The Michigan Association of Timbermen
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Posted on 09.29.2017 Under Legislative, Recent Post

Judy Augenstein, Legislative Consultant

Senators are scrambling to study a no-fault auto insurance proposal unveiled this week by House members and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Senate Majority Leader, Arlan Meekhof, R-Grand Haven has consistently said mandated insurance rate rollbacks are a nonstarter in the Senate. The plan was announced during a press conference by House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, Mayor Duggan and Rep. Lana Theis, R-Brighton who chairs the House Insurance Committee. More than 20 House Republicans and a handful of House Democrats joined Mayor Duggan in announcing the latest attempt at what has been years of failed efforts to rein in auto insurance costs for Michigan motorists.

As written, the House plan would allow drivers the choice of $250,000, $500,000 or unlimited medical coverage through their auto insurance. Seniors on Medicare or with lifetime retirement health care could opt-out of personal injury protection. The plan would allow the state to regulate rate increases for 5 years.

Proponents contend the plan would lead to an average decrease in auto insurance premiums of 20% for drivers. Older drivers could save up to 32% while drivers without collision or theft coverage could save up to 50%. House Insurance Committee Chair Rep. Lana Theis plans to take up the proposal next week. Rep. Theis commented “The system is broken. It is unsustainable and it has to be fixed. These skyrocketing prices have to stop.” Auto insurance reform is at the top of the agenda of issues to be addressed during the fall session for House Republicans.

This week, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce announced it is taking steps to consider seeking a constitutional amendment revising term limits as well as a yet to be defined “government accountability proposal.” Rich Studley, President, and CEO of the Chamber has directed staff to reach out to other individuals and groups to determine if there is enough support to proceed in 2018 with an amendment to the Constitution on term limits and government accountability. The government reform effort would focus on revising term limits and other changes to improve the effectiveness, accountability, and transparency of the state Legislature.

Next week on Thursday, October 5, 8:30 AM, the Senate Transportation Committee will debate HB 4464, the multiple use permit tailored after Wisconsin law. I am working to duplicate our House Transportation Committee presentation in the Senate. I am canvassing the committee in an effort to have questions answered before the meeting and to solicit support for the bill.

Henry Schienebeck will represent GLTPA and speak to the Wisconsin experience with multiple use permits. Jim Maeder will speak on behalf of MAT. I have lined up Mike Sturgill to testify as a large log hauler and will testify to cost savings and efficiencies. Mike Elenz, a smaller log hauler will testify to the important point that it will cost his business more money, but that the efficiencies are worth it. This point was a very important part of Mike’s testimony in the House. AIS will testify as to efficiency and cost savings too. As of this writing, MITA will be in support, local governments will be neutral and MDOT will support after months of holding workgroups with them. Denise Pallarito, staff to Rep Cole and Jesse Augustyn, GLTPA did a stellar job in working with MDOT to work out the points of differences between industry and MDOT.

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