Grant aimed at improving health care for LGBTQ+ patients

LGBTQ+ HEALTH: $10 million in new state aid will help local organizations improve health services for LGBTQ+ residents of Michigan. We learn more from a Benton Harbor advocacy group and Transgender Michigan. Lawmakers from Livonia and Southfield championed the grant program. By Brandy Muz. FOR DETROIT, THREE RIVERS, HOLLAND, STURGIS, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

Rep. Tom Kunse of Clare is the top Republican on the House Ethics and Oversight Committee

House Ethics panel rarely met this year 

ETHICS COMMITTEE: The House Ethics and Oversight Committee hasn’t met in months. The Democratic chair says the committee is still doing its work, but Republicans feel frustrated. We talk to lawmakers from Dearborn, Clare, Novi and Rochester Hills and to Common Cause. By Liz Nass. FOR CLARE, DETROIT, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

Marriage licenses may double in price

MARRIAGE LICENSES: Some lawmakers want to more than double the fee for marriage licenses, generating more money for county governments and Friend of the Court offices. Sponsors include legislators from Muskegon, Eastpointe, Allen Park Grand Rapids and Mt. Clemens. By Kelsey Lester. FOR DETROIT, EKTV AND ALL POINTS.

Department of Civil Rights Executive Director John Johnson Jr.

Housing bias targeted by state departments

HOUSING BIAS: Though the 55-year-old Fair Housing Act prohibits bias in housing based on race and other factors, some areas still suffer from discrimination, according to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. The state will make a renewed effort to fight the discrimination. The head of the Civil Rights Department and an official from the Michigan Association of Counties discuss. By Stephanie Rauhe. FOR DETROIT, WKTV, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS AND ALL POINTS.

This map shows opioid dispensing rates in 2020. Otsego County and Emmet County were the two highest dispensing areas.

Bill would prohibit local governments from suing over opioids

OPIOID LIABILITY: A Keego Harbor senator has proposed prohibiting local governments from suing drug manufacturers and pharmacies that have settled opioid epidemic-related claims with the state and federal governments. Her bill, passed by the Senate, is awaiting House action. A Charlevoix County commissioner says local officials should have the right to file their own lawsuits. By Kelsey Lester. FOR DETROIT, CHEBOYGAN, PETOSKEY AND ALL POINTS.

Governor Whitmer Enacts Legislation Protecting Minors’ Right to Consent in Marriage

In a historic move, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill, HB 4302, aimed at safeguarding the well-being of minors in Michigan by raising the minimum age of consent for marriage to 18. This action not only represents a continuation of Whitmer’s previous initiatives signed into law in early 2023, but also positions Michigan as a progressive leader, making it the tenth state in the United States to officially eliminate child marriage. Before the bill, the legal age to get married in Michigan was 16 with parental consent. The bill was first introduced on March 16, 2023, and passed on Sep. 26. 

The other nine states that have a ban on underage marriage with no exceptions are Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut. 

“I am committed to keeping Michiganders – especially young women – safe and healthy, and today’s bipartisan bill fully implements Michigan’s ban on child marriage,” Whitmer said in a press release.

Costs of early voting concern county clerks

EARLY VOTING INCENTIVES: A $30 million infusion of state funds to implement early voting and absentee ballot rights will help county and municipal clerks, but they say it’s not enough to cover all their added expenses. We talk to clerks in Clare, Ottawa and Macomb counties and an East Lansing lawmaker. By Liz Nass. FOR CLARE, HOLLAND, DETROIT, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

Bills moving to expand definition of hate crimes

HATE CRIMES: There’s a call to strengthen Michigan’s hate crime laws at a time when such incidents are increasingly common. We hear from the executive director of the Department of Civil Rights, lawmakers from Northville, Canton Township and West Bloomfield and a national Muslim rights advocacy group. By Liz Nass. FOR DETROIT, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.