The Michigan Association of Timbermen
Posted on 05.01.2017 Under Legislative

Legislative Report for MAT

Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant

Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet has announced his campaign for the 38th Senate District and his colleague, Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette has also announced for the senate seat. Both legislators are term-limited from the House and the 38th Senate district seat will be open in 2018 with Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba term-limited from the Senate.

On the Republican side, former Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan plans to announce his candidacy for the senate seat soon. This race will likely be a race to watch with lots of drama. Senator Casperson won the seat in the tea party wave of 2010 with about 55 percent of the vote and easily won re-election against a largely no-name candidate in 2014. But, an open seat race in this district with three experienced, known names will be a battle unlike previous years.

Michigan will see more money going to road repairs and construction beginning this year, but a recent national study claims the funding will not be enough to keep the state’s roads and bridges from deteriorating. In 2015, the Legislature approved a proposal to add $1.2 billion to highway funding, with $600 million of that coming from the General Fund. But a study by Michigan TRIP, a Washington, D.C. based transportation organization, said that funding will not be enough to meet some $3.3 billion in projects, more than $2 billion worth in the Detroit area alone, that are needed now.

The funding the Legislature authorized increased fuel and registration taxes, as well as earmarked additional money from the General Fund. The tax increases took effect this year and the first allocations of additional funding have begun to be made to counties and cities. Through 2023, the increases and the General Fund monies should generate another $4.2 billion in transportation funding, boosting the annual allocation from $2.2 billion to $3.4 billion for fixing roads and bridges. But the General Fund portion of the increase is not guaranteed and if the state sees another economic recession before 2023, those monies may be needed for other priorities.

MDOT has announced a $900,000 transportation economic development grant to the Crawford Road Commission for road improvements between I-75 and the proposed particle board plant in Grayling township. The ARAUCO plant is expected to draw $400 million in private investment and provide 266 full time jobs. The grant will cover rebuilding and widening the 1.5 miles of Four Mile Road leading to the plant. The county is planning to add a turn lane and wider shoulders near the plant.

Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona continues to work towards finalizing a bill to allow use of a multiple use permit, tailored after Wisconsin’s. Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake City, member of the House Natural Resources Committee, is crafting a bill to require registration of foresters. Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba continues to work towards a legislative effort to assist loggers with local road/government issues. Meetings continue to work out the points of difference between the county road agencies and the logging community.

Public Private Partnerships (PPP’s) continues to be bottled up in the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. SB 97 sponsored by Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake has language to create a framework for toll booths. We continue to oppose the bill.

The Great Lakes Timber Professionals held a stunning spring celebration on April 10-11 in Green Bay and the Michigan Association of Timbermen held a successful annual meeting at Boyne Mt. on April 27-29. The two organizations will be cosponsoring a Legislative reception on May 24 in Lansing for legislators, staff and other officials.

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The Michigan Association of Timbermen 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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