the Senate.

Tuesday's 5-4 vote by the House Elections and Ethics Committee 
followed a second day of testimony on a bill that would nullify an 
effort by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to require disclosure of 
who pays for issue ads, which often attack candidates but don't 
expressly advocate how someone should vote.

Phone Service

The House Energy and Technology committee took more than three hours 
of testimony Tuesday on a bill that would allow phone companies to 
disconnect traditional landline service for customers with approval 
from the Federal Communications Commission and 90-days notice to customers.

The bill pits AT&T against AARP. AT&T, one of the largest phone 
service providers in the state, wants to concentrate on new rather 
than old communications technology.

AARP representing senior citizens and law enforcement, say the bill 
needs more oversight from the Michigan Public Service Commission 
before traditional landlines are abandoned.

Currently, the Michigan Public Service Commission and the FCC review 
requests from phone companies to abandon landlines. The bill would 
give the initial approval to FCC and allow the state commission to 
start an investigation if a customer complained that the alternative 
service wasn't good enough for them.

The committee is expect to take a vote this morning on the bill, 
which has already passed the Senate, and could be taken up by the 
full House by Thursday.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom