The Michigan Association of Timbermen
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Posted on 02.16.2018 Under Legislative, Recent Post

Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant

This week the Legislature brokered deals with Governor Rick Snyder that will forgive hundreds of millions of dollars in outstanding driver responsibility fees and increase the personal income tax exemption over the next four years.  The deals to eliminate $637.1 million in outstanding driver responsibility fees and raise the personal exemption to $4,900 by 2021 addresses two major initiatives being negotiated in recent months and shifts the focus to managing the rest of the state’s priorities in the upcoming budget.  Once phased in, the new $4,900 personal exemption would reduce revenues by $176 million annually.

Governor Snyder had reservations on both the tax exemption and the driver responsibility fee forgiveness because of the budget implications, but ultimately the Legislature got what it sought.  Ultimately, an agreement was made to forgive the fees and provide a waiver for the driver’s license reinstatement fee for the 300,000 drivers affected and expand the personal income exemption.  House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt who has long been calling for the repeal of the fees, said his persistence finally paid off.

As a former prosecutor Speaker Leonard contends he saw many people unable to pay their driver responsibility fees which led them to drive without a license and/or not get a job because of lack of transportation and move to entitlements for survival.  Leonard commented, “That it is important to him that 300,000 people who currently are not able to drive due to overdue fees be able to get their driver licenses, find a job, go to school, take their kids to the doctor or do, whatever it is that they need to do”.

Governor Granholm imposed the costly driver responsibility fees in an effort to fill a hole in the budget back in 2003.  The automatically assessed DRF’s cannot be waived or reduced by a judge as traditional court fines and fees.  The DRF’s are automatically charged for various traffic violations, including non-moving violations, on top of regular traffic citation fines and court costs.

The Senate Natural Resources Committee this week held a hearing to consider the appointment of John Walters to the Natural Resources Commission.  The House Natural Resources Committee addressed issues unrelated to forestry.  This week Governor Rick Snyder signed HB 4644 into law.  The bill is now PA 17 of 2018 and allows a multiple trip permit for all commodity haulers and was tailored after Wisconsin law.

With the implementation of the measure one permit would be required for trailers, each piece of equipment transported and the power unit instead of the previous requirement for a permit for each one. Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona sponsored the bill and shepherded the bill through the legislative process along with the assistance of his capable Chief of Staff Denise Pallarito.  Please take the time to thank Rep. Cole and his staff for their dedicated and vigorous work on this important bill for our members.

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Posted on 02.12.2018 Under Legislative, Recent Post

Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant

In Governor Rick Snyder’s first budget proposal for the 2011-12 fiscal year, he focused on what was the most significant change in taxes and financial structures in nearly two decades.  Governor Snyder’s budget proposal this week took a completely different approach, stressing more the need for improving services for the state and its people.  Snyder contends that every dollar spent in the budget request reflects services aimed at making citizen’s lives better.

Governor Snyder includes one of the largest increases in per pupil funding in the state’s history, a small increase in general welfare benefits which itself is the first such increase in a decade, more funding for the state’s highways and an increased effort to boost technical training.  Snyder took a strict tone towards the state’s debt status.  He pointed out that several of his proposals did not incur any new debt in Michigan.

The Governor urged legislators to continue paying Michigan’s debt down at the same schedule they are now doing so that the person who is elected Governor in 2018 will not have to address a state with debt.  Snyder proposed the state pay cash and bond $112 million for ongoing renovations at the Capitol and new veterans homes.  Governor Snyder’s budget included some items he unveiled last week.  Snyder proposed an increase in the tipping fee to replace the soon to be depleted Clean Michigan Initiative bond monies approved in 1998 and a fee on water system users to provide a source for water infrastructure needs and another $26 million for Flint, mostly to pay for the replacement of lead service lines.

SB 763, sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba modifies allowable expenditures relative the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.  The bill has received one hearing by the Senate Natural Resources Committee as did companion Senate Joint Resolution “O”. All testifying on behalf of the bill and resolution registered positions of support or neutral, no opposition was registered.

HB 4464, sponsored by Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona was presented to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature on February 6.  The bill allows a multiple use permit for haulers mirrored after Wisconsin law.  The Governor has 14 days from February 6 to sign the bill, on the 15th day it will automatically become law without his signature.  MDOT supports the bill and is expected to recommend to Snyder he sign the bill into law.  Following his signature, it will become effective 30 days after it is signed.  I will notify you when the bill is signed into law…

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