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Honigman Capitol Report

March 29, 2021

Election Reform Package Introduced in Michigan Senate

On March 24, Senate Republicans introduced a package of 39 bills (SBs 273-311) proposing various election and voting-related reforms. Among other changes, the bills propose to:

Regulate Absent Voter Ballot Drop Boxes
In the future, new AV ballot drop boxes would have to be approved by both the Secretary of State and the relevant local board of county canvassers before being utilized for an election, and AV ballot drop boxes that have previously been used for an election would similarly have to be approved by October 1, 2021 in order to be used for elections after that date. Additionally, by June 1, 2022, all AV ballot drop boxes would be required to be monitored by a video recording device with recordings made available to the Secretary of State or local board of county canvassers. Only local clerks or approved staff members would be allowed to collect AV ballots from a drop box and the maintenance of a chain of custody log would be required. Finally, electors would be prohibited from depositing their AV ballot in a drop box after 5:00 pm on the day before an election.

Make Significant Changes Related to Election Inspectors, Election Challengers, and Poll Watchers
Under the bills, political parties who have a candidate on the ballot or a candidate whose name is on the ballot would be allowed to appoint election challengers. Additionally, the bills propose to make changes to the role of election challengers, allowing them to stand or sit behind the processing table at a polling place and specifying that they can challenge an elector if the person’s name is not listed in the poll book, the individual is claiming the identity of another individual who has already voted, or the identification being used by the person appears to be invalid or fraudulent. Election inspectors, election challengers, and poll watchers would also be allowed to record the tabulating of votes, and it would be a 93-day misdemeanor to threaten, intimidate, impede, or prevent such a person from photographing or videotaping the tabulating of votes.

Change the Way Citizen Initiatives are Certified and Presented to Voters
The bills would require the Board of State Canvassers to complete the canvass of an initiative petition within 100 days of the petition being filed with the Secretary of State, and to immediately forward the initiative petition to the Legislature if it is declared sufficient. Additionally, legislation would require that full text of the ballot proposal be provided to all electors, including those receiving AV ballots, for any ballot question that is to appear on a ballot.

Make Changes to the Voting Rolls
The Senate proposals include a number of reforms related to the State’s voting rolls. Specifically, each county clerk would be required, at least once a month during the year and at least once a week in the 45 days leading up to a regular election date, to access the Qualified Voter File and flag the voter registration of any deceased elector in their county. Likewise, the Secretary of State would be required to annually request information from every recognized multistate program or service that it is participating in to verify the current residence and voter registration status of electors.

House Passes Sweeping Health Reform Changes

Speaker Jason Wentworth’s health reform package, 15 bills in all, moved through the House Wednesday. Sponsors of the legislation say it’s intended to be a leap forward toward the goal of making health care and prescription drugs more affordable. The bills are HBs 4345-4359.

"This had much more member input than typical in the process. That's what I appreciate about this package. This came from our constituents. Directly came from people that are working in that process from manufacturer to patient, and then obviously the patients and constituents themselves," Mr. Wentworth told reporters. "Stakeholders engaged. I think we reviewed somewhere around 170 amendments and changes…This package leads the country in this type of reform. And I think that's going to be shown over the next several weeks as this package gets reviewed by national groups and think tanks across the country that have been working with other states to work towards this."

"The average premium for Michigan residents is around $400 per month. The average maximum out of pocket costs for a family is around $8,000 per year. That means you have to foot $12,800 before the insurance company begins to spend $1 on you," he said. "When residents postpone or defer treatment of care, it leads to the worsening of their chronic diseases, it leads to the rationing of their insulin, and it leads to putting residents in a position where they have to choose between dinner on the table or pursuing much needed health care treatment…”

Following is an overview of the legislation and proposed policy changes:

HB 4345 Prescription Drugs (Beeler)
Allows purchase of certain covered prescriptions from out-of-network providers and requires insurers to provide credit under certain circumstances.

HB 4346 Insulin Price Cap (Cambensy)
Provides for limit amount on co-pay for prescription insulin.

HB 4347 Prescription Drugs (Witwer)
Requires reports on certain costs and other information associated with prescription drugs and requires manufacturers of prescription drugs to file with the Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

HB 4348 Pharmacy Benefit Managers (Calley)
Provides a requirement for pharmacy benefit managers to be licensed in Michigan.

HB 4349 Hospital Charges (Berman)
Requires hospitals to make available to the public pursuant to federal law a list of standard charges for certain items and services.

HB 4350 Prescription Drugs (Young)
Modifies exemption from criminal liability to exclude manufacturers of prescription drugs from providing discounts under certain circumstances.

HB 4351 Pharmacy Benefit Managers (Whitsett)
Provides for the definition and regulation of a pharmacy benefit manager and regulates certain actions by a carrier relating to prescriptions drugs.

HB 4352 Prescription Drug Prices (Allor)
Allows disclosure of prescription drug prices to consumers and prohibits pharmacies and pharmacists from entering into certain contracts.

HB 4353 Prescription Drugs (Kahle)
Requires application of amount paid by the insured or other certain parties when calculating the insured’s co-pay for a prescription drug under certain conditions.

HB 4354 Oral Chemotherapy (Rendon)
Provides equal treatment for coverage for orally administered anticancer chemotherapy.

HB 4355 Telehealth (Brann)
Allows out-of-state health professionals to provide telehealth services to Michigan residents.

HB 4356 Contact Lenses (Meerman)
Allows examination and evaluation for purchase of contact lenses to be in person or by telemedicine.

HB 4357 Drug Manufacturers (Roth)
Prohibits distribution of gifts or other inducements by drug manufacturers or wholesale distributors to a health care provider and requires drug manufacturers and wholesale distributors to provide certain information to the board of pharmacy.

HB 4358 Health Insurance Changes (Hammoud)
Regulates formulary changes during a plan year.

HB 4359 Nurse Anesthetists (Whiteford)
Modifies scope of practice of certified nurse anesthetists.

Blue Cross Blue Shield supports some of the proposed changes while The Michigan League for Public Policy supports the insulin copay cap, the hospital charge description, drug rebates bill and the non-medical switching bill, which the group said would help lower health care costs for residents.

Limit on Public Health Orders Vetoed by Whitmer

SB 1 was vetoed by Governor Whitmer last week. The bill would have limited orders issued by the Department of Health and Human Services to manage a pandemic to 28 days unless extended by the Legislature.

Unclear is the fate of $350 million Republicans have attempted to link in spending on federal epidemiology and laboratory capacity grant funding through HB 4047. The funding bill specifies the money cannot be disbursed unless SB 1 becomes law.

"This bill would create a 28-day limit on epidemic orders," Ms. Whitmer wrote in her veto message. "Unfortunately, epidemics are not limited to 28 days. We should not so limit our ability to respond to them."

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