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Whitmer signs first bill into law

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed her first bill into law Thursday.

The new law will keep a judge’s seat in a court in the Upper Peninsula.

Republican Representative Beau LaFave represents part of the Upper Peninsula – including Menominee County where the judge will be. He sponsored a similar bill in the state House.

“We want to make sure that judges don’t have to drive 250 miles to ensure the due process rights of everybody,” he said. “Doesn’t matter if you’re in Monroe or Menominee. You have a right to due process and that means you got to have a judge close by.”

The current judge plans to retire at the end of the month. Under state law, his retirement would have eliminated the district judge position due to attrition.

The bipartisan legislation passed unanimously in the state Legislature.

“So as the governor has said many times before, the governor is willing to work with anyone who’s willing to work with her,” said Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown. “And I do think it’s important that the first bill that she signed into was a bipartisan bill.”

The law will also help the community create a drug treatment court to, in part, combat the opioid epidemic.