Michigan Legislative Update
Week of June 2, 2016
By Judy Augenstein
Two bills making major changes to Michigan's utility and electric system, but still maintaining some provisions from the 2008 energy legislation especially with small generators of alternative energy, were reported to the full Senate this week by the Senate Energy and Technology Committee. The bills call for the state to achieve 35 percent of its "electric needs" through a combination of energy waste reduction and generation of renewable resources. Supporters of greater choice have blasted the package as killing overall electric choice. The full Senate is expected to debate the controversial bills next week.
A proposed constitutional amendment to simplify the discipline procedure for the state's classified civil service workers was reported this week by the House Workforce and Talent Development Committee. The resolution and bill sponsored by House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant and Rep. Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway, cleared the committee on party line votes without any discussion or changes. Since they were reported without Democratic votes, it appears the resolution and bill are jeopardy of full House passage since they require a two-thirds vote and Democrats oppose the measures.
The resolution would change the Constitution to say a principle department head could discipline or dismiss an employee for conduct that directly and negatively affects the department's ability to accomplish its statutory duties in a fair, timely, equitable and transparent manner, which is defined as "just cause" in the bill. The bill also outlines an appeal process for the employee. The package was introduced partially because the DEQ director was unable to terminate certain employees over the Flint water crisis.
Legislation to prevent state departments from adopting regulations more stringent than the federally mandated standard is awaiting full House action. HB 5613, sponsored by Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona would prevent agencies from setting rules that are more stringent than the rules of the federal government, unless the director of the agency can prove there is a "clear and convincing need" for a stronger rule to be in place, or there is a statute to allow the more stringent rule.
SB 39 & 40, sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba continues to await further action by the Senate Natural Resources Committee. The bills reinstate the cap on state land if all PILT are not received in full and on time. SB 651, 652 & 653 before the House Tax Policy Committee, allow an easier path to withdraw from CF to QF, remain bottled up in committee. SB's 706, 707 & 708 have passed the Senate and were referred to the Senate Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and will most likely not see action until after the August primary because of "politics" surrounding the bills. The bills prohibit local governments from requiring loggers to obtain special driveway permits to access state/federal forests.
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