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Posted on 11.04.2015 Under Legislative

Legislative Report for MAT

Judy Augenstein, find Legislative Consultant

November 2015

The fall Legislative session is proving to be active with many issues being debated, page but not resolved. The latest road budget proposal has been passed by House Republicans and is now receiving debate and criticism by the Senate.  The new House plan is an effort to address the $1.2 billion road fix which has been debated back and forth by the House and Senate for months if not years.  The crux of the House GOP plan is shifting $600 million in existing state dollars to roads, increasing all vehicle registration fees to create $600 million and increasing the gas tax to create $200 million.  The plan would also provide tax relief in the form of a potential income tax cut and an expansion of the Homestead Property Tax Credit.

Governor Rick Snyder and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive have been pushing for a much different plan focused on $800 million in new revenue and only $400 million in existing revenue.

The gas tax increase bill, HB 4738, would increase the gas tax by about 3.3 cents per gallon, passed 56-60.  The registration fee increase bill, HB 4736, would increase registration fees by 40 percent including all specialty plates, passed 55-51.  HB 4370, the Homestead Property Tax Credit bill passed 62-44.  HB 4737 dealing with road construction warranties passed 101-5. HB 4614, which goes along with the main gas tax bill passed 56-50 and SB 414 the income tax “trigger” bill passed by 61-45.  The bills passed primarily along party lines.

The State Christmas tree has been delivered to Lansing.  A 66 foot spruce from Wakefield in the Upper Peninsula will serve as the state’s Christmas tree this year.  Florence Daniels is donating the tree to the state in memory of her husband, Jim Daniels, a former teacher and youth sports coach.  The tree will be illuminated at the annual Silver Bells in the City celebration that Lansing holds to kick off the holiday season.

A bill to increase the speed limit to 80 mph is “stalled” in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  A compromise of 75 mph on certain rural limited access freeways has been suggested, but action has not been taken.

Rep. Pete Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, Chair, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, continues to be committed to legislation to allow large trucks to apply for a “multiple permit” to haul equipment.  Chair Pettalia promises to address the issue once the road funding debate is completed.  I predict we will end up battling this issue during the “lame duck” session.

The Senate is considering legislation to prohibit the open carrying of firearms in gun free zones and allow those with concealed pistol licenses to carry on a concealed basis in those zones.  SB 442, was sponsored by Senator Mike Green, R-Mayville. Gun free zones consist of schools, houses of worship, day care centers, sports stadiums, bars, hospitals and most buildings on college or university campuses.  Concerns about open carrying on K-12 school property prompted the bill.  Schools have gone into lock down upon seeing someone openly carrying a firearm on school property, fearing a shooter.

Michigan would join a compact to develop and adopt a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution under SB 306, sponsored by Senator Mike Green, Mayville.  The bill passed the Senate 26 – 11 along party lines.  A total of 38 states are required for the compact to take effect.  It is estimated that the amount of debt at the end of the Obama term will be close to $20 trillion.

Now that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has officially published its Clean Power Plan on future emissions requirements, Attorney General Bill Schuette joined a lawsuit against the EPA with some two dozen other states.  A.G. Schuette has been blasted for being part of the lawsuit against the air quality rules. Schuette is among critical voices of the proposal that asks the states to reduce carbon emissions an average of 32 percent by 2030 and said he would join other states in attempting to overturn the new rules despite Governor Rick Snyder and his administration has stated they would comply with the carbon reduction plan.

Governor Snyder has stated that if A.G. Schuette joins the lawsuit against the EPA, he would not be representing the state of Michigan in doing so.  Schuette is concerned about yet another executive order taken by President Obama and the EPA that violates the Clean air Act and causes the price of electricity to increase, placing jobs at risk and costing Michigan families more.  The lawsuit is being led by West Virginia and so far includes 24 states.

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