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Industry News, Meetings & Events

Michigan Legislative Update

Week of April 20, 2017

By Judy Augenstein

The Senate returned for session on Tuesday and the House returned on Wednesday.  The focus this week was the "2017-18" budget. 

The Governor, House and Senate agreed to retain a provision in the DNR budget to require the DNR report to the Legislature on a quarterly basis the number of acres of state forestland marked or treated for timber harvest.  The House retained the DNR budget provision to require them to use increased funding available from the increased timber harvest for the purpose of forest management and timber market development, including investments in technology and equipment aimed at growing the timber economy.  The Governor opposes the provision and deleted it from his budget, but the House restored the provision.  The Governor and the Legislature agreed to delete increased timber sales monies for forest fire equipment and for the replacement of aging forest fire equipment.  Forest fire equipment monies was found elsewhere. 

This week, at the request of Chair, House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch, the Michigan Association of Timbermen made a presentation to the House Natural Resources Committee outlining the mission, goals and members of MAT.

John Fowler, MAT board member explained he provides jobs for 85 employees in his pallet manufacturing business.  John outlined the unfair competition religious sects present to tax paying businesses.  He shared he lost a contract to Morton Salt for over $1 million to the Amish because they do not pay WC, UI or abide by MIOSHA and child safety standards.  His legislator, Chair, Rep. Gary Howell, R- North Branch is very interested in the issue. 

Jim Maeder, MAT President outlined MAT membership and goals and that MAT was formed in 1972.  Jim commented that road issues are not universal or the same statewide answering a specific question by committee member Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake City. Warren Suchovsky, MAT board member (constituent of VC Rep. Beau LaFave, R- Iron Mountain) explained his small logging business employs 6 people and focused on how the sustainability of trees sustains jobs and the need for forestry education.  Wes Windover, VP, MAT (constituent of Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake City) with Biewer Lumber, shared they employee some 300 people and also touched on the issues with local road commissions in his area.

I suggest GLTPA make a similar presentation to the House Natural Resources Committee on May 24, the morning of our legislative day.  Rep. Howell has requested many natural resources related stakeholders present before the committee.

We held a lunch meeting with Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, member Natural Resources Committee  and Rep. Beau LaFave, VC, House Natural Resources Committee primarily to discuss a UP forestry tour.  We briefly met with Chief of Staff to Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona regarding his request to assist with a forestry/transportation tour in June for the House Transportation Committee in the Grayling area to include Weyerhaeuser.  Based on the conversations this week, it is my view, all forestry associations could be involved in these two proposed forestry tours. 

New legislation introduced this week:
SB 302  --  Senator Casperson sponsor, the bill amends the Land Cap Act.
SB 303  --  Senator Booher sponsor, creates a Land Exchange Facilitation Fund
HB 4475 -  Rep. Howell sponsor, revises the Land Cap Act (same as SB 302)
HB 4476 -  Rep. Howell sponsor, creates Land Exchange Fac. Fund ( SB 303)
HB 4492 -  Rep. Schor sponsor, revises PA 51 road funding formula

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