Whitmer signs bipartisan bills honoring Blue Star Mothers, protecting fair and free elections, among other legislation

On Monday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan legislation that designates February 1 as “Blue Star Mothers Day,” establishes guidelines to support fair and free elections, and enables homeowners to implement clean energy home improvements, among other legislation. Since taking office, Governor Whitmer has signed 1,334 bipartisan bills into law since taking office and has been committed to working across the aisle to address the kitchen-table issues that Michiganders care about.  

“These bipartisan bills address a range of issues that will build a stronger future for our communities,” said Whitmer. “From honoring the strong mothers whose children serve our nation in uniform, supporting fair and free elections that make sure the winner can take office without unnecessary interference, to ensuring homeowners have the freedom to put solar panels on their own houses, we’ll keep working together to make a real difference in people’s lives.”

Senate Bill 235, sponsored by state Senator Rick Outman (R- Six Lakes), designates "Blue Star Mothers Day" as February 1, honoring the courage, strength, and sacrifice of mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, foster mothers, and female legal guardians whose children have served or are currently serving in the military, guard, or reserves.

Senate Bill 603, sponsored by state Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), modifies Michigan's recount process as well as recount filing fees. The bill mandates that recounts will be allowed for precincts that have an imbalance between the ballots collected and ballots issued as long as they provide a satisfactory explanation and a sworn affidavit in a form prescribed by the Secretary of State. The bill also updates Michigan's recount filing fees to better account for the costs of conducting a recount. These stipulations uphold the democratic process, ensuring that the security of every vote is protected and that losing parties cannot stop the winners from taking office.  

“Today, with the signing of our common-sense recount law reforms, we are strengthening our democracy and ensuring that we reach the most accurate count of the ballots possible during a recount process," said Chang. "Too many close races in the past led to precincts that were not able to be recounted due to our outdated law, and today we close those gaps. These laws achieve critical goals of protecting the security of every vote, modernizing our recount process, and uplifting the voices of Michigan voters. Thank you to Senator Moss, Secretary Benson, county clerks, and many civic organizations for your collaboration on this legislation."

Senate Bill 604, sponsored by state Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), changes the sentencing guidelines for certain Michigan election law violations, specifically related to recount violations.

"For years, clerks and candidates have demanded reforms and updates to Michigan’s 70-year-old recount law so every valid ballot can be subject to a recount in close races," said Moss. "I’m grateful to partner with Sen. Chang to modernize this important part of the post-election process. This legislation will strengthen the integrity of our voting systems and ensure the accuracy of election results."

House Bill 5028, sponsored by state Representative Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton) gives homeowners the freedom to make energy-saving home improvements to their property, such as installing solar panels. This bill complements Governor Whitmer’s commitment to making Michigan a national leader with a 100% clean energy standard and builds upon the Clean Energy & Jobs Act. By enabling people to implement energy-efficient changes in their homes, homeowners save money and help Michigan build toward a more sustainable future.  

“With the signing of this bill, we are making it easier for homeowners to install solar panels and other updates to save on their energy bills,” said Puri. “Simply put, Michigan homeowners shouldn’t face artificial barriers to lowering their energy consumption, saving more of their hard-earned money and helping to keep Michigan’s environment healthy.”   

Senate Bill 251, sponsored by state Senator Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), modifies Michigan’s bus display requirements to comply with standing Federal law. The bill eliminates the requirement for buses to display the motor carrier’s primary phone number. By removing the display of the primary phone number, motor carriers will no longer be at risk of receiving prank calls or other unwanted attention from
individuals who spotted the number on the road.  

Senate Bill 417, sponsored by state Senator Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), amends the State Housing and Development Authority Act, making modifications to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA)’s PassThrough Bond Program. By supporting the creation of certain senior housing projects and allowing eligible borrowers to have up to $100 million in outstanding loan commitments, the bill addresses critical housing needs and fulfills an MSHDA top priority.  

“I’m proud to have sponsored Senate Bill 417, which addresses our state’s housing shortage — a crisis that impacts far too many individuals and families across the state,” said Singh. “Thanks to Governor Whitmer for signing this into law, helping more Michiganders find a place to call home.”  

Senate Bill 465, sponsored by state Senator Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), requires individuals to keep at least a 200-foot distance between their vehicle and a snowplow, among other restrictions. By ensuring snowplow operators have the proper space and time to clear the roads, Michigan’s roads and neighborhoods will be safer to drive on and walk around throughout the winter.  

