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Stalled road fix talks, new abortion bills, and online sales tax

Dec 17, 2014

A package from internet retailer Amazon. A new bill would require online businesses to collect a six percent tax from sales made to Michigan residents.
Credit user Kcdtsg / wikimedia commons

This week, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the final days of lame duck, including the hold up on a plan to fix the roads, a pair of Senate-approved abortion coercion bills, and a bill that would impact online purchases made in Michigan.


Roads

The end of this term’s lame duck session is looming, and the state Legislature still hasn’t agreed on a plan to fix Michigan’s decaying roads.

So far, the House has passed a bill that would divert money from schools and local governments, while a Senate-favored plan would raise gas taxes.

Lessenberry called the discrepancy “a measure of the dysfunctionality of government.”

“[The Legislature] is trying to work out a compromise,” he said. “They say they’re making progress, but the clock is ticking.”

Abortion coercion bills

The Michigan Senate has approved a pair of bills that would make coercing a woman into having an abortion a crime.

The bills’ supporters say the legislation is necessary to protect against human traffickers, family members, or others who may want a woman to terminate a pregnancy.

Pro-choice advocates say the bill is another attempt to strip women of abortion rights, and its definition of coercion is too vague. Lessenberry agrees.

“It’s also not clear how it can be illegal to try and persuade someone to perform a legal activity,” he said.

Online sales tax

Another state Senate-approved bill would require online businesses to enforce the six-percent sales tax for purchases made in Michigan.

While Michigan residents are already supposed to pay when they file their annual return, the new legislation would require internet retailers such as Amazon to collect the tax at time of sale.

Lessenberry said there’s a chance Tea Party members may have already sunk the Republican-supported bill, but it’s still too early to tell.

“In the words of the great philosopher Yogi Berra, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” Lessenberry said.

– Rebecca Kruth, Michigan Radio Newsroom