University of Michigan graduate students go on illegal strike with rally

Snyder vetoes expanded auditor general powers, first-time homebuyer plan

The Detroit News
Governor Rick Snyder and Lt. Governor Brian Calley.

Among a flurry of bill signings this week, Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday vetoed four bills including one that would have allowed the auditor general access to confidential information in state agencies.

The legislation would have let the independent auditor general investigate electronically stored and confidential information in each state branch, department or agency. The bill by Rep. Joe Graves, R-Argentine Township, sailed through the state House and Senate with little opposition.

The Republican governor called the legislation "an unconstitutional overreach that would blur the separation between the legislative and other branches."

The proposal would give the legislatively appointed auditor general "unrestricted access to all executive functions, whether it was conducting an audit of those functions or not," he wrote in his veto letter. It could result in "inadvertent disclosures of personally identifying, protected health, or other privileged or confidential information."

Snyder also worried this power could "unnecessarily expose private information to data security threats."

The term-limited governor, who leaves office at year's end, also blocked two Senate bills that would have created a Michigan first-time home buyer savings program and an accompanying income tax deduction for money deposited into eligible accounts.

Snyder said the proposal would complicate what is otherwise a simple and fair tax code and it would "favor some taxpayers over others" while not providing "transparency of government expenditures."

Another veto involved a bill delaying the implementation of enclosure size standards for egg-laying hens from 2020 to 2025 and banning the sale of all shell eggs in Michigan after 2025 unless laying hens are housed in enclosures that comply with the standards.

Snyder said the Senate bill is "intended to protect Michigan shell egg producers from being undercut by competition in the future. He also didn't find that science backed the idea that this would help animal or public health.

"The body of research into hen health and egg safety does not provide a clear indication that any one type of hen housing impacts egg safety more than another," he wrote in the veto letter.