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Whitmer signs several bills as first term winds down

Michigan Capitol
Kathy Noble
Michigan Capitol

A Michigan program designed to get more adult learners into higher education is getting re-worked under a pair of newly signed state laws.

The Michigan Reconnect grant offers qualifying residents aged 25 and up tuition money at a community college to earn an associate’s degree or professional certificate.

Many of the changes involve updating requirements from the original law that created the program.

But there are also some new differences students may notice.

One opens the possibility for students to receive more reconnect grant dollars by adjusting the definition of “gift aid” to exclude financial aid used for non-tuition costs.

“This legislation shows a continued bipartisan commitment to expanding post-secondary attainment in our state,” package co-sponsor Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) said in a press release from the governor’s office.

Under the new law, community colleges can also receive some reimbursement for credit hours they award to students for previous classes or other experiences.

The Reconnect bills are among the 45 bills Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed this month before her first term in office ends.

One new law bans the use of disability status to discriminate against someone needing an organ transplant.

A separate bill package joins Michigan in an inter-state compact that allows for out-of-state psychologists to practice here, with some restrictions.

Representative Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Twp) co-sponsored that legislation.

“It allows for continuity of care for clients, particularly if clients relocate. It also allows for underserved populations to have access to these much-needed resources. We must continue to address issues of access. This is one of the tolls that we can enact to address this growing problem,” she said in the governor’s press release.

Meanwhile, another package looks to overhaul how Michigan handles waste in hopes of raising the state’s recycling rate. It sets new goals and standards for waste management while promoting the re-use of materials.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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