The Michigan Association of Timbermen
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Posted on 09.23.2014 Under Legislative

Legislative Report for MAT – Judy Augenstein, capsule Legislative Consultant – September 2014

The cast of characters for the general election is set now that the primary election is over. Michigan will know which party will control the Michigan House during the 2015-16 legislative session in November. Democrats hope to somehow turn their 51 seats into at least a 56 seat majority. At the same time, treatment Republicans hope to grow their 59 seat caucus into something even bigger. The primary brought positives for both efforts.

For the House Republicans the Democrats lost their preferred candidates in two key districts. Meanwhile, the Republicans were able to get their preferred candidates through in two swing districts. For the Democrats, however, some key GOP candidates had to spend big to get through messy primary elections, which could take a toll on them in the general election.

Also, a trio of outspoken Tea Party conservatives won their Republican primaries putting seats on the Democrat’s radar that normally would never cross their minds to be competitive. If elected the Tea Party GOP candidates who won primaries against establishment backed opponents vow they will shake up the Republican caucus, one candidate even plans to run for Speaker of the House.

Supporters of a sales tax increase for road and infrastructure funding plan to push for a vote during the “lame duck” session. Some groups have backed an increase in the state’s sales tax by 1 percentage point to 7 percent per dollar. Lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on road and infrastructure funding before leaving for the primary election campaign. The House passed a proposal that would allocate more than $400 million to roads and infrastructure, but the Senate did not act on it. Some contend that a sales tax increase would also affect individuals that do not drive or use public transportation because their goods are delivered to their shopping centers and residences.

An increase in the sales tax requires approval by a two-thirds majority of both houses of the Legislature and an affirmative vote of the public. Seeing such a proposed increase put on the November ballot would be a stretch because the Legislature would have to act within days to make the deadline to do so. If a proposal is moved the earliest it would likely come would be in March, which would mean some legislative action on the issue during the lame-duck session. We know that anything and everything goes during lame duck. Issues on the back burner for two years immediately become active while issues moving smoothly along become stalled. It can be the “most wonderful” time of the year or the most depressing, depending on what side of the issue you are pushing or working to stall.

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