Religious freedom protection, drug testing for welfare recipients, and low pump prices

Dec 6, 2014

Gas prices in Michigan fell to $2.50 this week. Some are wondering how long the low prices will stay.
Credit user futureatlas.com / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss a bill aimed at protecting religious freedom, another that would cut off welfare payments to recipients who fail drug tests, and whether Michigan’s low gas prices will stick around.

Religious freedom bill

The Michigan House this week approved a bill which supporters say is meant to protect citizens from government interference when it comes to religious practices.

House Speaker Jase Bolger introduced the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” after saying efforts to add protections for LGBT people to the state’s civil rights bill were dead.

Lessenberry said the bill’s impact may not match its intentions.   

“This bill, if it’s passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, may make life more difficult for Michiganders who aren’t heterosexual,” Lessenberry said.

Drug testing for welfare recipients

The House also approved a bill that would revoke welfare payments to recipients who fail drug tests.

The drug testing who be based on “reasonable suspicion,” giving the state clearance to test recipients suspected of drug abuse.

Lessenberry said the program could have some consequences.

“Even the proponents of this bill admit that the testing would cost the state more money than they’d likely save by kicking some people off of benefits,” Lessenberry said.

Gas prices

Gas prices in Michigan dropped to $2.50 a gallon this week, a stark difference from what the state has seen in recent years.

The decline has left some wondering how long the low pump prices will stick around.

Lessenberry said he’s interested to see how the prices impact the House’s gas tax-reliant road funding bill.

“If gas prices are this low, [the bill] actually wouldn’t produce much money for the roads,” he said.    

– Rebecca Kruth, Michigan Radio Newsroom