The Michigan Association of Timbermen
Posted on 06.16.2014 Under Uncategorized

You can always access our newsletter here online by going to the tabs along the top.  It’s under “Advertising”.  But here it is for you on the front page news feed.  We are having some quality issues with our pictures and ads and we’re working on it.  Hang with us as we figure out how to produce this document with limited inexpensive software.

Timber Talk Summer 2014

Please note we failed to update an advertisement as requested by GreenStone Farm Credit Services so here is a link to a much better looking ad for GreenStone Farm Credit and our apologies for dropping the ball on this one.

Greenstone Advertisement 2014

Posted on 06.06.2014 Under Uncategorized

Youth Careers In Logging

Are you concerned about the future of the timber industry? If not, you are most likely in the minority. Mill closures, mergers, high cost of raw materials, shortage of qualified operators, the constant barrage of government regulations, and the overall high cost of running a business today are just a few of the many hurdles that we all must navigate in order to stay afloat. While the American Loggers Council (ALC) can’t solve all these issues, they are currently working on many of them and will continue to do so into the future.
When my term as ALC President started last fall, I listed a set of goals that I wanted to accomplish. The issue at the top of that list was to address the entrance of the next generation of timber harvesters into our industry. In order for this industry to survive, we must have a qualified and competent work force to not only operate equipment but to also take over the reins of running the business when the current owner decides to step away. This issue is one that the ALC has been working on for a number of years now and just started to gain some momentum with the introduction of H.R.4590 and S.2335.

The Future Logging Careers Act – H.R.4590 was introduced by Rep. Labrador (R-ID ) while the Youth Careers In Logging Act -S.2335 was introduced by Sen. Risch (R-ID) and Sen.Crapo (R-ID ). Both of these bills would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 so that 16 and 17 year olds would be allowed to work in mechanized logging operations under parental supervision.
Timber harvesting operations are similar to family farms – but with sophisticated and expensive harvesting equipment that requires young men and women to learn how to run the business, including equipment operation, maintenance and safety prior to the age of 18. However, young men and women in families who own and operate timber harvesting companies are denied the opportunity to work and learn the family trade until they reach adulthood. The potential next generation of professional timber harvesters are being denied the opportunity to make logging their career of choice until after they turn 18 because of outdated Child Labor Law Regulations while the agriculture industry is exempt from said regulations.

While much progress has been made in just the last couple of months, there is still a lot of work to be done if we want to see these bills passed into law. A vast majority of bills introduced in Congress end up dying in committee, so it is critical that we all do our part to ensure that these bills are passed out of committee and eventually signed into law.
Regardless of whether you work as a logger, work in a mill, or work for a timber company this issue has the potential to affect the entire wood supply chain because as current loggers leave the business there needs to be a new generation coming in or eventually our industry will cease to exist.

H.R.4590 has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce while S.2335 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
It is imperative that we contact directly as many House and Senate offices as possible and ask them to support the bill, so please pass this alert along to anyone who you feel is willing to respond, including other organizations and vendors who you do business with. We will need a majority in both the House and Senate to pass the bill once it comes to the floor for a vote!
If you are unsure of who your congressional delegates are then please contact the ALC office or go to the ALC website to find their contact information. I urge everyone in the timber industry to either make a call or send an email to their respective Senate and House members to get them to support this very important issue to our industry. The more Senate and House members hear from us the more likely they will be to support this and the more of them that support this the better chance we have of moving it forward.

Until next time
Log Safe

Brian Nelson

Brian Nelson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his brother David and father Marvin own and operate Marvin Nelson Forest Products, Inc. based out of Cornell, Michigan. Brian is also the Immediate Past President of the Michigan Association of Timbermen.

The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

Posted on 06.02.2014 Under Uncategorized

Legislative Report for MAT – Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant – June 2014

The Senate has addressed and substituted part of the House road proposal and added a few new bills to the mix. The Senate amended HB 4630, the registration bill by adding the farm/log plate back into the bill for vehicles under 8,000 pounds, but requires vehicles to have signage displaying name of business operating the vehicle. House Bill 5477 which repeals the current fuel taxes (19 cents a gallon on gas and 15 cents a gallon on diesel) was changed to a 6 percent tax by the House, but the Senate added a gradual increase on 9.5 percent beginning January 1, 2015 to 13.5 percent beginning January 1, 2017, and beginning January 1, 2018, the rate would increase to 15.5 percent.

