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Posted on 09.02.2016 Under Legislative

Monthly Legislative Report for MAT

Judy Augenstein, no rx Legislative Consultant

September 2016

Anti-politician sentiment carried the day in Michigan’s lst Congressional District as retired Lt. General Jack Bergman came out of relative political obscurity to win a three republican primary against two established political figures.  Bergman ended up winning 39 to 32 % over Senator Tom Casperson, tadalafil R-Escanaba.  Former State Senator Jason Allen was third with 29 %.  The race in the lst is ultimately to replace U. S. Dan Benishek, doctor R-Crystal Falls, who declined to run for re-election.  Bergman served over 40 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, at one time having overseen a $1 billion budget and 100,000 people.  In capturing the district, Bergman benefited from an “outsider” label and history as a Marine. Meanwhile, in the lst Congressional District Democratic primary, former Democratic Party Chair, Lon Johnson defeated former Kalkaska County Sheriff Jerry Canon, 71 to 28%.

In his second Michigan visit within two weeks of each other, Donald Trump, Republican Presidential candidate made an appeal to African-Americans and Michigan factory workers. In his second address,Trump said no other group of people have been harmed by Democrat candidate Hilary Clinton’s policies more than the African-American community.  Trump asked “What the hell do you have to lose by trying something new, like voting Trump?”
Candidate Trump outlined how NAFTA and the proposed TPP trade deals are bad for the country, but particularly for the Michigan economy and auto jobs.  He made a pitch for schools of choice and reaffirmed that “we will build the wall”, a reference to the often mentioned structure he would like to see between the U.S. and Mexico.  Trump delivered a more tailored economic message to the Detroit Economic Club during his first visit.
The former director of the Senate Fiscal Agency, Mitch Bean, now with the Great Lakes Economic Consulting, issued the following analysis. “The money coming into the state’s coffers since Governor Rick Snyder (2011) took office is up 12.4 %, spending on the executive offices of elected officials far exceeds that percentage while spending on K-12 education, prisons, higher education and local governments is well below”.   Bean stated “Everyone who campaigns for election to political office, or runs for re-election, talks about their spending priorities, but if you want to know what those priorities really are you need to follow the money”:
2011-2017 budget increases:
Secretary of State    —   75.4% budget increase
Attorney General’s   —    40% budget increase
Legislature               —    27.6% budget increase
Executive Office       —     22.6% budget increase
Auditor General        —     38.7 % budget increase
Meanwhile the basic per pupil foundation allowance is up 5.1 %, higher education funding is lower than it was in 2011.  Revenue sharing to cities, villages and
townships continue to drop by some $5.5 billion.  State employees have seen a 6.1 % increase, while the Department of Corrections has seen a 2.7% budget increase.  As far as other state departments not headed by an elected official, the General Fund portion of the Agriculture and Rural Department Budget comes across as a big winner.  The FY 2017 GF budget is up 15.9 % and since FY 2011-12 the GF portion is up 71 %. Some of the increase went to fund required inspections and regulations, and some was because of new programs.
Jessie Augustyn, GLTPA and I met with Denise Pallarito, Chief of Staff to Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona to fine tune legislation to be introduced to allow a multiple use permit for truckers tailored after Wisconsin law.  Rep. Cole is required to have his list of priority bills for 2017 presented to the Legislative Service Bureau by the end of the month in order for the bills to be prepared by the first day of the January session.  This issue is his top priority bill.
In August, Denny Olson, GLTPA, Jessie Augustyn, GLTPA and I met with Tim Hoeffner, Director, Office of Rail, MDOT and took the opportunity to discuss the on going lawsuit between MDOT and John Larkin, owner, E& LS Railroad over a $800,000 fine for a dispute over repairs at the Amasa Crossing in the UP and other forestry related issues.
Rep. Ken Goike, R-Township and Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville have requested the chair of the House Commerce Committee schedule a hearing on HB 5506, legislation to require religious sects adhere to the same rules as English sawmills.  The Department of Labor and Regulatory Affairs has signed off on the latest draft bill and will now take a “no position” stance instead of being in opposition of the bill as they have been up until this last draft bill.
SB 706, 707 & 708 sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba have passed the Senate and await debate by the House Transportation Committee.  The bills prohibit a county road commission from authorizing an additional permit for a logger to haul their product down the road.  The issue is a priority issue for Senator Casperson for the “lame duck” session.
I continue to work with staff to U.S. Congressman Gary Peters, D-Pontiac, relative to the unfair competition the Amish create for English forest products industry businesses, the on going “slasher” issue and the Future Logging Careers Act; H.R. 1215 awaiting debate by a subcommittee chaired by U.S. Congressman Tim Walberg, R-Jackson.
The formal lame duck session begins November 9, the day following the general election.  Anything and everything goes during “lame duck”, we need to stay vigilant, it is rumored the legislature “may” revisit the gas tax.
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