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Posted on 11.21.2013 Under Legislative
Submitted by MAT Legislative Consultant – Judy Augenstein
The deal to raise more money for roads, cure one of Governor Rick Snyder’s top priorities, looks to be dead, again, following a closed door meeting this week between the governor and the four leaders of the legislative caucuses.  Snyder, Senate Majority Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall and House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills periodically meet for what is known as “quadrant meetings.
Whitmer and Greimel informed the Republicans that “trust is gone” in road funding negotiations.  That is because what they see as purely partisan politics with Snyder signing legislation moving the Court of Claims from its perch in Democratic Ingham County, and the GOP led Senate creating a committee to investigate unions’ response to Right to Work.  Staff to Governor Snyder commented that these quadrant meetings and other efforts and discussions are valuable in keeping the dialog going and working to find common ground and that it is part of the governor’s Relentless Positive Action mind set.
 At the start of this legislative term, Snyder said one of his top priorities was raising more than $1 billion annually for Michigan roads.  Several ideas have been tossed around, including raising registration fees, increasing the sales tax and hiking the gas tax and adjusting its formula.  Another idea is letting voters decide to raise revenue, not the Legislature, via a ballot measure.
The bottom line is that it is hard to raise serious money without fee and/or tax increases, which makes the politics bad for Democrats and Republican alike heading into the 2014 election.  So, the Governor has said that he would settle for a piecemeal approach, although it is not ideal.  Privately, he told leaders, “just get something done” this year. It is assumed that if anything happens it will happen in the Senate because both Whitmer and Richardville are term limited.
For the duration of this calendar year it is important to closely monitor the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee where HB 4925 resides.  The bill was sponsored by Rep. Marilyn Lane, D-Fraser and lowers truck weights to 80,000 lbs.  I have requested committee chair Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City to keep the bill on the back burner and NOT schedule it for debate.  Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, Senate Transportation Committee is aware of the bill and stands ready to assist.
On the last day of the fall session HB 4242, legislation sponsored by Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township advanced to final reading in the Senate.  The bill is scheduled for a final vote when the Legislature returns from the Thanksgiving/deer hunting recess.   The bill is response to a 2012 Supreme Court decision where an Idaho couple won their case and will be allowed to challenge the EPA over a wetland issue.  The purpose of the bill is to require all new administrative rules be necessary and not be overly burdensome to an individual.
Senator Mark Jansen, R-Grand Rapids plans to meet with the LARA Director and a representative from MIOSHA after the Thanksgiving recess in an effort to determine why LARA treats religious sects differently than they do other businesses.   Based on new information, I expect Rep.Matt Lori to introduced a bill to exempt religious sects from carry workers compensation insurance.   Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City expects his bill to require religious sects to carry workers compensation insurance to be ready for introduction soon.
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