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Posted on 06.01.2016 Under Legislative

Legislative Report for MAT

Judy Augenstein, viagra order Legislative Consultant

June 2016

As officials continue to work out the 2016-17 fiscal year budget agreement, troche the state’s universities would see about $200 million less than what Governor Rick Snyder originally recommended earlier this year and with prison inmate levels falling, discount the state will close a prison.  Other high level budget items that have not logistically been worked out include the $80 million tax credits for insurance companies.  Governor Snyder’s infrastructure fund (roads and bridges) which he recommended at $165 million, is in jeopardy.

Officials are working to reduce the overall budget as revenues came in less than expected.  Between the reduction in revenues forecast compared to the January revenue conference and increasing Medicaid and human services caseloads, there is $460 million less available than projected earlier this year.  It also appears the Detroit Public Schools legislation will not be specifically tied to the budget.  Governor Rick Snyder and House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant both said the Legislature would act separately on that legislation.
More on my favorite topic…..term limits.
Legislative term limits not only causes a loss of institutional knowledge with throwing out House members after six years and Senators after eight years, it also wipes out valuable experienced legislative staff.
About 20 percent of all current Senate staffers were in the chamber on March 1, 2007 and 12 percent on January 2, 2003.  In all, 30 of the Senate’s 254 salaried employees have more than 13 years continuous service on the job and more than half of them are in non-partisan support, human resources, sergeants, maintenance staffs, clerks, information systems or similar non-legislative positions.
Six former legislative staffers commented in a recent interview that term limits create a fluid environment that does not lend itself to job security.  New legislators tend to bring in the loyal campaign workers who helped them get elected, leaving the previous staff with nowhere to go.  Talented staffers are identified quickly by the private sector, the lobbying corps, state departments or the Governor’s office and are swept away within a few years.  Pre-term limit legislators commented that new staffers just do not have the benefit of time and experience.  Legislative staffing jobs end up being a stepping stone to a longer term career.  As a result, the experience in Lansing in the term limits world is not with the staff, it is with the lobbyists and the bureaucrats, who have job security and stay in positions for a career.  The turnover in staff has become beyond extreme as “newbie” legislators rotate through the revolving legislative door so do experienced staffers.
Legislation to refine the so called “Land Cap” Law continues to receive heated debate by the Senate Natural Resources Committee.  SB 39 & 40, sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba would reinstate the cap on state land ownership if all PILT are not received in full and on time.
Legislation to amend the Qualified Forest Act and the Commercial Forest Act, sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson, are bottled up in the House Tax Policy Committee.  The bills allows private landowners an easier path to withdraw from CF to QF.  Most members of the Tax Policy Committee do not understand the need for private land owners to properly manage their forests and to put their timber up for sale.  Also, many committee members are reluctant to support SB 651, 652 & 653 because the QF program does not allow public access.
SB’s 706, 707 & 708, sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson have passed the Senate and have been referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  We are in the process of working with Casperson and others to refine these bills so they will be more palatable to all groups involved. The bills prohibit local governments from requiring special driveway permits to access state forests.  Many loggers are having problems with local governments making unreasonable permit demands prohibiting loggers to get their state and federal timber to market.  Therefore, the bills were crafted to address the problem.
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