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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of September 1, 2016

By Judy Augenstein

As major renovations on the controversial Capitol View building continue in anticipation of the Senate moving most of its offices there, inventory is being taken at the Senate's current offices so senators and staff can plan their move, with an official up and running estimate of January.  There will be 30 Senate offices and three Senate committee meeting rooms in the new building.  The other eight offices are in the Capitol and the offices will shuffle which senators are in what offices based on which districts occupy certain ranks.  Leadership positions are typically located in the Capitol building as the rest of the senators will occupy the new Capitol View.

The Senate is up for re-election in 2018, at which point some 26 seats will be open and there will be considerable reassignment of senate offices.  The new offices were arranged via a lease as former Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville headed out of the Senate due to term limits in 2014.  Richardville said at the time that the Farnum Building had an array of issues from proper temperature control to asbestos and more.  The deal has come under heavy criticism from the Democratic Party for the costs, but Majority Leader Meekhof has maintained his distance, asserting the negotiations on the controversial move of the senators to the Capitol View happened before he had control of the Senate. 

This week I met with staff to U.S. Senator to discuss issues of mutual interest.  We discussed the on going "slasher" issue which the MSP contends is illegal to haul down the road.  U.S. Senator Peters is a member of the Transportation Committee and plans to investigate the problem at the Federal level which MSP bases their complaint.  It is the opinion of staff that federal legislation HR 3283, legislation to allow 16/17 year old kids of logging or mechanized operations be allowed to work in their family business, is on the back burner and will most likely not complete action this year.  U.S. Senator Peters has expressed an interest in the unfair competition religious sects create for the wood products industry and staff was impressed to to learn that his colleague U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin has similar concerns.

The Michigan Legislature will return to Lansing on Wednesday, September 7 to resume their agenda of work.  Many of our forest products industry friends will travel to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the yearly Logging Expo the same week.  As of this writing, Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba and Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet will be attending the Logging Expo!

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