The Michigan Association of Timbermen
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Posted on 11.01.2017 Under Legislative, Recent Post

Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant

Michigan’s 32nd official Christmas tree was delivered to the State Capitol on October 28.  The tree is 60 feet tall and was donated by William Winter and Alex Stevens of Stephenson, Michigan.  The tree was selected, cut and transported to Lansing with the assistance of the Michigan Association of Timbermen, the Great Lakes Timber Professionals and the Michigan Operators Engineers.

Senators continue to study a no-fault auto insurance proposal recently unveiled by House members and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.  Senate Majority Leader, Arlan Meekhof, R-Grand Haven has consistently said mandated insurance rate rollbacks are a nonstarter in the Senate.  The plan was announced during a press conference by House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, Mayor Duggan and Rep. Lana Theis, R-Brighton who chairs the House Insurance Committee.  More than 20 House Republicans and a handful of House Democrats joined Mayor Duggan in announcing the latest attempt at what has been years of failed efforts to rein in auto insurance costs for Michigan motorists.

As written, the House plan would allow drivers the choice of $250,000, $500,000 or unlimited medical coverage through their auto insurance.  Seniors on Medicare or with lifetime retirement health care could opt-out of personal injury protection.  The plan would allow the state to regulate rate increases for 5 years.

Proponents contend the plan would lead to an average decrease in auto insurance premiums of 20% for drivers.  Older drivers could save up to 32%  while drivers without collision or theft coverage could save up to 50%.  House Insurance Committee Chair Rep. Lana Theis has held committee meetings on the proposal.  Rep. Theis commented “The system is broken.  It is unsustainable and it has to be fixed.  These sky rocketing prices have to stop.”  Auto insurance reform is at the top of the agenda of issues to be addressed during the fall session for House and Senate Republicans.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce announced it is taking steps to consider seeking a constitutional amendment revising term limits as well as a yet to be defined “government accountability proposal.”  Rich Studley, President and CEO of the Chamber has directed staff to reach out to other individuals and groups to determine if there is enough support to proceed in 2018 with an amendment to the Constitution on term limits and government accountability.  The government reform effort would focus on revising term limits and other changes to improve the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of the state Legislature.

The Senate Transportation Committee will hold final debate on HB 4464, the multiple use permit tailored after Wisconsin law, in early November.   In October, Henry Schienebeck presented testimony on behalf of  GLTPA.  Jim Maeder represented MAT.  Mike Sturgill testified as a large log hauler and  testified to cost savings and efficiencies.  Mike Elenz, a smaller log hauler testified that it will cost his business more money, but that the efficiencies are well worth it. Elenz’s testimony on his potential costs was a very important point made during the House and Senate committee debates.  AIS also testified as to efficiency and cost savings.  MITA (Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association) supported the bill and local governments were neutral.  Denise Pallarito, staff to Rep Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, bill sponsor, and Jesse Augustyn, GLTPA did a stellar job in working with MDOT to work out the points of differences between industry and MDOT.

SB 302 & 303, sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, amendments to the “Land Cap Law”, have passed the full Senate and have been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee for further review.  The House Natural Resources Committee will be debating SB 302 & 302 along with HB’s 4475 & 76, similar land cap bills sponsored by Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch later this session.

Posted on 10.27.2017 Under Legislative, Recent Post

Where will Amazon plop its next headquarters?  The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Jeff Mason, CEO of MEDC, thinks Michigan will be a serious contender because of talent and mass transit, even though Michigan does not have traditional mass transit.  “I like our chances” stated Jeff Mason.  The CEO doles out big tax breaks to attract more jobs to Michigan. Mason commented that Michigan is growing jobs and hunting for jobs.  Big contenders for the Amazon headquarters appear to be Austin, Texas, Toronto, Boston and Pittsburgh.  We will see…..

This week the House Workforce and Talent Development Committee heard testimony on legislation to boost career and technical education and skilled trades training in Michigan schools.  Key to the package is a bill to allow alternative requirements for teachers in career and skilled trades classes.  The bill would allow someone to teach such a class without a teaching certificate as long as they have a professional license or certification in the subject matter of the class.  Another bill would eliminate a requirement for the state to deduct from school aid funding for any class taught by a non-certified teacher.

Testimony included statistics that 68 % of Michigan’s high school students head off to college after graduation, the remaining 32 % of students need training.  But a large part of the problem with offering such classes is finding the teachers needed for skilled trades classes.  That there are many good skilled trades and technical jobs available now in Michigan, but many are going unfilled because of  a “talent gap”, which is only expected to grow in coming years.   One committee democrat expressed concern that there is more to teaching than knowing the skills or subject matter of the course.  That part of teaching is classroom management and knowing how to assess whether students are learning what they are being taught.

The Senate was in session on Tuesday for three minutes and recessed for a sports-men’s conference in northern lower Michigan, very few Senate committees met on Tuesday.  The House met on its traditional three session days.  I attended only one fundraiser this week for Rep. John Chirkun, D-Roseville.  Rep. Chirkun is the Democratic VC of the House Transportation Committee and supports our transportation issues.  Next week will be very busy with committee meetings and fundraiser events as the Legislature will work to finish up their fall agenda of work before they recess for the deer hunting season and Thanksgiving on November 9.

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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 26th and 27th, 2018!

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

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