“Snowplows are critical to keeping Michigan roadways clear in the wintertime. Unfortunately, we see far too many accidents between them and motorists, making it clear that enhanced safety measures are needed,” said Singh. “By giving snowplows the space they need to keep our roadways clear, this legislation ensures Michigan drivers can get from one place to the next as safely as possible.”

Senate Bill 498, sponsored by state Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), modifies the requirements to change a child’s foster care placement. Under the new law, tribal governments will be involved in cases of Native children within the foster care system, by requiring notification to the foster child's tribe if there are proposed changes to the child's placement. By acknowledging the prevailing social and cultural values, conditions, and ways of life, as well as specific tribe preferences, the welfare of Native children will be a top priority.  

“Senate Bill 498 — which I’m proud to have sponsored and received unanimous support in the Senate — brings Michigan one step closer to repairing the harm that has been done to Native American children and tribal communities by the child welfare system,” said Irwin. “By strengthening the communication between the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and tribal governments, we can keep children connected to their communities and cultures.”

Senate Bill 682, sponsored by state Senator John N. Damoose (R-Harbor Springs), implements a speed limit for bikes and electric bikes (e-bikes) on the state highway that surrounds Mackinac Island. Given that the highway prohibits motor vehicles, e-bikes, that can reach up to 20-28 miles per hour, have posed safety concerns. This bill prioritizes the safety of residents, addressing the possibility of future accidents perpetrated by e-bikes by enforcing a 15 mile-per-hour speed limit.  

“I spoke with Mackinac Island officials and worked out agreeable terms prior to formally introducing the legislation earlier this year. This was an important update that had bipartisan support all the way to the governor’s desk,” said Damoose. The newly signed law will maintain access for those with limited mobility but will also make sure visitors and residents on the island stay safe and are able to enjoy the unique Pure Michigan opportunities that Mackinac Island has to offer.”

Senate Bill 690, sponsored by state Senator Veronica Klinefelt (D-Eastpointe), revises the Michigan code of military justice—last revised in 2005—to align with Federal law. In the 19 years that have passed since the code was first established, many important changes in the Federal code have been made, including penalties for sexual assault and sexual harassment. By updating Michigan’s code, justice will be made more accessible for Michiganders in our military.  

Senate Bill 702, sponsored by state Senator Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), increases the minimum hours of training for licensure as a cosmetology instructor, manicurist, and esthetician. This change ensures that any student who completes training to be a cosmetology instructor, manicurist, or esthetician in Michigan is eligible for Federal grants, such as Pell Grants, under the current Department of Education rules.  

“This is necessary legislation that aligns Michigan with federal requirements while providing further tools for those training to become a cosmetology instructor, manicurist, or esthetician,” said Singh. “Ensuring federal financial aid is available to students in these programs keeps these careers within reach while preventing students from seeking schools out of state.”

Senate Bill 841 and Senate Bill 842, sponsored by state Senator Veronica Klinefelt (D-Eastpointe), address a harmful loophole in criminal law which previously stated that penalties for sexual assault were limited to instances where the victim was alive. These bills correct this lapse, providing penalties and creating sentencing guidelines for individuals convicted of sexual conduct with or involving a corpse. By ensuring criminals are held accountable for sexual assault of any kind, Michigan’s communities, and its residents, will be safer and stronger.  

Senate Bill 843, sponsored by state Senator Veronica Klinefelt (D-Eastpointe), requires individuals convicted of sexual assault involving a corpse to register as a sex offender. This bill prioritizes public safety, ensuring that individuals convicted of any sex crime are held accountable and are easily identifiable through the sex offender registry.  

"I’m so glad to see Melody’s Law signed into law after a unanimous vote in both chambers," said Klinefelt. "This legislation was the product of hard work done by Melody’s husband, Rick, and their daughters. In closing this glaring loophole in Michigan’s criminal code, we will be able to ensure that any horrifying acts of necrophilia can be properly prosecuted."

House Bill 4603, sponsored by state Representative Tullio Liberati (D-Allen Park), gives schools the option to use a design builder and a design-build team instead of hiring a contractor, architect, and builder as long as the design documents provide for a structurally sound and safe building. By reducing requirements for a costly construction team, schools are able to save money and the state is able to streamline the school building process. This allows for more cost-effective school construction without compromising the safety or structural integrity of the buildings.  

“I’m happy to see this bill being signed into law, making it easier for our schools to get the remodels they need,” said Liberati. “By allowing more people to work on building and remodeling our schools, we are making it easier for school districts to get the necessary buildings and remodels they need, allowing our schools to remain up-to-date and safe for kids and educators.”

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