By JOHN FLESHER
Associated Press writer
LANSING — The Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature used a marathon session that ended Friday morning to send dozens of bills to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk before adjourning for the year, capping a busy week in which Michigan became the 24th right-to-work state.
Among the bills awaiting the Republican governor's signature is a revised emergency manager bill that requires financially troubled local governments to choose one of four state-imposed remedies and replaces a similar law rejected last month by voters.
Lawmakers also passed abortion legislation that increases regulations and requires patients to be pre-screened by a doctor, and updated Michigan's voter-approved medical marijuana law. They approved a lighting authority for Detroit, repealed a property tax on industrial equipment, prohibited novice teen drivers from talking on cell phones while behind the wheel, and voted to let people who undergo extra training carry concealed weapons in places such as schools and churches.
"We are demonstrating a meaningful commitment to the stability, vitality and safety of our cities and towns," Snyder said after the session ended. "A strong Michigan demands strong communities, and addressing these needs has been a primary focus."
The Legislature's next session will begin in January, with the GOP still in control — although their House majority will be smaller after losing five seats in last month's election. There will be 58 Republicans and 52 Democrats.
On Tuesday, the state House gave final legislative approval and Snyder signed bills barring unions from collecting mandatory fees from workers they represent under collective bargaining agreements. Action on right-to-work sparked the most heated protests and vocal opposition from Democrats.
Snyder, however, said the Legislature's actions will have long-term positive effects.
"I appreciate the hard work and partnership of House and Senate members this year," Snyder said. "Many significant reforms were enacted that will provide for a safer, healthier and more prosperous future for all residents and will be instrumental in continuing Michigan's comeback and creating more and better jobs."
The House and Senate wrapped up this session by working almost nonstop from 10 a.m. Thursday until 4:30 a.m. Friday, taking hundreds of votes on bills and amendments.
Democrats complained repeatedly that measures were being rushed to enactment without proper consideration — sometimes with substantive last-minute changes — to mollify right-wing interest groups.
"We've passed many pieces of legislation this evening, none of which do anything to bring jobs," said Rep. Stacy Oakes, a Democrat from Saginaw, as the House debated the abortion measure in the overnight hours.
That's a bill that sparked yet another heated exchange. Rep. Lisa Brown, who drew nationwide attention in June after being temporarily barred from delivering floor speeches for saying "vagina," tempted fate by uttering the word again.
"I am no longer flattered that you are interested in my vagina," she said. "I'm offended and disgusted. Your obsession is disgusting."
This time, no one objected.
Oakes drew hoots and applause with a proposed amendment — quickly voted down — to require that men receive digital rectal exams and cardiac stress tests before getting prescriptions for erectile dysfunction medication.
"It is in the interests of this legislature to ensure that a gentleman is healthy enough to engage in sexual activity," she said, "for it would be a shame to focus solely on the reproductive and sexual health of the fair sex. We do not want to leave the less-than-fair sex behind."