The Michigan Association of Timbermen
Posted on 04.21.2017 Under Legislative

Testifying in Lansing

Legislative Report for MAT

Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant

April 2017

The Senate returned for session on Tuesday and the House returned on Wednesday.  The focus this week was the “2017-18” budget.

The Governor, House and Senate agreed to retain a provision in the DNR budget to require the DNR report to the Legislature on a quarterly basis the number of acres of state forestland marked or treated for timber harvest.  The House retained the DNR budget provision to require them to use 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.  The Governor opposes the provision and deleted it from his budget, but the House restored the provision.  The Governor and the Legislature agreed to delete increased timber sales monies for forest fire equipment and for the replacement of aging forest fire equipment.  Forest fire equipment monies was found elsewhere.

This week, at the request of Chair, House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch, the Michigan Association of Timbermen made a presentation to the House Natural Resources Committee outlining the mission, goals and members of MAT.

John Fowler, MAT board member explained he has been a MAT member for over 30 years, provides jobs for 85 employees in his pallet manufacturing business.  John outlined the unfair competition religious sects present to tax paying, law abiding businesses.  He shared an experience where he lost a contract to Morton Salt for over $1 million to the Amish because they do not pay WC, UI or abide by MIOSHA and child safety standards.  His legislator, Chair, Rep. Gary Howell, R- North Branch is very interested in the issue.

Jim Maeder, MAT President outlined MAT membership and goals and that MAT was formed in 1972.  Jim outlined road road issues in the northern lower area of the state and commented that road issues are not universal or statewide. Warren Suchovsky, MAT board member (constituent of VC Rep. Beau LaFave, R- Iron Mountain) explained his small logging business employing 6 people and focused on the importance of how the sustainability of trees sustains jobs, the need for forestry education and touched on the science of forestry.  Wes Windover, VP, MAT (constituent of Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake City) with Biewer Lumber, shared they employee some 300 people and is one of the largest forestry employers in the northern lower part of the state.  Wes also touched on the issues with local road commissions in his area.

We held a lunch meeting with Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, member Natural Resources Committee  and Rep. Beau LaFave, VC, House Natural Resources Committee primarily to discuss a UP forestry tour.  We briefly met with Chief of Staff to Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona regarding his request to assist with a forestry/transportation tour in June for the House Transportation Committee.

New legislation introduced this week:

SB 302  —  Senator Casperson sponsor, the bill amends the Land Cap Act.
SB 303  —  Senator Booher sponsor, creates a Land Exchange Facilitation Fund
HB 4475 –  Rep. Howell sponsor, revises the Land Cap Act (same as SB 302)
HB 4476 –  Rep. Howell sponsor, creates Land Exchange Fac. Fund ( SB 303)
HB 4492 –  Rep. Schor sponsor, revises PA 51 road funding formula
Posted on 04.10.2017 Under Legislative

Legislative Report for MAT

Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant

April 2017

This week Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet announced his campaign for the 38th Senate District and his colleague, Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette will also be announcing for the senate seat.  Both legislators are term-limited from the House and the 38th Senate district seat will be open in 2018 with Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba term-limited from the Senate.

On the Republican side, former Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan plans to announce his candidacy for the senate seat soon.  This race will likely be a race to watch with lots of drama.  Senator Casperson won the seat in the tea party wave of 2010 with about 55 percent of the vote and easily won re-election against a largely no-name candidate in 2014.  But, an open seat race in this district with three experienced, known names will be a battle unlike previous years.

Michigan will see more money going to road repairs and construction beginning this year, but a study by a national transportation organization said the funding will not be enough to keep the state’s roads and bridges from deteriorating.  In 2015, the Legislature approved a proposal to add $1.2 billion to highway funding, with $600 million of that coming from the General Fund.  But a study by Michigan TRIP, a Washington, D.C. based transportation organization, said that funding will not be enough to meet some $3.3 billion in projects, more than $2 billion worth in the Detroit area alone, that are needed now.

The funding the Legislature authorized increased fuel and registration taxes, as well as earmarked additional money from the General Fund.  The tax increases took effect this year and the first allocations of additional funding have begun to be made to counties and cities.  Through 2023, the increases and the General Fund monies should generate another $4.2 billion in transportation funding, boosting the annual allocation from $2.2 billion to $3.4 billion for fixing roads and bridges.  But the General Fund portion of the increase is not guaranteed and if the state sees another economic recession before 2023, those monies may be needed for other priorities.

State transportation officials have removed the weight limits on most roads in the state.  Weight limits are imposed on roads as warmer weather begins in the state and the freeze-thaw cycle begins.  Because of the warmer winter the state had, weight limits were instituted in February.  Weight limits are lifted from the Indiana-Ohio border to U.S. 2 in the Upper Peninsula.  Weight limits will remain in effect north of U.S. 2.

This week I met with staff to Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona relative to the multiple use permit. We are waiting on MDOT to sign off on the proposed revenue neutral fee structure.  The bill to allow for Public Private Partnerships continues to be bottled up in the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.  More meetings are being planned to work out the points of differences between the county road agencies and the logging community.  Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba is also crafting another set of county road bills to address concerns of some loggers for possible introduction during the spring session.  This week, I held a dinner meeting with staff to Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain to discuss a list of issues including a possible summer forestry tour.

Many offices are closed as the Legislature is on spring recess until April 19 when they will return to work on their spring legislative agenda.


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The Michigan Association are looking forward to another eventful and educational Annual Meeting. Please join us at Boyne Mountain Lodge on April 27th and 28th, 2017!

Click on "About" then "Annual Timbermen Convention" for more details!

Mi Annual Forest Growth

2.3x the amount harvestED



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