MichiganVotes Bills

Michigan Senate passes bill to make Juneteenth a state holiday

Similar House bill sits in committee

Michigan came a step closer to putting a new holiday on the calendar Wednesday when the Senate approved Senate Bill 50, which would make June 19 a public holiday in honor of Juneteenth.

Juneteenth would join New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day and Christmas as “public holidays” in Michigan.

Read it for yourself: Senate Bill 50 of 2023

Senate Bill 50 was introduced by Sen. Sylvia Santana, D-Detroit, on Feb. 2. It was referred to the Senate Finance, Insurance and Consumer Protection Committee, which approved it on April 27. Then on May 17 the Senate Committee of the Whole approved the bill, and the full Senate followed suit, by a vote of 37-1.

The only senator to vote against the new holiday was Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake.

“My entire objection to this bill is that everything I’ve been told is that it would be a paid holiday. We don’t need another paid holiday,” Runestad told CapCon. “I’d vote no on Jim Runestad Day too.”

Juneteenth celebrates the June 1865 day when the last group of slaves, who lived in Texas, were notified that slavery was abolished.

Early in Michigan’s history some people did own slaves. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 outlawed slavery in Michigan, a prohibition on slavery was the law decades before statehood in 1837.

There is a House version of the Juneteenth bill, House Bill 4457. The House version was introduced on April 27 by Rep. Helena Scott, D-Detroit and referred to the House Government Operations Committee.

To be enacted into law, either bill would need to be passed in identical forms in the House and Senate, then signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.