Michigan lawmakers OKs tougher voter ID requirements, higher speed limits

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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 post-election session (all times local):

10 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7:

A divided Michigan House has approved tougher ID requirements for voters.

Legislation passed late Wednesday by majority Republicans would change the procedure for voters who do not show photo identification at their polling place.

Voters without an ID currently must sign an affidavit before voting. Under the bill, they could vote but would have to visit the local clerk’s office no later than 10 days after the election to ensure their ballot is counted.

They would have to present a photo ID with their current address or other documentation establishing their residency, or sign an affidavit attesting to an inability to obtain an ID.

Democrats accuse the GOP of suppressing the vote. Republicans say they are protecting election integrity.

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8:20 p.m.

The Republican-controlled House has voted to stiffen fines for mass picketing and to require that judges halt illegal demonstrations such as obstructing access to businesses and roads.

Democrats say the bill approved Wednesday is unconstitutional and current penalties are working.

In Michigan, it’s a misdemeanor for strikers or demonstrators to hinder or prevent the pursuit of lawful work. Violators can get jail time and a $500 fine.

The legislation sent to the Senate, which was approved mostly along party lines, would impose a fine of $1,000 per day, and unions or organizations sponsoring a picket would be fined $10,000 per day.

The House also voted to eliminate a requirement that employers advertising for replacement workers during a strike tell new workers that they’d be replacing employees involved in a labor dispute.

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6:15 p.m.

Bills advancing in the Michigan Legislature would restrict the use of restraint and seclusion in schools except in emergency situations.

The legislation approved Wednesday in the House and sent to the Senate would define requirements for using restraint and seclusion. Schools would have to report when the methods are used.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley says “the time to end these practices is long overdue and every day they are allowed is another day where students with great potential throughout Michigan are being locked up instead of learning.”

Democratic Rep. Frank Liberati of Allen Park says the State Board of Education in 2006 set standards limiting the use of restraint and seclusion, but they do not carry the weight of law and are not applied equally across the state.

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3:10 p.m.

Michigan lawmakers have approved legislation to compensate innocent inmates.

Under a bill passed 104-2 by the House Wednesday, the state would pay ex-inmates $50,000 for each year of their wrongful incarceration, along with attorney fees.

Some wouldn’t qualify for the money if they served simultaneous sentences for other crimes. Others would be ineligible because they successfully sued for civil rights damages, which can be a difficult effort since police and prosecutors often have immunity.

Michigan has released more innocent prisoners than all but four states. The Senate plans to soon send the bill to Gov. Rick Snyder.

The sponsor, Democratic Sen. Steve Bieda of Warren, says the compensation is the least the state can do for people who were “just plucked out of their regular lives and lost their freedom.”

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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.

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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.

 

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