Michigan lawmakers pass, pass up bills during lame duck session

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("Michigan Municipal League Photos from 96th Michigan Legislature Swearing in Day at Capitol in Lansing" by Michigan Municipal League, CC BY-ND 2.0)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Latest on the Michigan Legislature’s post-election session (all times local):

1:45 p.m.

Uber and other ride-hailing services could legally operate in Michigan under a regulatory framework that has won approval in the Legislature.

The House passed the main bill 94-12 Wednesday and sent it to Gov. Rick Snyder for his expected signature.

In 2013, the state sent Uber a cease and desist order alleging it was violating state law, but it has continued to operate in Michigan and has grown in popularity.

The legislation would create uniform rules and licensing fees for ride-hailing, taxi and limo companies, and pre-empt most local regulations. The businesses would have to conduct background checks on drivers and review applicants’ driving history.

People couldn’t become drivers if they have too many traffic violations, a recent felony conviction or are a sex offender. Vehicle inspections would be required.

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12:50 p.m.

Five months after Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed legislation that would have ended a requirement that 45 cities cover some of the cost of state road projects within their limits, the Legislature is advancing a new bill.

Republican Sen. Marty Knollenberg of Troy says the legislation approved unanimously by the Senate Wednesday is a compromise with Snyder. Knollenberg says it would help cities that have limited-access highways in their borders, but not if it is a state trunk line like Woodward Avenue in the Detroit area.

In July, Snyder vetoed a bill that was prompted by angst among cities over having to pay up to 2.5 percent of a massive reconstruction and widening of Interstate 75 in Oakland County, north of Detroit. But it would have had effects across the state, in any city with more than 25,000 residents and roads with an I-, US- or M-numbered designation inside their border.

12:05 p.m.

Legislation that would authorize higher speed limits on 1,500 miles of rural Michigan interstates and highways is nearing Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.

The Michigan Senate voted 28-8 for the bill Wednesday.

It would require the state Transportation Department, within a year of the law taking effect, to set a 75 mph limit on 600 miles of interstates if a safety study shows it’s OK. The current limit is 70 mph. The bill also would require a 65 mph limit on 900 miles of state highways if a study indicates it’s safe.

Supporters say the goal is to raise speed limits where 85 percent of drivers are already traveling at higher speeds.

An earlier version of the bill was approved by the House, so the measure appears headed toward final passage.

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11:05 a.m.

Republicans who control the Michigan House say they will not vote this year on legislation that would have let developers keep up to $50 million annually in taxes generated from developing future “transformational” projects on contaminated brownfield sites.

The announcement was made Wednesday, in the final weeks of the two-year term.

Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert and local economic development agencies support the incentives to help with urban renewal. The bills could be reintroduced in 2017.

The legislation is the second set of Senate-passed incentives to be rejected in the House this week. Conservatives have expressed concern with carving out incentives after a major cut in business taxes that was enacted in 2011.

5:40 p.m.

A proposal to provide up to $250 million in annual tax breaks to attract larger-scale business expansions in Michigan won’t be voted in the House before the term expires this month.

Rep. Lee Chatfield, who chairs the House Local Government Committee, cited Tuesday the recent budget ramifications of companies redeeming larger-than-expected tax credits awarded under Michigan’s previous, recession-era economic development program.

The Senate-passed legislation would have authorized the Michigan Strategic Fund to strike 10-year deals with companies so they could keep income tax withholdings if they create a minimum number of jobs.

Other Senate-approved business incentives continue to be debated. Legislation backed by Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert and others would let developers keep up to $50 million annually in taxes generated from developing future “transformational” projects on contaminated brownfield sites.

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2:25 p.m.

Michigan lawmakers are moving to lighten the penalty for underage drinking, making a first offense a civil infraction instead of a misdemeanor crime.

The House on Tuesday voted for the change 105-1. The Senate, which passed the legislation previously, is expected to move it to Gov. Rick Snyder soon.

The maximum $100 fine would stay the same, and a minor could still be ordered to receive substance abuse services.

The bill sponsor, Republican Sen. Rick Jones, says the minor-in-possession law is clogging up the courts and hurting young people’s ability to get into college or work.

In 2014, there were about 9,300 first-offense convictions for underage drinking.

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12:55 p.m.

Republicans who control the Michigan Senate won’t vote this year on legislation that would have closed the pension system to newly hired teachers.

The bill narrowly cleared a GOP-led committee last week but hit opposition in the full chamber. The legislation, which would have provided new school employees with solely a 401(k) in retirement, could be revived when a new Legislature starts a two-year term in January.

Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, said Tuesday that Republican senators want more time to study the issue, particularly to better understand the cost implications.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder opposed the bill.

Earlier Tuesday, House Republicans abandoned bills that would have made municipal retirees pay more for their health care and eliminated medical insurance in retirement for new hires.

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9:40 a.m.

Republicans who control the Michigan House are abandoning legislation to make municipal retirees pay more for their health care and eliminate medical insurance in retirement for new hires.

Rep. Lee Chatfield, chairman of the House Local Government Committee, said Tuesday the bills need more work and will be left to the next Legislature in 2017. His announcement came the same day police and firefighters protested at the Capitol.

Term-limited House Speaker Kevin Cotter, who sponsored a bill, says he is “proud” of legislators for “stepping up to offer a starting point.” He warns if nothing is done, many municipalities will go bankrupt.

The panel did pass one bill that would force municipalities whose retiree pension or health systems are less than 60 percent funded to detail steps to increase funding.

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