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Industry News, Meetings & Events

Michigan Legislative Update

Week of February 11, 2016

By Judy Augenstein

Governor Rick Snyder's budget proposal for the 2016-17 year includes $195 million to deal with the Flint water crisis and funding increases for education.  Snyder proposed a funding increase to K-12 education using the 2x formula where the lowest funded districts will receive $120 more per pupil and the highest funded districts $60 more per pupil.  Universities will receive $61 million bringing them back to the funding level they had prior to the 2010-11 fiscal year when the suffered a 15 percent cut.  The governor recommended $165 million for infrastructure and millions for the Detroit Public School debacle. 

The Board of State Canvassers this week approved one of the 10 petitions to recall Governor Snyder over the Flint water crisis.  The board voted along party lines to approve the one, tied on a second, but unanimously disapproved eight as not factual.

The U.S. Supreme Court put on hold new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that require coal fired power plants put in place new pollution controls until the courts rule whether the federal guidelines step on the states' rights to oversee the industry within its border.  President Obama's administration had pushed the Clean Power Plan, which is expected to close as many as 50 coal fired plants across the country, as a way to cut down on the air pollution that arguably contributes to global warming. The Supreme Court order, issued on a 5-4 vote, means the case is now under review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, with a hearing set for June 2. 

Attorney General Bill Schuette, one of the parties who had challenged the Clean Power Plan, said the Obama run EPA "has once again been stopped from an attempt to push beyond its constitutional powers".  Schuette further commented that "The EPA continues to show that they don't take the real world into account when they make sweeping rules that change daily life for average Americans.  If allowed to move forward, the Clean Power Plan will cause the price of electricity to increase, placing jobs and paychecks at risk and costing Michigan families more."

No forestry related issues were scheduled for debate this week.  We did get approval from the Legislative Service Bureau relative to the legality of wording to add to HB 4579, legislation sponsored by Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township to require religious sects to pay workers compensation. The language is as follows:

(G) Workers at a company that processes wood products in a saw-milling or pallet-making facility if 3 or more of the workers are employees or principals.  ll those workers are considered to be employees subject to this act's requirements for worker's compensation coverage.

We are now attempting to get the insurance companies and the Michigan Home Builders on board to support the bill so when we get the bill scheduled for debate we will have a "line up" of supporters.  We need to bring on board the MFPC, NFIB and SBAM.

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