Senate Bill 6 was added and designates 18% of the 4% tax collected on motor fuel to be earmarked for transportation funding. Senate Bill 149 allows monies collected from the sales tax to be credited to the Michigan Transportation fund. The bills to increase permit fees for overweight trucks to $500, HB 5452, and legislation to double fines for overweight and over-sized vehicles, HB 5453 remain in the Senate Infrastructure and Modernization Committee for further debate.

The DNR budget conference committee has not yet scheduled a meeting to iron out the differences between the House and Senate bills. Representative Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo) has informed me that at least a portion of the $4 million for fire protection will be restored. Senator Mike Green (R-Mayville) reported the Senate bill with the $4 million intact, the House deleted the provision at the request of Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall).

The reciprocity agreement between Michigan and Wisconsin appears to be resolved administratively similar to the former agreement. Governor Walker (R-Wisconsin) signed legislation to increase the Wisconsin weight limit from 90,000 to 98,000 so we had to revisit the Wisconsin side of the reciprocity agreement with Michigan. Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) will still introduce a bill to keep them “honest.”

Work on the slasher issue continues. If Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) and Rep. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) cannot work out the concerns the MSP have with hauling a slasher down the road without air brakes, another bill may have to be introduced to solve the problem. Slasher “3″ will most likely define a “slasher” and state clearly it is NOT a motorized vehicle making it clear that the MSP have no jurisdiction over a slasher. Senator Casperson is so annoyed with the situation he is willing to take the issue directly to Governor Rick Snyder.

Posted on 05.19.2014 Under Uncategorized

Legislative Report for MAT – Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant – May 2014

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee heard testimony from the Speaker of the House, Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) regarding his plan to provide $450 million for road repair. The plan includes taking the portion of the sales tax that currently goes to the general fund from fuel sales as well as part of the use tax monies as part of an overall plan to generate road funds.

In order to reach the $1.2 billion projected road repair the plan includes ending the 19 cents per gallon tax on gas and 15 cents per gallon on diesel fuel and replacing them with a 6% tax on the price of fuel at the wholesale level. The plan dedicates one-sixth of the revenue generated by the 6% use tax to roads. Speaker Bolger views this part of the plan as “the parity” piece.

Other provisions of the proposal include:
1) Dedicating late payment fees to road funding

2) Simplifying vehicle registration code “by ending special deals.” Some committee members have referred to the farm plate and log plate as “special deals.” The concern is more over the farm plate for road vehicles not used for farming and log plates for road vehicles rather than for actual logging activities.

3) Applying newly purchased vehicle value immediately upon transferring plate.

4) Increasing overweight and over-sized permit fees.

The House Transportation Committee will consider, debate and “tweak” the road plan over the next few weeks. Speaker Jase Bolger would like to see a package of road repair bills pass the House before the summer recess. It will be interesting to monitor the debate as many interest groups line up to comment and make suggestions for the committee to consider. It is reasonable to assume the plan will see many changes as the primary election grows closer.

Posted on 03.17.2014 Under Uncategorized

Submitted by MAT Legislative Consultant, Judy Augenstein

A supplemental bill was unanimously adopted by the legislature this week and now is on the desk of Governor Rick Snyder for his signature. The bill includes $125 million for roads. $100 million for special winter road maintenance and $115 million for priority road projects, both general fund monies. Governor Snyder commented ” I appreciate the Legislature’s working together to approve this budget supplemental that provides much needed funding to help fix Michigan’s deteriorating roads. This has been a significantly harsh winter on many fronts and particularly devastating in terms of potholes. While the funding will be of great benefit in the short-term, Michigan still very much needs a comprehensive long-term solution to fix our state’s aging roads and bridges. This remains a priority and I am confident that we can work together on a solution.”

Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, a huge supporter of the forest products industry, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said he is encouraged by the funding provided for roads in the supplemental and that it was a good “first down payment.” Schmidt also commented that “I would like to see more funding for roads and I think by this supplemental and using general fund monies it shows a commitment by the Legislature on where we stand on road and bridge funding. It also sets a good tone to make sure we get our federal match back and sets the table for hopefully some long range funding options”.

In his 2014-15 DNR budget request, Governor Rick Snyder has recommended a $4 million increase in funding to the wildfire protection program to offset $4 million of forest development fund revenue that would be redirected to forestry management increasing funding for that program program by $ 4 million. The use of the new forestry funding would include enhanced technology for programs, increased contracts and agreements with forestry partners, increased timber cutting from state lands and the hiring of 10 additional foresters. I have discussed the increased budget request with House DNR budget committee chair, Rep. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo and Senate DNR budget chair, Senator Mike Green, R-Mayville and Senator Darwin Booher, committee member. All three of the legislators support the recommendation and will include it in their budget recommendations.

Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, chair, Senate Natural Resources, Environment & Great Lakes Committee, has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, March 20, 9:00 AM to hear from forestry relative to the health of the forest products industry. The House Natural Resources Committee will address bills dealing with hazardous industrial waste and a bill on agricultural fertilizer at their meeting next week.

Posted on 03.07.2014 Under Uncategorized

Submitted by MAT Legislative Consultant Judy Augenstein

Doubt is mounting among House Republicans about using the state’s surplus funds for tax relief with momentum building to instead use the funds for road repairs as the pressure from constituents builds to improve the state’s crumbling roads.

This week the House passed its version of the budget supplemental bill for the current fiscal year that includes $215 million for road funding. Rather than covering the Health Insurance Claims Assessment shortfall which was included in the Senate version and other projects, the House directed those monies to the Roads and Risks Reserve Funds for priority road projects and an additional $100 million General Fund monies for winter road maintenance. The bill is expected to go to conference committee where the respective chambers will hash out the points of differences. As of this writing, the Senate does not support the transfer of funds from other programs to roads.

The executive’s of the state’s three biggest counties held a press conference to urge legislators to reject proposed changes to the state’s auto insurance system which would reduce unlimited medical care for those injured in vehicle crashes. Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall has proposed changes to the law which would include a fee schedule to limit charges instead of allowing unlimited medical care.

A letter signed by 43 legislators has been sent to Governor Rick Snyder urging him to oppose the 2012 Federal Energy code changes which would encourage foam sheathing over wood sheathed walls. The letter included signatures by UP, northern Michigan and other area legislators. A leading Lansing legislative reporting service included an article titled “U.P. Lawmakers Taking Building Material Issue to Governor” in one of their daily reports this week.

The House DNR budget committee met Thursday and heard a DNR presentation on the state’s Forestry Program. Governor Rick Snyder has recommended a $4 million increase in the forestry budget for the upcoming budget year. Committee Chair, Rep. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo supports the proposed increase. The Senate DNR budget committee, chaired by Senator Mike Green, R-Mayville, heard the same presentation on Tuesday and Senator Green also supports the DNR budget boost.

Posted on 03.06.2014 Under Uncategorized

Any member of Timbermen is automatically a member of the American Loggers Council. In conjunction with the American Loggers Council, Peterbilt is offering a rebate program on the purchase of new trucks. For information, please click the link here: 2014_American_Loggers_Council_Peterbilt_Rebate_Program

Posted on 02.04.2014 Under Uncategorized

Legislative Report for MSTA Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant February 2014

A new twist on expanding term limits…

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) will be term limited out of  the Legislature after 2014, but he wants to create a “work around” for term  limits that will help those who come after him. “I would like to look at some  way to modify term limits and make sure that it does not affect those of us that  are term limited this year, so it is not self serving and intended to extend my  career. I would have the implementation date be after the filing deadline of  this year, said Richardville, in a recent interview.   Speaker of the House Jase  Bolger (R-Marshall) is also term limited after 2014, but has not yet embraced  the Richardville plan.

