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    Succeeding the recent election, Michigan's state government is going to appear radically different. While Republicans retained control of the state Senate, they acquired control of the state House and governorship. In the forthcoming years the direction of the state will turn decidedly to Republican inclinations. The policies and priorities of the new government will obviously shift from those of the current government. This will certainly be the death knell for many bills introduced in the current legislature. One such bill is the anti-bullying legislation introduced in September. With the dramatic changes in the state government, the passage of anti-bullying legislation became immediately tenuous. .

    First, the prospects for anti-bullying legislation preceding the election were already poor. Michigan has been attempting for the preceding ten years to pass anti-bullying legislation. It has heretofore failed. However, during the current legislature, a renewed effort was made in both the House and Senate to pass anti-bullying legislation. Subsequently, that effort stalled in committee. Granted, the current legislature could pass the legislation during the lame-duck session. But that is unlikely as state Senator Wayne Kuipers (R) has iterated that it will not be brought to the floor or even committee. Rather, if anti-bullying legislation is to be passed, it will be passed by the new legislature. And given the radically different composition of the legislature, that does not bode well for its passage.

    In the State House, three of the bill's six sponsors, Deb Kennedy (D), Dan Scripps (D), and Jennifer Haase (D), lost their respective election. Moreover, Republicans gained control of the House. While Republican antipathy toward anti-bullying legislation is not uniform, every legislator to inhibit the anti-bullying legislation has been a Republican. For example, in 2008 anti-bullying legislation had unanimously passed the Senate's Education Committee. However, despite moderate bipartisan support, Senate Republican Leadership prohibited it from being debated on the floor of the Senate. Again, while Republicans are not wholly opposed to anti-bullying legislation, they are generally more antipathetic to it than Democrats. Therefore, the loss of its most ardent supporters coupled with a Republican majority bodes poorly for anti-bullying legislation. But what if the Republican majority were to pass anti-bullying legislation? What would the legislation entail?

    Ironically, if the Republicans were to pass anti-bullying legislation, it would not dramatically differ from the current legislation. The core legislation would remain. However, there would be a sole, significant difference. The Republican legislation would not designate certain groups as protected from bullying. This primarily arises from conservative opposition to including LGBT students as a protected group. As previously noted in the Michigan Policy Network's evaluation of anti-bullying legislation, this would have an especially pernicious consequence for LGBT students. LGBT students are, along with handicapped students, the students disproportionately targeted by bullies. Therefore, while legislation generally opposed to anti-bullying would be positive, legislation that specifically mandates the protection of groups disproportionately targeted by bullies would be optimal.

    Regardless, the prospects of passing anti-bullying legislation have dimmed markedly. Michigan will likely remain one of only five states not to have passed anti-bullying legislation.

    Sources:

    Effectiveness of Anti-Bullying Legislation and Michigan's Renewed Effort to Pass It (MPN)

    Election dashes hopes of passing anti-bullying legislation (The Michigan Messenger)

     


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    About Us

    The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College. 

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    Meet your Policy Fellow: Andy Chou and Andrew Revard

    Andy Chou and Andrew Revard are Education Policy Correspondents for the Michigan Policy Network. Andy is a first-year student in Economics at Michigan State University. Andrew is a senior in Political Science at MSU.