Bill would require Internet safety courses in schools

Capital News Service
LANSING — Although some schools teach students about Internet dangers, a recently introduced House bill would require it. The bill, spearheaded by Rep. Robert Wittenberg, D-Oak Park, and co-sponsored by Reps. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, and Aaron Miller, R-Sturgis, among others, would mandate public schools teach an “age-appropriate” Internet safety course in grades 1 through 12 at least once per year. By the time students graduate, they would be taught to recognize and report cyber bullying, sexual predation and copyright infringements, along with how to protect private information. Wittenberg said he saw a need for Internet education in Michigan’s curriculum after speaking with superintendents in his district who were distraught about student behavior online and the lack of support materials for teachers.

Less state money for mandates makes counties pay

Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan is requiring Kent County to increase public health counseling with no additional state funding. Ottawa County has just discovered it must begin reimbursing foster parents’ mileage under Department of Human Services requirements. State funding for Marquette County’s senior services has dropped more than 20 percent since 2007, leaving these expenses for the county to cover. Michigan counties say issues like these are created by unfunded or underfunded mandates — new services the state requires counties to perform without paying its share of the costs. “This is a sore spot with local government throughout the state,” said Alan Vanderberg, Ottawa County administrator.

Right-to-Work Bills Spark Controversy

Some have described it as a ‘game changer’ while others have declared it a travesty for Michigan workers. Either way, in a matter days, a GOP majority quickly moved right-to-work legislation through a lame duck session in both the House and Senate. “In the space of 72 hours it went from ‘not on my agenda’ to ‘it’s going be a law in a couple of weeks,’ and that’s a pretty dramatic transition,” said Rick Pluta of Michigan Radio who has been following Lansing politics for more than two decades. It’s a move that marks the end of decades long “closed shop” laws in the state, meaning workers would now no longer be required to join union or pay union dues. For most of his term Gov. Rick Snyder has made it a point to steer clear of such divisive issues.

Late bills flow with little chance of passage

Capital News Service
LANSING – Coming up soon is the end of the political year, but some lawmakers are still proposing bills, even if they might not pass this term. “It is not impossible but it is hard, really hard,” said Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw, “especially for a newly introduced bill.”
Kahn introduced a bill on Oct. 17 to allow the sale of marijuana through licensed facilities. The bill would control an individual’s possession and use of the drug. He was asked to introduce it because he is a physician.