As far as leaving his mark on term limits, Richardville said he believes it is  one thing that would leave the institution better off and would involve the  voters. His proposal would require the same number of signatures that are  required for a recall election. If a member is a term limited legislator and  gathers the same number of signatures in their district that wanted him to run  again, they would be able to run again. The number of signatures needed for a  recall election is 25 percent of the total vote for governor in the most recent  election in that district. The plan would stay away from putting specific dates  or years on term limits. The plan would also make sure legislators who wanted to  be elected again were in touch with their districts and putting time in with  constituents. It would also solve the problem people face when they say they  like term limits, but they also like their current legislator. Richardville  contends that not including the current crop of term limited legislators could  push the proposal forward. The plan would have to go before the voters for  approval.

Representative Andrea LaFontaine (R-Columbus Township), chair, House Natural  Resources Committee has agreed to schedule for debate HB 4874, sponsored by Rep.  Ken Goike (R-Ray Township). We fondly refer to the bill as the “2025/choice  bill. The measure will eliminate the ban on storage facilities by 2025 and allow  haulers to haul to the receiving facility of their choice. Goike has also been  requested by the DNR to sponsor legislation to require a statewide sanitary  code. The DEQ will present Goike with a proposed draft which he will consider  and “tweak” to provide a balanced bill. The statewide sanitary code proposal  will not be considered until the 2025/choice bill is addressed.

Posted on 12.19.2013 Under Uncategorized

(Submitted by Judy Augenstein, MAT legislative consultant)

The Natural Resources Trust fund has approved 76 projects for the coming fiscal year totaling $27.68 million. Of the total, 32 of the grants ($19.03million) were for land acquisition and 44 grants ($8.64 million) were for development projects.
Among the acquisition grants, the largest was $3.4 million to Detroit to purchase rail right-of-way for its Inner Circle Greenway. The largest grant to the state was $3.03 million for additions to the Holly Recreation Area. The smallest grant was $26,400 to Manistique for additions to its Manistique River Waterfront, though that was one of three grants toward that project totaling $253,700. Among the development grants, 12 received the $300,000 maximum grant. Many of those projects were trail construction and improvement, including facilities along the Belle Isle to Wisconsin trail proposed by Governor Rick Snyder.
Recent appointments by the Agriculture Director to the Agriculture Environment Assurance Program Advisory Council include Todd Johnson, representing the forest products industry, Lee Mueller representing consulting foresters and Warren Suchovsky representing the logging industry. All for terms expiring March 31, 2017.
Henry Schienebeck, GLTPA, Jay Verhulst, Foundation for Common Sense, Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township, staff to Goike, staff to Senator Mike Green, R-Mayville, the bill drafter and I discussed the “Coordination” legislative effort in a conference call for close to two hours in an attempt to clarify the issue . “Coordination” is a process which requires governments to coordinate on an action if there is disagreement between the federal government and local governments. The “coordination” status is authorized by almost every federal statute relating to management of land, resources, and the environment. All a local government has to do is formally accept the congressional invitation to “coordinate” and the federal agencies have no choice but to agree. Many local governments are unaware they have the ability to request federal agencies to “coordinate”.
Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law HB 4242 sponsored by Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township. The bill requires new administrative rules be necessary and not overly burdensome to an individual. The law is now Public Act 200 of 2013.
This week I met with the chief of staff to Rep. Matt Lori, R-Constantine to discuss efforts to require religious sects be accountable for workers’ compensation insurance and other costs of doing legitimate business including MIOSHA standards. I shared with staff the pictures of Amish companies prepared by MATSIF. She was surprised to learn there were so many Amish companies located in northern Michigan. Staff and Rep. Lori completely understand the unfair competition these companies present to legitimate wood related businesses. Rep. Lori recently met with a group of Amish from his district to get them to consider participating in a program similar to a group self insurance fund. They refused to compromise, were quite stubborn and set in their belief that because of their “religion” they should be exempt from Michigan laws. The group went as far as to explain to Rep. Lori how they “circumvent” the laws of Michigan. Rep. Lori agrees with us that the issue is not about religion, but business. Rep. Lori has prepared legislation to require religious sects belong to a separate fund similar to a group self insurance fund which will be introduced in January.

Posted on 12.18.2013 Under Uncategorized

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