Michigan legislature approves several bills

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

It was a busy Wednesday in the Michigan legislature with votes to approve three major bills.

Emergency Financial Manager

The Republican-led Michigan Senate is expected to consider a replacement for an emergency manager law struck down by voters in the November election.

This comes after it was approved in the House on Wednesday. The measure met with fierce opposition from Democrats in that chamber.

The previous law empowered the governor to appoint managers with broad powers to overrule elected leaders of financially struggling cities and school districts and throw out contracts.

The new version proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder and GOP legislative leaders gives four choices to communities in financial trouble: accept an emergency manager; undergo bankruptcy; engage in mediation; or enter into a consent agreement similar to one between the state and Detroit.

Industrial personal property tax

Legislation aiming to eliminate $600 million in taxes businesses annually pay on computers and equipment has cleared the Michigan Senate.

The Republican-led Senate on Wednesday approved the final bills related to the repeal of the industrial personal property tax sought by GOP Gov. Rick Snyder. The package now goes to the Republican-controlled House.

The measure would reimburse all of the money communities lose for emergency services such as police and fire and 80 percent of the money for other municipal services. Reimbursement money would come from part of an existing tax paid on out-of-state purchases.

The legislation also included an amendment to protect special education funding.

Snyder and other supporters say the tax hurts businesses and reduces Michigan's economic competitiveness. Opponents say revenues should be fully replaced and guaranteed.

Prescription drug donations

The Michigan Senate has approved two House-passed bills that would allow collection and redistribution of prescription medication.

The bipartisan measures the Senate passed on Wednesday would allow medical facilities to donate unused drugs for distribution to needy patients. The bills also would require that drugs donated to pharmacies participating in the redistribution program have never left medical facilities or oversight to ensure safety.

The legislation also would require participating pharmacies to become disposal sites for excess drugs.

Most other states have enacted similar laws.

The House passed the legislation in June. The proposals are sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jim Ananich of Flint and Republican Rep. Joel Johnson of Clare.

Abortion restrictions

The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate has passed legislation that would restrict and regulate abortion practices including requiring a health professional to screen patients to ensure they aren't being forced to end pregnancies.

The measures previously passed by the GOP-led House were approved Wednesday by a 27-10 vote. The legislation returns to the House for its final review before going to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

The bill package also enacts regulations related to the disposal of fetal remains. It additionally requires private medical offices to be licensed as freestanding surgical outpatient facilities if they perform at least 120 abortions annually and undergo annual state inspections.

Critics say the rules are confusing, contradictory and designed to restrict women's reproductive freedom. Supporters say they are commonsense, overdue reforms that keep women safe.

The legislature is nearing the end of its session.

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