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Michigan Dems OK $3M for e-bike discounts. GOP says plan is off the rails

A man sitting next to his e-bike
State Rep. Julie Rogers contends her e-bike proposal would help Michiganders get to work when a car might be unaffordable. (Bridge file photo)
  • Michigan House budget includes $2.95 million to cover up to 90% of an e-bike purchase price
  • The proposed program’s sponsor, Rep. Julie Rogers, says her plan would help Michiganders get to work when a car might be out of reach
  • There’s no guarantee the program will become reality: The Senate would have to agree to include the appropriation later in the budget process

LANSING — A proposed electric bicycle incentive program that could dramatically cut prices through income-based “discount vouchers” received nearly $3 million in funding in a budget plan approved by the Michigan House Wednesday.

The provision, part of a larger $81 billion state budget proposal, was championed by Democrats as a "future-facing" push for new mobility options but panned by Republicans as “wasteful spending.”


A separate bill laying out the program’s particulars would have to become law for the incentives to become reality, and funding would also have to make it into the final state’s budget expected to be passed later this summer.


For e-bikes up to $8,000, the legislation would give lower-income residents a voucher for as much as $1,250, while any resident could get a voucher up to $500 until the program funds are exhausted.

It likely won’t be that much. To stretch the $2.95 million transportation budget allocation to benefit more buyers, bill sponsor Rep. Julie Rogers, D-Kalamazoo, said the incentive amounts will likely be lowered in the coming days.

The discount voucher would be capped at 90% of an e-bike’s cost. Rogers said e-bikes can fill a gap for low-income Michiganders in areas where transit is scarce but a car may be unaffordable. 

“I really wanted to make sure that there was a bigger incentive for people with the greatest need,” Rogers said. “And so I'm really pleased with that part of the bill to really put money in the pockets of Michiganders who truly need it the most.”

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E-bike retailers would apply for the discount voucher with the buyers as the e-bike is sold and would apply the discount to the purchase price. The legislation gears the vouchers toward in-state retailers.

E-bikes, which come in three different classes of power, can travel up to 28 miles per hour in their most powerful configuration. They regularly have a range exceeding 50 miles on a charge, and more affordable models can be had for less than $1,000.

The Democratic-led Senate did not include e-bike incentives in its own budget plan. Nor did Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who aims to negotiate a final spending plan with legislative leaders this summer. 

Rogers’ bill to implement the subsidy is expected to receive a hearing in committee next week.

Republicans have come out against the legislation and other appropriations in the House transportation budget. Rep. Tom Kunse said in a statement that “Democrats care more about electric bicycles than local roads.”

Rep. Donni Steele, R-Orion Township, similarly argued any spare money in the transportation budget should go to filling potholes and improving roads.

“Regular people don’t care about electric bikes,” Steele said in a statement. “We have to stop investing in unnecessary projects that have no return on investment for taxpayers.”


Rogers counters the policy is more about improving economic opportunity than simple recreation.

“I've had several people in my district reach out, particularly the lower-income workforce, that have transportation needs, that say transportation is one of the No. 1 barriers to them getting to work,” Rogers said. “If the other side wants to talk about addressing our workforce needs, here's another solution.”

The House did not adopt one of Whitmer’s top priorities: A $25 million automobile rebate plan, which would offer purchasers $2,000 rebates for electric vehicles, $1,000 combustion engine cars and $500 more for union-made vehicles.

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