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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of July 9, 2015

by Judy Augenstein

The House will hold two session days next week with the focus on finding middle ground between House and Senate plans for boosting funding for Michigan's roads.  House session is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.  Legislative leaders continue to try to work out the details of a compromise that could eventually dedicate more than $1 billion in extra funding to roads.  The only thing on the House agenda appears to be the road funding issue. 

In early June, the House approved its own $1.1 billion plan for increasing funding for roads.  The plan relied heavily on reprioritizing current state dollars while creating only about $117 million through tax increases.  The Senate, however, approved a $1. 4 million plan last week that would create about 50 percent of new funding through shifting current dollars and about 50 % through phasing in a 15 cent per gallon gas tax increase. 

Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive and Governor Rick Snyder have been meeting this week to find a middle ground---it did not happen.  The biggest sticking point in the talks continues to be the new revenue.

This week I participated in a fundraiser for Ben Fredericks, Chief of Staff to Rep. Joel Johnson, R-Clare.  Ben is running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Ben Glardon, R-Owosso and projected to win the election.  Tonight, I attended a district event for Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville.   Mark Johnson, Johnson Lumber also attended the event as Rep. Barrett is our personal legislator, Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, our state senator, was also in attendance so it was a "double hitter".  Rep. Barrett is a member of the House Commerce Committee and has suggested the committee tour Johnson Lumber in an effort to educate them about the business and the competition religious sects create for law abiding, tax paying businesses. Friday evening, July 10, John Fowler is planning to attending a district event for Senator Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City as he is the chair of the Senate Commerce committee where the bill to require religious sects to pay workers compensation will be referred.  My plan is to move the bill through both the House and Senate, not to just get a hearing as another lobbyist indicated at the last "group" meeting.  Because it is my plan to get the bill passed though the Legislature and signed into law, it is important to cover all the bases in Lansing and in the district of key legislators.

Next week, I will attend the district event for Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, Democrat chair, House Commerce Committee and co-sponsor of HB 4579, legislation to require religious sects to pay workers compensation.  A meeting is also scheduled next week with three LARA lobbyists, two staffers from the Workers Compensation Agency, MIOSHA, Jim Maeder, John Fowler, possibly Lonnie Lutke and I to discuss HB 4579.  It is important to keep inching forward and make it clear to the departments we are not going to abandon the issue.  Thank you all for attending grassroots/district events as it is important to any legislative effort.

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