LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — With two separate bills on no-fault automotive insurance reform now before the Republican-led Michigan Legislature, the question becomes what the final version will look like and whether Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will agree to sign it before the budget is done.
The state Senate took action Tuesday on reform and the House did so in the early hours of Thursday after a marathon session. Both bills would ditch the requirement that drivers buy unlimited medical coverage for crash injuries. In addition, the House version would mandate rate reductions, offer more choice and give the state agency overseeing insurance more authority to regulate rates.
The sponsor of the Senate bill, Sen. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, says it’s time to negotiate.
“My hope is that we can continue this conversation over the weekend into next week and work to actually provide a plan to the governor’s desk,” Nesbitt said.
But Whitmer says she will veto the bills as they read now. She also made it clear Wednesday that she wants a budget deal above all else.
“The fact of the matter is the first and foremost important thing we’ve got to get done is the budget,” she said.
That brings rise to the question of whether no-fault reform will happen on its own or as part of a larger budget deal — which will also have to decide whether Whitmer’s proposed 45 cent per gallon gas tax increase for road funding will go forward.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, thinks everything should happen simultaneously.
“I think it’s probably easier if we do it all at the same time,” he said.
Ananich said he would like to see quadrant, or leadership meetin, meetings, which wi to hammer out a final deal. He thinks it’s possible if all parties are willing.
“We have a path now, it’s just a question of whether we’re going to play chicken with each other and I don’t think we should do that,” he said.
There a few possibilities on what could happen next: The Senate could revise the House bill and send it back with changes. The same could happen in the House with the Senate bill. One of the two measures could be approved outright and sent to the governor. Another possibility is ending up with two bills, one from each chamber, dealing with different components.
So far, Whitmer seems unconvinced these are the right solutions so a signature seems unlikely without major changes — and likely not until there is a budget deal