The Michigan Association of Timbermen
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Posted on 10.27.2017 Under Legislative, Recent Post

The official state Christmas tree has been selected from Stephenson, Michigan.  The spruce tree in Menominee County will travel to Lansing and arrive at the Capitol on Saturday, October 28.  This will be Michigan’s 32nd official Christmas tree.  It is over 60 feet tall and being donated by William Winter and his grandson Alex Stevens.  This marks the 23rd time the official tree has been selected from the UP.

The tree will be harvested on Thursday, October 26 and delivered to Lansing with the assistance of the Michigan Association of Timbermen, the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association, and the Michigan Operators Engineers.  GLTPA/MAT will cut the tree and transport it to Lansing at no cost to the state and the tree will remain throughout the holiday season.  The tree lighting will take place on Friday, November 17, as part of the traditional Silver Bells in the City celebration.

This week the Senate passed controversial legislation to allow charter schools to be eligible for funds made available by regional enhancement mill-ages over objections the bill would take away dollars meant solely for public schools.SB 574, sponsored by Senator Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell.  Democrats opposed the bill as Republicans supported the measure.  The bill now moves to the House for further consideration.

Against the will of Governor Rick Snyder, legislation was reported from committee this week to speed up the repeal of all diver responsibility fees and forgive the $637.1 million in outstanding fees for more than 300,000 drivers in the state.  The package of bills was spearheaded by Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt a former prosecutor who commented this week that “The government made a mistake passing this backdoor tax on Michigan drivers.  The state wrongfully targeted the working poor, preventing many of them from finding work and trapping them in a permanent cycle of debt and poverty.  We have an opportunity now to right that wrong and help more than 300,000 people get back on the road and back on the job.”  The Senate has a similar package of bills currently being considered.

Legislation introduced this week in the House by Rep. Ben Frederick, R-Owosso would allow schools to hire career and technical education instructors licensed in their specific field but not certified in education among other things designed to provide students with extensive career exploration in an effort to close the skills gap. Rep. Frederick commented the bills are his “top” priority and will receive quick committee action as he is chair of the House Workforce and Talent Development Committee where the bills were referred.

This week, Jim Maeder, MAT president and I attended a fundraiser event for Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona and then immediately attended the Senate committee hearing on HB 4464, legislation sponsored by Rep. Cole to allow a multiple use permit for truckers.  The bill was tabled this week because of a technical issue and will be re-scheduled within the next two weeks.  On behalf of MAT, Tuesday I attended a fundraiser for Senate District 35 candidate former State Representative Bruce Rendon who is running to replace term-limited Senator Darwin Booher, R-Evart.  We are confident Bruce will be a strong forest products industry advocate as he was in the House and as Senator Booher has been during his 14-year legislative career.

SB 302 and 303, sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, commonly known as amendments to the “Land Cap Law”, were passed by the Senate this week with substitute language.  The House Natural Resources Committee is expected to address the Senate bills along with HB’s 4475 & 76 similar land cap bills sponsored by Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch sometime later this year.

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Posted on 10.13.2017 Under Legislative, Recent Post

Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant

A concurrent resolution has been introduced by members of the Senate urging Congress to cut funding for sanctuary cities and pass a law stiffening penalties for illegal aliens convicted for illegally re-entering the country.

SCR 20 expresses support for a U.S. House resolution that would increase the penalties for re-entering the country after previously being departed and urges the Senate to pass it as well.

SCR 20 was introduced by Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. Senator Schuitmaker is term-limited and a running for the Office of Attorney General.

Legislation restricting the ability of state departments to craft and issue rules that go beyond federal regulations has passed the House and awaits consideration by the full Senate. HB 4205 would require that the Legislature make decisions to set stricter laws beyond federal law, not state departments.

Under the bill, a department could still promulgate rules exceeding federal authority if the director could demonstrate a preponderance of the evidence shows a need to do so. Sponsor Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona testified in the House and the Senate committees that the bill “creates a level playing field” for businesses. Environmental groups oppose the bill as business groups support the bill.

Governor Rick Snyder vetoed a similar bill in 2011. During the 2015-16 session, another similar bill passed the House but was placed in the Senate Government Operations Committee, a common place for bills to be placed by the majority leader when there is no intention of ever taking them up.

Work continues between MDOT and the Office of Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona to amend HB 4464. The bill will be re-drafted to include the original multiple use permit fee of $264.00 instead of the reduced number discussed last week at the committee hearing. I expect to receive the substitute bill early next week and get the bill set for final committee debate and vote very soon.

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