The Michigan Association of Timbermen
Posted on 12.19.2013 Under Legislative

(Submitted by Judy Augenstein, see MAT legislative consultant)

The Natural Resources Trust fund has approved 76 projects for the coming fiscal year totaling $27.68 million. Of the total, unhealthy 32 of the grants ($19.03million) were for land acquisition and 44 grants ($8.64 million) were for development projects.
Among the acquisition grants, the largest was $3.4 million to Detroit to purchase rail right-of-way for its Inner Circle Greenway. The largest grant to the state was $3.03 million for additions to the Holly Recreation Area. The smallest grant was $26,400 to Manistique for additions to its Manistique River Waterfront, though that was one of three grants toward that project totaling $253,700. Among the development grants, 12 received the $300,000 maximum grant. Many of those projects were trail construction and improvement, including facilities along the Belle Isle to Wisconsin trail proposed by Governor Rick Snyder.
Recent appointments by the Agriculture Director to the Agriculture Environment Assurance Program Advisory Council include Todd Johnson, representing the forest products industry, Lee Mueller representing consulting foresters and Warren Suchovsky representing the logging industry. All for terms expiring March 31, 2017.
Henry Schienebeck, GLTPA, Jay Verhulst, Foundation for Common Sense, Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township, staff to Goike, staff to Senator Mike Green, R-Mayville, the bill drafter and I discussed the “Coordination” legislative effort in a conference call for close to two hours in an attempt to clarify the issue . “Coordination” is a process which requires governments to coordinate on an action if there is disagreement between the federal government and local governments. The “coordination” status is authorized by almost every federal statute relating to management of land, resources, and the environment. All a local government has to do is formally accept the congressional invitation to “coordinate” and the federal agencies have no choice but to agree. Many local governments are unaware they have the ability to request federal agencies to “coordinate”.
Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law HB 4242 sponsored by Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township. The bill requires new administrative rules be necessary and not overly burdensome to an individual. The law is now Public Act 200 of 2013.
This week I met with the chief of staff to Rep. Matt Lori, R-Constantine to discuss efforts to require religious sects be accountable for workers’ compensation insurance and other costs of doing legitimate business including MIOSHA standards. I shared with staff the pictures of Amish companies prepared by MATSIF. She was surprised to learn there were so many Amish companies located in northern Michigan. Staff and Rep. Lori completely understand the unfair competition these companies present to legitimate wood related businesses. Rep. Lori recently met with a group of Amish from his district to get them to consider participating in a program similar to a group self insurance fund. They refused to compromise, were quite stubborn and set in their belief that because of their “religion” they should be exempt from Michigan laws. The group went as far as to explain to Rep. Lori how they “circumvent” the laws of Michigan. Rep. Lori agrees with us that the issue is not about religion, but business. Rep. Lori has prepared legislation to require religious sects belong to a separate fund similar to a group self insurance fund which will be introduced in January.

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