Legislative Report for MAT
Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant
House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant says he believes legislative leaders are on a path to get a road funding plan to the House floor sometime this month. Governor Rick Snyder and quadrant leaders have been meeting on and off for weeks to try to develop a $1.2 billion road funding deal. Leaders are currently working on a plan that would feature about $800 million in new revenue and $400 million in existing state dollars shifted to roads.
MDOT will be spending more time being quizzed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as legislators look for an additional $1.2 billion in road funding. The Committee will hold a series of hearings this fall to grill MDOT over issues previously examined. Such as issues brought up in a state audit on the department’s warranty program and a set of unused rail cars the department has maintained. Rep. Pete Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, committee chair, wants to hear about projects the department has completed and projects planned for the future. Pettalia wants a “year end report” from MDOT.
Rep. Marilyn Lane, D-Fraser, minority chair of the committee also wants MDOT back before the committee. Rep. Lane is looking for budget efficiencies across state government as part of the push for a $1.2 billion road funding plan. Both Rep. Lane and Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet have been critical of MDOT and an explanation from MDOT on issues such as spending spend $2.3 million to place new mulch along I-696. Rep. Dianda says that achieving transportation reforms is key to getting his support for any upcoming road funding plan as does Rep. Lane.
Last week a five bill package that includes a proposal to hike the state’s current maximum speed limit to 80 mph was debated by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. This week the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Townships Association both testified in opposition to the bills. These bills are not going to “speed” out of committee.
A controversial issue in the House this week was the medical marijuana debate. Medical marijuana patients would pay a 9 percent tax on the drug, but would be allowed to purchase it from a licensed dispensary and be permitted to use topical or edible forms of the drug legally under the bills approved by the House on Wednesday. The bills now move to the Senate for further debate.
This week Jim Maeder, John Fowler and myself attended the Octoberfest House Republican Caucus event hosted by Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant. The Speaker will be touring Maeder Brothers, INc., Weidman in early November. We met up later with Rep. Scott Dianda,D-Calumet, Rep. Marilyn Lane, D-Fraser, Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township and Senator Rebekak Warren, D-Ann Arbor at a local restaurant where Denny and Carmel OLson and others were dining. Denny and others are in town today for the special Vietnam Veterans ceremony at the Capitol today.READ MORE