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Bill giving local governments more control over speed limits receives bipartisan support

Bipartisan majorities in both the Michigan House and Senate have passed a bill to give local governments more control over speed limits on their roads.

State law currently requires cities and counties to adjust their speed limits relative to observed driving habits. As part of the "85th percentile" rule, local governments must set permitted speeds relative to the speed that 85% of drivers are traveling on a given road.

State Representative Bradley Slagh (R-Zeeland) said the law can force municipalities to raise permitted speeds on a road when they wanted to lower them.

"That doesn't seem to make a lot of sense," Slagh said.

Republican Representative Bradley Slagh said she introduced HB 4012 after hearing from local police departments. The bill, passed by the House in October and the Senate last week, modifies the provision and gives officials more leeway in choosing whether to increase or lower a speed limit after a speed study.

It also removes the requirement that local governments complete "an engineering and safety study," that change could reduce costs for local governments.

“It was an all around how do we just take care of speed limits, and maybe do that in a way that that is a little more realistic. And obviously, the local governments were very much in favor of it," Slagh said.

The legislation allows local officials to seek lower speed limits if there's evidence that speeding could present a hazard or threaten public safety.

The bill received nearly unanimous bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature.

“It's gratifying when people see that this is not political," Slagh said. "This is about trying to take care of our citizens in the state of Michigan.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign the bill after the Senate sends it to her desk.

Copyright 2024 WKAR Public Media. To see more, visit WKAR Public Media.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.