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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of October 13, 2016

By Judy Augenstein

Kirk Steudle, Director, Michigan Transportation Department has briefed Senate Republicans on a proposal to change PA 51, the state's road funding formula.  The current formula was established in Public Act of 1951.  It provides 39 percent of state dollars to counties, 39 percent to state roads and 22 percent to city and village roads.

The new proposal would abolish the percentage shares for state trunk-line funds for counties and municipalities.  All agencies would receive a base allocation based on their formula distribution in 2015 before snow removal payments.  Any revenue over that base allocation for the state, counties, cities and villages would be based on Federal Functional Class of road, bridge deck area and population.

MDOT contends the outline is part of a discussion that began with Governor Rick Snyder's 2011 infrastructure special message.  Following the recent veto of legislation that would have changed PA 51 the department began churning out ideas on how to change the formula.  MDOT contends they are NOT trying to seek additional monies for MDOT, that this is a policy discussion about what is best for the distribution of the money that is out there.  The current formula is heavily weighted toward population.  The proposal would still take population into account, but only for counties and medium or large cities or townships with populations of 25,000 or more.

Some Republican senators are highly suspicious of making any changes to PA 51 during the Lame Duck session.  Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge and Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba have been quite vocal about the proposal.

In the last four weeks, close to $196,000 has been spent on House candidates in battleground seats, the 62nd, 66th, 71st, 99th, 101st and the 108th.  Candidates in 108 district Scott Cellelo, D and Beau LaFave, R are going neck in neck to capture the seat of term limited Rep. Ed McBroom. The eternally competitive 91st house district is in play again where Rep. Holly Hughes, R-Montague and Colene Lamonte, D-Montague are neck and neck in that race.  The 71st seat with Jim Haadsma, D running against vulnerable Rep. John Bizon, R-Battle Creek are neck in neck in their race.  Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville and Theresa Abed are battling for the 71st seat.  Rep. Barrett won the race two years ago with a mere 148 votes.

At least 40 new House members will be elected to the House of Representatives due to term limits in Michigan ----In case you did not know--I hate term limits!

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