Last night, on the final day/night of the current session, the Michigan Legislature passed Senate Bill 93.
The bill was introduced on January 29, 2013, by Senator Coleman A. Young II, with cosponsors Hoon-Yung Hopgood, Steven Bieda, Morris Hood, Rick Jones, John Pappageorge, Bert Johnson, and Glenn Anderson. The bill would have added a new section to the Michigan Memorial Highway Act to designate the portion of highway I-375 within Wayne County as the "First Michigan Colored Infantry Regiment Memorial Highway".
The First Michigan Colored was a regiment of Michiganders of African descent who enlisted to fight in the Civil War on behalf of Union and emancipation. They were recruited in 1863 from the southern tier of Michigan counties.
The bill was referred to committee and languished. Suddenly, on October 1, 2014, the committee took up the legislation, and the bill was reported out in the form of a substitute S-2. The substitute amended the bill to read as follows: SEC. 1076. THE PORTION OF HIGHWAY I-375 THAT IS WITHIN WAYNE COUNTY SHALL BE KNOWN AS THE "102ND UNITED STATES COLORED TROOPS (U.S.C.T.) MEMORIAL HIGHWAY. " On November 6, the substitute was adopted by a vote of 37-0 with one member excused.
The bill was referred to a House committee, which reported it out on December 9 with a recommendation that it pass without amendment. On December 16, the House adopted a substitute H-1, which would amend the bill to read as follows: SEC. 90. THE PORTION OF HIGHWAY I-375 THAT IS WITHIN WAYNE COUNTY SHALL BE KNOWN AS THE "102ND UNITED STATES COLORED TROOPS (U.S.C.T.) MEMORIAL HIGHWAY". On December 18, the House approved the bill by a vote of 108-0.
Because the House had adopted a different version of the bill, the Senate had to concur for it to become law. On the same day, the bill was transmitted to the Senate, and that body adopted the House version by a vote of 38-0. The bill is on its way to the Governor where it undoubtedly will be signed into law.
Thus, during the 11th hour of the current Legislature, a bipartisan consensus occurred and without a single dissenting voice action was taken -- quickly and in the only way to achieve passage -- to honor the First Michigan Colored Infantry Regiment, later denominated the 102nd United States Colored Troops.
Immediate effect was approved, so the bill will become law upon the Governor's signing it.
The bill was introduced as part of the Michigan Historical Commission's workplan to assist Michigan in commemorating the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Last night's passage is extremely gratifying. But even more, it is such an appropriate action by our elected officials to call to the attention of all 10 million Michiganders and those visitors to our State who travel I-375 the heroism, patriotism, and selfless sacrifice of the thousand-plus men who put on Union blue and carried armament to fight, primarily in the Deep South, under the flag of the United States of America. As chair of the Civil War Sesquicentennial committee would say, "Huzzah!"