Local legislators voting update - March 2021

Here is how some of St. Joseph County’s state and national representatives voted on selected legislation in the month of March. State Rep. Steve Carra and State Sen. Kim LaSata’s voting records and details of the legislation are courtesy of MichiganVotes.org, and United States Rep. Fred Upton’s voting record is courtesy of his U.S. House website.

State Rep. Steve Carra

  • March 3, House Bill 4049, passed House 60-50

Carra voted for the legislation, which concurred with a Senate-passed version of a bill that would have transferred power to close schools during an epidemic from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to local health departments. The legislation was vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on March 9.

  • March 9, House Bill 4128, passed House 66-43

Carra voted for the legislation, which would revise the procedure specified in state election law to remove certain registered voters listed in the qualified voter file who haven't voted since 2000 or who have unknown dates of birth in the voter rolls, and do not respond to a mailing. The bill is currently in the Senate Elections Committee as of March 10.

  • March 18, House Bills 4383 through 4392, each passed House 109-0

The unanimously-passed bills, which Carra also voted in favor of, would extend Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act to state legislators and the governor and lieutenant governor’s office, which are currently exempted from the law. The new rules would be subject to a range of exceptions and exemptions. As of March 23, all of the bills are in the Senate Oversight Committee.

  • March 24, House Bill 4346, passed House 91-16

Carra was one of 16 legislators, all Republicans, to vote against the measure, which would prohibit health insurance policies from requiring a covered person to pay a co-pay for insulin greater than $50 per month. The bill is currently in the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee as of March 25.

  • March 25, Senate Bill 46, passed House 57-49

Carra voted against the legislation, which would exempt “broadband equipment” owned by certain internet developers claiming to serve "underserved areas" from personal property taxes levied on business tools and equipment. The bill is connected to House Bill 4210, which passed on March 17 by a 59-50 vote with Carra voting against it. The Senate Fiscal Agency is unable to quantify the amount of foregone revenue the tax subsidies they promise would cost the state, in part because the bills would permit developers to claim them in areas where broadband internet may already be available.

State Sen. Kim LaSata

  • March 2, Senate Bill 1, passed Senate 20-15

LaSata voted in favor of the bill, which would restrict emergency orders MDHHS may impose in response to an epidemic to 28 days unless an extension is approved by the legislature. A state Public Health Code adopted by the legislature in 1978 gives the department the authority to issue such orders. The bill would also require officials to disclose in such orders how any restrictions on gatherings protects public health, and all the information used in deciding to issue the emergency order. The bill was vetoed by Whitmer on March 24.

  • March 17, Senate Bill 211, passed Senate 19-16

LaSata voted in favor of the bill, which would exempt a person from a state snowmobile helmet mandate if the person gets a note from their doctor that they can’t wear a helmet. The bill is currently in the House Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Committee as of March 17.

  • March 25, Senate Bill 27, passed Senate 20-15

LaSata voted in favor of the bill, which would appropriate $1.25 million for county prosecutors to investigate "the long-term care and residential care facility policies implemented by the governor" in response to the coronavirus epidemic and "data on infection and transmission rates, tracking, tracing, and number of deaths associated with these facilities". The bill is currently in the House Appropriations Committee as of March 25.

  • March 25, Senate Bill 250, passed Senate 20-15

LaSata voted in favor of the bill, which would place in state law specific disease incidence thresholds and limits for restricting gatherings and occupancy limits in restaurants and other “event venues” during a coronavirus epidemic. The bill would prescribe specific occupancy restrictions based on current local disease incidence levels. The bill is currently in the House Government Operations Committee as of March 25.

United States Rep. Fred Upton

  • March 3, H.R. 1, passed House 220-210

Upton voted against the bill, dubbed the For the People Act of 2021, which would address voter access, election integrity and security, campaign finance and ethics for the three branches of government. This includes expansion of voter registration and voting access, limiting removal of voters from voter rolls, adding provisions for redistricting, election security, expanding the prohibition on campaign spending by foreign nationals and requiring additional disclosure of campaign-related fundraising and spending. The bill is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate.

  • March 10, H.R. 1319, passed House 220-211

Upton voted against the bill, dubbed the American Rescue Plan of 2021, which provided additional relief to address the continued impact of COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses. The bill was signed by President Joe Biden on March 11.

  • March 11, H.R. 8, passed House 227-203

Upton was one of eight Republicans to vote for the bill, dubbed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021. The bill, if signed, would prohibit a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check. The prohibition would not apply to certain firearm transfers or exchanges, such as a gift between spouses in good faith. The bill is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate.

  • March 16, H.R. 485, passed House 345-73

Upton voted for the bill, dubbed the Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. The bill would reauthorizes through 2027 and revises the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform Act of 1978 to expand services for preventing and treating child abuse. The bill is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate.

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