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Industry News, Meetings & Events

Michigan Legislative Update

Week of March 11, 2016

By Judy Augenstein

In the most stunning upset of the 2016 presidential election cycle thus fr, U. S. Bernie Sanders of Vermont won the Michigan Democratic primary on Tuesday in a tightly contested race over former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Virtually every expectation and virtually every poll showed Clinton winning the Michigan primary, and by handy margins.  One poll days before Election Day showed her winning the state's Democrats by better than 30 percent.

Donald Trump delivered on expectations he would win the Michigan Republican presidential primary, putting together a coalition of working class Republicans and doing well enough among wealthier and evangelical voters to take a plurality of 36.5 percent of the vote.

This week the Legislature worked on a $50 million supplemental for the Detroit Public School crisis.  The Detroit School District faces the prospect of running out of money in less than one month.  Governor Snyder proposed the $50 million bail out which Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof stated this week has to be resolved soon because the Senate will recess in two weeks. 

The latest batch of emails released from Governor Rick Snyder on the Flint water crisis show state officials concerned about how to structure Flint's water finances when it eventually joined a new water system, as well as about what could have been seen as a threat from the then Detroit Water and Sewage System.

Both the House and Senate held hearings on Thursday to hear testimony on a recent audit blasting the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and in doing so, legislators expressed interest in taking up legislation creating a veterans ombudsman.  Some highlights of that audit were failing to meet staffing needs 81 percent of the time and home officials providing documentation that falsely claimed it was performing member local checks when those were not occurring 43 percent of the time.  The Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security Committee and a joint meeting of the House Oversight and Ethics Committee and the Military and Veterans Committee held hearings on the audit to hear from the public.

This week Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba held a hearing on SB 706, 707 & 708.  Legislation to amend a county road law, to provide that a county road commission would not be authorized to require a permit for a logger to haul their product down the road because certain road commissions prohibit them from doing so loggers cannot get their product to market.

Ed Noyola, County road Association opposed the bill. MDP was neutral, SteelPro supported.  Testimony was given in support from Weyerhaeuser, Bisballe Forest Products, Inc, Lonnie Lutke, Lutke Forest Products, Inc. T.R. Timber Co., J.M. Longyear LLC, and Chris Muma Forest Products.  A position of neutral support was submitted by the MTA.  Cards of support were entered by LSLA, MFPC, Chris Muma Forest Products, Muma Logging Inc., Verso Corp and Michigan Farm Bureau.

Thursday, Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township and I began to identify and request legislative co-sponsors for legislation which will require state workers at a company that process wood products in a sawmilling or pallet-making facility if 3 or more of the workers are employees or principals.  All those workers are considered to be employees subject to this Act's requirement for worker's compensation coverage.

The new language satisfies Rep. Joe Graves, R-Linden,Chair, House Commerce Committee.  The plan is to request a committee hearing on April 19,10:30 AM, the week after the legislature returns to Lansing from their spring recess.

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