LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder and legislators so far have enacted more than 200 new laws in 2013, with roughly 70 more awaiting the governor's signature after a final burst of voting in December.
Lawmakers adjourned without resolving politically challenging problems like raising taxes for road maintenance or overhauling unlimited medical benefits for people seriously injured in car crashes, leaving those issues in serious doubt in the upcoming election year. But majority Republicans put aside their objections to the federal health care law to join with Democrats to make more low-income adults eligible for health insurance.
The top 10 laws of 2013:
1. MEDICAID EXPANSION
Snyder persuaded just enough GOP senators to expand Medicaid, signing a landmark law to provide government-funded medical coverage to 320,000 more low-income adults in 2014 and a total of 450,000 within three years, an option to states under the U.S. health overhaul. People will be covered starting around April, and the plan includes GOP provisions designed to make recipients pay a portion of their premiums and live healthier.
2. ABORTION INSURANCE
Republicans and a few Democrats voted to allow primary insurance plans to cover elective abortions only when a woman's life is at risk. Once policies renew after mid-March, an optional rider will have to be bought to cover other abortions, including those resulting from rape and incest. Snyder vetoed similar legislation a year ago but had no say this time because it was a citizens' initiative for which anti-abortion activists gathered signatures. Abortion rights advocates are considering their own 2014 ballot measure to overturn the law.
The $50 billion state spending plan that went into effect in October includes an extra $65 million to send more disadvantaged 4-year-olds to preschool and $230 million more for road maintenance. Legislators settled on the one-time boost in transportation funding after refusing Snyder's request for a permanent $1.2 billion annual infusion with higher gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees. The state's savings account also got $75 million fatter, approaching $600 million.
4. AUTO TAXES
People trading in their car or boat for a new one are paying less in sales tax. Auto buyers can subtract up to $2,000 of the value of their trade-in vehicle from the purchase price for tax purposes, saving up to $120 in the first year. The untaxed trade-in value will increase $500 a year until the cap is eliminated in 24 years. Michigan was among a small number of states to charge sales tax on the full price instead of the difference between the trade-in and the new vehicle.
5. HUNTING/FISHING FEES
Starting in March, hunters and anglers will see their first significant fee increases in more than 15 years under a plan to raise $20 million more for wildlife habitats and enforcement efforts, a 40 percent revenue increase. A new base hunting license will cost $11 for in-state residents, with lower rates for youths and seniors. Separate additional higher fees will be levied for hunting deer and other species.
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