The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

New legislation takes effect in Michigan with abortion, environmental policies

Courtesy / MLive

Michigan legislation has undergone many changes in recent months. Throughout 2023, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed off on 321 public acts. More than 140 of these public acts did not go into effect until Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. These acts include renewable energy strides, the protection of abortion access and LGBTQ anti-discrimination legislation.

The legislations’ induction was delayed because the Michigan legislature is allowed to push the date of effect until up to 90 days after the yearly session adjourns. 

Senate Bills 271 and 277, and House Bills 4317 and 4318 clear the way for solar energy to be used on farmland, allow for more solar energy use and increase access to rooftop solar. GVSU Junior Ashtyn Jennings said the laws regarding the move towards solar energy stand out to her the most. 

“As an environmental and sustainability major it is important to me that our government thinks about positive shifts in sustainable development,” Jennings said. “While this law is not a definite yes on green energy, it is a step in the right direction, making it more possible for the future. I think these new laws are a positive sign for Michigan and these are things I think most of the people in our generation think about, especially when it comes to reproductive rights and climate change.”

There is some statewide controversy about a law that went into place regarding the zoning authority of renewable projects. House bills 5120 and 5121 remove the authority from local governments and give it to the state. According to MLive, these bills came about in response to many townships’ refusal to build renewable energy structures in recent years, many refusing solely for aesthetic reasons. 

Hannah Kos, local business owner of The Borough, a cafe that sits just off of GVSU’s Allendale campus, said that she paid attention to these laws when they were passed by legislature.

“I was aware at the time they were being voted on that these laws would not take effect until now,” Kos said.

Courtesy / MLive

In addition, the Reproductive Health Act was officially signed off on Nov. 21, 2023. The legislation includes:

  • Lifting the ban on partial-birth abortions (a procedure often used for late-stage miscarriages).
  • Removing the requirement of abortion coverage to be a separate, add-on health insurance plan.
  • Removing the law that made it a criminal offense for doctors and nurses to prescribe abortion medication.
  • Allowing pregnant students at public universities to acquire information about abortion should they desire it. 

Several different laws regarding abortion care seem to stand out for the GVSU community. Jennings appreciates Michigan’s policies that are significant to women’s rights.

“These are regulations we needed to see and I am happy to live in Michigan, where our governor looks out for the people,” said Jennings. 

Public reception of the newly instated laws appears to be positive for many members of the GVSU community. GVSU Junior Kathryn Pratt said these new laws give her hope as a newer Michigan resident. 

“The understanding of these laws going into effect gives me great hope, especially with the most recent laws coming out of Alabama,” Pratt said. “As I know some of these regulations in Michigan are fully focused on keeping women’s rights just that – a women’s right.”

Other legislation regarding LGBTQ rights explicitly protects the rights of citizens based on their sex and gender identity, according to MLive. An anti-discrimination law ensures businesses cannot discriminate against their customers and employees and that landlords cannot discriminate against their tenets.

Kos said she is thankful to Governor Whitmer for making active changes that protect the people of Michigan.

“I know a lot of laws strengthening gun control and protecting women’s and LGBT rights went into effect this week,” said Kos. “I feel really fortunate to live in a state that has a governor whose views align with mine, and who makes active changes that are parallel to the platform they ran on.” 

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