- Associated Press - Thursday, January 5, 2017

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan motorists will be able to legally drive 75 mph on stretches of rural highways as long as studies show the higher speed limit is safe under bills signed into law Thursday by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The limits will rise from 70 mph to 75 mph and from 55 mph to 65 mph on at least 1,500 miles, or 15 percent, of the state’s I-, U.S.- and M-numbered roads. The new limits will be allowed only if an engineering and safety study indicates it is OK and if 85 percent of traffic surveyed already is traveling at those speeds on the affected highways.

The legislation , which was narrowly approved by the House last month, also raises the maximum speed limit for trucks from 60 mph to 65 mph and reduces some speeding penalties that can affect drivers’ licenses and their insurance premiums.

Seventeen states currently authorize 75 mph or higher speed limits, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. One backer of the five-bill package, Republican Sen. Tom Casperson of Escanaba, has said roads where the limit could rise include U.S. 2, U.S. 141 and M-28 in the Upper Peninsula and U.S. 23 in the northwestern Lower Peninsula.

“Ensuring that all Michiganders are safe while operating vehicles on our state’s roadways is critically important, and these bills allow for appropriately increased speed limits on certain roadways after safety studies are conducted,” Snyder said in a statement.

The Republican governor also signed one road-related measure and vetoed another on Thursday.

He refused to sign legislation that would have authorized billboards on school property and made other changes to billboard permits, saying it would have jeopardized $100 million in federal highway funding. In a letter to lawmakers he outlined issues that he said “represent only a portion of my concerns” with the bill, including limiting the state Department of Transportation’s ability to effectively manage outdoor advertising as required by federal law.

Snyder did sign a measure that came about after cities along Interstate 75 north of Detroit opposed having to pay up to 2.5 percent of the cost of a massive reconstruction and widening of the road.

The new law says 45 cities and villages with at least 25,000 residents won’t have to contribute toward freeway projects, but will partially pay for projects on other state trunkline highways. The signing came six months after Snyder vetoed a bill that would have ended the highway project cost-sharing requirement.

Also Thursday, he vetoed legislation - which narrowly passed in the GOP-led House - that would have eliminated a certification requirement for wild mushroom pickers who sell morel mushrooms to food businesses. Citing increased poisonings, Snyder said in a letter that the training is needed so pickers can identify safe vs. toxic mushroom varieties.

The bill sponsor, Republican Rep. Triston Cole of Mancelona, said he was “profoundly” disappointed because restaurants have struggled to find fresh, seasonal morel mushrooms.

“I continue to have the upmost respect and confidence that our chefs know what they are purchasing, preserving and preparing for food enthusiasts,” he said in a statement.

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Online:

Public Acts: 445-449 of 2016: https://bit.ly/2hVSqbI

Public Act 459 of 2016: https://bit.ly/2iJilAo

Senate Bill 953: https://bit.ly/2iGfKck

House Bill 5532: https://bit.ly/2iNf0mt

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Follow David Eggert at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00 . His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/author/david-eggert

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