Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has revived his support for overhauling Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan after vetoing legislation last month over an anti-abortion rider.
In his State of the State address Wednesday night, the Republican governor repeated his call for easing regulations on the big insurer and requiring it to pay taxes after it transforms from a charitable trust to a customer-owned nonprofit.
He vetoed the measure in late December because of abortion language added to secure support from Republican legislators.
Blue Cross Vice President Andrew Hetzel says he's encouraged Snyder is making the overhaul a priority.
Supporters say the change is necessary to level the playing field for the industry and prepare for the federal health care law. Critics say it's unnecessary deregulation that short-shrifts the elderly.
While the governor gave the State of the State address, several hundred union members gathered outside the Michigan Capitol to protest the passage of right-to-work legislation.
The protesters Wednesday evening carried a banner that said, "You can't trust Snyder."
Governor Snyder outlined another top priority of fixing up Michigan's roads. The Governor says to patch up the state's crumbling roads and bridges, the state will have to raise more than 1 billion dollars a year, over the next 10 years.
Snyder hopes to do that by raising vehicle registration fees and tax motor fuels at the wholesale level. He didn't give ball park figures on how much those registration fees will go up.
The governor decided not to try to raise the per-gallon tax charged at the gas pump. He also wants to let local governments raise vehicle registration fees to pay for local road repairs.
Snyder says Senator Roger Kahn of Saginaw Township will take the lead on his proposal.
Snyder also proposed reforming no-fault insurance, called for more police officers on the streets and reforming the 9-1-1 system.
The Republican governor signed right-to-work measures that cleared the Republican-controlled Legislature in December.
Anti-right-to-work protests drew several thousand people last month. The measures taking effect in March bar unions from requiring people they represent under collective bargaining agreements to pay fees.
The right-to-work law that prohibits requirements that workers pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.
Meanwhile, Governor Snyder is headlining this year's Midland Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting.
The governor is the keynote speaker at this year's annual meeting.
He will talk about what is in store for the year. Also, winners of the chamber's Excellence in Business, J. Kermit Campbell, Athena, Ambassador of the Year and Chairman's awards will be announced at the event.
The event began at 7 a.m. at the Great Hall Banquet and Convention Center off Bay City Road in Midland.
Copyright 2013 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.