Every week, MichiganVotes.org sends a report on interesting votes and bills in the Michigan Legislature, and includes how each legislator voted. To find out who your state senator is and how to contact him or her go here; for state representatives go here.

House Bill 4408, Reduce future unemployment benefits, passed 24 to 13 in the Senate, passed 65 to 44 in the House
To reduce from 26 weeks to 20 weeks the amount of time that laid off employees can collect state unemployment insurance benefits (beginning in 2012); retroactively include current beneficiaries under a 20 week federal benefit extension (from 79 to 99 weeks); and use money recovered from fraud investigations to pay for new overpayment prevention measures. Note: Over several years Michigan has borrowed $3.8 billion from the federal government to pay these benefits, and reducing future benefits means less money need be extracted from employers to repay this debt.

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House Bill 4311, Repeal consolidated government employee transfer restrictions, passed 63 to 47 in the House
To repeal a law that prohibits the consolidation of services between local governments unless any transferred employees keep the same same pay, status and benefits that they previously had. The bill would not require a consolidated service arrangement to be bound by the transferred employees' previous union contract, wages, pension provisions, insurance benefits, work rules, seniority, etc. Employees would keep any accrued pension benefits, as required by the state constitution.

Senate Bill 140, Appropriate $102 million for state land acquisitions, passed 99 to 10 in the House
To appropriate $102 million from the state Natural Resources Trust Fund for various land acquisitions and recreation projects. State oil and gas well royalty money is earmarked for this fund.

Senate Bill 144, Expand "21st Century Jobs Fund" corporate subsidies, passed 104 to 5 in the House
To authorize granting “21st Century Jobs Fund” corporate subsidies in the form of cash grants and loans to certain information technology and agricultural processing firms selected by state “economic development” officials.

House Bill 4248, Allow Houghton DDA to borrow longer at higher net cost, passed 102 to 7 in the House
To allow the Downtown Development Authority of the City of Houghton to extend the duration of debt it incurred to pay for certain past spending, thereby reducing its current payments at the expense of imposing greater overall interest costs on city taxpayers over time. Essentially, the bill exempts the city from a 2001 law that only allowed such debt extensions when they leave taxpayers in a better position, not a worse one. Houghton's DDA says it needs the exception because lower declining property values and tax collections make it unable to make its current loan payments.

SOURCE: MichiganVotes.org, a free, nonpartisan website created by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, providing concise, nonpartisan, plain-English descriptions of every bill and vote in the Michigan House and Senate. Please visit MichiganVotes.org.

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