New, young drivers will have more limits placed on when they can be behind the wheel and how many passengers they may carry under a bill passed shortly before the Michigan Legislature ended voting for its 2009-10 session early Friday.
The bill would affect drivers with level 2 intermediate licenses, typically 16-year-olds just starting to drive independently. Drivers would not be allowed to have more than one passenger under age 21 except for family members or when driving to or from school.
New drivers would not be allowed on the road between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by an adult or they are on the way to or from work. Current law has a similar ban between midnight and 5 a.m.
Rep. Richard LeBlanc, D-Westland, said the bill could help "save lives and minimize distractions" when teens are driving. Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected to sign the bill.
Lawmakers also approved a deal to give the Pure Michigan tourism advertising campaign an additional $10 million, before they wrapped up their so-called lame duck session. It's a welcome boost for northern Michigan, the metro Detroit area and other regions that rely on out-of-state tourists.
The extra money, coming from the state's 21st Century Jobs Fund, should keep Pure Michigan ads on the air this winter and spring. Tourism advocates will be lobbying the new Michigan Legislature and Gov.-elect Rick Snyder for more cash after they take office in January.
The newly approved boost will give Pure Michigan more than $15 million for the current fiscal year. Tourism officials want closer to $30 million.
Bills that didn't get approved by the Legislature during the 2009-10 session will have to be reintroduced next year to begin the process all over again. Among the measures that failed to pass before scheduled voting ended for the year:
--The Republican-led Senate did not vote on a proposal that would require insurance coverage for certain autism treatments. More than 20 other states have similar laws, but the Michigan measure is opposed by business and insurance groups that say mandating coverage would raise the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance.
Republican Lt. Gov.-elect Brian Calley, who has a daughter diagnosed with autism, had been among the lawmakers making emotional pleas to colleagues to pass the legislation before the session ended early Friday. But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, who leaves office at the end of this year because of term limits, did not put the measure up for a vote, saying the timing wasn't right during the late rush of the lame duck session.
"My heart goes out to all families who are struggling with the treatment of autism," Bishop said in a statement. "This is a condition that affects thousands of Michigan residents and one that deserves continued consideration and discussion. It is my hope that the next legislature will make an effort to address the greater issue of treatment for autism and a number of other conditions affecting our children and families."
--Senate Democrats failed in an effort to force a last-minute vote on legislation that could have cleared the way for Michigan to enter a partnership that would allow the building of a second bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. Senate Republicans and owners of the nearby Ambassador Bridge opposed the plan, and Bishop had said weeks ago the proposal was dead.
--The House did not vote on a measure aimed at tying teacher evaluations and tenure decisions more strongly to student academic achievement. The bill passed the Senate.
Technically, the Legislature has other sessions scheduled for later in December, but no voting is set to take place.