Lawmakers changing municipal retirement bills

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LANSING, Mich. (AP/WILX) -- Victory tonight at the Capitol for Michigan police and firefighters. A package of bills that would have affected their retiree benefit and health plan is now dead.

Lawmakers have decided to move toward the recommendations of a task force report that was done for Governor Snyder. The bills passed would still require local governments to consult with the state about underfunded health and retiree pension plans. Senators are calling this an early warning system.

Cities, townships, and counties will be warned if they are heading towards bankruptcy. State Senator Rick Jones says that the hope is it will encourage employee groups and municipalities to work together to fix the problem.

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(ASSOCIATED PRESS)
8:15 p.m.

Michigan lawmakers are scaling back legislation designed to get a handle on municipalities' underfunded employee retirement systems due to opposition from police, firefighters and many legislators.

New versions of the bills being drafted Wednesday night are expected to more closely reflect recommendations from a task force report done for Gov. Rick Snyder. The Republican governor and GOP legislative leaders are dropping a proposal for state intervention in communities that are unable or unwilling to better fund pension and retiree health plans.

Both the House and Senate remain in session to vote on the legislation.

The bills would still require local governments to tell the state the funding status of their plans and submit corrective action plans if needed.
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1:45 p.m.

Gov. Rick Snyder says state intervention into communities with severely underfunded employee retirement plans should be a "last resort."

The governor and legislative leaders are pushing the Republican-led Legislature to vote Wednesday on legislation designed to prod municipalities to better fund their pension and health care plans. The sticking point with labor unions and local governments is a proposal to appoint emergency financial teams if funding levels don't rise.

Police and firefighters oppose the bills, and the measure is facing resistance from Democrats and Republicans.

Snyder says it'd be better to have "limited" management teams instead of appointing managers with more powers. He says the goal is starting a process, and it's OK if it takes 30 years for local governments to address their liabilities if they have a plan.