Lawmakers OK Budget Bill That Includes Vetoed Spending

By David Eggert, Associated Press

LANSING (AP) – Michigan lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to a supplemental budget bill that would fund a statewide tracking system for rape evidence and also restore roughly $3 million, or more than half, of spending that Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed months ago.

Reinstated spending includes $700,000 to study the potential of genomic testing to identify people with a propensity for addiction to painkillers and $400,000 each for a new playscape at a state park and a new pavilion at a state recreation area. There also is $280,000 for a Muskegon charter school and $150,000 to train grocers and others to prepare, clean and sanitize equipment used to serve draft beer. A 2016 law expanded the type of businesses that can let customers fill growlers for consumption off-site.

Legislators said they reached a compromise with Snyder, who had said he was willing to reconsider his line-item vetoes. Of the $5 million in general spending he nixed, roughly $3 million would be authorized under the legislation that won House passage on a 105-2 vote.

A separate education spending bill , which was approved overwhelmingly weeks ago and is awaiting Snyder’s expected signature, would restore all but $150,000 of the $1.4 million he previously vetoed. The bulk of it, $1 million, would pay for an online math tool.

In July, Snyder told lawmakers that while some items may have served “valid public policy goals,” he vetoed items that were largely duplicative, interfered with programs already in place or had an “unclear purpose.”

Republican Rep. Brandt Iden of Oshtemo said the pilot opioid research project in Kalamazoo County would help the state proactively fight the opioid epidemic.

“Once these genome markers are identified, doctors have an option to prescribe other pain relief that would allow prescriptions to have the most benefit while also avoiding abuse and overdose,” he said in a statement.

The two supplemental bills would authorize more than $62 million in spending, much of it federal — such as $16.4 million to address opioid addiction and $20 million for a cloud-based Medicaid system.

The measure OK’d Tuesday includes at least $4 million in state money for an online tracking system that was recommended by a state commission to ensure sexual assault evidence kits statewide are processed without delay. Victims, police and others could find out at any time the status of an evidence kit. The four-year spending initiative is the latest response to the discovery of a backlog of thousands of untested kits in Detroit eight years ago.

“It’s really important. We owe it to these victims that have had this very invasive test kit taken off of them,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Laura Cox, a Livonia Republican. “We want to make sure that these kits are tracked and they’re treated with respect and honor.”

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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