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Industry News, Meetings & Events

Michigan Legislative Update

Week of March 16, 2017

By Judy Augenstein

This week President Donald Trump visited the Ypsilanti auto testing center and announced he will be reviewing the country's fuel efficiency standards to determine if there needs to be "common sense changes"to the standards.  In Trump's first visit to Michigan since being sworn into office, President Trump told Governor Rick Snyder, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive and a large audience that former President Barack Obama canceled the "mid-term" review on the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards as one of his last actions before leaving office.

Current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules have the average car averaging 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.  Trump stated he would review the rules at the request of Detroit automakers that he invited to Washington for a meeting shortly after he was sworn into office.

This week, the County Road Association held their annual meeting in Lansing.  Attendees at one of the break out sessions moderated by Tim Skubick, long time Lansing Tv and radio personality, were asked if they thought the Legislature would set aside the $600 million from the General Fund for roads in 2021 as promised.  Many doubted the money would be set aside for roads. Many suggested that since a majority of House Republicans are working toward lowering the state's income tax that funds will not be available for road/bridge improvements.  When asked if they wanted a tax cut--the crowd then grew silent.

One CRA afternoon breakout session featured two loggers, a forestry association director and two county road administrators making up a panel for discussion between loggers and county road commissions.  Bill Hennigan, GLTPA outlined his 43 years in the forestry products industry and the importance of communications between loggers and local governments.  Bill indicated that officials in Marquette County are aware of the importance of commerce and working with loggers to get their products to market.

Both County Road Commissioner's Gregg Patrick, Keweenaw County  and Larry Orcutt, Alpena County highlighted their positive working relationship, for the most part, with area loggers and highlighted the necessity of communication. 

Scott Robbins, MFPC, highlighted the need for communication and the need to fix Michigan roads as emerging forest products businesses enter Michigan.  Scott stated that the forest products industry has a bright future, but it is important to fix the infrastructure to make Michigan even more attractive.

Last, but not least, our own Denny Olson repeated the communication theme touted throughout the discussion.  He highlighted a problem with a county road where as a lobby effort we put 26 legislators in log trucks and took them down the road so they could experience the problem first hand.  The proponents of a "fix" had been working for some 2-4 years to find a solution to the poor road condition. Following the "show and tell" tour with direct communications between legislators, local government and loggers, the road received immediate action and repair.

Legislation to end daylight savings time, HB 4011, sponsored by Rep. Pete Lucido, R-Shelby Township is expected to receive committee debate next week by the House Commerce and Trade Committee.  If passed, Michigan would join Arizona as the only state that does not have its residents turn back its clocks an hour in the fall and forward an hour in the spring.  Rep. Lucido has received lots of media attention on the issue and contends that the time change disrupts everyone from small children to dairy cows for no real reason.  

This week the House Natural Resources Committee discussed legislation to require the DNR notify dates of prescribed burns to township supervisors and 9-1-1 services.  The Senate Natural Resources Committee took testimony on a concurrent resolution to support the recommendations of the Chicago Area Waterway System Advisory Committee to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.  The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee received comments on bill to name a portion of M-23 the Sergeant Joe Johnson Memorial Highway.  The Senate Transportation did not meet.

As usual, I attended legislative fundraisers this week and will attend at least four next week in an effort to continue building credibility with new legislators and their staffs.  I continue to hold lunch meetings with "newbie" and northern Michigan legislators and staffs in an effort to share our legislative goals. I met with the President of the Michigan Manufacturer's Association about legislation we are crafting to level the playing field relative to workers compensation insurance.  The bill drafter is fine tuning the "fee" component to a bill we requested to allow truckers use of a multiple use permit tailored after Wisconsin law.  The "omnibus budget" bill was introduced in the House which includes budget requests for DNR and MDOT funding.  I will closely monitor these budgets as they travel through the legislative process.  Leaders in the House contend they will have the budgets passed through the House by June---we will see......

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