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Gov. Whitmer Signs Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Children, Keep People Safe

Michigan Business Network
September 19, 2023 12:00 PM

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LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation to protect minors in Michigan by preventing child marriage, building on previous legislation she signed earlier this year. The bills raise the minimum age of consent for marriage to 18 and update laws to effectively implement the child marriage ban.     

“Keeping Michiganders safe and healthy is one of my top priorities, and today’s bipartisan bills will build on our efforts to protect young people—especially young women—from abuse,” said Governor Whitmer. “As a county prosecutor, I went after those who used their power to prey on young people, and as governor, I am proud to sign legislation to strengthen protections for children and survivors into law. Together, we can make Michigan a safe, welcoming state where you can grow up and pursue your potential.”   

 House Bill 4294, sponsored by Rep. Kara Hope, D – Lansing, establishes 18 as the minimum age of consent for marriage.    

 House Bill 4295, sponsored by Rep. Alabas Farhat, D – Dearborn, prohibits secret child marriages, which are done when a marriage record is sealed to the public.   

"It’s time for us to ban the cruel practice of child marriage,” said state Representative Alabas Farhat (D-Dearborn), sponsor for HB 4295. Abusive adults take advantage of minor children, setting them up for a life of torment. It is our duty to protect the children of Michigan, and I’m grateful this legislation is being signed into law."  

 House Bill 4296, sponsored by Rep. Betsy Coffia, D – Traverse City, is a grandfather law that ensures minors who are currently married do not lose their spousal benefits under the new laws.    

“There are many aspects of our society that we restrict to legal adults — voting, signing contracts and more. It’s well past time for marriage to join that list,” said state Representative Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City), sponsor of HB 4296. “Not only is this action the right thing to do to protect children from predators, it’s just common sense.”   

The governor intends to sign the final bill in this package, House Bill 4302, upon presentation. House Bill 4302, sponsored by Rep. Joey Andrews, D – St. Joseph, modifies references to married minors in the Michigan penal code.   

“As a new father, I share in the worries of every parent, the foremost of which is making sure my daughter is safe and healthy. Banning child marriage is an overdue step in that direction,” said state Representative Joey Andrews (D-St. Joseph), sponsor of HB 4302. “Child marriage is the domain of sexual predators and their enablers, and I’m proud to be part of erasing it from Michigan statute.”   

The governor also signed legislation expanding use of ignition interlock devices, helping keep people safe on the road.   

Together, Senate Bills 134 and 135 expand the current Driving While Intoxicated/Sobriety Court Interlock Program into the Specialty Court Interlock Program. The expanded program would include specialty courts in addition to DWI/sobriety courts and allow eligible participants to have a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device in order to obtain a restricted driver's license. An ignition interlock device measures a driver’s alcohol concentration before the vehicle can be started.    

"Specialty treatment courts are a unique facet of our justice system that helps offer a path to true restoration,” said state Senator Kevin Hertel. “By marrying treatment for underlying concerns with supervised rehabilitation, these courts offer reduced recidivism and increased community support. I am grateful to my legislative colleagues and the governor for their help in expanding these vital programs."   

Senate Bill 134 was sponsored by state Senator Ruth Johnson, R – Holly, and Senate Bill 135 was sponsored by state Senator Kevin Hertel, D – St. Clair Shores.   


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