224 bills passed in lame-duck session
Lansing — Michigan lawmakers ended their lame-duck session last week bleary-eyed, leaving the Capitol not long before dawn after passing legislation that had been caught up in bartering over a road funding package.
In 13 voting days after the November election, the Legislature sent 224 bills to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature — fewer than the 287 put on his desk in the much more contentious 2012 lame-duck period. He vetoed eight of those bills two years ago, and still must review most of the legislation that still will land on his desk in the coming weeks.
Policies this time around were as diverse as gasoline taxes, the unionization of college athletes and the drug testing of welfare recipients. But unlike in 2012, when majority Republicans enacted right-to-work and abortion measures, they held off on enacting some bills that had drawn the most heated debate.
Those included attempts to divide Michigan’s electoral votes in presidential elections and to give people stronger religious protections in discrimination cases.
A look at some of the bills:
■Road funds: The centerpiece of a proposed $1.3 billion annual increase in transportation spending is a constitutional amendment to bump the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent and remove the sales tax from fuel purchases. If voters approve the measure in May, then related bills will also take effect — including the conversion of Michigan’s 19-cents-a-gallon gas tax to one based on price. It would start at 41.7 cents per gallon and could rise annually by no more than inflation plus 5 cents.
■Amazon tax: Major online stores such as Amazon, eBay and Overstock will have to collect Michigan’s sales tax from customers starting in October unless they eliminate affiliate partners or relocate warehouses to other states.
■Movie incentives: An incentives program used to entice filmmakers to make movies in the state will see changes and be extended by four years.
■Welfare drug tests: Michigan will begin giving drug tests to welfare recipients suspected of substance abuse under a one-year pilot project in at least three counties.
■Athlete unions: Athletes will be blocked from unionizing at public universities.
■Cyberbullying: School districts will have to add cyberbullying to their anti-bullying policies and report bullying data yearly to the state.
■BB guns: Michigan will loosen licensing restrictions on air guns and limit local governments’ ability to set their own regulations except when BB, pellet and paintball guns are used by those under age 16.
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