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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of August 13, 2015

by Judy Augenstein

Ballot language asking to hike the state's corporate income tax (CIT) was given the thumbs up by the Board of State Canvassers.  The approval clears the way for union backed groups "Citizens for Fair Taxes" to begin circulating petitions for their legislative initiative, which would hike the CIT rate from 6 to 11 percent.  If the group garners enough signatures before the deadline next June and gets another sign off from the BSC, the proposal would first go to the Legislature.  If it is not approved, the proposal would find its way to the November 2016 ballot.  The group contends the proposal would raise $900 million to be put toward roads. the business lobby is heavily opposed to the measure as is Governor Rick Snyder.

The Board of State Canvassers also approved language for a group pushing a proposal that would require companies to provide paid sick leave, as well as language for a group hoping to have voting by mail added to the state constitution.

A scandal involving two House Republicans may have stolen the spotlight from the push to improve Michigan's roads this week, but the work on the issue from some lawmakers, including the House Transportation Chair, Pete Pettalia, R-Presque rolls on.  Pettalia spent the last two weeks traveling the Upper Peninsula, meeting with every road commission along the way.  Pettalia is confident that legislators will ultimately find a solution.

According to many estimates, the state needs to invest an additional $1.2 billion in its transportation infrastructure each year.  Brock Swartzle, new Chief of Staff to Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant listed roads as the top thing he wants to get done in his new role as chief of staff to Speaker Cotter.

The House passed a $1 billion plan that relies heavily on shifting current state revenues to roads and included about $117 million in revenue from tax increases. However, the Senate has passed a $1.4 billion plan that shifted current revenues to roads, but also included $700 million included in tax increases. including a phase-in 15 cent per gallon gas tax increase.

The Legislature plans to resume normal session days next Tuesday, August 18.

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