The Michigan Association of Timbermen
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Posted on 03.17.2014 Under Legislative

Submitted by MAT Legislative Consultant, information pills Judy Augenstein

A supplemental bill was unanimously adopted by the legislature this week and now is on the desk of Governor Rick Snyder for his signature. The bill includes $125 million for roads. $100 million for special winter road maintenance and $115 million for priority road projects, both general fund monies. Governor Snyder commented ” I appreciate the Legislature’s working together to approve this budget supplemental that provides much needed funding to help fix Michigan’s deteriorating roads. This has been a significantly harsh winter on many fronts and particularly devastating in terms of potholes. While the funding will be of great benefit in the short-term, Michigan still very much needs a comprehensive long-term solution to fix our state’s aging roads and bridges. This remains a priority and I am confident that we can work together on a solution.”

Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, a huge supporter of the forest products industry, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said he is encouraged by the funding provided for roads in the supplemental and that it was a good “first down payment.” Schmidt also commented that “I would like to see more funding for roads and I think by this supplemental and using general fund monies it shows a commitment by the Legislature on where we stand on road and bridge funding. It also sets a good tone to make sure we get our federal match back and sets the table for hopefully some long range funding options”.

In his 2014-15 DNR budget request, Governor Rick Snyder has recommended a $4 million increase in funding to the wildfire protection program to offset $4 million of forest development fund revenue that would be redirected to forestry management increasing funding for that program program by $ 4 million. The use of the new forestry funding would include enhanced technology for programs, increased contracts and agreements with forestry partners, increased timber cutting from state lands and the hiring of 10 additional foresters. I have discussed the increased budget request with House DNR budget committee chair, Rep. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo and Senate DNR budget chair, Senator Mike Green, R-Mayville and Senator Darwin Booher, committee member. All three of the legislators support the recommendation and will include it in their budget recommendations.

Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, chair, Senate Natural Resources, Environment & Great Lakes Committee, has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, March 20, 9:00 AM to hear from forestry relative to the health of the forest products industry. The House Natural Resources Committee will address bills dealing with hazardous industrial waste and a bill on agricultural fertilizer at their meeting next week.

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