Snyder shoots down gun bills

Gary Heinlein
The Detroit News

Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder signed bills Monday to fund training programs for autism care and allow raffle promotions by banks, but vetoed four firearms measures and a bill revising liquor licensing.

The autism legislation sends up to $4 million to universities training treatment specialists and $1.5 million to the Autism Alliance of Michigan to provide assistance for families dealing with the disorder. It gives $3 million to Western Michigan University and continues $500,000 each to Central Michigan and Oakland universities.

Snyder said the money will "build a stronger provider network to help people who cope with autism spectrum disorders and their families."

Two new financial bills signed by Snyder permit state-chartered banks to promote savings accounts through raffles customers can enter by depositing money in an account or savings program.

The vetoes, a rarity for Snyder, brought to 23 the number of bills he has rejected in his first four years as governor. They included four bills promoted by fellow Republicans that would have removed air rifles from the definition of a firearm and from regulation by local governments.

In his veto message to lawmakers, Snyder wrote that signing those bills would have created conflicting definitions in state law, since the Senate failed to pass three accompanying House bills intended to be part of a comprehensive package of firearms rules changes. The National Rifle Association had lobbied for the change, arguing that Michigan is one of only four states that classifies most air guns as firearms.

The rejected liquor bill would have, among other things, permitted prorated fees for newly issued liquor licenses that would apply for just a portion of a year. While sensible, it would create up to a $600,000 annual state revenue loss, Snyder said.

The governor also objected to a proposed rules change saying liquor licenses are subject to penalties or revocation "for three or more violations of selling, furnishing, or giving alcoholic liquor to a minor or visibly intoxicated person, or other enumerated violations within a 24-month period ... in the same building."

"These are serious violations, and maintaining (the existing system of) review for repeat offenders is important to the health, safety and welfare of the public," Snyder wrote, adding that "a large number of licensees" serve alcohol in more than one building.

The legislation's sponsor, Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, was disappointed. "By vetoing this bill, the governor is forcing many small businesses to pay an expense twice in one year, an expense many cannot afford.," he said in a Monday statement.