Senate: Raise age for prostitution charges
LANSING — The minimum age for prostitution charges would increase to 18 from 16 years old under legislation that passed the Senate.
The bill passed unanimously Wednesday along with three others intended to combat human trafficking and improve the state’s handling of victims. A six-month review by the state’s human trafficking commission produced dozens of recommended changes in November.
The definition of racketeering would expand to include girls under the age of 18 in another bill that passed. It’s currently a felony to entice a girl under 16 away from her guardian for prostitution, sex or marriage.
Foster care agencies would consider whether a child could be a trafficking victim under another bill, and a fourth would establish related training standards for health care professionals.
The bills now go to the House.
Michigan jobless rate down to 7.7 percent
LANSING — State officials report that Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is down again in the latest month, falling a tenth of a percentage point to 7.7 percent after a half-a-point drop the month before.
The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget said Wednesday that February’s state jobless rate remains well above the U.S. rate, which rose a tenth of a percentage point to 6.7 percent in February.
The department says Michigan’s civilian labor force rose 21,000 to 4.719 million in February, while the number of people working rose 26,000 to 4.356 million.
The state says 363,000 people were unemployed and seeking work in February, down from 367,000 in January.
Michigan’s jobless rate stood at 8.8 percent in February 2013.
Lansing: Require balanced U.S. budget
LANSING — Michigan is petitioning to amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced federal budget.
The state Senate approved a Republican joint resolution along party lines Wednesday that petitions Congress to call a convention of states to propose a constitutional amendment. The amendment would require Congress to pass a balanced fiscal year budget unless a national emergency occurs.