Given the amount of discussion of the Clean Slate package lately, it would not be surprising at all to wonder where we are in the legislative process with this package of bills designed to greatly expand the clearance of public criminal records across the state of Michigan.
Last Tuesday, October 29, the House Judiciary Committee voted the entire Clean Slate package of bills out of committee on a 12-1 vote with recommendation. That means the committee recommended the package for passage on the House floor. On Nov. 5, the House passed the package on a 95-13 vote.
But this is only one step on the journey towards becoming law. The legislative process is designed to force careful consideration before changing the laws of our state. Once the bills complete the legislative process in the House, they are sent to the Senate. There, they will undergo the same process in that chamber.
Hopefully, the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee chaired by Senator Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Township) would quickly take up the bills, hold hearings and then vote them out of committee as well. If the full Senate follows suit and both the House and Senate pass identical bills, the package would head to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
If, however, the bills don’t pass in identical forms, a choice must be made. In the first scenario, the first chamber to pass the bills — in this case, the House— could choose to pass the Senate version of the bills. They would then go straight to Gov. Whitmer’s desk.
A second option involves creating a “conference committee” to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills. The newly rewritten and identical bills would be re-introduced to both the House Judiciary Committee and Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee in their new forms. If passed, they would then need to be taken up again on the House and Senate floors. Finally, if both identical versions were passed, they would go to the governor.
It’s important to note that these seven bills are “tie-barred” together, which means that they must all pass, or none of them will come into effect.
Once the bills reach the governor, she would have the option to either sign or veto the legislation. Each of these bills has an effective date 180 days after being signed into law. However, the provisions of some of the bills will take longer to come into play. For instance, it will take two years for the state to create the software and set up the computer systems that will automatically expunge criminal records. The traffic offense expungement law would take two years to take effect because the state will need time to develop and test the computer system tracking the set-asides of those offenses.
Expungements offered by other bills, such as the expansion for marijuana-related convictions, would become available as soon as the effective date passes.
Safe & Just Michigan are hopeful that the process moves quickly and that the House and Senate pass identical versions of the bills as soon as possible.