Sentencing rules for young killers OK’d
LANSING — Michigan lawmakers have given final approval to new sentencing rules after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down mandatory life imprisonment for juveniles.
Bills approved Wednesday by the Senate head to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.
The legislation applies to future cases and not retroactively to more than 350 Michigan inmates under 18 when they committed crimes.
Juveniles can still be sentenced to life without parole. The sentence just can’t be mandatory on judges, who must consider factors such as defendants’ immaturity.
Legislators are divided over whether current inmates sentenced as juveniles should have a chance at parole.
A federal judge recently directed Michigan to give juvenile lifers an opportunity to apply for release. The ruling was appealed.
New laws bar felons from having ammo
LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed laws prohibiting felons from possessing ammunition until three to five years after they have served their time and finished probation or parole.
Michigan already prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms for a certain amount of time. The governor said the new laws close a loophole to apply similar provisions to ammunition possession and simplify sentencing procedures.
The main bill signed Tuesday was sponsored by Republican Rep. Kurt Heise of Wayne County’s Plymouth Township.
Bills: Give tuition in trade for future pay
LANSING — Some Democrats in Michigan’s Legislature are proposing a pilot program for 200 high school graduates a year to get free college tuition if they give 4 percent of future earnings to the state for 20 years.
Bills announced Tuesday are being called “pay it forward” legislation. Participants’ earnings would be used to help future students also attend public universities or community colleges without upfront financial obstacles.
Democratic Rep. David Knezek of Dearborn Heights is hoping Michigan could secure federal funding for the program he says would cost $2 million a year initially.
The legislation’s backers say it’s a creative way to help students avoid debt and could be expanded to more students if successful. Other Democratic sponsors are Rep. Theresa Abed of Grand Ledge and Sen. Jim Ananich of Flint.
State beats insurance sign-up targets
LANSING — About 112,000 Michigan residents chose a private insurance plan under the federal health care law in the first four months of enrollment, outpacing government projections by 12,000.
Numbers released Wednesday by President Barack Obama’s administration show 36,500 more people in the state signed up through a federal website from Dec. 29 to Feb. 1.
Eighty-six percent of those picking a plan qualified for tax credits to offset a portion of their premium, a higher proportion than 82 percent nationwide. Fifty-six percent of state residents signing up through January were women.
Young adults represented 26 percent of enrollment in Michigan, similar to the national rate.
The website allows consumers to compare and buy insurance. It’s a key element of the health law along with an expansion of Medicaid to more low-income adults, which begins April 1 in Michigan.
Most states are still lagging when it comes to sign-ups under the health law, but Michigan is among a dozen high-achievers getting ahead of the game, according to an Associated Press analysis.
The administration has been unable to say how of many of those enrolling for coverage previously had no insurance. Some might have been among the 225,000 Michigan residents whose previous policies were at risk of being canceled because they didn’t meet the law’s standards.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said there’s still time to enroll by March 31. People risk being fined for not having insurance starting in April.
Erin Knott, state director of Get Covered America, said she expects enrollment to “grow significantly” as more consumers look for health coverage and find out about financial assistance.
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