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Posted on 01.11.2018 Under Legislative, Recent Post

Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant

This week House and Senate leaders announced their legislative priorities for 2018.  Getting rid of driver responsibility fees and reforming mental health services in Michigan are among Speaker of the House Tom Leonard’s (R-DeWitt) legislative priorities for this year.  Getting the skilled trades package, which passed the House just before Christmas and awaits Senate action is another priority of House leadership.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive is focused on continuing the eighth year of a budget done ahead of schedule and addressing the impact of the new federal tax plan will have on Michigan taxpayers.  Meekhof also wants to address driver responsibility fee legislation.  The majority leader also is monitoring the proposed laws that may come before the legislature in the form of “citizens’ initiatives”.  So far, three initiative petitions have been submitted for the 2018 ballot regarding legalization of recreational marijuana, redistricting and repeal of the prevailing wage law.

Paying down the debt for MPSERS, State Employee Retirement, the State Police and other long term liabilities are a priority of both House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R- West Olive.

This week Governor Rick Snyder called for a simple fix to the tax exemption issue created by the federal tax cut.  Snyder is suggesting a simple and fair proposal to prevent state residents from paying as much as $1.6 billion more in state taxes.  Governor Snyder, Lt. governor Calley and State Treasurer Nick Khouri announced a plan to restore the ability of Michigan taxpayers to claim personal exemptions which has been lost under the federal change signed into law by President Donald Trump.  The proposal also calls for boosting the state’s personal exemption from $4,000 to $4,500 in 2021.  The exemption already would have risen under law that ties it to inflation, but not to the $4,500 amount by 2021.

The state is beginning work on the issue because the federal changes effectively do away with personal exemptions in favor of increasing the standard deduction.  Because the exemption will be ended, Michigan taxpayers cannot claim the state exemption when they pay their taxes in 2019.  State Treasurer Khouri contends the fix involves revising a date for the federal tax code in the state law.  The increase in the exemption, to be effective in 2021, will help take care of any additional increases in the tax liability in the next several years.  Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive and Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt are reviewing the proposal and most likely will develop their own plan or blend a plan with Governor Snyder’s proposal.

The legislature was in session two days this week, but will return next week to resume their three day work schedule.

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