LANSING — The Legislature has a few session days scheduled through July and August that traditionally have been used to introduce bills and not much more. Roll call generally isn’t taken and neither are any votes.
But this year, that might change.
Several committees are meeting Wednesday and a vote might be taken in the full Senate on a pair of bills dealing with access to medical marijuana.
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, said last week that the two bills, which would allow communities to decide whether they want medical marijuana dispensaries in their town and regulate those businesses, as well as allow for the sale of marijuana-infused products like brownies and oils, will be taken up in the Senate this week.
“I went and saw a dispensary in Detroit and what they’ve done there is incredible,” Richardville said. “And I met with people who can’t smoke marijuana. There are some real positive things going on.”
Richardville had been a medical marijuana skeptic, bottling up the legislation for months. But testimony this spring from parents with chronically sick children, cancer patients and other medical marijuana users changed his mind, he said.
The bills have already passed the House and the Senate Government Operations committee, where Richardville is the chairman, and are expected to move to the full Senate on Wednesday.
The Appropriations committees in both the House and Senate also will meet Wednesday, taking up bills dealing with deficit-elimination plans for schools and allowing drivers with some driver responsibility fees to do community service in lieu of paying the fines.
The Senate Health Policy committee also will hold a hearing on a number of bills, including one that will provide better access for terminally ill patients to experimental drugs that haven’t received final approval yet from the Federal Drug Administration.
The session day may also provide a hint of some of the issues that will become front and center when lawmakers return full time to Lansing on Sept. 9: A work group of six senators will be appointed to delve into a way to finance the estimated $1.2 billion a year need to fix Michigan’s roads.
The Senate adjourned last month without coming up with the necessary votes for a long-term solution for the state’s pothole-choked thoroughfares.
And Richardville said it’s time for a debate on whether to add sexual orientation to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights act, which he supports.
“That would happen in September,” Richardville predicted. “There is no way a child, especially, should be bullied because they have these choices or beliefs. Hatred is a bad thing.”
His support, however, does not extend to same-sex marriage. “Joining two people for life, that’s a different topic,” Richardville said.
Gov. Rick Snyder also said in June that the time was ripe for a debate on the topic, but he wouldn’t say if he supports the addition to the civil rights act, which would prohibit discrimination against the LGBT community in certain areas, such as hiring and housing.
The House has scheduled session two days each in July and August, but it hasn’t firmed up any issues that might be brought up. The Senate is scheduled to meet one day each in July and August.
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