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Michigan Senate meets for rare Monday session; OKs navigator certification, autism bills


LANSING, Michigan — The Michigan Senate has met for a rare Monday session as lawmakers enter their final week of voting this year.

Legislation not approved this week will die and have to be reintroduced in the next two-year session that begins in January.

The top issue for Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders remains a potential tax increase to boost road funding. The Republican-led House and Senate have approved different transportation funding plans. One would raise fuel taxes, and the other would effectively divert funding from schools and local governments and instead direct it to the transportation budget.

If a deal is reached, House-Senate conference committees could begin meeting as early as Tuesday but more likely later in the week.

Meanwhile, the Senate voted 32-6 on Monday for legislation that would require the state to establish a certification and training program for "navigators" and counselors who help people sign up for insurance under the federal health care law. The House is expected to send the measure to Gov. Rick Snyder.

The Senate also unanimously sent a bill back to the House that would take $5.5 million from a state autism fund and redirect it to autism programs at universities and for autism-related family assistance services. The fund was created to reimburse health insurers for the cost of benefits covering the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

But insurance companies haven't filed nearly as many claims as expected.

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