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State Legislature puts auto insurance changes at top of priority list

Car accident
Daniel X. O'Neil/Flickr

Republican lawmakers in the state House and Senate say lowering the cost of auto insurance across the state is a top priority for the 100th Legislature.

How to change Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance law is an issue lawmakers have been trying to crack for years.

In the House, Representative Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) will chair a special committee devoted to the issue. He said this will give lawmakers a broad, collaborative way of tackling the problem.

“We can conduct work groups within the committee process and really just get a deep dive look at why have we not succeeded in reforming Michigan’s no-fault system,” he said.

The Senate’s first bill introduction on Tuesday was an intent bill aimed at lowering car insurance rates. Details will be filled in while it’s considered in a Senate committee.

Michigan requires unlimited lifetime benefits. Some say the way to lower costs is to get rid of that mandate. Others say keep those benefits but stop insurance companies from considering things like gender and zip code when deciding a person’s rate. 

“I want to make sure everything is on the table and want to work with everybody to try to bring them to the table,” said bill sponsor, Senator Aric Nesbitt (R-Porter Township).

Democratic leader in the Senate, Senator Jim Ananich (D-Flint) said he’s willing to work with Republicans for change – but there should be no “sacred cows.”

“What I mean by that is, you can’t start a debate and say, ‘Well these five things can’t happen.’ As long as we have the debate and everything is on the table, even things we don’t like, are on the table I’m willing to have the discussion,” he said. “Because it’s going to take compromise to get it done.”

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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