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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of October 23, 2015

by Judy Augenstein

With negotiations on a bicameral, bipartisan road funding plan essentially stalled, House Republicans took the lead yesterday by crafting and adopting their own $1.2 billion transportation proposal.  The crux of the new House plan is shifting $600 million in existing state dollars to roads, increasing all vehicle registration fees to create $400 million and increasing the gas tax to create $200 million.  The plan would also provide tax relief in the form of a potential income tax cut and an expansion of the Homestead Property Tax Credit.

Governor Rick Snyder and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive have been pushing for a much different plan focused on $800 million new revenue and only $400 million in existing revenue.

The gas tax increase bill, HB 4738, would increase the gas tax by about 3.3 cents per gallon, passed 56-60.  The registration fee increase bill, HB 4736, would increase registration fees by 40 percent including all specialty plates, passed 55-51.  HB 4370, the Homestead Property Tax Credit bill passed 62-44.  HB 4737 dealing with road construction warranties passed 101-5. HB 4614, which goes along with the main gas tax bill passed 56-50 and SB 414 the income tax "trigger" bill passed by 61-45.  The bills passed mostly along party lines with most Republicans voting "yes" and Democrats voting "no".  Now the bills move over to the Senate for concurrence--and most likely much conversation and debate.

A 66 foot spruce from Wakefield in the Upper Peninsula will serve as the state's Christmas tree this year.  Florence Daniels is donating the tree to the state in memory of her husband, Jim Daniels, a former teacher and youth sports coach.  The tree will arrive October 31 in Lansing.  As per longtime tradition, the tree will be illuminated at the annual Silver Bells in the City celebration that Lansing holds to kick off the holiday season on Friday, November 20.

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