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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of May 14, 2015

by Judy Augenstein

As promised by the Senate Majority Leader, the Senate Michigan Competitiveness Committee reported out three bills to repealing the state's prevailing wage laws which dictate wage and fringe benefit rates to be paid to construction workers on state projects.  Although Governor Rick Snyder has previously stated that he has no interest in signing a repeal, SB 1,2 and 3 were reported to the full Senate for debate and passage.

House Speaker Kevin Cotter, joined by much of his caucus, announced a plan this week to generate $1.05 billion for roads with only $45 million coming from new revenue.  His plan would  eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit, re-prioritize statutorily restricted funds and dedicate more General Fund dollars.  The plan would make taxes on diesel fuel and regular gas equal and would update Michigan's outdated fees for hybrid, electric and other newer vehicles.  The plan does NOT tinker with registration fees.   The Senate is in the process of developing a road funding solution to be introduced within the next two weeks.   The Senate has also announced additional session days throughout the summer to take care of the road funding solution.  The House is expected to do the same.

I am concerned about a bill introduced by the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Pscholka, R-Stevensville.  HB 4569 opens the Vehicle Registration Act and could impact the log plate and farm plate.  I have already discussed the issue with the Michigan Farm Bureau lobbyist for transportation issues and we have agreed to "team up" to maintain the specialty plates as we have done in the past.  The bill is a multiple section bill which means all kinds of amendments/changes can be made to it.

HB 4579, sponsored by Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township was introduced this week.  The bill requires religious sects selling products to the English pay workers compensation.  The bill was referred to the House Commerce & Trade Committee Chaired by Rep. Joe Graves, R-Linden.  John Fowler has agreed to attend a district fundraiser for Rep. Graves as it serves as an opportunity to share his business experiences with religious sects.  I continue to meet with members of the House Commerce & Trade Committee to share member problems with religious sects and pictures of Amish mills--"-they ain't the Amish of ole" as stated this week by Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville.  Mark Johnson, Johnson Lumber, Charlotte, has agreed to testify before the committee when it is scheduled for debate.  It is always important to have constituents of committee members testify in committee. 

I met with Senator Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City relative HB 4579 and he is prepared to ask the appropriate questions to the opposition when the bill is presented.  He told me I was the only lobbyist---for or against--- to bring the issue to his attention.  Senator Schmidt is the Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee where the bill will be debated once it passes the House.

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