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The Latest: Michigan Senate OKs online gambling bills

December 21, 2018

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Latest on the Michigan Legislature’s session (all times local):

10:40 p.m.

Bills that have cleared a legislative hurdle would legalize online gambling in Michigan.

The Republican-led Senate late Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation, moving it back to the House after changes were made. An 8 percent tax would be collected from wagers, minus winnings paid out — which would be less than a 19 percent tax now paid by Detroit’s three casinos.

The Detroit casinos could seek an internet gambling license. The state’s 23 tribal casinos could conduct online gambling if they secure authorization from the state through a compact.

The bills also would let the Michigan Gaming Control Board permit internet sports wagering.

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10 p.m.

Michigan lawmakers are working to prevent mass school shootings by creating a new state office and requiring districts to consult with local law enforcement on security features before building a school or doing a major renovation.

A multi-bill school safety package won final legislative approval Thursday. Earlier this year, lawmakers allocated extra funding to boost security at some schools.

Public schools would be required to develop an emergency operations plan by 2020. Districts would work with local law enforcement to conduct reviews of the plan every two years after.

A new state Office of School Safety would be required to train school staff on safety measures. People wanting to become police officer would have to complete active violence response training.

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7:35 p.m.

Bills being passed by Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature would implement a newly passed constitutional amendment that expands voting options, but they are facing criticism from Democrats.

The proposal was approved by voters last month.

It allows citizens to register by mail closer to Election Day and in person at any time, including on Election Day. The legislation approved 57-51 Thursday night — in the final hours of a lame-duck session — would define that voters could register within 15 days of an election at their city or township clerk’s office.

Democrats oppose the bill, saying same-day registration should not be limited to just one place — especially in large cities like Detroit. Republicans say they made changes at the request of clerks.

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5:35 p.m.

The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate has voted to dedicate additional tax revenue from online sales for road construction, environmental cleanup and recycling programs.

The bill approved almost entirely along party line Thursday is part of a major mid-year budget plan that is expected to move through the Legislature in the final hours of a lame-duck session, and less than two weeks before Gov. Rick Snyder leaves office.

Democrats oppose the legislation because they say the online tax revenue is supposed to go to schools.

Instead, the money would be used in part to fund Snyder’s proposed Renew Michigan plan. He wanted to fund it with an increase in landfill dumping fees, but his plan went nowhere in the Legislature.

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3:10 p.m.

The Republican-led Michigan Senate has voted to empower the Legislature to intervene in lawsuits, a right already granted to the state attorney general.

The bill approved Thursday in the final hours of a lame-duck session is opposed by Democrats who call it a power grab before Democrat Dana Nessel leads the attorney general’s office. The measure could ensure the Republican-led Legislature’s ability to support laws if Nessel or Democratic-Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer choose to drop appeals in cases the state loses.

Republicans dispute criticism that the legislation would undermine the role of the attorney general. They say it would simply ensure that the Legislature has a voice as more public policy issues are addressed in the courts.

Democrats question the timing and counter that the legislation is an unconstitutional overreach. The bill is expected to soon win final House passage.

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2:45 p.m.

Michigan municipalities could restrict the use of fireworks on more days under a bill nearing final legislative approval.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously Thursday.

Current law lets local governments regulate more powerful commercial-grade fireworks most of the year, but has restrictions before, during and after national holidays. That is 30 days a year when municipalities cannot prohibit the fireworks during nighttime hours.

The legislation would cut to 12 the number of days when local rules could not be in effect — largely around New Year’s, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

Other bills would tighten the requirements for selling consumer-grade fireworks and let state or local officials ban the use of fireworks in the event of drought or other weather conditions.

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12:45 p.m.

A bill nearing legislative approval would let Michigan businesses count out-of-state workers for the purposes of qualifying for state economic development incentives.

The legislation was narrowly passed by the Republican-controlled House on Thursday, 56-53, and returns to the Senate for a final vote.

Supporters say the change would help more businesses expand or locate in Michigan, particularly in counties where people cross the border to work. Opponents say taxpayer support should not go to companies that employ out-of-state workers.

Under the bill, businesses would have to certify that at least 75 percent of its employees are Michigan residents — higher than a 50 percent requirement passed by the Senate last year. The House changed the legislation to apply statewide, not just in border counties.

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11:45 a.m.

Michigan’s Legislature is in session for a likely marathon final day of voting, as majority Republicans race to pass bills before a Democrat becomes governor in January.

Among the major items under consideration Thursday is legislation that would toughen rules for citizen-initiated ballot drives. It follows voters’ passage of Democratic-backed proposals last month and Republicans’ unprecedented move to weaken minimum wage and paid sick time laws that began as ballot initiatives.

The lame-duck moves in Michigan could curb the left’s power at the ballot box, while sweeping laws in Republican-controlled Wisconsin will weaken incoming Democratic officeholders. Michigan Republicans have dropped an attempt to strip power from the incoming Democratic secretary of state.

One bill already passed, though, would make it harder for Democratic Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer to set tougher environmental and other regulations.

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