Last year's legislative session ended without passage of a pair of medical marijuana bills supported by patients and caregivers statewide. The two bills will be re-introduced to the Michigan House of Representatives during a press conference at the Capitol Building in Lansing on Thursday.
Representative Michael Callton (R-Nashville) announced the press conference during a broadcast of the Planet Green Trees Radio Show on February 5th.
"I am putting in the Provisioning Centers Bill on Thursday (February 12). And I'm going to have a press conference. Who is going to handle the medibles bill is going to be Lisa Lyons-Posthumus, which is really fantastic. She got ahold of me and wanted to be involved." Rep. Posthumus Lyons (R- Alto) is sponsoring the Smoking Alternatives Bill, which was designated HB 5104 during the 2013-14 legislative session.
A phone call to the Capitol Building confirmed a press conference is set for the Speaker's Library.
The time and speaker's list is being released by Rep. Callton's office on Wednesday. (Reach Callton's office at: 517 373-0842 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
This will be Callton's third legislative session of offering up a medical marijuana dispensary bill. First introduced 2012, the bill is much changed from its original format, and along with those changes in languages come changes in strategy.
During the radio broadcast, Callton emphasized the bills would be presented in a "new direction" during the 2015-16 legislative session. The bills will enjoy broad bipartisan support in the House, as they did last session, and the list of co-sponsors shows it. "Right now I have seven Republicans and seven Democrats, if I include myself, on the bill," Callton said. "I like to keep it even like that so it's bipartisan."
The sponsor of the Smoking Alternatives Bill will bring added strength to the legislative team, he added. "To get Lisa Lyons-Posthumus in here, we are really hitting that political mainstream."
But the House wasn't the problem in the last session, it was Senate Republicans- and a last-minute blockade by police organizations. "We are doing some different strategy this time, so we will be stronger in the Senate," Callton confirmed.
He recalled the success the two bills had in the House, and the landslide vote given his bill on the House floor in December of 2013, only to be stuck for months in the slow-moving Senate. "We came out of the House (like) gangbusters, 95-14, but then it was hard to get it moving over there because we really didn't have a champion in the Senate to help carry the water."
To minimize the Senate quagmire, Callton's strategy change involves running duplicate bills in both the House and Senate simultaneously. "We are gong to have it run also opposite from the Senate, with double blue-backs. Right now we have Mike Shirkey involved and he... is a really energetic person and really a hard worker." Senator Shirkey, a former House Representative, was elected in November as a Republican to the Senate seat in the 16th District.
"He has someone to run the Provisioning Centers Bill from the Senate. and that's really going to help us."
There are even more reasons to be optimistic about the passage of these two bills by the legislature during 2015. "We have great cooperation from the governor's office, which we didn't have at the start before," Callton boasted.
The Representative has learned from last year's missteps, too. "Strategy wise we really have got to work with the Sheriff's Association and local law enforcement associations because they were kind of the one who blocked it before because their concerns weren't addressed."
On the very last day of 2014's legislative session, the bills were pulled from consideration by the sponsors after voting support waned as a result of a telephone blitz on Senators by sheriffs from across the state. "So we made a strategic retreat," Callton described it. "Now that we're back we are going to need to address their concerns and make sure that when it's time to vote again they are not making phonecalls."
How do you stop that from happening again in 2015? Jump right into that issue and hash out the differences right away, Callton said. "We want to get it done early, as opposed to having it hang on for a couple of years and then run out of time in lame duck session."