Mar 28, 2023 - Politics

Capitol catchup: Prevailing wage, third grade reading law signed

Michigan Capitol

The Michigan State Capitol in Lansing. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

Democrats in Lansing have wasted little time getting their legislative priorities to the governor's desk during the first two months of their new majority.

Driving the news: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week signed into law bills to:

  • Repeal the law requiring students whose reading skills are lagging to repeat the third grade.
  • Repeal right-to-work, which allows nonunion employees to reap the same benefits as members without paying dues.
  • Restore the prevailing wage, which requires contractors on state projects to provide union-level wages and benefits.

Between the lines: Both bills include appropriations that make them referendum proof, meaning they would need to be overturned through a constitutional amendment.

  • As a candidate, Whitmer promised to veto bills that include spending designed to block a referendum vote.

The other side: Business groups and Republicans say the legislation will hurt Michigan's ability to compete for new jobs.

Meanwhile, some Republicans have distanced themselves from their state party after recently elected chairperson Kristina Karamo tripled down on controversial social media posts comparing Democratic gun legislation to actions taken by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.

  • In an appearance on WKAR's "Off the Record," Karamo said that so-called red-flag gun bills, which allow a judge to confiscate the firearms of a person who may be a danger to themselves or others, are a slippery slope.
  • "With the red flag laws, it starts with someone making a sole accusation and another individual can have their weapons taken away from them," she said.

What's next: Michigan will soon have updated gun laws, as Democrats sent legislation to curb gun violence to the governor's desk last week.

  • Whitmer has indicated she will sign them.

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