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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of June 9, 2016

By Judy Augenstein

Senate Republicans mustered the 19 vote minimum needed to send a Detroit Public School bailout package to Governor Rick Snyder after a day full of on again, off again session activity, caucuses and emotional speeches in opposition to the bills.  Prior to a nearly two hour Senate Republican caucus meeting that began about 8:00 P.M. Wednesday night, there was real concern about the votes not materializing.  Different factions of the caucus were withholding their support for so many different reasons it made finding the votes extremely complex.  But by the time they emerged from the caucus that included a presentation from Governor Rick Snyder, the votes had been found and passage of the bills took place over the next two hours.

After more than five hours of session spent predominately caucusing and discussions among senators, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said the chamber will vote on the proposed energy policy legislation spearheaded by Senator Mike Nofs during the lame duck session.

HB 5613 sponsored by Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona has passed the House and now will be considered by the Senate.  The bill prohibits state rules from being more stringent than federal ones, but does not preclude departments from acting during states of emergency.  Cole commented, "The legislation does not prohibit greater rules from ultimately being implemented, but does require greater justification.  It also does not prohibit the Legislature from enacting laws greater than the federal government.  This is rock solid policy, a positive move forward and works to keep the separation of powers in check".  

The bill is similar to one that Governor Rick Snyder vetoed in 2011.  Rep. Cole said he worked with Governor Snyder to address his concerns, but a spokesman for Snyder said his position would be unchanged if the bills are similar.

The DNR this week announced that it is taking comment on updates to its deer management plan.  Comments can be submitted through July 8 to dnr-wildlife@michigan.gov or DNR Wildlife Division, 525 West Allegan Street, Lansing, MI 48909

SB 39 & SB 40, legislation to reinstate the cap on state land if all PILT are not received in full and on time, will most likely receive further debate during the "lame duck" session.  SB's 706, 707 & 708, legislation to prohibit local governments from requiring loggers to obtain special driveway permits to access state/federal forests will also be held over to "lame duck".

HB 5706, sponsored by Rep. Triston Cole expands the farm plate to allow a GPS tile layer to apply for the specialty plate.  I shared with Rep. Cole the possible fight we could have on our hands to save the farm/log plate if the law gets opened, since House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee member Rep. Marilyn Lane, D-Fraser has been trying to eliminate these specialty plates for years.  Rep. Lane has support of at least 3 other GOP House members to eliminate the farm/log plate.
Rep. Cole was unfamiliar with the debate because he is a relatively "newbie" to the legislature.  It is my view that Rep. Cole will not actively push for the bill to be considered by the committee which would not be until the "lame duck" session.  I have discussed the bill with Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, Chair, Senate Transportation Committee.  Tom is prepared to properly address the bill if and when it arrives to his committee for debate.

Rep. Triston Cole is prepared to take up the multiple use permit issue next session.
I will be meeting with his staff next week to present our bill proposal and to further discuss with her the purpose of the bill. 

Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township and his chief of staff met with LARA to discuss their position on the latest draft bill to require the Amish to provide workers compensation.  LARA now agrees we are attempting to amend the correct section of law by amending the exclusion section of the law instead of the employer section---so we are moving in the right direction, but still at a slow pace.  We will have to continue to inch this issue forward as we have done with other issues, but if we continue to move forward we will prevail.


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