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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of January 15, 2016

by Judy Augenstein

The Legislature returned to session at noon on Wednesday for two short session days.  The top three Senate Republican priorities remain reforming Detroit Public Schools, energy policy, non-fault insurance and the Flint water crisis. HB 4724, legislation to allow non-reason absentee voting will be front and center in the Senate next week.

It appears there will be a trailer bill to amend SB 571 (PA 269) that local government dubbed the "gag order" law. Schools and local government and library groups mounted a furious counterattack on the language in PA 269 barring them from (communicating/lobbying) using taxpayer funds for ballot proposals within 60 days of an election. Supporters of the issue contend that if government employees and officials want to communicate about a ballot proposal, they should do so by forming an official ballot committee, NOT by using taxpayer monies to push their position.

Legislation to allow a multiple trip permit for Michigan tailored after Wisconsin is being crafted by Rep. Pete Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, Chair, House Transportation Committee and should be available next week for review.  It is important for us to review the bill before it is dropped into the legislative hopper in an effort to avoid as much opposition/ problems with the bill.  Rep. Pettalia and Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona will be the lead on the bill. 

I will lobby/assist with lining up co-sponsors for the bill as soon as we have approved wording.  I want to get as many House Transportation Committee members and UP/northern Michigan legislators to co-sponsor.  Once a legislator has co-sponsored a bill, it is difficult for him/her to go back on their commitment to the issue.  Since the bill will include all "haulers" I am confident the Michigan Trucking Association, the Michigan Farm Bureau, NFIB, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, etc. will support the effort---we will see.

HB 4579, sponsor Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township and House Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Joe Graves, R-Linden are working on language to "tweak" the bill to make it acceptable to LLC's and other business.  The intent is not to harm LLC's, but to require religious sects pay business taxes and adhere to MIOSHA standards as English companies are required.  The language should be available next week at which time I will share with you.

I met with Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, committee member, this week to request he express to Rep. Graves the importance of this bill to his constituents and other wood products industries in the state.  I continue to inch this issue forward and we are getting closer and closer as more legislators/people become award of the unfair competition religious sects create for our members. We have met with Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant a few times, including having him tour the Maeder Sawmill to get a better understanding of the costs involved in running a legitimate sawmill business.  Once we approve the new language and the bill is ready we will be meeting again with the Speaker of the House for his assistance---which he has already committed. 

New legislation introduced this week:

SB 706   -   Sponsor Senator Tom Casperson. Referred to the Senate Transportation Committee.  The bill prohibits a local unit of government from requiring a special permit for vehicles transporting forest products if the vehicle is not in excess of size, weight or load maximums.

SB 707   -   Sponsor Senator Tom Casperson. Referred to Senate Transportation.
The bill re-defines constructed or reconstructed of the Act regulating driveways and does not include maintenance activities performed on a driveway, including, but not limited to, the placement of additional gravel.

SB 708   -   Sponsor Senator Tom Casperson. Referred to the Senate Transportation Committee.  Clarifies the authority of county road commissions to not require a permit for vehicles transporting forest products.

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