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New Michigan laws to be enacted this month — what you need to know

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs bills preventing those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses from owning firearms for 8 years.

Editor’s note: The language regarding “conversion therapy” was updated after this article was posted.

A spate of new Michigan laws will go into place on Feb. 13, with significant changes seen in gun control, labor reforms and climate protection.

Michigan Democrats had a long list of party priorities to tackle after regaining control of Lansing for the first time since 1983, prioritizing a series of policies that had long been blocked by Republican lawmakers.


Here are some of the most significant laws going into effect this month and how they may impact you.

“Right to work” repeal, labor reforms

One of the first items on Democrats’ agenda was repealing the state’s controversial “right to work” law, which prohibited unions from requiring non-union employees to avoid paying union dues. Massive protests from workers and labor organizations erupted in 2012 when Republican lawmakers passed the policy with limited public input.

“Today, we are coming together to restore workers’ rights, protect Michiganders on the job, and grow Michigan’s middle class,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said after signing the repeal. Whitmer also approved other labor measures, including restoring the prevailing wage, a policy that required state contractors to be paid at union wages.


Michigan was the first state in decades to repeal a right to work law, which have been passed in dozens of other states throughout the country.

Gun control laws

Several gun control measures will go into place, impacting both gun owners and prospective buyers.

The package of acts, some of which gained support from a handful of Republican lawmakers, will establish universal background checks for all gun transfers and sales, institute new safe storage laws and allow the issuance of extreme risk protection orders, also known as red flag laws.


There are limits to some of the laws. Safe storage requirements only apply in areas where a minor is likely to be present, including private residences. Extreme risk protection orders are only allowed to be filed by people close to a gun owner, including a spouse, a former spouse, an individual who shares a child with the gun owner, a former romantic partner, a family member, a roommate, a guardian, a law enforcement officer or a health care provider.

The bills were passed in the weeks following Michigan State University’s on-campus shooting that killed three students on Feb. 13, 2023.

It’s a coincidence that the laws passed in the wake of the shooting will go into effect on its one-year anniversary. In Michigan, laws not granted immediate effect are enacted 90 days after the end of the previous year’s legislative session, which happened to fall on Nov. 14.

Another law, separate from the package crafted early last year, prohibits those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from owning a firearm for 8 years following completion of incarceration or probation. This measure also passed with some support from Republican legislators.


Climate and energy policies

A wide-ranging package of climate change and energy measures will go into effect this year. The most significant of these policies require energy providers to produce power from 100% renewable sources by 2040 and shifts final approval of large-scale solar and wind projects from local authorities to the Michigan Public Service Commission, a state body appointed by the sitting governor.

Dan Scripps, chair of the MPSC, said last month that the combination of these policies will enable Michigan to more easily meet these renewable benchmarks in the coming years.

Scripps said that the policies were about “starting at the local level and ensuring that there’s a local voice all the way through the process, but also providing a state option to make sure that we’re ultimately able to build the resources that we need” to reach clean energy goals.

Conservatives have fiercely opposed the policy overriding the power of local authorities, with state Rep. Ken Borton, R-Gaylord, saying when the legislation was passed that Democrats had “pressed their green boots into the throats of Northern Michigan” and stifled local disapproval of renewable projects.

The piece of the package allowing the MPSC to overrule local authorities may be undone later this year as opponents of the measure are beginning a signature collection drive to present the question to voters this November.

LGBTQ+ protections

Two significant expansions of protections for the LGBTQ+ community will go into effect this month, with one act broadening anti-discrimination laws and one banning conversion therapy in the state.

The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, Michigan’s anti-discrimination statute, will be expanded to include protections for LGBTQ+ people, adding protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill doing so passed with some Republican support in both legislative chambers.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, said when the bill was passed that it was the culmination of decades of work from LGBTQ+ people and activists.

“In these last decades, real Michiganders suffered from real acts of discrimination: denied housing and evicted, denied jobs and fired, denied services and put out of places for no other reason than their sexual orientation or gender identity,” he said in a statement. “In a historic vote today, the Michigan Senate passed my bill to expand the act and liberate our community.”

Feb. 13 will also see the banning of conversion therapy for minors, a practice that some believe can forcefully change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Opponents regard it as abuse, including leading medical organizations.

According to the American Medical Association, “All leading professional medical and mental health associations reject ‘conversion therapy’ as a legitimate medical treatment.”

“Michiganders can now rest assured that our state’s children will be protected from a dangerous, non-evidence-based practice when they go to therapy,” said Rep. Felicia Brabec, D-Pittsfield Twp.

Presidential primary

House Democrats led the push to adjourn earlier than usual partly due to the new date of Michigan’s presidential primary, which was moved from the second Tuesday in March to the fourth Tuesday in February. The election will fall on Feb. 27 this year.

While this year’s nominating contests will likely be a forgone conclusion by the time Michigan votes, the state’s place in future races could be significant. Michigan was moved up in the Democratic primary calendar partly to better represent broader groups of voting demographics, compared to less diverse states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Candidates will likely devote greater resources as the state now falls before Super Tuesday, possibly serving as a stage to determine the frontrunners within a crowded field.

Due to a conflict between Michigan’s primary date and the national GOP’s rules for presidential nominating contests, not all of Michigan’s Republican delegates will be awarded by voters. Only 16 out of 55 delegate assignments will be decided on Feb. 27, while the remaining 39 will be distributed at a March 2 state GOP conference by party members selected by each congressional district’s committee.

For information on voting options for the primary, read our guide here.

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