Legislative Report for MAT
Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant
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.