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Posted on 10.09.2017 Under Legislative, Recent Post

Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant

Local government pension changes, amending the state’s no-fault insurance system and a possible veto override of a piece of automobile sales tax legislation will be among a number of key priorities Senate leaders say will be on the table during the fall session.

The possible override of Governor Rick Snyder’s veto of legislation that would accelerate the phaseout of applying the sales tax to the value of a trade-in when purchasing a vehicle is currently under consideration by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-Grand Haven. SB 94 & 95 were vetoed in July, both passing the House by 88-19 votes and by 37-0 votes in the Senate. If successful, the override would be the first since 2002.

This week the Senate Transportation Committee took testimony on HB 4464 sponsored by Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona. The bill allows an applicant to obtain an annual multiple use trip permit for hauling equipment instead of requiring a separate permit for each individual piece of equipment carried by a power unit.

Henry Schienebeck, GLTPA explained how the bill is tailored after Wisconsin law and the efficiencies of the law in Wisconsin. Jim Maeder, MAT explained the importance of streamlining the permit process for MAT membership. Mike Sturgill and Mike Elenz, both log haulers made strong impressions on the committee with their testimonies. Mike Sturgill outlined the facts surrounding a recent $2,400 ticket he received at no fault of his own; his testimony was jaw-dropping for members of the committee including chairman Senator Tom Casperson.

Mike Elenz impressed the committee with testimony that the multiple use permit will cost him more money, but the efficiencies are worth the extra costs. Dave TerBeck, AIS testified to the cost savings and efficiencies the bill will have for his company. CRA was neutral as was MDOT. The Michigan Infrastructure Association was in support of the bill as they represent many commodity haulers including construction companies. A few other log haulers also registered support for the bill. I expect the bill will be brought up for final debate and a vote within the next few weeks.

At this point, we have support for the bill by the entire committee chaired by Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba. I always poll the committee before the actual committee meeting on legislation in an effort to answer as many questions before the actual debate and found we had support for the bill, but the awesome testimony today put the entire committee squarely in support of the bill.

Posted on 10.02.2017 Under Legislative, Recent Post

Attorney General Bill Schuette announced his bid for governor at his annual barbecue fundraiser at the Midland County Fairgrounds. He vowed to be the “jobs” governor” and said it is past time for the state to cut the income tax.

Bill Schuette appears to be the front-runner for the Republican nomination. He has the visibility that comes with almost seven years as attorney general and decades of relationships in Michigan Republican politics. Two other Republicans are in the race so far.

Senator Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton is running a Ted Cruz type campaign. Schuette is more of a hybrid Chamber of Commerce/social conservative Republican. Senator Colbeck comes out of the tea party movement and very anti-establishment.

Dr. Jim Hines is the outsider and only candidate in the race at this point who has never held elective office. The other potential big name in the race is Lt. Governor Brian Calley, who has said he will not make a decision on whether to run until after he holds a series of town halls in October and November.

HJR “V”, sponsored by Rep. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, would petition Congress to call a constitutional convention to discuss a balanced budget amendment for the federal government, limit the federal government’s powers and establish congressional term limits. The measure was approved by the House Government Operations Committee chaired by Rep. Chatfield and now moves to the full House for more consideration.

HJR “R” sponsored by Rep. Jeff Yaroch, R-Richmond would move Michigan to a unicameral legislature by eliminating the Senate. Rep. Yaroch said the measure would save $50 million a year and commented that there is no compelling reason to have a bicameral legislature other than tradition, given the requirement for more than 50 years that all legislative districts be based on population. The measure received committee debate but was not voted out of committee.

HB 4644, the multiple use permit legislation, is scheduled for Senate Transportation Committee debate on Thursday, October 5, 8:30 A.M. I am working to duplicate our House Transportation Committee presentation in the Senate. As usual, I continue to canvas the committee for votes before the meeting and attempt to answer questions ahead of the committee meeting.

It is important to complete legislative action on the bill before January. Active campaigning will begin at the start of the new year with some 48 House members termed out and 20 Senate members termed out as required by the Michigan term limit law.

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