Michigan Legislative Update
Week of March 30, 2017
By Judy Augenstein
This week 191 MDOT positions of the department's slated full time employees would be eliminated in a House 2018 budget and the estimated $20 million saved would be put into the roads, under the proposal that moved out of the House Transportation budget committee. Most of the eliminated positions, 150, are coming out of MDOT's design and engineering section. Twenty would come out of the finance, contracting and support while 10 would be sliced from transportation planning. The remaining positions would come out of aeronautics services (seven), business support (two) and unclassified salaries (two).
Rep. Shane Hernandez, R-Port Huron, Chair of the House MDOT budget committee went over staffing levels with the department line by line and MDOT's current employee level; 2,580 is lower than the 2,727 in the House budget proposal. The Governor's proposed FY 2018 budget and the current FY 17 budget called for 2,918 full-time employees. Rep. Hernandez commented "We have a pavement crisis in the state. I don't think anyone is denying that and we have to get serious about this and reallocate funds to roads. The House wants to add the estimated $20 million saved in the position eliminations to road and bridge construction. The House plan also calls for MDOT to sell two of its five airplanes, Hernandez said that two planes in the fleet are duplicative and can be eliminated.
The House also shifts $10 million from the Transportation Economic Development Fund and $2 million for local agency wetland mitigation to county road commissions and local governments for local road projects. (HB 4242, Hernandez)
The House DNR budget committee, chaired by Rep. Sue Allor, R-Wolverine discussed recommendations and took public comment on the DNR budget bill HB 4237. The DNR sub-committee recommends using increased funding available from the increased timber harvest for the purpose of forest management and timber market development, including investments in technology and equipment aimed at growing the timber economy and for replacement of aging forest fire equipment.
The House Standing Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure met this week to continue a discussion on unattended running vehicles and an increase in motorcycle registration fees into the motorcycle safety fund. The Senate Transportation Committee took testimony on fund raising license plates for Choose Life Michigan Fund and a bill to name a portion of US-12 in the city of Jonesville the "James Bondsteel Memorial Highway.
The House Natural Resources Committee heard a presentation from the Michigan OIl and Gas Association and more testimony on small native copper mining operations. (SB 29, Casperson)
This week I attended fundraiser events for Rep. Triston Cole, Rep. John Kivela, Rep. "Curt" VanderWall, Rep. Scott Dianda and Rep. Holly Hughes. The legislature is on spring recess until April 19 when they will return to Lansing and their agenda for the spring session......
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