The Michigan Association of Timbermen
Posted on 08.15.2014 Under Legislative

Provided by:  Judy Augenstein, view Legislative Consultant for MAT

The Legislature was in session today, the House did not take roll call or hold votes so there was no legislative business while the Senate held a full day of tension held debate. It is clear the gubernatorial contest between Democratic Mark Schauer and Governor Rick Snyder has begun.

About 36 hours after the heaviest one day rainfall to hit Detroit in almost 90 years, Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster today for the state’s three largest counties. Macomb, Oakland and Wayne and said he would ask for federal assistance to aid those areas. Yet even as the state coped with one of the most significant flooding events ever to hit its most populous region, the 2014 election lurked in the background. A few hours before Snyder’s announcement, his Democratic opponent, Mark Schauer, urged Snyder declare a state of emergency and then once Governor Snyder did so, Schauer announced that Governor Snyder had acted only after Schauer weighed in. Although Governor Snyder interrupted his trip through the U.P. on Tuesday to visit the Detroit area via helicopter, and returned to the U.P., some Democrats stepped up their needling on how Mr. Snyder handled the flooding disaster.

Meanwhile in the Senate today, Republicans gave the green light to a citizen’s initiative that would permit a wolf hunt to take place in Michigan by continuing to let the Natural Resources Commission designate such animals as game, though opponents of the measure charged Republicans were making a habit of circumventing voters’ rights to decide on such issues. If passed, the initiative establishes the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, which in addition to allowing the game designation by the NRC would also appropriate $1 million to Asian carp prevention and allow for free hunting and fishing licenses to military veterans. The appropriation makes the initiative void from being challenged in another referendum and the final passage would render moot two other referendums on the November ballot that oppose wolf hunting.

An advocate for “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected” commented that politicians are exaggerating and fabricating stories about wolf incidents and that two-thirds of all wolf incidents in the U.P. occurred on a single farm where the farmer baited wolves with cattle and deer carcasses. He further commented that voters should be allowed to hear arguments from both sides and make an informed judgment in November. The issue is now in the hands of the House and today the Speaker of the House commented that no date has been set to debate the issue. If the House takes no action by September 2, then the proposal will go on the November ballot. The House plans to meet on August 27 for a full day of legislative activity.

Term limited Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe today expressed optimism about a group of six senators slated to meet again on Thursday to discuss possible resolutions to funding the state’s infrastructure as he dodged criticism from the other side of the aisle about addressing flooding in metro Detroit. Richardville is hoping the members of the work group will bring some new ideas to the table, as he has also developed some of his own that involve a combination of different things.. Richardville commented that “Originally we were going to try to do just a gas tax increase but, there probably is a better solution than just that, I certainly hope so, but there are other issues regarding transportation that we were not going to consider then, before the primary, that we are now going to consider such as truck weights, load limits, fines, fees and other things that were not on the table before, but we are going to start talking about them now in a comprehensive way.”

Richardville also commented that “The problem is that it gets so politically complicated because this geographic area versus this population base versus where people travel the most. Nobody’s been able to fix it in over 50 years.” Richardville hopes to have some kind of a road consensus sometime in the fall—most likely after the November election.

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