Michigan pushing through legislation in lame-duck

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 12:38 AM EDT
Michigan pushing through legislation in lame-duck story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Lame duck session of the Michigan legislature? Hardly.

Republicans are passing a flurry of bills.

In Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe takes direct aim at a couple of them.


Make no mistake, these are exhilarating days for the right wing of the Republican Party.

Last week, right-to-work. This week, right-to-life.

And not just any right to life legislation, but what some are describing as the most extreme and far-reaching anti-choice laws in the United States.

Imagine that. Right here in Michigan, a state that is emphatically proving itself to be blue in Presidential politics only.

And that may have less to do with politics than the fact people here just didn't like Mitt Romney all that much. But that's a different discussion.

Yesterday, two bills limiting abortion options in this state moved closer to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk.

One would require some abortion providers to become licensed as freestanding outpatient surgical facilities—nothing offensive about that except for the money some clinics will have to spend on, for example, new and  wider doors and larger rooms. Costs that some clinics have indicated would be unaffordable and would force them to close their doors.

The law would establish screening requirements to make sure women aren't being forced to have abortions. Information on how often such a thing has happened in the recent past is scant. And the law would also establish provisions for disposing of fetal remains, like funerals, for example. At whose expense isn't clear.

Supporters of the bills say they'll protect the health and safety of women who choose to get abortions. Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge said the new laws won't stop abortions, "But will make them a heck of a lot safer."

Safer? Safer than what? Where's the evidence abortion clinics are unsafe as they stand? And for the record, 21 of Michigan's 83 counties lack a single OB/GYN. So the new restrictions will make access to healthcare for a lot of women even more difficult than it is now.

There's also a "conscience objection" clause that would give health care centers the right to deny services if they so choose unless the woman seeking the abortion is literally dying.

What's going on here is pretty clear.

Republicans know they can't overturn Roe v. Wade—the law of the land since 1973—so they're going through the back door  to make getting abortions in Michigan as difficult as possible.

Disingenuous, at best.

Earlier this year Gov. Snyder vetoed a Republican-sponsored effort to crack down on voter fraud in our state.

To the Governor's credit, he said no because he wasn't convinced voter fraud was really a problem.

It's not as though abortions around here are being performed willy-nilly.

Right now in Michigan, a minor cannot get an abortion without parental consent.

A woman has to get state-directed counseling discouraging her from having an abortion 24 hours before the surgery.

And tax money is used only is cases of rape, incest, or where the mother's life is in danger.

And now this divisive, anti-choice legislation could be on the Governor's  desk in a matter of days.

It deserves at least as much circumspection as he gave to the voter fraud matter.

And the result should be the same. The answer is no.

In this corner, I'm Tom Van Howe.
Michigan pushing through legislation in lame-duck
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The focus is on what Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may say about negotiations on a wide-reaching trans-Pacific trade agreement, despite resistance from local interests on both sides to wiping out tariffs.

Sentiments on Asian markets were dampened by worries about the U.S. economy, highlighted by a surprise drop in new home sales as well as dismal earnings.

The pessimism overshadowed confirmation from the European Union that Greece achieved a primary surplus in 2013 -- what's left when interest payments are stripped out.

The dollar fell against the euro and was little changed against the yen.

Benchmark crude oil fell but remains above $101.50.


Major business and economic reports scheduled for today

WASHINGTON -- The government's weekly jobless claims report comes out today.

Also, the government will release March durable goods numbers and Freddie Mac will report weekly mortgage rates.

A slew of quarterly earnings reports will be released today.

Before the market opens, investors will hear from Aetna, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Altria Group, General Motors, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, 3M , Caterpillar, Verizon, and UPS.

After the closing bell, Amazon.com, Starbucks, Visa and Microsoft will report their quarterly financial results.


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Facebook says its revenue was $2.5 billion, up 71 percent from $1.46 billion in the same period a year ago.

Analysts expected adjusted earnings of 24 cents per share on revenue of $2.36 billion.

Facebook says its finance chief, David Ebersman, is leaving on June 1 after five years. He'll be replaced by David Wehner, currently vice president of corporate finance and business planning.


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Texas Instruments makes semiconductors used in consumer devices and industrial equipment and is reducing its reliance on chips used in smartphones and tablets. The company said that revenue from chips that convert analog signals to digital ones and from embedded technology such as microcontrollers accounted for 84 percent of first-quarter sales. Both segments grew by double-digit percentages.

Meanwhile, revenue from everything else tumbled by 28 percent.

Net income was $487 million, or 44 cents per share, including a gain of 2 cents per share from a sale that the company had not included in previous guidance to investors. The results compared with year-ago profit of $362 million, or 32 cents per share. Revenue grew 3 percent to $2.98 billion.

For the second quarter, the company predicted that earnings would be between 55 cents and 63 cents per share on revenue of $3.14 billion to $3.40 billion.


BEIJING (AP) -- China's government says it will open 80 projects in eight state-run industries to private and foreign investors as part of efforts to make its slowing economy more efficient.

The Cabinet announcement is the latest in a series of policy changes aimed at carrying out the ruling Communist Party's promises to give entrepreneurs and foreign investors a bigger role in the state-dominated economy.

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Deborah Hersman, wrapping up a two-day forum on the rail transport of oil and ethanol, said the Transportation Department shouldn't wait for the usual federal rulemaking process to run its course. She urged regulators to use their authority to issue emergency orders or interim rules to bring about tougher standards for tank cars used to haul oil and ethanol.

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Hersman praised Canadian authorities who announced Wednesday that they banning or phasing out older, more dangerous tank cars.


NEW YORK (AP) -- The pay of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s outgoing CEO fell 73 percent in 2013 because he didn't get stock awards that are given in anticipation of future performance as well as a lower performance-based bonus.

The world's largest retailer gave Mike Duke, 64, a compensation package worth about $5.6 million including a base salary of $1.4 million and a performance-based bonus of $2.8 million for the fiscal year that ended on Jan. 31.

Other compensation totaled $490,090, including retirement contributions and $144,586 for personal use of company aircraft.

The AP's calculation counts salary, bonuses, perks and stock and options awarded to the executive during the year.


NEW YORK (AP) -- Warren Buffett says he disapproves of Coca-Cola's highly contested pay plan for its executives.

Buffett, the beverage maker's largest shareholder, called the plan "excessive" in an interview on CNBC after the plan was approved at the company's annual meeting.

But Buffett said Berkshire Hathaway abstained from voting against the pay plan because he believes in Coca-Cola's management and CEO Muhtar Kent.

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Washington Times