The Latest: Senate votes to let Legislature enter cases

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

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.