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Industry News, Meetings & Events

Michigan Legislative Update

Week of March 6, 2015

by Judy Augenstein

Rep. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, Chair House Energy Policy Committee contends the eight bill package of bills introduced this week that would change the state's energy laws are a starting point on debate that will continue throughout the year.  The package eliminates the 10 percent set-aside for competition, re-regulates the market and requires utilities to submit an integrated resource plan every five years rather than focusing on individual mandates. The plan keeps the current RSP at 10%, which utilities must meet by 2015.  But, it would allow them to include energy generated through the incineration of municipal waste toward that requirement.  In contrast, Democrats announced a plan this week where they want utilities to reach 20% by 2022 and stick with the renewable definition.

A House committee passed a controversial House bill out of committee that would eliminate film incentives in Michigan.  But, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive contends the bill is "short-sighted" in that eliminating the incentive to help develop an industry in Michigan would set a bad precedent for other businesses considering locating in the state.  HB 4122 sponsor, Rep. Jeff Farrington, R-Utica, contends the roughly $500 million spent on film credits since the program began has been a waste of money because it has not materialized significant long term benefits.

The Legislature passed a bill this week appropriating funds from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund for 25 acquisition projects and 44 development projects.  In December, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Trust Board adopted fiscal year 2014-15 recommendations for acquisition and development projects, including a $24.7 million appropriation from the Fund to be divided in acquisition projects at $18.2 million and development projects at $6.5 million. 

Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee are squaring off for a fight against the Senate's planned move to the Capitol View Building.  Democrats call the estimated $134 million price tag over 32 years a waste of taxpayer dollars in a difficult budget time.  The "deal was cut" and contracts signed at the end of 2014 to vacate the Senate Office Building and to move the offices of the senators to the Capitol View Building.

Three legislative efforts are moving forward in the Legislature impacting religious sects:

  1. HB 4042, sponsor Rep. Joel Johnson, allows counties to levy and earmark vehicle registration fees on horse drawn vehicles.  The bill awaits action by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.

  2. At my request in December, Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township requested legislation to require religious sects pay workers compensation in an effort to level the playing field for tax paying businesses.

  3. A bill is being crafted to require horse drawn vehicles to pay a registration fee and to follow  safety procedures as required by motorized vehicles.

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