Page 10-Thursday, May 24, 1979-The Michigan Daily
Penalties for possession of pot reduced
State Senator Doug Ross gestures during a closed-door debate over a bill to ease marijuana penalties yesterday. The
Michigan State Senate passed the bill 20-14.
LANSING (UPI) - Gov. William
Milliken's budget-slashing program
bombed yesterday in the House Ap-
propriations Committee, with
lawmakers howling over plans to
eliminate heating assistance for the
poor and elderly.
Legislators and administration of-
ficials agreed, however, that the state
faces budgetary problems in the
coming fiscal year and that the voter-
approved Headlee Tax Limitation
Amendment complicates those
The budget-writing appropriations
committee will play a key role in
deciding the fate of Milliken's program.
MILLIKEN said the legislature must
eliminate $100 million in planned spen-
ding in order to keep the 1979-80 budget
rejects Milliken budget cut
in balance. The cuts are necessary society who can least afford it.
because of Medicaid cost overruns, "I don't think your recommendations
state employee pay hikes and the threat have any chance at all the way it's now
of a recession in the coming year, he written," he said.
More than half the reduction would "GO BACK to the inner sanctum and
come through trimming Medicaid ser- tell the chief, 'Forget about the $33
vices and eliminating the $33.8 million million' for heating assistance, said the
home heating assistance plan which program's author, Rep. Thomas
helps the elderly and low income Mathieu.
families pay their utility bills.
State Budget Director Gerald Miller
outlined the program in an appearance "It ain't going to fly and you know it
before the appropriations committee isn't going to fly," he said.
"YOU'VE GONE in and eliminated "You have made a very serious
mostly Democratic programs," said mistake in making this recommen-
Rep. Gary Owen (D-Ypsilanti). dation," the Grand Rapids Democrat
Owen said the recommendations said.
"are penalizing the people in our
LANSING (UPI) - The Senate, its
door locked and guarded to prevent
members from leaving, yesterday ap-
proved legislation removing criminal
penaltes for possession of small amoun-
ts of marijuana.
The measure was sent on a 20-14 vote
to the House, where its fate is uncer-
THE ACTION amounted to the third
time in two years the Senate has ap-
proved bills reducing penalties for pot
use. On the two previous occasions, the
measures died in the lower chamber.
All-opt decriminlization is the major
feature of the new version, while
previous efforts settled for simply
reducing criminal penalties.
Under the bill, possession of 30 grams
or less of marijuana - about one ounce
- would be a civil infraction punishable
only by a fine of up to $100. The violator
would have no criminal record.
CURRENTLY, possession of that
amount of the substance is a criminal
misdemeanor subjecting violators to a
jail term up to 90 days and a fine up to
The bill makes simple possession of
more than 30 grams a misdemeanor,
while possession of more than 225
grams would be a felony.
Distribution of 30 grams or less
without selling also would be a $100 civil
HOWEVER, the Senate added last-
minute amendments giving juvenile
court judges authority to order jail
terms up to 30 days for persons age 17
or les who possess marijuana.
Backers objected, but sponsors of the
amendment said it is necessary to
specify probate courta jurisdiction over
minors. Others said they doubt the jail
terms ever will be levied.
Continued from Page 3)
before tax time. "There's just no way
we can get by without tax anticipation
notes (borrowing money) next year,"
The city has borrowed money each
year right before tax collection time.
This year, however, the amount
borrowed will be the lowest in recent
years, according to Councilman Ed-
ward Hood (R-Fourth Ward).
The Republican and City Council
members also wrangled over
eliminating jobs in city hall. The
Democrats suggested cutting out four
supervisory positions. .
HOWEVER, THE Republicans
suggested cutting jobs and salaries in
lower level positions."I think that the
clerical help in city hall is grossly over-
paid," James Cmejrek said during the
Republican caucus held just before the
Although the elimination of jobs was
discussed last night, no positions will be
cut out until council hears about the
impact of such cuts tomorrow night
from City Administrator Sylvester
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"I'M SURE we can find some of the
governor's pet projects we can cut," he
Owen and Mathieu said the ad-
ministration could go a long way
toward balancing the budget by
delaying proposed accounting changes
Miller said are necessary to bring the
state into compliance with the law.
"Violate it for one more year,"
MILLER SAID any "finagling" with
the state's accounting system could ad-
versely affect its bond rating and thus
increase interest costs.
Miller insisted the governor's
recommendations are "the best alter-
natives that exist."
He said the Headlee amendment has
compounded the administration's
problems because it freezes state
assistance to local governments at its
current level of 40 per cent of the total,
budget. This means cuts must be made
in the remaining 60 per cent ofthe