Michigan Legislative Update
Week of July 17, 2015
by Judy Augenstein
The Legislature recessed this afternoon and will return on July 21 to continue attempts to hammer out a road budget plan. Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant is optimistic a deal can be made. House Transportation Committee Chair, Rep. Pete Pettalia, R-Presque Island, Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township, committee member and Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, committee member, are not convinced a deal is in the making. I spoke to all three legislators this week about a "possible deal"---it ain't there!.
Speaker Cotter contends a final road deal will include both re-prioritized dollars and new revenue and opened the door this week to a smaller gasoline tax increase than the 15 cent plan the Senate passed, combined with registration fee increases. Based on the scathing House Republican reaction to a House Democratic plan, all signs point to any eventual plan relying mostly on GOP votes.
This week, House Democrats released a transportation funding plan that includes an increase in the Corporate Income Tax - going from 6 to 9 percent, raising about $530 million for roads - an increase in truck registration fees, a REDUCTION in the truck weight limit and renegotiating Michigan Economic Growth Authority tax credits.
The special Roads and Economic Development Committee was scheduled to meet before session today, but was canceled by Chair, Rep. Jeff Farrington, R-Utica early this morning. More meetings between Senate Majority Leader, Arlan Meekof, R-West Olive and Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant are required before the special committee set its next meeting. Meekhof and Cotter both stated today they plan to have a viable road plan by the end of summer. Unfortunately, all other transportation and road bills are at a stand still until the funding proposal is a done deal..
Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township, HB 4579 facilitated a work group meeting Tuesday between industry. MIOSHA, Workers Compensation Agency, legislators, lobby interests, and staff. The purpose of the meeting was to review and report any movement forward. on HB 4579. The Amish have met with the departments, but still contend they take care of their own and because of their religious beliefs they refuse to pay workers compensation, U.I. or abide by MIOSHA requirement. Martha Yoder, MIOSHA ,stated that they have implemented a "Local Wood Emphasis Program" and inspected a whopping 10 Amish companies over a 2 year time and found few violations. The Amish discussed the concept of a group self insurance fund with Frank Waters, WCA. It is the opinion of the Amish that developing a special group fund would violate their "religious views"
Jim Maeder, Lonnie Lukte, John Fowler and myself met privately with staff to Goike and shared with him that the departments just continue to walk around the real issue of requiring the Amish to put the pedal to the metal and insist they pay their fair share, I also shared with Goike's staff that I attended an event for Rep, Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, committee member and co-sponsor of the bill. Mark Johnson, Johnson Lumber, Charlotte met up with me at the event and Mark, Tom and myself had the opportunity to discuss the unfair cooperation created by the Amish and a possible legislative tour at Johnson Lumber to impress and educate committee members of the unfair competition the Amish create,. Last Friday, John Fowler, MAT. attended a fundraiser for Senator Wayne Schmidt, R-TC in an effort to discuss the Amish as Schmidt supports the effort and serves as chair of the Senate Commerce Commerce Committee.. Tonight, I attended a fundraiser event for Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, Dem chair of the Commerce committee and a strong supporter of the bill. It is important that we support, attend and lobby every member of the committee in an effort to inch the bill forward.