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Senate approves Rep. Alexander plan to fix unfair licensing restriction for state employee spouses
RELEASE|October 13, 2021

The Michigan Senate today approved state Rep. Julie Alexander’s plan to allow the spouses of state employees to operate a medical marijuana business while maintaining reasonable exceptions to prevent conflicts of interest.

Alexander introduced House Bill 4295 after hearing from Ashley Bates and Dave Fiero, a Jackson County couple, married since 2019. Shortly after they were married, they learned Fiero would not be able to maintain his medical marijuana license because Bates is a state employee. She works for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as a child welfare funding specialist — a role entirely unrelated to medical marijuana regulation.

“We need to protect state government from conflicts of interest, but the current system unfairly restricts small-business owners married to government employees, regardless of whether an actual conflict exists,” said Alexander, of Hanover. “Families like Ashley and Dave shouldn’t be forced to choose between closing a business, giving up a career in public service or filing for divorce.”

HB 4295 would allow the spouse of a governmental employee to hold a medical marijuana license, unless the employee works for the state Marijuana Regulatory Agency or any other federal, state or local agency that regulates medical marijuana.

Spouses of state employees are generally allowed to hold a recreational marijuana license under current law, so Alexander’s plan will offer consistency for the medical marijuana industry.

“I truly appreciate hearing Ashley and Dave’s personal story about the effect of an arbitrary restriction on their careers,” Alexander said. “In the nearly five years I’ve served as a state legislator, so many people in the Jackson community have shared with me the real-world impact of government policies on their lives; their input helps me as I represent them in the Legislature.”

Alexander said people can contact her to discuss their concerns by calling 517-373-1795 or emailing JulieAlexander@house.mi.gov.

HB 4295 earned bipartisan support in the Senate, and now returns to the House of Representatives for consideration of the Senate-approved amendments.

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