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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of March 3, 2016

By Judy Augenstein

Governor Rick Snyder already dealt several major blows as a result of the state's mishandling of the Flint water crisis, suffered more damage this week when it was revealed that his entire top staff knew of the severity of the city's water crisis for at least a year yet nothing was done to address the problem.  The release of 5,533 pages of emails exchanged among the Executive Office staff and documents attached to those emails was that virtually every staffer in Governor Snyder's inner circle had the information necessary to galvanize a response to Flint's water problems long ago and that did not happen.  Between the Flint water crisis, the Detroit Public Schools issue and the Grand Rapids Veteran's Hospital snafu the Governor's rating is at an all time low.
It is important to develop good relationships with "newbie" legislators and candidates who will be replacing the over 40 term limited legislators we lose at the end of this year.  I am working to develop a closer work relationship with Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona who is close to Rep. Pete Pettalia, R-Presque Isle and will most likely Chair the House Transportation Committee next session. I attended a campaign event for Rep. Cole this morning.

I am working with Rep. Tom Barrett who is in line for a leadership position, I joint ventured a fundraiser for him in December and will be holding a campaign event at my house in June.  We have four more years with Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet and Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette.

Rep. Rendon's (R-Lake City) wife is running for his seat.  I already know her and will continue to develop a closer working relationship with her.  Rep. Tom Leonard, R-Lansing is the Speaker Pro Tempore and I work with him now and plan to step it up.

All the Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee are term limited. If Senator Casperson is elected to Congress there will be a new chair of Senate Natural Resources which I believe will be Senator Mike Green, R-Mayville who we already work with a lot.  I plan to also step it up with Senator Jim Stamas, R-Midland.  I work with Senator Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City and expect to work more with him especially if Casperson moves on to Washington.  I hate term limits, we will lose over 40 legislators, many forestry friends.

As we get closer to the election and I will learn more about possible winning candidates, I suggest we get to know them and attend their events.  The problem with primaries since term limits is that we end up with 6-8 candidates in the primary.  That being said, GOP leadership typically will have a good sense of who the likely winners will be as we get closer to the election.  Have I mentioned I hate term limits!

Rep. Pettalia promised me this week that MDOT is working in good faith to tweak the bill draft to allow a multiple use permit bill mirrored after Wisconsin to be sponsored by House Transportation Committee Chair Rep. Pettalia, R-Presque Isle.
Rep. Pettalia and his staff met with MDOT on Wednesday and I met with Pettalia on Thursday to emphasis the importance of the issue and how important it is to have a bill available for the MAT annual meeting since he will be awarded one of the MAT legislator of the year awards.  The other award will be given to Rep. Bruce Rendon, R-Lake City, both legislators have been helpful to forestry and are term limited.

HB 4579, legislation to require religious sects to pay workers compensation continues to await committee debate.  MAT purchased a ticket to a fundraiser held this week for Rep. Joe Graves, R-Linden, chair, House Commerce Committee where HB 4579 awaits debate.  Rep. Graves assured me that once we get the language "tweaked" gain support for the bill he will set it for a hearing.  I am working on NFIB to support the bill, they did last session.  I am hopeful that MAT will be able to gain the support of SBAM and the MFPC.

I fear that with close to half of the House being termed out and scrambling to find new jobs in Lansing either in lobbying or government that the completion of most of our work and the work of other interests will be accomplished during the "lame duck" session.

Again, I hate term limits!

New legislation to be reviewed: 

SB 827, was sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson. The purpose of the bill is to give oversight on environmental rules so they do not become more strict than the statute.  view at www.legislature.mi.

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