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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

As millions hit the roads, MI lawmakers consider extra driving fees

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Friday, May 24, 2024   

As Michiganders hit the road this holiday weekend, state lawmakers are brainstorming ways to help close the state's $3.9 billion road funding gap. One idea is the Road Usage Pilot Program, to add tolls and mileage fees for using some of the most heavily traveled highways in the state.

The pilot study is still in early stages of discussion, but it could mean a 6-cents-per-mile fee for drivers, which could raise $1 billion to fix Michigan's decaying roads.

House Transportation Budget chair Rep. Ranjeev Puri, D-Canton, said road funding comes from a variety of sources, but it isn't enough.

"When we all purchase a vehicle, we go pay a registration fee. So, those registration fees kind of help fund our roads. There's also some money from the sales tax that goes to roads, and there's also money from the gas tax," he said. "We've just never come up with a formula that fundamentally meets the needs of the state."

Puri noted the rise in electric vehicle use equals fewer people buying gas, which means less gas-tax revenue.

More than 1.3 million Michigan residents are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, according to the American Automobile Association, up 4% from last year.

Puri said some roads could even be removed because they're not needed anymore because of population changes and different modes of transportation people are using now. He said federal dollars are available to help the state secure funding for these pilot studies - but the state needs to contribute to the pot.

"If the feds are willing to help pay for that study here in Michigan, the state needs to put up some portion of that, to be able to draw down those dollars," he said. "And so, as the state of Michigan, we don't want to leave money on the table."

Puri said the next step in the process is to finalize the state budget for the next fiscal year, which will happen this summer. Based on those results, they'll wait for the feds to open up applications for the road-funding dollars.


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